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The Secret Life of a Restaurant Server

Updated on December 7, 2016

So you meet your friend at the restaurant where she works and she starts telling you about her long day, when she puts down her book with the tips she made that night just spewing out like a waterfall.

You think to yourself, "Oh my god is that from one shift? Why am I working for minimum wage when I could be making all that dough as a server?!"

I started my first restaurant job when I was 15. My dad told me it was the easiest way to make money so I was like, "Yeah okay, talk to a few people, answer some phones and clean some tables, no problem".

What he failed to mention were some pretty important details about the nature of the job. I guess he thought the best way to learn was for me to try it myself..but let me do you a favor and give you a little inside look now - trust me, you'll thank me later!

Let's Start With The Training Shifts

So you come in, expecting to just fill out some forms, follow around a server and study menus right?


There is a whole staff of maniacal servers trying to screw you up for their own personal entertainment.

They say the first day is always the hardest but restaurants take it to a whole new level.

On someone’s first shift, the chef and/or manager might go up to the new guy/girl and ask them to go get them a various amount of ridiculous items that don’t exist, such as:

- A banana peeler

- A Left handed spatula

- A Bacon stretcher

- Or even A Bucket of Steam

As you're reading this you're like, "who would actually fall for that?"

When someone in a position of power tells you to do something on your first day, you don't really argue. It is hilarious watching them try to figure it out though!

You want a what?
You want a what? | Source

Part of the Team

Okay yes, the hazing ends at some point...but that doesn't mean the harassment stops. Now you're one of 'them'. And that means you get to be part of the regular everyday pestering.

So, somebody will probably do these things to you - repeatedly:

  • Put random items in your pockets like ice...celery...sprinkles...etc.
  • Pants you
  • Burn you (yes, on purpose)
  • Spank you
  • People will actually put out food as a trap - like a cupcake filled with Chili
  • Put salt in your soda
  • Try to distract you when you're talking to a customer
  • Hold the screen so you can’t put in an order
  • Make you grab a scorching hot plate
  • Someone might even put an egg down your shirt and then give you a nice slap

Do you feel the love yet?

As if all those lovely things weren't enough, we have plenty of bets to make people do stupid things that sound really easy - but oh will they make you regret it!

  • Cinnamon challenge: Eat a spoonful of cinnamon.
  • Cracker challenge: Try to eat 6 crackers in one minute.
  • Milk challenge: Chug one gallon of milk.
  • Butter challenge: Eat one stick of butter.

Someone WILL dare you to do this. My advice - don’t.

The Real Problem

Okay that's enough about your co-workers. Obviously the worst part are those pesky customers.

Let me demonstrate with some lovely blurbs:

  • Customer-“Why is my Tilapia green? Server-“Ma’am that’s just parsley”
  • “This tastes awful; can I have a to-go box?”
  • "I didn’t order that…oh wait yes I did, I forgot"
  • "How am I supposed to eat these wings they’re too big?!"
  • "I don’t want these fries in a basket. Go put these on a plate and bring them back!"
  • "I don't want this salad, it's cold"
  • "I want my burger medium but I don't want any pink in it"
  • "How am I supposed to eat these ribs, they’re falling off the bone?!"

I'm not making these up, they were legitimate complaints!

Facepalm | Source

Let's Meet The Customers

Now let me introduce you to the bane of your existence. It doesn't really matter where you work, these will be the typical people at your tables.

  • The old people who can not hear a word
  • The really awkward couple who are going at it in the booth
  • The creepy guys who are always hitting on you
  • The families with the kids that make you never want to reproduce
  • The regulars who always tip you 10%
  • The foreigners who don't know the U.S. tipping customs
  • The table that complains about everything so they can get a free meal
  • The people who get way too drunk
  • And the ever so popular table of 16 year-olds with fake ID’s

If Only You Could Read My Mind

You probably think I'm just some bitter server but just wait, in a couple months these will be your thoughts:

  • Don’t pretend you’re trying to read my name tag I can tell you’re staring at my breasts
  • This may be shocking but plates are actually hot so when you ignore me when I come to the table, I’m burning the s*** out of my arm.
  • And when I say the plate is hot I’m not just kidding, so don’t get mad when you try to grab it and burn your hand.
  • If I’m already at your table please tell me everything you need, what makes you think I have time to run back and forth for you seventeen times?
  • If I give you good service then give me a real tip. I can’t live off your verbal compliment you jack a**!
  • We have a menu, why don’t you order off there instead of making up your own meal.
  • Don’t come in by yourself and sit in my section at a table that can hold 6 people.

  • If there are 4 open tables, please don’t sit at the one that’s dirty. And then complain that it’s dirty.
  • Don’t be one of those people that come in 5 minutes before close. You just ruined EVERYONE’S night.
  • Please don’t bring in your awful children that do nothing but run around screaming and making a mess that you have no intention of cleaning up.
  • Please don't eat half your food then tell me you want something else.
  • Don’t let your food sit on the table for twenty minutes before you eat it and then complain its cold.
  • If I ask you a question, could you not so blatantly ignore me and make me feel like an a**?

*Sigh* | Source

Signs You've Worked There Too Long

  1. The food doesn’t actually look like food anymore.
  2. The restaurant is busy as heck, but you’re actually bored.
  3. You know at least 50% of the customer’s names.
  4. You are actually capable of doing any job in the restaurant.
  5. You notice when the tiniest thing is in a different spot.
  6. The manager actually lets you drive their car to do an errand.
  7. You feel like ripping your hair out on a daily basis.

The Bitter-Sweet End

Yeah your last day you don’t get any slack either. You thought your first day was bad. Just wait...

Of course you get a cake and we’ll miss you and the whole spiel - but we are most definitely either:

  • Pie-ing you in the face
  • Ceran wrapping your car
  • Painting all over your car
  • Taking the tires off your car

Or maybe even a variation of all of the above depending on where you work.

I think you see where this is going...

You Did What To My Car?
You Did What To My Car? | Source

I'm making this sound like a giant, crazy circus - well sometimes it is - but on the bright side, there is never a dull moment. You will be weeded, frustrated, and pretty pissed off sometimes, but it will probably be one of the most entertaining jobs you'll ever have!


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    • Jen Beckers profile imageAUTHOR

      Jennifer Beckers 

      4 years ago from Palm Beach County

      Thanks Hyatt Hoss! :)

    • profile image

      Hyatt Hoss 

      4 years ago

      Great article! Funny and whitty! Great reminder of why I hated working in a restaurant lol.


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