Because I’m Just a Waitress
Have you ever noticed that when television shows or Hollywood movies want to make you feel sorry for a female character, they usually cast her as a waitress?
I mean, really, the biggest thing that makes waiting tables a crappy job (besides the minimal pay, odd hours, and cleaning up other people’s messes) is that obnoxious woman who, as I tell her our specials or bring her another wine spritzer, lets herself think that she’s better than me.
It doesn’t happen often, but I can tell which ones they are. There’s this expression of relief that washes over her face as she makes the conscious decision to not say thank you and instead, turns to her dining partners (who, more often than not, look embarrassed to be seen with her), so she can regale them with stories of her own personal intelligence, wit, and charm.
Because she, after all, did not end up a food server.
(Is that the same blonde actress giving our leading lady the evil eye in both movies? If there’s anything worse than being the waitress we feel sorry for, it’s being the waitress we don’t even think about.)
But I’m here to tell you, friends, that you should never make that mistake. Not only do you portray yourself as a repugnant, judgmental ass, but it’s just plain not nice.
Believe it or not, I actually have a bachelor of science in environmental geoscience with a minor in geology.
I even took a class called Geomorphology.
I could go to grad school, if I felt that would make me any happier.
I’ve worked for both the U.S. Air Force and the Army, as well as a private environmental consulting company – a job that, may I remind you, was not easy to get.
Does this make me better than you? Of course not.
It just makes me better than you think.
In fact, some of the most intelligent people I’ve known have worked in the food service industry at one time or another. A girl with whom I work right now is an RN. So, snobby waitress-hater at my table, the good news is she can save you if one day you choke on your snide-laced pride.
Whether they’re doing it for the social aspect, as a transitional phase, or because it was the only thing preventing them from knocking over cubicle walls or beating the crap out of copy machines, it doesn’t really matter.
More often than not, it’s the catch-all career for those who, while pursuing all of the “shoulds” in their lives, realized they lost sight of the “wants” and decided to try again.
Is that really so degrading?
They’re biding their time until the next big thing.
But, most important, they bring you your food.
And if you’re as smart as you think you are, disparaging woman at my table, then you already know that you should never, ever bite the hand that feeds you.
See you tonight!
*applauds* Why do you write so well Katie!
I had to stand out on the street in winter in a thin salwar kameez trying to convince people to come in when I was a waitress at an Indian restaurant. I had horrible employers.
I was a student at the time. I wouldn’t work for them again but if I had to work so I could write my book, I’d be happy working behind a bar or waiting tables.
Because even if the customers don’t get it, I am being of service. And I don’t see that as something to be ashamed of. Why is helping someone something to be ashamed of?
And I know what goes on behind the kitchen doors to the food the snotty customers order. I wouldn’t recommend it.
So true! I don’t understand either why people feel these “menial” jobs are something of which to be ashamed. Like… I would never make a trash guy feel bad for what he does, because we need people who are willing to do what he does. Why would I make someone feel inadequate for providing a service?
I have been a server and a bartender, and yes I have spat in your food at one time or another! Be nice, and if you can’t be nice, watch the movie Waiting…..I watched it cause Ryan Reynolds is as hot as sin and I was hoping to see him naked…but really, it can happen!!!!!!!!!
Hahaha, from YOU, I believe it. ;)
Oh, and if you want to see him (mostly) naked, watch a movie called “Buying the Cow.” :)
Great post! Sometimes these things need to be said. Back pre-marriage, the number one turn off would be if my date was rude to the waitstaff. If you’re a jerk to people in public, I don’t want to see you in private.
My BFF waitressed at Red Lobster for years, because for a part time job it payed well(when you figured in tips,) was flexible, and allowed her to keep her kids out of daycare. She’s smart with a degree from an impressive school, but even so had to deal with the “disparaging woman.”
Thanks for writing this post.
You know, I’ve had a few moms tell me since I posted this that it’s been a huge issue for them – people would judge them for being gone at a restaurant or bar at night when they’re mothers, without even realizing that it’s their night job that makes it possible for them to be with their kids during the day!
And you’re absolutely right about people who are rude to wait staff being a huge turn off. In fact, I can’t even be friends with people like that. If I feel like I have to apologize to a server on someone’s behalf, then I can pretty much guarantee I won’t be going out with that person again.
Almost 29, and I started working as a server at one of the best restaurants in our town as my 2nd job. I’m trying to get a job at the local winery because there is such a stigma about being a waitress. Gosh…It is hard work with little thanks. You would think it would have more respect.
