Things I learned from working at a restaurant

Pierre-August Renoir's depiction of a waitress

Pierre-August Renoir's depiction of a 19th-century waitress

I recently stopped my part-time job at a restaurant. I had had it since January. Basically, about 16 to 20 hours a week I helped out with the end of lunch, set up the dining room for dinner, and served dinner. It was a fancy restaurant with a high Zagat rating.

Here are some things I learned:

  • A lot of people in Wellesley have a lot of money.
  • Working as a waitress is a great workout (I hadn’t felt so in shape in a while, and will really miss this about the job!).
  • A lot of people talk down to you when you’re a waitress (For example, they automatically assume you’re in college and that the job is just a temporary gig. The job was just temporary for me, but what if I was pursuing it as my career? What’s so wrong with that?).
  • There are some really, really hard workers in this industry. One particular Brazilian dishwasher comes to mind.
  • It’s great customer service to give someone something (or several things) for free when they had to wait awhile or didn’t like something they had. One time I got a 50 percent tip this way!
  • You get to hear some great conversations, especially when “bring your own wine” is involved. I’ve heard 40-year-old women lusting over younger men they work with, a couple discussing how they hoped no one they knew would see them together (At one point I saw a camera on their table and asked if they wanted a picture. The woman immediately replied, “Oh no! Then there would be proof!”), and many people exchanging stories of experiences abroad.
  • Some people tell you interesting things. Once I learned, for example, that a lady I served lamb to had no functioning taste buds. She told me that she was in an accident a few years back (a drunk driver hit her while she was crossing the street), and had to have surgery. One of the side effects of the surgery was losing her ability to taste. She then stressed to me the importance of practicing defensive walking, especially at night. You never know when someone will pop out of nowhere and hit you, she said. Anyway, this woman impressed me because she had such a positive attitude despite everything that had happened. But one question I had was: If you can’t taste anything why would you buy an expensive rack of lamb? Wouldn’t you just get the cheapest and/or healthiest thing on the menu? She could still appreciate texture, however, so I guess that was why. But is texture without taste worth spending a lot? I guess it depends on how much money you have!
  • It takes a long time to set up a dining room for dinner, especially at a formal restaurant.
  • There are a lot of little things you do to to make sure guests are happy. Those include making sure there are never fingerprints on the glass doors, putting fresh-cut flowers on the tables, and asking customers right away (well after saying “Hello,” of course) if you can hang up their coats.
  • People seem to enjoy their dinners more when they’ve had wine (guess that’s no surprise).
  • People don’t like when you drop a plate full of hummus into their purse.
  • Some people finish their meal in five minutes, and others take two hours to finish that same dish (especially couples who are still in the “honeymoon stage” of their relationship. It’s like savoring their food to the extreme boosts their desirability).

These are just a few of the things I’ve learned from working at a restaurant.

Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_Waitress_at_Duval%27s_Restaurant.jpg

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5 Comments on “Things I learned from working at a restaurant”

  1. Tim Says:

    why would anyone hire you for this? you are a pretentious ass. and that is why they hired you… but why? and why isn’t that person fired? you suck at life

  2. Christine Laubenstein Says:

    Wow, Tim. Such harsh feelings. I just thought I would share some thoughts after stopping this job. Sorry if I came off as pretentious.

  3. Irene Says:

    Pretentious? I didn’t get that at all… Love your blog. Keep writing!

  4. Christine Laubenstein Says:

    Thanks, Irene!

  5. Jim Says:

    Hi, not a bad article at all. “Tim” must be very very hungry.


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