You can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat restaurant wait staff. For some reason, people feel they can treat people in the service industry as if they are subhuman. I’ve seen people at outdoor cafes treat their dog better than they treat the waiter.

We all know that one person who complains, consistently sends food back to the kitchen, and generally acts like a jerk. That same person might seem perfectly normal in every other scenario, a restaurant seems to bring out the true self of the truly selfish.

As someone who waited tables in her younger days, perhaps I’m extra sensitive. Honestly, I believe everyone should be required to wait tables at some point in their life. It gives you a real sense of just how kind and cruel humanity can be. And teaches you how to manage dealing with the best and worst us humans can dish out.

Quite frankly, as someone who also has an MBA, I think I probably learned more practical business skills as a waitress than I did crunching numbers in statistics or accounting. If you can figure out how to provide great service (or the illusion of great service) in the midst of one of those days when EVERYTHING goes wrong, then you can master retaining customers — the key to longevity in any business.

I recently came upon this old article from The Guardian — the title of which sums this all up quite nicely, “never trust anyone who is rude to a waiter.”

It reminded me that the lunch or dinner meeting is a crucial part of hiring a new employee, contractor or vendor. It’s also a smart move for a potential client. The small investment of a meal will teach you more about what your future might be like together than any interview or reference.