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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dear Bitchy Waiter

I reached into the old mailbag and pulled out this letter from someone seeking my advice. I hope I can help this dear child. You can email me here if you have a question that needs attention. Or you can just say hello. That's nice too.

Dear Bitchy Waiter,

My friends and I recently turned eighteen, so now several of them (including myself) are considering applying to become waiters as a summer job. My friends think that the tips you earn as a waiter make it worth being one. Since I've read your blog for several months now, and you seem to be somewhat of an expert on the subject, I thought I'd ask you. I have learned many of the negatives to being a waiter from your entries. But I was wondering, is it worth it? Does the money make up for all the annoyances that come with being waitstaff? Have you ever had a non-food industry job (aside from acting)? I'm worried that I'd end up bitching out customers.
I am Just a Poor Girl From a Poor Family
(Well, not really, but it sounded a little catchy. Sorry if you aren't a Queen fan)

Dear Poor Girl From a Poor Family,

Yes, there are a lot of negatives to being a server. Smelling like fajitas, having clothes that are covered in grease stains and dealing with rude customers are just a few of the pitfalls of waiting tables. However, it can definitely be worth it. I think a few months of waiting tables as an 18 year old would be a perfect option for you to fill your summer days. Yes, the hourly wage is hardly anything, but when you factor in your tips, it can be quite a profitable job. Just the other day, I worked for a total of nine hours and walked with $231. That comes out to an average of $25.67 an hour take home. Not too bad, right? If you get a job at The Gap and they paid you the minimum wage of $7.25 (here in NYC) you would only pull in $65.25 before taxes or maybe a net of about fifty bucks. Ouch. Of course, not all shifts average out to $25 an hour, but it's always better than minimum wage.

If you have no experience, it may be hard to step right into a waiting job. Chains like Applebee's and Outback Steakhouse are more willing to take someone with little or no experience because they have major training programs. Or sometimes you have to be a busser or host first to prove your worth to the manager and then maybe they will move you up to a server. (If the manager asks for sexual favors in exchange for a server position, I would recommend getting that in writing. Trust me, you don't want to get scabby knees from doing a "no-no" behind the dumpster of the Bennigan's in Humble, Texas and still be a busser. Don't ask me how I know this. The shame is far too great.)

I doubt that you will end up bitching out customers. No matter how annoying they can be, most of servers quickly learn to let it roll off our backs. It's not worth it. Always remember this: "it's just lunch and they will have another one every day for the rest of their lives." It keeps it in perspective. Internalize your rage and then go home and blog about like I do. It does wonders. Please keep me posted. I'd love to know how it goes for you.

In regards to your other question about my non-food industry jobs. I hope to write a book one day about the jobs I have had over the years: real estate agent, substitute teacher, theater reviewer, Pottery Barn whore, amusement park employee, ceramics sales rep, jewelry sales rep... God it's pathetic how many jobs I have had.

The Bitchy Waiter

Email me here if you have a question.


toni said...

Good advice. I also spent a few years as a waiter. It's good experience in so many ways. Also, it's my personal opinion that EVERYONE who plans to eat in a restaurant should first work a couple months in a restaurant. It gives you a better understanding of what is good service, what is bad service, and some things to factor in that might make service less than perfect. [other than a lazy person with a poor attitude. :]

SkippyMom said...

Good advice.

I have to second that the benefits far outweigh the negatives and I have never in 10 years of serving, ever cussed out a customer. You do learn to let it roll off because eventually the leave and a new set comes in.

It can be a heck of a lot of fun if you let it. And the money is great if you are good at your job. Most servers are otherwise they wouldn't have a job.

Good luck. And have fun.

Kitten with a Whisk said...

I agree that waiting for the summer would be a great job. Now that I'm older and work a 9-5, I miss the old days of working in hospitality. You learn a lot and will any chance make some great friends.

LadyRapunzel said...

I waited tables for two summers while I was in college. It was a good job (better than my next job, which was a summer camp counselor). I say go for it.

Maria said...

You know, Bitchy, that was a really nice response with great advice. Who says bitches don't have hearts of gold?

Mary A. said...

As someone who hires people, I will tell you that with serving experience when they were 18 is more valuable to me than someone who had internships when they were 18. The server knows how to work hard. The intern thinks they are doing you a favor.

SharleneT said...

I agree. The flexibility, alone, is well worth the job. I did for several years before opening my own business (where my clients ALL became my bosses, and flexibility was, like, yeah, right.) If you are pleasant, chances are customers will tip well -- but, there are exceptions and Bitchy Waiter here may tend to exaggerate to write a good column -- but it's usually because you're in a high end restaurant. And, there, you have to memorize everything that goes into anything -- and, then, they change the dailies. Go for it. You'll have a ball.

watergirl said...

The tips (almost) always make up for the temporary frustration. Plus, it's never boring like cashiering at your local grocery store will be.

I never worried about bitching out a customer. I DID worry about bitchslapping a few.

Well, that and pouring the water pitcher into an old man's lap for playing grabass.

Ferris said...

I bussed tables and washed dishes from when I was 14 until 17. I was an Entertainer at Six Flags. Did a few summers of acting, too. Work in retail now, as well as hospitality/tourism...I have to say that working at a restaurant was one of the most rewarding jobs I had while in high school.

CarrieAnn said...

Isn't anyone else laughing like crazy at the term "no-no"?!

Noelle said...

Excellent advice. EVERYONE should have the pleasure and the privilege of being a server. It makes your soul whole.
And it makes you not be such a pain in the ass to wait on when you leave college and become a teacher.

Little redhead said...

Wow that's quite a bit of money! Not like that here in Belgium! Waiters just get a wage and tipping is not common, so you pretty much get a minimum wage and a rediculously low amount of tips. So maybe they should do tipping here too! I waited one summer and the owners were the meanest people ever, for such long hours of work the amount of money I got in the end was not worth the yelling and the lack of food. Couldn't even sit down to fold napkins if it was a slow day, had to go to the loo to get off my feet for one second. Crazy people.

Kid said...

I'm in England. We don't tip so good.

I apologise for when we visit on vacation. There's no excuse.

The Kid In The Front Row said...

I'm in England. We don't tip so good.

I apologise for when we visit on vacation. There's no excuse.

The Kid In The Front Row said...

And I commented twice, just to be confusing. Apologies.

sally said...

Two more benefits of restaurant work: Once you learn how to wait tables, you have a skill that is always in need--as long as you are physically able to carry trays, be on your feet all day, you will be able to find work.
also--Waiting tables keeps you in shape. It's a forced workout and it builds muscle mass.

Emmylee said...

I recently stumbled across your blog and have been reading it in reverse :\ Anyway, you're references to Houston always amuse me because I grew up in the area and am familiar with the places you've mentioned. This particular blog hit home because I grew up in Humble!! I haven't been there in about a decade, but still it was a minor mood lifter!