For about 10 years, out of town baseball trips have always included visits to Waffle House for me. Whether it is late night post-game, or early morning pre-game, there is connection in my mind between Waffle House and travel baseball. Part of it is no doubt the overlap between Waffle House locations and good baseball. It is a special place, any time of the day or night. Good Food, Fast is the motto. Plus, some entertainment.You can learn a lot from Waffle House if you pay attention. So, this is first installment of “Lessons from Waffle House”.
My wife Lauree shares my affection for Waffle House. A big difference, though, is that she actually has conversations with people and learns things. Here is what she learned at Waffle House in Southaven MS this weekend:
Of the people who are given jobs as wait staff or cooks at Waffle House:
Only 1 in 5 (20%) make it through the 2 week training
Only 1 in 10 (10%) make it through the 3 month mark
Only 1 in 80 (1.25%) make it through their 1 year anniversary.
The way Waffle House operates demands fast paced work, good communication and the ability to learn a strict verbal cue system for ordering, food prep and service. It is a very challenging job. There is little room for error — if you screw up the verbal cues at Waffle House, all hell would probably break loose. I would end up with onions in my hash browns. So, people try out for the job, the vast majority fail or are fired and then they move on to more traditional work.
As 14 year veteran waitress Margie boasted on Saturday morning “If you can work at Waffle House, you can work anywhere”.
And you thought playing college baseball was hard to do. 7% of high school baseball players go on to play college baseball at some level. It takes a lot of training, playing, practicing and hard work to get there. Those are pretty stiff odds. But, a lot better odds than making a career at Waffle House.
It’s not just Waffle House and baseball though. To EXCEL at something, to be EXCEPTIONAL requires you to stand out and beat the odds. Part of it is talent, part is effort, part is passion and a big part is perseverance — the ability to overcome barriers that block other people. That how exceptional performers separate themselves. To be exceptional, you need to do exceptional things.
I love the “aweful waffle” as we affectionately call it, but I have not figured out how to get my wife aboard that train.