Raise your hand if you’ve ever worked as a waiter or waitress. Many of us consider this job a rite of passage when you’re new to the working world and need to make some cash fast. Maybe you worked evenings and weekends in high school or in university to pay for tuition, or maybe you’re living the restaurant life right now.
A crazy high number of Americans work in food services, a number that is forecasted to reach 2.84 million by the year 2025, according to data collected by Statista. That’s a lot of people carrying food back and forth from restaurant kitchens to tables. While it’s pretty awesome to work as a server and get tips, that’s about the only part of this job that’s any fun at all. Read on to find out the nine reasons why it really sucks being a server.
1. You have to stand for hours on end
Here’s an important fact about working as a server: your feet hurt – a lot. You have to stand for your entire shift, and so your feet never get a break.
If you have several shifts per week – and you probably do, since you need money to pay for simple stuff like food and shelter – that means you’re basically always standing. If your feet hurt, tough luck. You can’t exactly cry and scream and refuse to keep working because you want to sit down for a while. If you work in an office and have your butt planted in your comfy office chair, consider yourself extremely lucky.
2. You have to say goodbye to weekends
RIP, lazy weekends! When you are hired as a server, you have to say goodbye to Saturdays and Sundays of junk food, TV, and drinks with friends. When you’re a server, you can’t get out of working weekends. Sorry.
3. You make crappy money
Sure, you get tips, but people are generally pretty awful and you’re not exactly going to get a decent tip from every single person you serve. In the US, waiters only make between $2 and $5 an hour. Think about that for a second. That’s awful, right? So, if you rely on tips since your hourly pay is so low and you serve a bunch of drunks who refuse to give you more than a dollar, you’re going to get frustrated pretty quickly. Where you live and work also seems to make a difference to whether you can live off your tips: if you’re in Seattle, you’re looking at a measly $7 an hour in tips; if you’re in San Francisco, on the other hand, you’re getting about $13.
4. You're stuck working holidays
Have you ever wondered why pubs and restaurants stay open on holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve? Don’t the poor waiters and waitresses deserve a break, too?
If you work in the restaurant industry, you don’t get the luxury of celebrating holidays. You have to work. Sometimes this is pretty awesome since working more shifts means getting more money in tips but, for the most part, it totally sucks to work on holidays. Your family and friends will be at home having tons of fun without you. You’ll miss out on everything that’s so awesome about holidays: spending the entire day in bed in your PJ’s, eating pumpkin pie for breakfast, or doing nothing at all.
5. You have to serve rude people
In a perfect world, everyone you serve at a restaurant is sweet, calm, and peaceful. They’re always super polite and never cause any trouble.
Ha. If you’re a server, you’re probably laughing your head off right now. When you work in the food service industry, you’re dealing with people at their worst: extremely hungry. Hunger is no joke. People behave so badly when they’re starving that the popular term “hangry” is often used – it basically means that you’re dying for food and getting pissed off.
So, how badly do customers actually behave when they go out for a meal? When waiters explain the specials for that day or evening, some customers rudely interrupt to place their drink order. Other people have no issues allowing their bratty kids to behave however they want. Also, if you’re expecting a "thanks" for doing your job, you’re probably asking too much from most customers. You better be making tons of cash in tips.
6. You might not get any breaks
Legally, you should be entitled to breaks during your serving shift, right? That’s not actually true in some places.
In the state of North Carolina, for example, the law doesn’t require that employees take a break. Apparently, employees don’t have to eat there. If employees in that area do get a break, it’s only allowed to be half an hour and they won’t get any money for it. In New York, however, you’re definitely allowed a break to enjoy a snack or meal. It sucks that whether or not you’re actually given time to chow down on a quick sandwich or healthy snack totally depends on where you live.
7. You wait on super picky customers
If you haven’t been living under a rock, you know that it’s trendy right now to be gluten-free and vegan. As a server, these people make your life a living hell. They give new meaning to the term "picky eater". Almost every single person you serve is ordering something with a ton of substitutions. They’re also asking you what ingredients are in every menu item. You’re exhausted just thinking about it. Can’t these people order a regular old hamburger and fries, and be done with it?!
8. You have to multitask
You have to remember to tell the kitchen about the pasta and sandwiches that table one just ordered. You also have to get table two their drinks (they’ve been waiting for ten minutes already – oops). Oh, and that kid in the corner booth is screaming for ice cream. Your coworker just rushed by and asked you to cover their shift tomorrow because they have a hot date. Being a server can be pretty overwhelming since you always have a lot of things to remember. If you can’t multitask, it’s not much fun at all. Even if you can multitask, it’s still pretty rough.
9. It takes a toll on your health
Isn’t being a server an easy job? You’re just delivering food to people, after all – it’s not rocket science. But did you know that working in a restaurant is actually pretty dangerous? You can get hurt in a number of different ways as a server.
You can burn or injure yourself by bumping into your coworkers while carrying a massive tray of super warm drinks and meals. And, as a bonus, you can experience extremely high levels of anxiety and stress since it’s such a fast-paced, go-go-go kind of working environment. Being a server is definitely not for the faint of heart.
If you’re female, the restaurant life is even worse, because it’s going to ruin your emotional wellbeing. Waitresses have it even worse because they, unfortunately, have to deal with getting hit on at best and sexual harassment at worst. That kind of stuff just doesn’t normally happen to guys.
If you’ve ever worked as a server, you can probably relate to any of these nine reasons why being a waiter or waitress totally sucks. From the crappy pay to the picky or rude customers, working in the food service industry may be a rite of passage for young people, but it’s definitely a pretty awful way to spend your time.
Have you ever worked as a server, or currently living the restaurant life? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!