So being as I am I can’t even for one little part of my life just EXSIST and sit around doing nothing, I got a job here in Paris.
Finding a job in Paris is not hard. However GETTING a job is very hard. For someone who only recently “climbed the ladder” from food service, to office job, to classroom, it was really hard process to go back to a student job like working retail or waiting tables. However even a retail job was hard enough to find. In Paris the jobs that in the states would be stereotypical highschool jobs will actually be reserved for 40 year olds. The easiest place to go is food service.
I waited tables for a LOOOOOONG time and messed around with food for even longer so the idea of being a server again wasn’t all that appealing. With a salary of 56 euros a day for an eight-hour STREIGHT shift plus any tips I can milk out of customers though this was probably one of the better choices that I’ve made in this adventure.
The advantages of being an American waiter in France:
French waiters can really only be summed in one word: UNpleasant. They are sure to make the customer feel like a total idiot, never smile, never engage the customer, be sure to have you know that it is a blessing that they are even serving and do nothing to make anyone’s visit any more pleasant. Having waited tables in the US where one pensive frown will get you complained about and fired on the spot, I’ve been conditioned to not paint but gorilla glue a smile on in front of customers. In the US you learn to flirt the sale and that you are not simple serving people but giving the full experience of eating-out. This concept is SOOOOOO not French. French wait-staff is historically renowned for running on their own time schedule, your hunger or need for rapidity is of no concern to them. In the US time is money and that means your tips!
Despite your constant blundering over pronunciations of the French words (which ALWAYS contain waaaaaaay too many consonant). Waiting tables is probably the best way for you, a student, to learn how to speak French. Half of the time you have no idea what the French people are saying because they mumble like no one’s business but speaking with them will really help you with your conversations and your vocabulary and pronunciations. In the end this job has more than one kind of pay-out.
Also when suddenly you drop your frenchie-speak and begin to speak to your English customers in a nice southern accent they are pleasantly surprised and tip very well at the end, more than I am sure they would tip if you were waiting on them in the same manner in the US. And for you the waitress it is always a pleasant experience to run into other Americans.
Between the smiling and having to speak French all day your face will be KILLING YOU along with your feet.
The sale of food is all in the flirt, kindness and cute that you can get across in a one minute speech about the soup of the day. And nothing is more charming than someone who seems to be following a very standard server script about “can I offer you something to drink to start off with” “Can I interest you in some coffee or desert today?” and then suddenly they totally sputter, spill, fudge-up their words and butcher the french language followed by small giggles. The French find the way that I am VERY charming. They love to ask me where I am from and what brings me to Paris and comment on how I speak their language. They also find my manner of smiling, and speaking to them refreshing and enjoyable (and my tips reflect it).
Even with a total of about 8 years in the food service my first day at my new Café erased any sort of credibility that my experience may have given me. I figured that waiting tables was waiting tables but NOOOOO. The system in these restaurants is totally different from that of the US.
You have the importance of the Terrace. The Parisians hold nothing more in value than sitting outside of a café and drinking espresso. It is not just a cliché it is part of their daily lives. THis part of the restaurant is sooooo very hard to take care of as you are situated inside and your ability is quite limited (especially if you are a very little cajun girl behind an abnormally high bar. Seriously I the thing makes me feel like a four-year old!)
The coffee is a very important part of the entire system. I think I may serve about 50 coffees a day.At the end of the meal about 1/2 of your tables will take deserts and 7/9 will take a coffee and in fact you become surprised when they do not take one at the end of the meal. In the US you might sell a desert once every few days. Also There is a whole new system of when to bring things out such as bread or water, drinks, and other consumables. Get ready to learn everything all over again.
All things considered becoming a waitress here in Paris has been a good idea. It gives me something to do, it improves my french, and it gives me money to spend on SHOES.