Waiting Tables “Really Isn’t That Hard”

I'm sure she will be deleting this Tweet any second now...

I’m sure she will be deleting this Tweet any second now…

For many people who are not in the wonderful world of food service, waiting tables seems like an easy job. In all honesty, being a server is not as difficult as operating on a brain or controlling air traffic coming in and out of JFK. Then again, I have never done either of those jobs, so I can’t be certain. Maybe they are easy jobs and the people who work in those positions just try to keep it a secret so more of us don’t rush into graduate school and try to usurp their cushy employment. What I do know is that waiting tables isn’t always easy and I need to prove that to a random Tweeter named Ra’Kel who thinks it is. Or at least this Tweet makes me think that.

I do not know Ra’Kel. I have never met Ra’Kel. In fact, I only know two things about her:

1. If her Twitter profile picture is any indication, her selfie game is on point.
2. She thinks being a waitress really isn’t that hard.

Most of us who wait tables would never say that it’s a difficult job, but I think all of us would agree that we can have really difficult shifts. Anyone who has opened the restaurant and then closed it 14 hours later knows this to be true. When 4:00 PM rolls around and all you want to do is sit down for twenty minutes and eat something other than some fries or a piece of bread that you snagged from the kitchen, that’s when you begin to think waiting tables is hard. And then you remember that your second shift is just about to start and you will be on your feet for eight more hours or so, all the while keeping a smile on your face and a pep in your step because you know as soon as either one falters, there will be a customer who will leave you a bad tip for it. We all know that happens, right?

“My waitress didn’t smile enough so I didn’t tip her.”
“My server moved too slow so only left him 10%.”

Waiting tables is not easy. It can be very strenuous work and completely exhausting. I once worked in a restaurant where the ice machine, for some god forsaken reason, was located in the basement. Filling up the bar with ice was the worst thing I ever had to do there, trudging up and down a steep, narrow, metal staircase while balancing a huge plastic bucket of ice on my hip. I fell once and as I lay on the floor of the kitchen, sprawled out in a puddle of kitchen goop, I was not thinking, “Well, that was easy.”

When I was 20 years old and a food runner at a Mexican restaurant in Denver, whenever I was carrying out a tray of five sizzling fajita plates, holding them completely over my head so I could inch through the throngs of people at the bar who didn’t see any reason to move out of my way, I was not thinking, “Well, this is easy.”

When I worked at the Marriott on Mother’s Day and we had three different seating rotations of an hour and half each and over 300 reservations for each one, as we scrambled to reset the the tables for the next round of families, none of us ever took a second to say to someone else, “Man, this is easy, isn’t it?”

When I worked at Houlihan’s in Times Square and we were one block away from Radio City Music Hall, that job was never easy. Never. If you think trying to appease a ten-top with six children who are on their way to see Barney or the Teletubbies (it was the 90’s…)  in a show that starts in twenty minutes is easy. You are wrong. Dead wrong.

Every restaurant is different. The place I work in now has about 15 tables; just me and  a bartender take care of the whole place. When it’s full, it can be hard. When it’s not full, it can be easy. If you work at a high turnover restaurant in a tourist location, you are going to have a vastly different shift than I do at my tiny neighborhood restaurant in Queens. Unless you have waited tables, you do not have the right to judge whether the job is easy or not. Just give your server the benefit of the doubt that they are doing the best they can. If it looks easy, maybe it’s because that server is so good that they can make it look that way even though it might be the most difficult night of their career. After all, don’t you want someone taking care of you who makes the job look easy? That means they are really good at their job. And people who are really good at waiting tables deserve a nice tip.

Thanks, Ra’Kel, for this opportunity to let me prove you wrong.

29 thoughts on “Waiting Tables “Really Isn’t That Hard”

  1. Renee

    So I work for a chain restaurant group & employees nor customers are allowed to bring in outside food. So in the middle of the rush I look down & a fast food bag is there. I explain due to health codes they are not allowed to have said food. They flipp out & say their child is picky. I’m sorry sir but we offer a children’s menu. I bring them a plate ask them to his bag & they kindly stiff me.

    1. Linda Vars

      I’ve said the same thing for years! Every person must work 6 months in some capacity in a restaurant. Put their ass on the dishline, bus tables, work the line, and I’ll bet their tune will change and tips will go up !

  2. Renee

    I’m an x sever an i hope I never have to do it again u r right hard is the least you can say I have a lot of respect for wait staff. I tip good cuz i no you get paid shit an tips are what save u from being homeless. Good job guy’s

  3. Rakel

    I tweeted that because I was a waitress! But thank you and I was not trying to “bash” waitressing at all. But I do believe trying to remember a lemon for my water isn’t that difficult. But publicly blasting me for my view on something when I have been a waitress and yes I do believe everyone has bad days at their job. Being that I’ve worked in health care for 4+ years now. And that people do reflect their tips upon many things that a waitress can not control. Such as their food taking too long. But I have never tipped a waitress badly because of their preformance considering in most states they dont even make minimum wage. But thank you for bashing me on your website. I appreciate it.

