My 9 to 5

I have been before, and am currently a server at a restaurant. I like to refer to myself as a waitress, but for whatever reason the term is archaic and now we say we are servers. We also tend to say in unison that we are servers while we are working towards something better. Unless you are the managing server, you can’t hold your head high and say that bringing plates of food to the masses is what you want to do forever and ever. But I think I could. All kidding aside, I could choose the right shifts and make enough to support myself sufficiently. But then I would have to combat such inquiries as, “What are you going to do with your life?” Responding with “This.” would reap many puzzled looks.

I love my job. Not because it is a terrific job that I can brag about. I serve breakfast and lunch at a bustling restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. It’s fast and fun and I love my co-workers. But I can safely say it is the strangest place I have ever worked at. Certainly not on the surface, but deeply embedded beyond the swinging doors that you don’t get to see behind, it is very very…I don’t know the proper word. I am not going to focus on the bad. I am going to speak about the fun and funny parts of being a server, particularly at my place of business.

I have a few bosses. There’s the head chef. I won’t speak of him further because I would like to keep my job. His wife is the front of house manager. This means that she is in charge of the servers, bussers, and hosts. She insists that I show up ten to fifteen minutes early or else she will worry that I am going to be late. Yup. Just today she asked me if I would mind coming in fifteen minutes late tomorrow, because she does not expect a big crowd. So, tomorrow I will show up on time. But she’s a super nice lady and I am happy to work for her.

Someone at my job is usually drunk. We do serve beer wine and champaign, but none of the customers ever drink enough to get drunk. I am not going to elaborate.

The name of the restaurant is Hell’s Kitchen. It was around years before the television show. This does not stop customers from asking if we ARE the show. I understand it’s the same name so it can be confusing. Some of the funnier questions I have gotten from customers are:

Are you all actors, or is the cooking staff really cooks?
–I think she was implying that I was not a server, but an actor. This is in theory true. I sometimes act as if I care about a customer because sometimes I really don’t care. But who would eat at a place with actors for cooks?

Does your boss really yell at you that much when there’s no cameras around?— I usually follow this question by pretending to hold back a fountain of tears.

Are we on camera right now?
— I always say yes. I am sure they like that answer much better anyhow.

Can you ask the chef if he will make me a ____________? (fill in the black with something that we don’t serve) — I ALWAYS answer this with, “Yes, but he’s in a mood today and it’ll probably cost me my job if I go into the kitchen. I am not allowed in there.” This saves me extra unnecessary steps. And it’s partially true.

Is that Al Franken/Don Shelby/Leo Kotkke? (or one of the other local celebrities that are not really that famous but they are in Minnesota) — Yes, it is.

Is that man/woman drunk? accompanied with a pointing finger at one of the employees — *crickets* followed by my footsteps walking away.

One of the weirdest dialogs I ever took part in went like this:

Them;”Do you have a tattoo”
Me: “Uh, no?”
Them: “Yeah, I could tell by your shoes. Girls with tattoos don’t wear shoes like that.”
So apparently I have loser shoes or something.

But I wear the ugly shoes because serving is hell on your body. I am decidedly scrawny, I didn’t do anything to earn my puniness, it’s genetics. And if you want to see a puny little girl grimace, watch me while I am lifting a tray loaded to the brim with double plated Huevos Rancheros. I have a fellow co-worker who is 6 feet tall and two hundred pounds who mentions how he tries to rotate which arm he carries the big trays with so he doesn’t get a sore back. I wish I had the coordination to trade sides. In my interview there were the usual hoopla of questions and the final question was, “So, can you carry the big trays?” Panic Attack. I said yes like any jobless single mother would. But the first few days of my training I sincerely thought I was going to get fired for my outright lie. I could NOT carry the big trays, I could barely lift them. It was then requested of me to carry around trays of bread after my shift until I could lift a larger load. Now one of my arms is literally larger than the other, so I am half buffed.

I am kind of trading off the good with the bad here, aren’t I. Well here’s another good:

Free toast. I work at a place that is pretty much breakfast only. Much of the breakfast plates come with toast. We go through hundreds of orders of toast a day. Being that a slice of bread costs only pennies, we are allowed to eat as much as we would like to without having to pay. I won’t lie, I have gone many nine hour shifts eating nothing but toast. I’ll alternate the toppings. One with blackberry preserves followed with one topped with peanut butter. Makes you feel like a king eating all that free bread.

So, it’s my inner pessimist’s turn:

You don’t get breaks. And there’s really no way that you can if you work in a busy restaurant. I mean, they cannot shut your section down for fifteen minutes three times a day. People will always be sitting in the tables you are assigned and they will always need lemon for their water. I would like to know how many of these people actually use lemon in their water at home. I think it’s just a power thing, they know you have to get the lemon and they are very proud that they can make you do it. Sometimes I just want to go into the bathroom and shut myself into a stall for five minutes so I can check my text messages. No I am lying, I do that every day. Stop knocking on the door to see if I am OK.

