The life of a waitress

Waitress is actually one of my new favorite movies, and not just because I am one

Waitress is actually one of my new favorite movies, and not just because I am one

Here’s another waitressing rant, because that’s mostly what I’ve been doing this summer. We get about five different types of customers at the restaurant I work at, which is a low quality, high volume sort of diner place.

First there’s the little old couples. They make up a huge portion of our clientelle and they sit there quietly sipping their coffees and share the clubhouse and fries and maybe they’ll have soup as well on a special occasion. They’re adorable and sweet, although half the time I’m pretty sure they can’t hear what I’m saying. Also, they haven’t quite caught up with inflation, so their tips tend to be a few quarters.

There’s always the teenagers and twenty somethings, who are really chill and don’t need a lot of attention, but always order the most annoying items like milkshakes which take me forever to make. And they constantly need refills. Apparently we teenagers are thirsty people I guess.

There’s always a lot of young families too, and they’re generally nice, but always look tired and overwhelmed by the whole restaurant experience. They’re the most likely to say something like, “do you just have a ham sandwich?” because they’re too exhausted or busy dealing with their kids to read the menu. The kids always make a big mess, but most parents at least make some effort to clean up after them and smile at me apologetically as they leave. I appreciate the thought at least.

Then there’s the empty nesters, who are maybe in their late forties or early fifties and have nothing to do but go out for every meal. One of them (usually the woman, sorry girls) tends to be overly picky. I don’t know why this is true for this age group, but I swear, whenever a middle aged couple comes one of them is all like, no tomatoes, mushrooms instead, and can I add bacon? And do you have raspberry vinaigrette dressing? No? Well then I don’t want dressing. Actually I’ll have oil and vinegar then. On the side. And chicken grilled, not breaded. And this coffee tastes old hon, you better make me a new pot. And I want milk with my coffee, not cream and honey instead of sugar.

….ARGHHHHH! Okay I get that people have personal preferences; I myself like milk in my coffee instead of cream. But I feel like some people honestly just do this to make my life worse.

If there’s anything waitressing has taught me it’s that I’m not as normal as I thought I was, at least not when it comes to eating out. First of all, I order off the menu. I’ve never tried to order something that wasn’t on the menu, but I would say about a third of my customers do. The other thing is that I actually read the menu. I would say three quarters or more of the people who come into the diner choose their meal based on the pictures. We have these awesome banana pecan pancakes, but I swear that the reason no one orders them is because there’s no picture. The two most common items ordered also happen to be the two that have the biggest pictures. That’s hardly a coincidence, and honestly, it makes me kind of sad. People also never read to see what sides their meal comes with, and they always seem surprised when I ask them. A lot of times I’m like, “how do you like your eggs?” and they’re like, “this comes with eggs?”

The jury is out on this whole waitressing thing. On one hand it’s both tiring and depressing, but on the other hand, some customers are really great and they make my day. I love the sarcastic old guys who come in and tease me, and the older ladies who come in together to catch up and laugh. I love our cook, who is always trying to make me smile, and the other waitresses who are so excited for me and want to hear all about my university plans.

And okay, the tips don’t suck.

P.S. I’m on Twitter now! Check me out @kaysfairytale

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9 thoughts on “The life of a waitress

  1. I have long suspected people don’t read. Now I know.

    With the picky empty nesters, I suspect they have nothing more exciting to do and no other way of feeling important than getting a meal out (at a diner!) prepared exactly the way they would like.

  2. Yup. Absolutely.

    I played the food service game for a LONG time (between kitchen, serving, bar tending and managing) and HOLY WOW – yup. Nail on the head, lady. I totally get the odd substitution, or taking onions off of your burger…but re-creating the entire dish? Come on…. Really…? Could you MAYBE consider cooking at home? MAYBE order something OFF OF THE MENU…?

    (I’m with you. I RARELY, if ever, alter menu items. Unless it’s removing feta from a side salad because I’m avoiding soft cheese due to pregnancy, I’m not going to re-write a perfectly good menu item.)

    • EXACTLY! If you don’t want what we have on the menu then EAT AT HOME!
      I’m impressed that you worked in a kitchen. I’ve been close enough to know that I absolutely could not do that job. Too hot and confined and chaotic.

      • Bah. I started in the kitchen. 🙂 I was SUPER shy when I started in the restaurant biz, I would never have been hired for FOH work. 🙂 Plus the chaos? Can be a lot of fun – especially on Friday and Saturday nights! (Best job in the whole restaurant, though? Expo. I LOVED to expo. Heh…again, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.)

  3. “This comes with eggs?”. Hahaha, for some reason that made me laugh!

    I’m quite picky when it comes to vegetables, so if something just says it’s served with “vegetables” I usually avoid ordering it because I know they’re likely to be the wrong kind (in Germany, vegetables means broccoli about 70-80% of the time). Fried eggs make me feel sick, so if a dish I want comes with that I’ll either order it without or, if my boyfriend is around, order the meal as it is and give him the egg.

    A friend of my family has coeliac disease (i.e. allergy to gluten) and can’t eat anything with wheat in it. That can get awkward at restaurants… the good ones will find a way to accommodate her though. I also have a friend who’s lactose intolerant. At one restaurant in Galway, she specifically asked which dish on the menu didn’t contain dairy, was told chicken salad was all she could have and ordered that only for it to turn up with grated cheese on the plate…

    • I completely understand people who have allergies. Whenever I have a customer with an allergy I threaten the cooks lives if they screw up the order and get my customer sick. That’s different than just being a picky old fart. I definitely always ask about the vegetables too, especially in Canada in the winter when there is absolutely nothing in season.

  4. Kay, you would appear to be the perky sweet young waitress that I am always prone to flirting with. Though I don’t know which group but most likely (cause it’s not on the menu) I am somewhere between the old couple (half) and the emptynester. In my defense though if I get good service I tip very very well. Take care, and like your friends at the diner I enjoy your stories about what college life is going to be like for you. — Bill

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