UnderCover Waitress: Misperceptions About Waitresses

Friday, June 1, 2012

Misperceptions About Waitresses

I found this lovely writer's blog, "RD Meyer Writes." I found inspiration in RD's post, "Misperceptions About Writers" because of both the similarities and the differences between writers and waitresses.

Misperception No. 1
Writers: Writers are pretentious snobs who look down on everyone while wearing tweed.

Waitresses: Just the opposite. Waitresses are either stupid and unskilled or students, because anybody can wait tables.

It is a myth that waiting tables is easy and requires no skill. Waitresses tend to do just about everything in the restaurant: prep bar fruit, squeeze orange juice, bus and sometimes wash dishes, polish silverware, polish glassware, vacuum, mop, clean the bathrooms... oh, yeah, and act like we are not tired, cater to tables' social and gastronomic needs, serve efficiently, and get your separate checks right. Did I mention multitask? All of this is done at warp speed. I challenge anybody who thinks waitressing must be easy to try it for one week. Just one.

Misperception No. 2 & 3
Writers: Once you get published, your working days are over.
Once you get published, you have financial security.

Waitresses: Waitresses are rolling in dough from all those tips.

On a busy Saturday night, you can see the green envy in some cook's eyes as he compares his hourly wage with waitress tips. Reality is that not every shift is busy; restaurants have busy times and slow times. $300 on Saturday night, $50 on Tuesday night. But the jealous cook isn't there are Tuesday because the kitchen needs less staff.

Waitresses are seen as banks for the restaurant. Many owners underpay other front of house staff and require waitresses to give a portion of her tips to bussers and hostesses. This tip out is figured on sales, not on actual tips, so if a table doesn't tip well the waitress still has to tip out based upon what they ordered, not how much she made.

Reality is that most waitresses struggle and fight for the good shifts.

Misperception No. 4
Writers: As a writers, you will have legions of adoring fans.

Waitresses: Professional waitresses have loyal customers who pay them well.

We have all read the feel-good stories about the long-time waitress who retired and was just loved by everyone. Or, how about the folks who gave their favorite waiter a five thousand dollar tip to replace his car? Happens, but almost never.

Sure, every restaurant has it's regulars. And some like you, some don't. When they like you, they tend to tip more. Tourists don't always tip well because they know they won't see you again.

Misperception No. 5
Writers: Once you're published, you're in like Flynn.

Waitresses: All starving artists and actors work as wait staff.

On RD's blog, there is a picture of a guy holding a sign that says, "Will emote for food." Heh. I think it was a New Yorker cartoon that showed a sign in the lobby of a restaurant, "Please wait to be seated by a surly, unemployed actor." Heh.

Thanks, RD, that was fun.


  1. One other item I'd imagine a waiter needs: a good sense of balance... otherwise that tray goes flying.


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