Three Things I Learnt From Being a Waitress

I got my first job the summer after I had finished my GCSE’s. The role was waitressing at a family run cafe in a busy town centre. I was working mainly just Saturdays on a measly £4.50 an hour wage (so earning roughly £30 a week including tips). Despite being absolutely terrified when I started, as everyone is when starting their first job, I ended up loving it. I worked with some amazing (and admittedly not so amazing) people, got trained to make fancy coffees and by the end of my time working there I was probably one of the best workers there and I expect they kinda fell apart when I left for more hours and way better money working in the dairy section at my local Tesco (worst job ever but the dough was worth it, well, sort of). I worked at this cafe for around 18 months, and let me tell you I learnt a lot of things. Whether the knowledge I gained is useful for jobs I may have in the future, I don’t know, however it may be useful to whoever’s reading this post. Maybe you’re just starting out doing restaurant work and want to know what to expect, or maybe you are already or have previously worked in this environment and just want to laugh and relate to the ups and downs of life as a server. Either way, here is a list of things I learnt from being a waitress, enjoy.

  1. Middle-aged people are rude as ****You’ve probably heard this one a lot from people who have worked as servers or in any kind of customer service role. I myself still cannot figure out why this is a thing, but trust me, it’s truer than Kylie Jenner’s pregnancy rumors. The kindest age groups are either your lovely little OAPs or young people ranging from about 14-30 years of age. These people were usually the nicest to me when I was a waitress; they would always be understanding if it was busy and things were maybe taking a little longer than usual, would not bite my head off if I or one of the kitchen staff had made a mistake and would always thank me and be polite. Middle-agers on the other hand… well. Lets just say if there is the slightest mistake with their order, or if something takes longer than they expected it to (because god forbid if something takes more than 15 minutes), they will not be happy. More often than not, they demand to talk to the manager and they think they are entitled to free food just because the plate wasn’t warm enough for them. Seriously?
  2. There is no job harder than being a server (except maybe retail/shop work). By this I mean that the job is both mentally and physically exhausting. Being on your feet rushing around for 8 hours (plus side of this being I lost a good amount of weight), making up drinks, taking payments, dealing with rude and difficult customers and getting wrinkly fingers from standing in the same spot cleaning dishes for over an hour with only a short 20 minute break really takes it out of you. May I also add that there would be times that I went without a break for the entire shift due to the cafe being too busy. In order to get a break at all, I had to work more than 6 hours. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t even get 10 minutes (I was 16!). Don’t get me wrong, I have respect for those who can sit in an office for hours and hours doing some kind of work involving big numbers that I’m sure would make my brain implode, however do not sit there at your fancy desk in your big leather chair and tell me that I am being dramatic. Servers deserve so much more respect than they get, trust me. I know not all restaurants and cafes are like this; many business’s do their best to look after their employees, making sure they have regular breaks and are not being pushed too hard. This is my own personal experience of waitressing.
  3.  You have way too many creepy encounters, especially if you are a young girl. For some reason, there’s something about being a waitress that makes people look at you as if you aren’t really a person. You’re there to keep the customers happy, fake laugh at their bad jokes, bring them food and clean up after them. Yes, I guess that technically is your job, however they do need to remember you are a real person, with real feelings and a life outside of your job. Not only did I encounter some very rude customers, but also some very creepy and even inappropriate ones. Not to be stereotypical, but these people were more often than not older men, 60 years+. Of course, it all depends on what kind of establishment you’re actually working in. In my case, the older men would often make comments that would make me feel extremely uncomfortable. For example, there was a time that I was working and an old man who was one of our regulars beckoned me over. I made my way to him and got out my pen and pad expecting him to order something. Instead, he pulled me closer to him by my wrist and proceeded to tell me that he ‘preferred my body to the other girls working, as they were all stick thin and I had some meat and curves on me’. Luckily, one of the other waitresses saw how uncomfortable I was and pretended she needed me to do something in order to get me away. This man acted this way to a lot of the other girls I worked with, however nothing was done about it as he was a regular and they didn’t want to lose out on any money. Charming, right?

Overall, I enjoyed my time as a waitress. I could have had a far worse first job, however the role definitely isn’t for everyone. I hope this gave people some insight into what this job can be like, and if you relate to anything I’ve mentioned, comment what it was that you also experienced as a server, or maybe anything that I missed out. I don’t think I’ll be taking up another job as a waitress any time soon, my acrylic nails mean way too much to me. Thanks for reading!

– S x

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