I am still amazed when co-workers come to work, not prepared to do their job. When a new server joins our team, it spends many days training with a few of us on our different gifts. During these "training days" she is shown the ropes, the till and everything else needed. While these new girls are training, they are using our pens and calculators. This is when we stress to them that they need to bring their own tools. I am always the one to shake my head when the same person keeps showing up empty-handed, shift after shift.
I will give you a list of the top 15 items I feel that every waitress must keep on hand, or in a locker or bag at work with a brief explanation why.
1) Handful of pens – yes, a useful would be helpful. You need to do some writing for this job. Sometimes writing out a food order, a customer or two needs to sign off a credit card, a pen runs out of ink, a customer needs to borrow one to jot down a phone number or message, a pen mysteriously disappears and of course keep one handy for the new co-worker who comes to work empty-handed every shift!
2) Calculator – handy to work out tips among servers on a tab. It's good to double-check calculations as well.
3) Scissors – always helpful for something and when they are not around, this is the time you seem to need them the most.
4) Tape -tape is used to marry a ripped bill, an out-of-order sign may be needed to put up on the cigarette or lotto machine. How are you suppose to tape the "Kick ME" sign on the back of … just kidding!
5) Felt Marker – I use my marker a couple times a week to lend it out to a dancer to sign her posters. It's used to mark names on reservation signs and sign t-shirts for stag parties.
6) Aspirin – to get rid of headaches so you can get through the rest of your shift pain-free.
7) Tums – for tummy aches.
8) Gum or mints – good to have on hand after eating stinky foods like garlic or onions. If you have a cold, it helps tone down any bad breath. If you tend to chew your gum like a cow, stay away from it and pop a mint instead.
9) Lipstick or lip chap – you know why.
10) Extra black skirt – in case of an accident, such as a spill or ripped zipper.
11) Extra top – in most cases, an accident such as a spill or something like hot wing sauce.
12) Sweater – especially handy in the winter months. Put on a sweater and do not fool around with the temperature gauge in the bar. Keep it at the comfort for the customers in the room and not yourself.
13) Extra footwear – a sole rips, or a zipper breaks on boots. Sometimes a change in footwear is a welcome change to relieve pressure points so that you can finish off that last couple hours of a shift in some comfort.
14) Tampons – yup, I said it.
15) "Serving It Right" card – keep it in your purse at all times and even a photocopy of it at work. This card is mandatory for any server that serves alcohol to patrons in BC, Canada. Find out the rules about your local liquor law.
This list is just a start. You will add items over time that you feel will be necessary to have at your job. By being organized and ready to tackle any shift, you will feel in control and look professional. In the end, you will be handsomely rewarded by making good tips!