Myth: Serving isn't a server's "real job"
Reality: Many servers use waiting tables as a part-time gig, or a stopgap, until they can get something they’d prefer doing. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s ALSO nothing wrong with those who make a career out of serving or bartending. If you’re good at it, and you’re lucky enough to land in a good situation, it’s not a terrible way to make a living. This includes people who have degrees (even advanced degrees), found out the hard way that they hate the strictures of an office job, and went back to serving as a gig that gives them plenty of free time, even despite its foibles. Every server’s personal situation is different, so stop making assumptions.
On the direct flip side of that...
Myth: Servers aren't smart enough to do anything more "serious"
Reality: Oh, just go fu*k yourself. Seriously, if you’ve ever believed this, do the world a favor and contract dengue fever. Do you know how many of your servers have had master’s degrees (or were in the process of getting one)? It’s far more than you think.
The thing about waiting tables is that while it’s physically, mentally, and (especially) emotionally draining, it isn’t nearly as much of a time commitment as a lot of gigs -- meaning if you need money but are short on time (because, say, you’re doing graduate-level student work), it’s an ideal job. Additionally, have you seen the job market? Even the highly-educated often have trouble getting full-time jobs. I’ve had friends with law degrees and freshly passed bar exams who had to wait tables for upward of a year before they could land something in their field.
So yeah, don’t make assumptions about your server, because you know what they say: When you ASSUME, you are a shithead. I think that’s how the saying goes.
Myth: Servers prepare the food themselves
Reality: This one seems clinically insane, but I’ve been assured by friends that there are far too many customers who seem to believe this. I can’t even begin to fathom how someone could be dumb enough to believe a server would have time to both wait on you AND prepare your goddamn dinner, but it apparently happens to my friends on the regular. I’m not even sure how to respond to this one other than ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Myth: Better-looking servers are better at their jobs
Reality: This, quite obviously, is not one anyone would voice out loud, but damned if it isn’t one of the most prevalent misconceptions. Look, we all know pretty people have it easier in life. That’s just an objective fact there’s no way to get around. But the persistent idea that the more attractive you are the better you must be at serving is so grotesque and insane it might as well be holding a sign at a Westboro Baptist Church protest. This isn’t really a problem for male servers, whom customers tend to rate more on how funny they are than anything else, but for women it’s a massive issue.
Attractive women servers make more in tips, on average, than less attractive ones. It’s not the way it should be, but humans are irredeemable dickhats, so here we are. The best thing you can do if you have enough decency to care about the issue is examine your own preconceptions about what constitutes “good” service every time you’re out for a meal, and honestly consider whether you’re tipping more or less based on how much of a boner your server gives you.