Insider perspective: a waitress’ insight into the restaurant world

Lucy Lillystone offers an insight into the workings of a restaurant by recounting her experiences as a waitress.

Lucy Lillystone
18th November 2019
image: Bimo Luki (unsplash)
My summer working as a waitress can be described as possibly one of the worst times in my life. And I most definitely do not want to go back if I can avoid it.

Firstly, the atmosphere. From the other side of the table, a restaurant may look cool, calm and collected; it is anything but. While we are painting a smile on our face and being friendly, in the back or in the kitchen, really we're chatting shit about how long the queue is for a table; why a table keep ordering more drinks when all we want to do is clean up and go home; but mostly, why the customers are complaining about the food to us when it's not our fault? We only bring the food from the kitchen, we don't cook it ourselves so to kick up a fight with the waitress is honestly the worst thing.

And then there's the pay. During my time as a waitress I got £6 an hour (minimum wage) plus tips which usually came out at about £10 a week. But considering I was doing 8-10 hour shifts almost 3-4 days a week, I definitely felt like I deserved more. Especially when a lot of customers don't tip you anyway if you're working in a restaurant that is high-end and already costs a bomb. This was the case for me and so tips usually ended up being £3-6 a week rather than the promised £10.

Speaking of restaurant hours aka. another form of torture, were almost definitely illegal. For example, I once came in at 12pm and didn't leave until 10pm. And while this may seem normal to some people, consider the fact that I was only allowed ONE break throughout those 10 hours and for a total of 30 minutes... let's just say my feet were absolutely killing by the end of the day. Running around serving food, cleaning tables, making drinks and taking orders is not as fun as the waitresses make it look like.

Image: Kate Townsend (unsplash)

And then there's the grime. Clearing plates is absolutely the most disgusting thing ever. Scraping all those leftover mushy peas off someone's plate nearly made me bork every time. And it's not like you can take your time so that you don't get it everywhere, protect your nails or even avoid dropping the knife into the bin (this happened multiple times in the restaurant I worked in that the manager had to order multiple sets of cutlery at least once a month) because you've got other stuff to be doing! There's never time to pause in the world of waitresses and it is one of the most disgusting jobs ever. Let's not even get into the spillage of sauce on your uniform or the bottom of your shoes...

Finally, while you're sat admiring the view, catching up with your pal in the restaurant, I am sweating myself to death. During the summer, working as a waitress is almost definitely the worst. Running around non stop, working next to the kitchen and the lack of air con isn't good for a girl's mood or her hair... Doing the job is hard enough when it's normal temperature but when it's absolutely scorching, it's unbearable. There was one shift where I almost passed out while cleaning a table. Not pleasant.

So, while the restaurant may look calm, collected and quite an enjoyable place to eat from your position at the table, from a waitresses' perspective it lacks the glamour and definitely not a job to go into unless you enjoy the graft, grime and shitty pay and hours.

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AUTHOR: Lucy Lillystone
English Language and Literature graduate, writer and Film Editor 2019/20. Passionate about film, TV and books. 99.9% of my articles are me crying, emotional over my love for my favourite characters. Twitter: @lucylillystone_

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