Ah, the world of waiting tables. Whether you have actual experience as a server, or you’ve never served a plate of food in your life, read on for some tips and tales from the other side of the table that will both entertain, and make you think twice before giving your next server a hard time.

The waiting game.
At the end of the day servers make their money from tips. Despite cranky customers, picky eaters and people who will fake choking for a free meal, a server has to give their client what they want to get that gratuity. Here are some tricks of the trade:

“You have to connect with your customers. Take a little time to get to know them, especially the regulars, and soon you’ll soon be rolling in the dough!” Erin, San Francisco

“You have to smile. I’m serious, a server has to smile all the time when on the restaurant floor. The restaurant is a stage and the staff is the actors, so smile like you’re performing. This will make your audience happy, and a happy audience leaves a bigger tip.” Heather, New York City

“The trick is to appear very genuine and concerned the whole time. Always write a little thank-you note on the bill. If you’re overwhelmed and can't get to a table, just smile, apologize and tell them you’ll be with them in a few minutes. Throw in a free drink if necessary; they have to feel like you care.” Jen, San Diego

“Even if it’s not busy, look busy in front of your customers. They tip better if they feel like you’re working hard for them.” Pallavi, Carson City, Nevada