I, Too, Used to Smell Like a Tub of Garlic Bread

One night when I was waitressing I asked an older male customer if he wanted dessert. He winked and said, “yes, how about your number?” I informed him we were all out of that.

The three months I spent as a server at my local pizzeria gave me a newfound respect for everything waiters and waitresses have to put up with on a daily basis. From the 19-year-old dish washer in the back of the kitchen who made me tin foil roses (that admittedly were quite charming) to the customer who tipped me 4 percent and the Debbie Downer who told me I “smiled too much,” I’ve experienced it all.

So now when I’m at a restaurant and the food is a little late or cold or wrong, I don’t take it out on the server. Sometimes I even contemplate saying, hey, I get it—I used to be on your team. You work in a nuthouse.

I want them to know that I’m part of the club. I’ve been in their ugly (but supportive) Dr. Scholl’s shoes and I’ve come home way too many nights with a stack of ones and the smell of garlic bread seeping from my pores. I want to say all of this because when you’ve been on the other side, it’s a lot easier to see where people are coming from.

Such was the case with Chris Cassell.

A graduate of Virginia Tech’s Residential Property Management (RPM) program, Cassell interned at Archstone before working onsite for two and half years. He then transitioned into a software training role within the company, where he gained invaluable experience with revenue management. Despite his interest in the software, Cassell had no idea it would be the springboard for his next career move.

Then a year and a half ago Rainmaker, a software provider for the multifamily housing industry, offered him a position as a Business Consultant. After six years as a software trainer for Archstone, he seized the opportunity for a new challenge and an ideal transition—the same thing I did when I left the pizzeria to sell sandwiches in Ireland.

Thanks to his onsite experience, Cassell says he knows where property managers and leasing consultants are coming from and is able to “speak their language” during training sessions.

“People start to ask a question and you can see where they’re going pretty quickly,” he says. “It’s common for clients—from senior executives down to the onsite employees—to say it’s refreshing to speak with someone who has operations experience because it adds significant value during implementation and training.”

So the next time I’m at Chili’s and my waitress spills one of my 2-for-1 margaritas on the table, I’m going to take a page from Cassell and let her know it’s no big deal—I’m speaking her language.

Girl, this one time…

For information on transitioning from property management to the supplier side, check out my article, “Working Both Sides of the Industry,” in the December issue of units, which mailed Dec. 8.