It’s a Saturday night. The crowd is desolate for 4:00 p.m. Its 4:30 p.m., the regulars start to pour in. The hostess is preparing for the reservations as the kitchen turns up the heat to the stove. The owner starts to turn up the music, secure the alcohol in the bar, make sure the food is stocked up, salt and pepper shakers are full, and takes a final walkthrough making sure everything seems to be running right for her customers in Berwick, Pa., a small town where everyone knows everyone.
When people think about servers they ask themselves this question: how hard can it be? Well, let me paint you a picture. While working as a hostess, I have found a newfound admiration and respect for these people with their unexplainable patience and ability to handle the utmost stress both mentally and physically.
Imagine having to stand and run around for at least eight hours a day, being yelled at and ordered around usually by more than one person at once. Also, having to remember who wanted what, which tables you have, what they requested for and what your boss asked you to do.
“Throughout the day, I’m constantly making and remaking to-do lists,” a waitress explains. “My lists are constantly interrupted by customers stopping you and the kitchen buzzing you that your food is ready, to name only a few.”
The most astonishing discovery was how ill-mannered people can be.
A steak that has only morsels left and has clearly already been eaten rests on the plate as the women shouts at their waitress, “My steak wasn’t cooked the way I wanted! I am not paying for this!” While the waitress asks if there is anything she can do for the woman, she is rolling her eyes and talking to her like you would explain addition to an infant, when all the waitress did was get the food that the woman asked for. The couple leaves with the bill paid but, only leaving a tip of 11 cents.
Did you know that waitresses only make about two dollars an hour? Their entire income comes strictly from tips and they work until their legs feel like lead at the end of the night to make them.
“There’s a difference between slaves and servers,” another waitress says, “People take advantage of us and call us stupid, acting as though we cannot do anything right. It takes a toll on you.”
It’s about 8:00 p.m. and the dining crowd starts to die down while the bar area starts to pick up. Women are slurring their words as men are shouting profanities. While standing at the hostess booth next to the bar, you would not believe the lines people come up with.
As the waitress’s shifts come to a close, they share stories of their customers throughout the night. Some more bizarre than others. They count out their tips from the evening, clean up their assigned areas, tip out the bartenders and enjoy the shift drink that they are promised once the night is over.
Working in a restaurant is more than a learning experience. You begin to question and ponder upon the realities of how to treat a human being and have more respect for the ones that realize that kindness goes a long way.