Many people living in a tourist town will take their turn as a restaurant employee at some point. A few (see Mama Bea page: __) will make it their lifelong career. We talked to four “career servers” who remind you to see the humanity behind the uniform. They want you to have an enjoyable experience while in their care, and to be aware that your actions affect their experience. Make no mistake, this is a skilled and chosen profession. Mariposa Velez, in the business for 26 years, describes her attraction to working in restaurants: “I love people, I love food, I love great conversation. To be able to help create an experience for someone that includes all of these elements serves my soul.”

“Bottom line,” says Shaleigh Holland, server for 30 years, “Treat people the way you want to be treated: be polite, kind, and patient.”

The four servers we queried have a combined total of 120 years experience working in restaurants. Here is how you can make their job more wonderful.

Don’t self-seat at a dirty table.

Respect the order of operations. First, I’ll greet you (and please don’t respond with “BURGER”), then I’ll take your drink order, then when I return with your drinks, I’ll take your meal order. This helps the whole restaurant team work more efficiently.

Don’t wave me down saying you’re ready to order. I know why you’re here.

Bring toys or books to entertain your children, something they can play with other than the condiments. And please, clean up after them.

If you stay at a table for 2-3 hours, especially during a busy time when I could be turning that table 2-3 times, please tip accordingly.

Don’t forget to add a tip on your credit card slip. I tip out 10 percent to back of house, bussers, hostesses, and bar. If you forget to tip me, it costs me money to serve your table.

Coordinate your table’s drink orders so I’m not coming back for each individual’s drink.

Don’t use half a sugar packet and put it back in the sugar holder.

Don’t use your glass as a trash can.

When I come to check on how you’re meal is, please acknowledge my presence.

Don’t forget to tip on items you receive for free. I do the same amount of work even if you get more for less.

Get off your *@$%! phone.