No kidding! I’d imagine you at least make some pretty decent money at that restaurant? I winery seems like it would be fun, though. You could learn some really interesting things about wine, and have your additional income. :)
I never worked with food, but did work in retail, and have faced the “I can treat you any way I want” attitudes, and still have nightmares. And as a stay-at-home mom of 8, I have experienced people who think they’re so much smarter and more accomplished…Sometimes I’ve felt like I needed to have my college transcripts tattooed on my forehead.
I feel for anyone who has to be cordial and cheerful for hours on end, while running their feet off! I know I couldn’t do it. You have a great and entertaining writing style.
Ugh, retail can be pretty bad, too. And I do know! And the thing is, it really shouldn’t have anything to do with college, you know? I know plenty of very intelligent people who never earned a college degree. People need to realize that having a degree does not necessarily make you smart, and vice versa.
Oh, and the fact that you have 8 kids? Yeah… that is one job I know I could never handle! You go!!
Great post . You know in fact I have more respect for servers than I do the resturant owners because they pay watiress so little an force them to rely on tips while they pocket the extra cash and usally make a ton more than the staff does. Unfortunatly thats one of the downfalls of working for someone else they get to tell you what your services are worth to them. As for the snobby lady well she is less than you are for that attitude . Money and corprate position may give you “status” but it sure does not entitle you to repect or make you betterthan others.
I hear you on that… Although, I can see where being an owner could be a pretty stressful job as well. My respect for them all lies in how they treat the staff, you know? But as far as what you said about money and corporate position, you’re absolutely right – I couldn’t have said it better!
For the most part, waiters and waitresses are treated with respect as it is a career in… Europe. At least that is what I read and experienced.
Honestly in the service industry we meet the, asses and the super nice people.
That said, I hope I never piss off a waiter/waitress. I don’t want extra “fluids” added to my food.
You’re absolutely right, Ted. There are definitely awesome customers who act as a counterbalance to the crappy ones. And thank God for them!
If it makes you feel a little better, I’ve never done anything bad to anyone’s food or drink. I’ve wanted to, but I haven’t. :)
Well said, Katie. And here’s a thought from me – at various points in my life I have been paid to make other people’s coffee (college – barista), clean up other people’s crap (college – stint as a cleaning woman), and teach other people’s kids (7 years teaching middle school). And in each of those jobs, and the varying levels of (dis)respect accorded to them, I saw my impact. I served people their morning coffee and watched them walk away happy to be “fueled up” so they could get on with their day, I made kitchens sparkle, and I watched kids walk out of my class knowing more than they did when they came in.
While my new job has better pay and a fancier title, it is a cube-farm position and I feel really far removed from the people I’m supposed to be “helping.” There’s something to be said for high-touch service jobs and people should really be more thankful for the roles waitresses, retail clerks, janitors, teachers (definitely a service job!), etc. play in making our modern lives happen every day.
If you were my waitress, I’d tip you real good, hon! (as they say here in Maryland) :)
You’re absolutely right!! There’s a certain amount of satisfaction that comes from service jobs that you just can’t get sitting in a cubicle. And wow… I have such respect for teachers. Talk about an under-appreciated job!
It’s tough to see otherwise-bright people succumb to stereotypes, but that’s the nature of a traditionally blue-collar career. People are heavily invested in the shared fiction that our respective careers define us and place us in a social system of rank. My wife, a professional in a nonprofit organization, says her favorite job was working in a noodle shop: she felt connected to her community, was known around town, and she was feeding people, which she found very fulfilling. As a firefighter, I routinely encounter people who assume I’ve never been to college, lived outside the United States, speak other languages, and read voraciously (if at all), just to name a few examples. Those are the breaks. Maybe, in a funny way, it helps keep us humble, and contributes to our ability to feel compassion for other people, no matter what their apparent social standing.
Wow. I don’t really have anything to say, because this said it all. Perfectly. (Although I can’t imagine working for a nonprofit would be much less fulfilling than any other part of the service industry!)
And THANK YOU for doing what you do. I highly respect that profession.
You are right. College degrees can be overrated, and some of the wisest, most intelligent people I know haven’t spent one minute in a college classroom.