I better go to bed now. I need to show up on time tomorrow.

About kristiane

killing spiders with my laser eyes.
This entry was posted in Blogroll, drunk, job, Life and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to My 9 to 5

  1. I’ve never waited tables. I worked through college as a Bridal Consultant of all things. It was a good experience though. Prepared me well for a career in Broadcasting…interviewing people and what have you.

    I’ve always had a great amount of respect for GOOD servers. I have always thought the experiences of a waiter/waitress were pretty eye opening. Thank you for verifying that for me.

    I always ask if I can blogroll people…may I include you on mine?


  2. kristiane says:

    I am all for that, and can I in return? Thanks much!

  3. You bet…though that wasn’t my intention but yes and thank you.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Missing pulling shots? I am. I ordered a holiday latte at Caribou last nite and it was awful. I felt so proud to tell her that it was the shot that was off,not her. Which in reality, if u r properly trained,as i was, is HER fault! it’s not rocket science but i sure miss smelling of wonderfully roasted beans and making beautiful milk.

  5. kristiane says:

    Oh yes! I can honestly say that June was the last time I had a decent latte. I need to get up there and buy some beans…so long as they still use the same kind. I just love that you are a coffee snob now!

  6. Billy says:

    I have great respect for servers. My former friend was always rude to servers and it was pretty embarrassing. He had no class.

    I never understand it when people knock on the door to see if everything is ok in the bathroom. Is there a high mortality rate in the bathroom?

  7. kristiane says:

    I suppose it depends on if you live in a neighborhood with high heroin use. Bathrooms are a notorious place for junkies to OD in…why do I answer these questions? 🙂

  8. alek says:

    Will that 200-pounder ever stop whining?

    I smiled at this story.

  9. kristiane says:

    Hey! Thanks for the visit! I think, however, I was the one whining.

  10. Andrea says:

    Just like serving at Fat Boys huh? No breaks isn’t that great! I miss my “serving ” days and it was always fun working with you! Fat Boys had way to much drama, I could vent a little!

  11. kristiane says:

    Ah…FatBoys. I think my favorite part of that place was the coffee drinkers in the morning. And Jim. but definately not making malts. Working with you was the best for the lack of cattiness…and you knew what you were doing far better than anyone, myself included. Watching Mike get frustrated with you was just the cherry on top. 😉

  12. tg says:

    Shortly after graduating college, I struggled with the whole, “What am I going to do with my life?” question for a long time. Then, one day, I had an epiphany. For whatever reason, our society assumes that our contribution to the world and how we earn money need to be one and the same, and that this is “what I am.” That is stupid. If I could suddenly support myself by doing nothing more than playing online poker, but then in my off-hours wrote and acted in plays for no money…then what am I? A writer? A poker player? Does it matter?

    The point is: you COULD be a server for the rest of your life to pay the bills, but you would still be contributing to the world with your awesome writing, by raising a son who, rumor has it, is a super-genius, and by being a fantastic friend. And you can tell all those people that THAT is what you are doing with your life.

    I suspect, however, you will not be a server forever, or even much longer. Someone with a blog this popular clearly has a future in writing.

  13. kittymao says:

    Oh dood.
    I’m a waitress at an irish pub and this totally hit home.
    I’ve already written about Rocky Mountain.
    Maybe I should write about the Claddagh.
    Thanks for the Inspiration.

  14. kristiane says:

    Kittymao- there is a list… I think it’s called the commandments of serving or something, but I will send it to you it is hilarious and I think you’d appreciate it 🙂

  15. Magic Toy says:

    Asking for a lemon wedge upsets the waitress huh? Now I feel guilty. I really love the taste of lemon in ice water and I ask for it, when I remember, when I go out to eat. I started doing it a few years ago when my sister-in-law, who works for a urologist, said that adding a bit of lemon juice to your water is really good for your kidneys.

    I try to do it at home, but I am terrible at remembering to buy lemons when I go to the store. Most times I do buy them I end up leaving them in the fridge for a month and throwing them away.

    Oh well, just know that not every customer is doing it to annoy you. I always try to give servers every benefit of the doubt because I know they do a job I could not do. I could not put up with people and have the patience they do. I did work as a busboy for a few days when I was younger and I know how hard a job in a restaurant can be, especially with inconsiderate customers.

    Anyway, gotta run. It was nice checking our your site and it was nice to see your a fellow Midwesterner. My roommate in college was from Red Wing, MN and it was awesome when I visited. A very beautiful part of the country… and like you said… under appreciated.

    Take care!

  16. kristiane says:

    Hi Magic Toy! Thanks for the visit. I do know that most customers are great. And as for the lemon thing…it’s mostly annoying if you are busy and you need to walk back to the bar for just a single lemon. But I have yet to physically injure anyone over that request.

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  18. tony says:

    i was right you rule and tell that 200 lb to lose some weight

  19. kristiane says:

    Tony!- I am glad you visited!

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