There are few industries that can destroy a person’s faith in humanity as quickly as the restaurant industry, and there is no doubt that the servers have the most harrowing of all jobs within.
Mainly it comes down to the fact that in most restaurants, servers are the least appreciated- we are thrown to the bottom of the totem pole without fail. Why you ask? For no real apparent reason, or at least one that I have yet to discern, (in other words, I have no fucking idea). We are essentially the atoms that keep everything together, connecting each table to the kitchen and to the bar, and so, we spend our whole work shift taking orders from everyone - the patrons, the kitchen, management. Seriously, even 8 year old children can boss us around.
And you. I’m sure you, fellow internet surfer, have had a server that you were all like, she’s not really that good. Is she crying? Ugh, I’ve been waiting for an eternity for mustard. How can I ever go on with only this mini dish of mustard? She should be smiling more while she wipes up the water I just spilled everywhere. Or whatever other trite complaint you may have had while enjoying the luxury (stop acting like it’s your right) that is eating out.
It is my belief that every single person in America should have to wait tables for at least six months of their life, because it’ll change your outlook on people and the service industry entirely.
But since that’ll never happen, let’s clear the air on some things, shall we?
Your server is just the messenger.
As a server, the main duties are to make sure that you, the patrons, have an enjoyable time and to cater to whatever ridiculous whim you may have to make sure that you do indeed have said enjoyable time.
That’s not as easy as it sounds.
Us servers are the face of everything and yet have very little control over anything.
We don’t make the drinks. We don’t cook the food. We don’t usually decide which table you should sit at. We don’t decide how much you should be charged for the tuna. (The dreaded verbal tip: this is not to say that we as servers can’t fuck up. We can and we will. But I’m hard pressed to think that at your nine to fiver job, if you have an off-day your boss comes in and says yeah, I’m just going to go ahead and not pay you two hours pay, because you just didn’t have it all together perfect today. Mmhmm, yeah.)
We have very little control over any of these things and yet all of these things going smoothly are imperative for our bills to be paid. We are the only employees in the building who literally depend on everyone else doing their job right in order to be paid properly. Generally a server makes 3-4 dollars an hour, so as the patron, your tip pretty much is my payroll. (10% douche tip: because of this, often servers will have to just do weird, dumb jobs because we’re the cheapest. Hi Becki -that’s your name right- could you just wash everything you see everywhere because I just sent all the people that cost me 8 dollars an hour home and since you only cost me nothing, we don’t have a dishwasher, bartender, or salad and desert guy, so if you could just do all of those jobs, too. Kthanksbye.)
So when your drink comes back too weak, remember that your server didn’t make it. (10% douche tip: if you order a madras or any fruity drink of the sort and tell me that you can’t taste the booze, I’m going to shrug my shoulders and think you a fool. Fruity drinks are made so you don’t taste the booze. Otherwise you should have ordered vodka on the rocks with a splash of cranberry and orange juice.) Or when your burger comes back overcooked, remember your server didn’t cook it. Or if you were sat at the table underneath the air conditioner and you’re freezing, remember your server didn’t sit you there and will make up an excuse as to why they can’t turn it off because we’re sweating to death. (Get a sweater.)
Your server would like to 86 the following immediately.
-Any tip less than 20%.
I shouldn’t have to explain this one. You’re paying our bills. If you can’t afford to tip 20% on the bone marrow you just scraped out of a dead creature’s carcass, then you can’t afford to eat out. You must be a poor person.
- Treating the dining room like it’s your own personal living room.
No, you cannot move all the tables around to your liking. Everything is set in it’s place so that we can do our job in the most efficient manner possible. If you don’t like the table that is available, we’ll be happy to let you wait for the one you prefer. Oh, you were looking for something more private? Real smart move coming to a public restaurant for privacy, jack ass. This isn’t your secret garden. We invite the whole public. In fact, the more the merrier.
Also, once your bill is paid, get up and go home. You can gossip at your own kitchen table whenever you damn well please. I need that table to pay my bills, honey. And if the restaurant is closed that doesn’t give you permission to sit and drink your water into the wee morning hours. I can’t leave until you leave, so chop chop, because I have less than seven hours before I have to start this restaurant game all over again and I’d really like to get laid before then.
- Really fucking dumb questions.
No ma’am, there is no gluten in broccoli. Yes, there is lobster in the lobster ravioli. I do not know what your wife would like best. I do not know your wife. Perhaps you should know? No, you cannot get the french onion soup without onion. No, I cannot substitute ham for bacon in the quiche. Why? Um, because it is a quiche, therefore the whole quiche is made prior to you and we do not make each slice to order. This isn’t Dominos. We don’t have personal pan quiches.
