Brooke Marie

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Life

Waiting Tables in Los Angeles – And Why it Sucks

Being a server and waiting tables is a tough job. Period. Yes we tend to have a good time on the job, are sometimes allowed to drink on the job, and occasionally make more money per shift than a person with a “normal” 9-5; but we also deal with the most self absorbed, rude, inconsiderate (and stupid) people on the planet. Besides sales or retail, there are very few other jobs where a person will blame you personally for something that is COMPLETELY out of your control.

“Oh your steak is overcooked? Yeah I went back into the kitchen and made sure it was just tough enough for your stupid face.”

Come on people! We all understand that when you’re paying for someone to cook your food, you want it cooked properly, but how is it the “order takers” fault that your steak looks like a hockey puck? Most of us rational people know that it’s not, yet we have to deal with these outlandish accusations on a daily basis. We also have to deal with the disappointment of giving amazing service and getting a tip that doesn’t reflect the service given at all.

What if your boss decided to pay you a little less, just because? You wouldn’t like it, and no matter what people think, we live off of our tips. If we don’t make as much because people ‘just don’t feel like tipping’, we may not pay rent that month.

Although we are essentially human “order takers”, there is a lot more work that goes into the job than people may think. Waiting tables in Los Angeles is even more distressing, because on top of the hard work we are doing we are constantly berated by either unappreciative customers, or straight – up perverts.

Working as a server in Hollywood, I get people looking up at me as I take their orders, while mentally looking down on me as a person. I get these snarky, rude questions almost every day, where people assume I am an ambitious-less bimbo whose sole life goal is to “break into Hollywood”.

“So, where you from? What are you doing waiting tables in Hollywood? Trying to break into the acting scene just like everyone else?”

Little does he know, I am a student studying Psychology and Child Development, and during the day I teach enrichment classes to toddlers and preschool aged children. And I have also been in the ‘acting scene’ since I was a child. And I was born in LA. And even if I WAS trying to break into Hollywood, who the hell are you to judge!?

People assume that everyone that works as a server or host in Los Angeles is an aspiring entertainment professional. Although that is true for a lot of people out there, most of them are not ambitious-less, nor are they dumb enough to sit around unemployed while waiting for their big break.

People that make a living waiting tables are (usually) extremely hard workers. Although a lot of us are trying to work as an actor, dancer, singer, model, etc, another high percentage of us are just trying to survive while we finish off school and/or figure out what we are doing with our lives.

I could make fun of Mr. Corporate John for being like all the other drones out there killing themselves working 9-5 jobs and not being paid enough. Or those that are making massive amounts of money but don’t get to spend a lot of time with their families because they are constantly working and traveling; but I won’t.

These entitled people have no idea who I am, what I have accomplished, or what I intend to carry out in the future. All they know is that I work as a server in Hollywood now, so I must have no other ambitions for my future. Lets look at some other misconceptions and irritating things about working in this industry that most consumers do not understand.

1. YOUR SERVER HAS SOME SORT OF CONTROL OVER INVENTORY

NO. You are wrong. Our main priority is – Waiting Tables, you guessed it! When the restaurant is out of your favorite brew, or suddenly runs out of red enchilada sauce, That is not, at all, your server’s fault. The only possible way that COULD be their fault, is if they are a server, as well as a manager who forgot to make the order. But the possibility of this is very unlikely. Do not tip your server badly because the store didn’t have your Bud Light. First off, Bud Light is disgusting and second, if you want it SO bad, just take your business elsewhere. Stop asking if you’ll get a free beer because we didn’t have your ‘favorite.’

2. YOU ARE YOUR SERVER’S ONLY CUSTOMER IN THE ENTIRE RESTAURANT

Nope, not right about this one either. Although we care whether your dining experience is a positive one or a negative one, we usually do have other tables. If you see your server chatting with another table, taking someone’s order, or frantically ringing something into the computer; don’t scream their name until they turn to look at you.

First off, interrupting someone else’s conversation is rude, and I’m pretty sure that other customer thinks you are a psycho. Just because we are servers does not mean we are not human. Interrupting us while we speak with someone else is still unacceptable, and you probably won’t be getting amazing service from us after that.

3. BEING ON YOUR CELLPHONE WHEN YOU ARE SEATED IS ACCEPTABLE

For my first serving job, my manager advised me not to interrupt my customers when they are having a conversation. (yes, even a phone conversation) and I’m sure many other servers learned this as well. So, if you are engaged in a heated debate with someone on the phone, most of us will probably decide not to interrupt you. We may try to make eye contact with you to see if you are ready to order, or to see if you need something, we might even stand creepily next to your table to see if you acknowledge our presence; but if you don’t – we have other tables to tend to and must move on from yours.