[…] I absolutely, definitely will not miss being looked down on by pretentious people. Yes, I have a college degree and yes I intend to do something with it and no, the most important […]
I spent a good few years somewhat ashamed of waiting tables. I would cringe when I would run in to an old friend from high school, blurting out “I’m JUST waiting tables for the time being” when they asked what I was up to. I constantly felt I had to explain myself, that what I was doing wasn’t good enough. Then the economy crashed. That really changed things. I was one of the few people not in a profession where I was at risk for being laid off. I didn’t have to move back home like many of my friends did when they lost their jobs. I was making a higher salary than some teachers or other professionals I know. To think that suddenly I was in a position where people wished they had my job! I’m so over being ashamed of waiting tables. It truly is an art form, I’m providing a service people need, and I’m making a good living. Not to mention, it makes for some completely hilarious stories.
You are SO right! I honestly can’t understand the mentality that labels service industry jobs as “degrading.” It just doesn’t make sense. We NEED people to have these jobs!
I’m loving what you’re writing on your blog, by the way – I can’t tell you how many times I’m going, “Yep. That really happens.”
Thanks katie! Seriously….when it comes to waiting tables, truth IS stranger than fiction. I could have no way made up this shit myself. The masses must know about the behind the scenes insanity I face on a daily basis!
Yeah, it’s a job, with ups and downs like any other job. I waitressed for seven years or so, on and off. I liked the flexibility, the ease of making friends, and the tips. I left it because of the anti-social hours, mostly, and just a desire to try something new. I work in accounting now, which does seem to get a lot more respect, but who knows why.
The idea that anyone would look down on anyone else (or on themselves) for the job they do is really sad. For one thing, it doesn’t define you, and for another, at least you are working and contributing to society.
Unless you’re selling drugs to little kids on playgrounds. I’d look down on you then.
Really? What if I sold them in more sanctioned places? Like daycares or churches or something?
Well sure, that’s ok then.
[…] happy and helpful and will likely fill our drinks on time. But watch what you say — if you cross the line of rudeness and she returns wearing red, you might want to pass on […]
I am 48 and returning to work as a waitress after 17 years as a stay at home Mom. It has always been and always will be my go to job. I actually enjoy it. It is a challenge for me to win over the people who sit down and believe they are above it all. I have succeeded if the ass leaves my table humbled and feeling it. Kill em with kindness as I was taught. You get more with honey. It is hard, unappreciated work, but certainly life could be worse.
Jenni in Philly
I know this post is quite old, but I just discovered your blog. I look forward to reading more. Well done! You’ve got my like!
Thanks, Jenni! I think it’s a profession of which to be proud – you’re providing people a service, and if they’re lucky, you’re providing it well. :)
Welcome to my site!
[…] mention the fact that the quickest way for me to save money right now would be to get a second job, likely as a waitress once again, which would take me away from Justin and the pups. Just so I can… travel away from Justin […]
[…] It’s humbling. And probably something everyone should experience at least once in her life. Like waiting tables. […]
[…] It’s humbling. And probably something everyone should experience at least once in her life. Like waiting tables. […]
Awesome post! I was a waitress for 22yrs made killer cash (why I stayed so long), have seen it all.
I bet you have!! I don’t know if I could handle it for that long… I’d probably develop an eye twitch or something. :)
Yes! Exactly. What gets me more than strangers being rude its aquaintances. They ask how you are – so you tell them all is going great, you’re being promoted given loads of great training..ect.. – and they just tilt their head slightly, and say “oh…long pause…great” meaning “oh…but really you’re still running food, you haven’t done that… great”.
Makes me want to growl at them. My job is flexible, the people I work with are great and I’m happy.
Exactly! I don’t do it anymore people people in this town are crappy tippers, but seriously. If you’re happy, you’re happy. That’s more than I can say for most people. So let them judge. You’re the one who doesn’t dread going into work every day. ;)
I’ve been a waitress now for 22 years. I loved it for the first 15 and now I hate it! I think I’m burnt out! To be honest, I think I’m getting to old for the business. The problem is, i’ve done it for so long that I don’t know if I can do anything else. Any ideas?
Now THAT is commitment to an often thankless job! If you hate your job, you need to find what else you can do. Of course you can do something else – the beautiful thing about being human is that we are equipped to make decisions based on more than just instinct. We’re never too old to learn new tricks, and — this is the best part — we have the drive and passion and ability to make wonderful things happen in our lives if we’d just take the time to TRY. If you’re not happy with your situation, change it. Think about something you might enjoy doing, and then stop thinking and DO it. That’s it! :)
[…] order to relieve the stress, last week I landed my first part-time food industry job since The Wine Bar, and I also paid off my last student loan for that degree I don’t […]
I was a waitress right out of high school for a few years and yes people suck, but I’ve never done anything disgusting to people’s food. Seriously if you have I hope you choke on a big loogie. I took my job seriously and acted like a professional…even though I was “just a waitress”.