One out of every three tables will ask you one of the dumbest things you’ve ever been asked in your life and as a server you have to just grin and answer it, even though had the person just used logic for a second, they may have figured it out all on their own. People often wonder why I think I’m so much more intelligent than the general public and I can assure you, my superior opinion of myself comes directly from waiting tables.
- The idea that the customer is always right.
I am hired to have all the answers. Therefore I am right. You have never been here before. Shut up.
In the restaurant industry (and most industries honestly), we have a tendency to reward absolute assholes. You’re throwing a tantrum so we’re going to give you dinner for free. That’s ass backwards. We need to start giving out free dinners to the people who come every night and who are always pleasant. We need to start rewarding kindness and patience, not adults screaming and waving their arms around frantically as if they’re drowning and being eaten by a shark because we’re concerned with their Yelp review. Who gives a fuck about the Yelp review? We need to encourage the good customers to come back, not the people that treat others like shit.
- That joke where your plate is empty and you say either “I’d like to wrap this up and take it home!” or “It was terrible!”
Statistically, at 99.8% of the tables a server waits on, someone will try and be cleverly funny with one of these two jokes. I hear it over and over, day after day. It’s not even a little bit funny. It’s not even kind of original. It’s to the point where I just stare blankly in their sad, unfunny eyes, pat them on the shoulders while saying “there, there” as I remove their empty plate and turn my back so that we can all try and forget that terrible attempt at being comical as quickly as possible.
- “Let the chef/bartender decide.”
You know what the bartender and chef don’t have time to do? Decide what you -head count #84- should drink and eat tonight. No, what you just did is give me an opportunity to make you regret not choosing for yourself like an adult. Have the bartender make me something really fun! Fun? You want fun? All booze is fun! So we took it upon ourselves to choose for you a very fun double shot of Bacardi 151 neat with no chaser, of course. Enjoy! And for your dinner, I just closed my eyes and slammed my finger against the computer screen, hit send, and let fate do the rest. Oh, you don’t like white fish and got the haddock? Maybe next time you should just man up and make your own decisions.
- Ordering off the menu and then when we can’t do it looking at us like we just shit in your face.
For the most part, the kitchen can cater to your preferred tastes. Even though we’re not Burger King, we’ll still try and help you have it your way, but sometimes we just plain can’t. And that’s not our fault. We just may not have the means to prepare exactly what you want. We do not have a portal that leads to every ingredient ever available. We do not staff the kitchen with wizards who can pull swiss cheese out of a hat. We have a menu and you are more than welcome to look at it and then decide to eat somewhere else. But please, spare your looks of utter disgust. Thanks. (Also, please remember, the more specialized your order gets, the more the kitchen hates us. Not you, us.)
If you want separate checks, sit at the bar. They are the bane of a server’s existence. Why? Because it’s a huge pain in the ass- a much bigger pain in the ass than the basic addition you and your friends may have to preform if you get one check. There is no excusable time for them. Ever. End of discussion.
But on top of all that…
Your server is starving and has to pee.
As a server, there are no breaks. If the people need something, all of your server’s needs get pushed aside, which means while you’re pissed that you waited 3 minutes for an extra extra dry martini, your server may have been waiting 6 hours just to take a pee. (10% douche tip: an “extra extra dry martini” is actually just vodka up and chilled. I know martini sounds all sophisticated and stuff, but just accept that you’re a drunk person and ask for what you’re really ordering- a cup full of cold vodka.)
But wait, you say! You work in a restaurant! You must eat like a king!
Oh, the irony.
I’ve never eaten at a state penitentiary, but I’m willing to bet that what they serve for dinner is on the same level as “staff meal.” First, most chefs, cooks, whatever, get a bonus for every potato they don’t mash, for every french fry they don’t toss on your plate. (10% douche tip: in many restaurants, the only employees who don’t get a bonus of some kind are the servers.) Second, cooks are often the most pissed off people in the world and usually have two felonies and a bad drinking problem. I triple dog dare you to ask them to make you something edible. They probably won’t even hear you because they’ll be too busy weeping about all of their special order woes to whoever is rolling silverware in the kitchen. (10% douche tip: I met my last boyfriend in a kitchen and we worked side by side for a while and I ate like a champion. Line cook boyfriend: Hey Becki, you hungry? Yes? Okay, good because I already made you macaroni and cheese with 4 different cheeses, spinach, bacon, and truffle oil. Me: Dude, we have truffle oil? We serve mozzarella sticks. Oh, you brought it in just for me? Thank you once again, vagina. Sure, date the line cook, but marry the bartender. Drinks on the HOUSE! They make more money, typically have a better disposition, and don’t always smell like a chicken tender. Trust me.)
Your server always -always- has somewhere else to be.
The best phrase for any server to hear is “You’re cut.”
Basically, what that means is you can stop working and start drinking. And quite frankly, not a single server actually wants to be waiting tables.