    1. Philly McCullagh

      You probably never carried your $1.00 value meal away from the counter in McDonald’s let alone worked more than 1 shift in any food establishment ever. You prove that by trying to belittle a person’s employment because they forgot a lemon in your water. You need a grip on reality princess. #firstworldproblems

        1. Chris Johnson

          When you’re working your ass off so you can pay your light bill so it doesn’t get turned off & your kids are left in the dark; you’re smiling when you want to cry so the customers will tip you & if you make one little mistake you get stiffed & you’re terrified…it’s not easy missy.

      1. Steve

        But…if you don’t automatically agree with her Twit..I mean Tweet, you’re bashing! Hurt feelings and all that. Like others, I found your response (as always) decidedly restrained. Perhaps the good Rakel should take counsel in the saying commonly attributed to Lincoln or Mark Twain.

    2. Liz

      It’s cool of you to reply. I have waitressed thru college and grad school, probably over the span of ten years. I thought I was pretty damn good at it, but I would never say it was easy. Now, I teach Mathematics in a 2yr college. I’m pretty damn good at different levels of mathematics, but again, I would never say math is easy.
      If it were easy, everyone would be great at it, right?
      Maybe you find waitressing to be “easier” than your current job? Are you saying that you never had a tough day waiting tables? Never? Or maybe your waitressing job was easy cause it was in a stupid little cafe that no one ever came to. Some nights at my job were easy because it was dead, but I worked some crazy days, by myself, with a full house. Not only did I have to take care of the tables, but answering the phone, doing takeout orders and bussing too. That was not fucking easy. I made some good money though.

      A vague “waitressing is easy” tweet sends out the wrong message to the non serving world. Customers have and do belittle waitstaff because they assume they wait tables because they can’t do anything else. They have no idea that I forgot your damn lemon for your water because 12 other tables need something from me and I’ve got partial differential equations on my mind cause I’ve been cramming for an exam.

      Don’t give the customers more ammunition. Saying it’s easy is bashing on the servers.

      End rant from the math teacher who will always be a waitress.

      PS – love you bitchywaiter!

    3. Erin

      As an ex server you of all people should understand that sometimes you forget the lemon. Sometimes a customer calls you a dumb bitch because the salad doesnt taste the same as last time, the manager 86’s ranch, table 42 and 45 both want to order while 46 is ready to cash out and the new guy just dropped a tray in your section and you forget the lemon. It happens. You should know that and you should know how a server feels when someone insinuates the job is easy.

    4. dead_elvis

      @Rakel: if you stand behind that tweet, don’t be a chickenshit – open your account so non-followers can see it.

      Chickenshit. I bet you were a crappy waitress, too.

    5. B

      Why on earth did you post that? Sure, the lemon isn’t difficult to remember, each individual task is not difficult, it’s the combination of nearly 100 tasks in order, all while acting perky that is difficult. You ma’am, must not have been in the game long and my guess is that serving wasn’t your sole source of income. (Cue the “go to college and get a real job” line…) I did and shit just happens. Divorce, medical bills, etc. You remind me of one customer a co-worker of mine had a couple months ago who bragged about being an ex server and then tipped 10%. STFU

    6. Kristine

      Well dont blame the job of waitressing, blame the waiter or waitress for being forgetwaiter. I have found that these young waiter and waitresses are just dumb. No body teaches them or they just dont listen to anybody because they know all. Or they have so much drama going on they cant do there job.

  4. mike davies

    … it is said most ppl work 3 – 5 different carear streams in thier life …. myself: retail for 14 yrs, food service / bartending approx 25 yrs ( still doing today ) and the aviation industry where I was an Air Traffic Controller in Alberta for a cpl of yrs (saw note in article including that job) … all of which had ups n downs …. a busy night serving the 36 seat capacity bistro I work at ( usually solo) can be just as stressfull as working as an Air Traffic Controller … only differance is that ppl dont die if 2 plates collide ( although on more than one occasion I’ve been sorely tempted to put someones head between 2 plates when they collide. The standing joke is that ppl should have to work in a restaurant for 6 months to qualify for the privilage of dinning in a restaurant …. that would solve a lot of server issues. 😄

  5. Karen

    She’s right. Waitress are a dime a dozen…But a Good Server’s job is extremely hard, unless that server doesn’t want to make very much in tips then yes it’s a very easy job. My opinion is everyone should wait tables for a living to truly find out how hard it is and then they can have an opinion of their own.
    I waited tables for over 30 years and made a good living doing so, but it took a toll on my all around health.
    I’m paying for it now with major issues with back, legs feet ect…….
    Some just don’t have a clue.
    Everyone reading my rant have a blessed day.😊


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