Don’t hang up and charge furiously up to the bar to yell “Where is my server!?” at the poor unaware bartender. Your server has probably been stalking you the entire time, but you wouldn’t know that because you were too busy yelling at your ex over the phone. I get it, everyone has issues to deal with, but don’t get mad at us because your “server was late” when you were the one unavailable.

4. WAITING TABLES ISN’T A HARD JOB

A lot of people think that since we get an hourly wage they shouldn’t be responsible for tipping us. I do understand that tipping is not required but behind the scenes, we do a lot of work. We roll silverware, pick up heavy equipment, clean, make sure you and 5-10 other tables are happy, maintain the restaurant, clean, and deal with kitchen issues that can make us look like fools, even though we did everything right.

For merely $8.00 an hour(in California) or less elsewhere, we would not be doing this job if it weren’t for the tips. If your server treats you nicely, doesn’t make any mistakes on your order, and tends to you sufficiently, tip them at least 15%. We live off of these tips. If they give terrible service, give a terrible tip. I strongly believe the person’s work should reflect the amount of tip they receive.

5. EVERYTHING IS THE SERVERS FAULT

This one is especially annoying. Yes we are the one’s you are directly interacting with when you go out to eat. Yes we are the ones taking your order, ringing in orders, and usually we are the ones delivering food and drinks. But there are a handful of people in between that could have made a mistake so don’t assume it was your server’s fault. For instance, if your food comes out incorrectly: 95% of the time it’s the kitchen’s fault. Even if your server rang it in wrong, chances are they realized the mistake moments after ringing it in and ran into the kitchen to update the ticket and make them aware.

– Your drinks are taking forever. This one sucks too because sometimes the bar gets backed up. If it’s a Pepsi and Mountain Dew, then most likely it is our fault. But in some restaurants the bartenders make every single drink. Including waters, sodas, and other non alcoholic beverages. If your server doesn’t let you know the bartender is backed up and the drinks will be out momentarily then you can be upset. But if they are updating you and trying not to freak out themselves, be kind.

– Your food is taking forever. This one is in no way your server’s fault. Sure they could have forgotten to ring in your order, but usually this is not the case. Sometimes the kitchen gets backed up. Also, don’t expect a 12 oz steak that you want cooked WELL DONE to come out in 10-15 minutes. There are tickets ahead of you AND a Well done steak takes awhile. Be patient, and don’t blame your poor server. We freak out 10x as much as you do when our tables’ food is taking long. We want you to be happy too!

All of the things above are annoying, so maybe take notice next time you go out to eat. Not all servers in the U.S are dumb kids, most people waiting tables are hard workers, who are just trying to get by.

Are any of you in the business of waiting tables? What annoying things do you come across? Or are you a patron that is irritated by certain things your server does? Let me know!

Wanna know the other side of the story? Check it out here: Why Waiting Tables Could Be One of the Best Jobs You’ll Ever Have

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  24. I’m new in the serving business, I’ve only been a server at a Japanese restaurant now going on one year. I absolutely love my job, my co workers and my bosses. The only thing that pisses me off, is the tipping. Don’t come in, order $60 worth of food, and then apologize for not being able to afford a tip. My mother is a cocktail waitress and has been a waitress most of her life, I was raised on her tip money!!! People don’t understand that at the restaurant I work at, we make $2.35 an hour. My paychecks are usually around $20, and I’m not joking. If you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to go out to eat.

    1. Thanks for your comment! I definitely agree! Bad tippers suck, but there are those awesome people who tip well. I’m glad you can understand where I’m coming from!

  25. I had to LOL a couple times… in part because those same things happen whether you’re waiting tables in LA, Vegas, Orlando, Milwaukee or NYC and in part because anyone who’s ever waited tables anywhere has probably said at least half of the same things. And while it’s been many years (ok, a few decades) since I’ve waited a table, I still see it as a customer. I believe everyone should have to spend at least a semester waiting tables to truly appreciate how hard it is and the value of good service.

    1. Hi Tom! Thank you for commenting! I’m sure waiting tables anywhere is just as frustrating as in LA. I’m just hoping my waitress career ends here and ends soon. And I agree, one thing I brought up in my Business Law class when asked what law we would enact and why was that every 18 year old must work at least a month in a restaurant before they can be classified as an “adult”.

      1. I’d lobby for it to be something every 16 year old must do as part of or prior to obtaining a Drivers License. It teaches responsibility, consideration, patience and even cooperation and teamwork. All of these things contribute to being a safer driver and better ‘neighbor’ on the road.

      2. We should call it the “Respect for the Service Industry’s Act”. Or we can name it something silly like. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

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