Everyone should work in a restaurant at one point in there lives. You learn so much working in a restaurant: how to think on your feet, what it takes to make a meal, to make a drink. You learn how not to behave as a consumer, you learn etiquette, teamwork and the value of a long day or nights work.
If you're in the kitchen you learn how to put up with pain, stay hydrated in less than human conditions. In the summer, you learn to take 5 towels at the start of a shift, soak them in water and fold them in an arch, and put them in the freezer. Then while on the line you can put the frozen towel around your neck to stay cool. You learn that the more burns you have on your arms and hands just means you've put in more hours on sauté. You learn how to re-cook a filet to medium in under 8 minutes. You learn commands like "all day" and "on the fly".
If you're a server you learn how to cozy up to the bartenders so that your seemingly harmless glass of coke in the break room, can be half full of rum. You learn how to wait tables under any name, because when you forget your name tag and pull one out of the spares, you might just have to be Gerald that evening. You learn to serve from the left and pull from the right, to say things like "pardon my reach" and to call the person paying by name as evidenced by their credit card. You learn how to garnish a plate, how to open and serve wine. You learn how to upsell from a crap $30 bottle of Chianti to a $90 Super Tuscan.
In both the front and back you often get to learn spanish too because so many restaurants employ latin immigrants. -Very cool.
But most of all in both front and back of the house, you learn how to be a team. You work those tough nights together and you likely celebrated together afterwards. You may have made lifelong friendships (ahem... sounds_sound, cW). Working in restaurants is FUN. If you have not and you would like to... I highly recommend it.
Below is a photo of the restaurant I waited tables at, worked in the kitchen at and eventually managed. I met cW and sounds_sound while working there. Good times!
Where have you worked?