No, but seriously, there is always something going on when we have to work. You know, like Christmas. Or a dude that smells like cigarettes and Axe body spray that we could be making out with. Or maybe we could be jerking off to the image of Nicki Minaj dressed as a ninja turtle. Whatever. There is always something better we could be doing than bringing you extra ketchup. Our line of work seems so tedious sometimes that all other things seem to hold precedence. Oh, you need another lemon for your free water? Really asshole? Because I have to check and see if my favorite porn site uploaded any new videos.
We sacrifice every holiday, every Friday night dinner party, and every single tag sale that ever occurs (because no one sells their ten year old microwave on a Tuesday), all so that you can take that girl you met on OkCupid out to dinner and try and get her drunk enough to give you a blow jay.
In other words, as a server, when you get cut on Christmas Eve and get to go drink egg nog with your nine to fiver friends, it’s like a Christmas miracle. (10% douche tip: close on the major holidays, for Christ’s sake. Put down your profit spreadsheets and let people enjoy life like regular humans for once. I’d gladly give up a night’s pay to drink red wine with my family so that they can tell me I have a drinking problem.) Or when you get cut on a slow Wednesday night and get to go home and watch 100 episodes of House of Cards back to back to back, it’s also a grand miracle. No matter what you are doing- it’s better than asking a bunch of strangers “can I start you folks off with something to drink tonight?”
Almost all servers start this line of work as a temporary means to support their actual dream. (My dream? To write dick jokes, of course.) You know, to pay their way through school or so they can make money but still make that 10:00 a.m. audition for Broadway. Why would anyone choose a career with absolutely no benefits (you can’t even eat the food), with absolutely no sick days and where you’ll probably get fired if you call in at all (no one will even notice you have Ebola when you deliver their food, hop to it, we’ve got 90 on the books and their dinner is more important than your well being), where everyone thinks you’re dumb, whether it’s the kitchen or the public (even though you sport a 4.0 GPA, read textbooks for fun, and have a vocabulary that would rival the dictionary’s- NBD, because table 35 needs another seabreeze), and where for the most part no one ever really thanks you for working 16 hour days with no break (unless you count being told you didn’t sweep well enough the night before a half-hearted thanks).
No one would choose that forever. So when you wake up one day and realize, you’re still doing this crap, it can be disheartening and turn you bitter. How does one cope?
Well… your server is probably nursing a hangover and/or the clap.
Your server may or may not be addicted to alcohol, drugs, and/or sex.
But there is a good chance he or she is.
morning afternoon, you awake with the best of intentions: I’m totally not going to fuck that guy who watches “Deadliest Catch” and makes out with me like his tongue is one of those things in an automatic car wash. Nope. And I’m so definitely not going to have 143 shots of Jamesons tonight. No way. And there is no way in HELL I’m going to sneak into the walk in, strip off all of my clothes, and then take nude photos and send them to the whole kitchen staff and see which one shows up first. Uh uh, never doing that again! I am totally going to get through this day on my very best behavior.
And then you go to work and clock in. And all those good intentions fly right out the window. And suddenly, you realize it’s 2 AM and you’re dancing on the bar totally topless making out with the married dishwasher while every single one of your coworkers is cheering and telling you how much fun you are and you’re all laughing because you all decided to quit drinking that morning and here you all are- drunk.
And you wake up the next morning and your head is pounding and you can’t find your underwear and you say to yourself I’m not doing any of that ever again. I swear. But guess what? You have to work that night. And you go and clock in, and turn around, and there is some hunky new busser from Guatemala and you can’t help but wonder what he looks like naked and then your first table special orders everything and leaves you absolutely no tip and then the line tells you you’re dumber than a box of rocks and you don’t even know why and the bartender is hungover and can’t put up drinks fast enough and all of your tables are telling you are a horrible person because they didn’t get their PBRs at lightening speed and the food runner just dropped a whole tray of appetizers and table 47′s dumplings aren’t cooked in the center and then you realize you haven’t gotten your period in four months and the geriatric guy at table 35 just slapped your ass and you have to just smile and some lady thinks her drink is too strong and the kids at table 27 just threw all the sugars and silverware on the floor and then some dude texts you that you’re both soul mates because you both use the same tooth brush and you’re like what the fuck does that even mean?! …
And as you pass another one of your fellow servers they look at you in a state of shock and paralysis and mutter we’re getting a fucking drink tonight, right? and you have no choice but to involuntarily answer YES, we’re getting seven and then reply to your dental hygiene fate lover’s text sure, whatever, we’re soul mates, meet me at my house after I get hammered because I couldn’t feel any more rock bottom, but I’m going to try. I think boning you just may do it.
And that’s just the first hour.
By the end of your shift you’ve snow balled right into breaking 8 out of 10 commandments when it would have just been easier to quit your damn job.
Your server hates you.
But don’t take it too personally. It’s not you, it’s everyone.