I’ve done it all, from busser to F&B manager, in dive bars and fine dining. Now many years down the road and well entrenched in an office job, hospitality has gained a glimmering nostalgic sheen that makes me want to forsake my spreadsheets and steady income and run screaming back. The reality is: the 9 to 5 office life is a long Montana road barreling toward death on the horizon at 90 mph, while hospitality is more like the mountain roads where I live. You can never see more than 100 feet in front of you. Even though you know the inevitable lies ahead, at least you can lose yourself in the variety and the uncertainty that each shift holds.
I crave it- the chaos, the camaraderie, the personality prostitution- the affirmation of my worth with cash approval. I needed it like a rodent needs to chew to keep its teeth from growing into its brain.
I guess I’ve been waxing poetic and nostalgic but what we all really want to hear about are the assholes who are the bane of the server’s life What good is a story without a villain.
Below are some jabs, victories and revelations.
-The bitchiest way I was ever stiffed:
Old dried up hag: “Want a tip honey, buy a brush. “
-I once threw a woman’s change in her face, and yes she really had it coming. Only bar tending can you get away with this move.
-A guy came to my service window and wordlessly pulled out his junk. I turned around and grabbed a can of beer, put it down, said ” I’m sorry” and walked away.
-I only “stole” from a customer once. He was in the hotel bar/restaurant and was an utter and complete lecherous fucktard that harassed me and every female server working. When I walked behind him I noticed he had dropped a $50 on the floor nearby. I put my foot on it and stood there until I could safely retrieve it. When he left I gave it to the servers to split.
-Breakfast and lunch service are really only for masochists and lifers. We’ve all worked with the 50ish lady who’s just a little plump and is a serious pro but she only works days. She cares a lot about how you separate coffee filters and will talk endless smack about the freaks that work night shift, their debaucherous ways and how they get away with shirking all side work. Really unless a breakfast order ( or breakfast shift) starts with a pitcher of mimosas you know it’s going to be a losing venture.
-I’ve had a lady ask for change for a quarter so she could leave me a tip on her horrific and insanely complicated Remus Fizz. There wasn’t an ounce of contempt in her, that was her being generous.
-I have cut off a pregnant woman after her second white Russian by telling her the fetus was not 21. I shouldn’t be forced into Camus like dilemmas while making $5 an hour.
In the end it’s hard to recall all the war stories. I know I was abused, I know I shed many tears and kicked a lot of boxes in the back of the house. But what remains now some 5 years later is a longing. I was a damn good server, an even better bartender and I made great money doing it. Perhaps the only thing that compelled me to “get a real job” was the fear that I would end up that 50ish pro server eyeballing some lovely young girl as she mangled the coffee filters.