So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Daily Archives: November 16, 2009

A somewhat whimsical look at waiter charateristics by generation


Baby boomer – increased emphasis on ear and nose hair, greying hair, managing the balance between bald tops and remaining side scalp, concern about moles, age spots and wrinkles, complying to the letter with uniform standards because “We must have standards”

Gen X – keeping a tight, crisp hairline concentrating on the neckline and/or daily headshaving, the genesis of the grooming concerns of baby boomers because of the start of a bald spot or a receding hairline and the stray ear hair, mild rebellion against strict uniform standards – “Shouldn’t we be wearing a more contemporary uniform?”

Gen Y – concern about having the most current hairstyle as portrayed by their favorite Twilight star, assuring that they have the most evocative tattoo, concern over the ability to manage a developing facial hair profile, a hatred and/or disregard of strict uniform standards because “It messes with my personal style”

Work habits

Baby boomer – a dogged, almost pathological predisposition to report to work early, often and with as few callouts as possible, an almost manic dislike of taking a break, a serious concern about burnout by trying to manage long work hours, a judgmental take on the work habits of those in other generations, a preoccupation with how others, especially management, see their work performance, a profound fear of losing their job because of a single customer complaint

Gen X – a preoccupation with maximizing income, an annoyance when a co-worker interferes with the said maximization of their income, the need to take a smoke break because the forgoing of said smoke break might interfere with their focus and therefore interfere with income production, an envy of a baby boomer’s ability to maintain a large call party base, the ability to work as many doubles as possible by not clocking in until a table is assigned to their section, thereby avoiding the overtime restrictions

Gen Y – the ability to see a concert trumps work, a texting break is essential for the maintenance of their shift, the receipt or sending of a text always takes precedence over the waiting task at hand, showing up 10 minutes late shouldn’t be considered a big deal, even if it means more work for their co-workers, leaving early to watch the season premiere of Twilight live is more important than making an extra $30, if a cell phone is forgotten, the shift will be very uncomfortable, the ability to trade shifts with others so that the social commitments can be met is paramount

Overall view of life and waiting tables:

Baby boomer – life sucks because there are few funds available for retirement, younger waiters get all of the breaks, “boy, are my knees hurting”, waking up sore from a long shift sucks more than waking up sore after a night of partying and non-stop sex, in fact, waking up in general is a pain in the ass, although the alternative is too frightening to contemplate, “Arbeit macht frei” (“work makes you free” – what’s forgotten is that it’s a Nazi saying that greeted Auschwitz concentration camp workers)

Gen X – life sucks because they feel that their life is passing them by and they should have taken that cushy mid-management job in marketing after all, older waiters get all of the call parties and younger waiters seem to get all of the “fun tables”, waking up after a long double is a necessary evil even as their head pounds from too many shots of Patron the night before and having to leave their barely legal hostess in bed because it’s her day off, “what is that little sneaking pain in my knees and back”, work is a necessary evil (they forget that Mark Twain added “to be avoided”).

Gen Y – life sucks because having to work as a waiter sucks even though the money is good because a cool job like an intern for a concert promoter or a programmer at a cool social networking site just can’t be found because of the economy, going to work after staying up all night partying, texting and having copious amounts of meaningless sex is a pain in the ass, having to cover that cool Oriental character that’s been tattooed on the wrist is a profound invasion of personal freedom,  not being allowed to tweet during the shift is just stupid – “old people just don’t get it”, work is optional (Jonathan Safran Foer just hasn’t thought of a pithy way to express this yet)

Here’s a little advice to the gentle reader – don’t take this too seriously.


Off-topic post – help for Radio Free Nashville


My friends at Radio Free Nashville, a low power community radio station in the Nashville area are asking for any size donation in order to pay for transmitter repair and the installation of a new antenna that will extend their reach from a 10 mile radius to virtually the entire Metro Nashville area. The total bills are around $1000 – 1200.

The station was hand-built and run entirely by volunteers. The idea was to provide a counterbalance to big media and right-wing radio (the Right being well-represented already on the radio dial). The mix is around 60% talk and issue-oriented programming and 40% music. The station operates on a modest budget of $35,000 per year (paying royalties, utilities, maintenance, office supplies, legal expenses, etc.) which works out to be around $95 a day.

So, when your transmitter blows up and you have to spend $500 for the repair, it’s a major chunk of unexpected repairs. They now have the transmitter repairs and the bill will be coming due. Also, they were recently granted a move from 98.9 to 107.1 in order to avoid a short-spacing situation with a station in a nearby community that hamstrung their ability to run at full power (which is already a modest 100 watts), so the purchase of a new antenna and the installation of said antenna is another unexpected expense, although it’s far more welcome than a blown transmitter.

So, if you can afford to donate even a few dollars in these tight economic times, please go to You can find a link where you can make a tax-deductable donation through PayPal (still time to get one in for 2009) and you can also find information about other ways to support the station through underwriting, “adopt-a-bill”, monthly support or through the Tennessee program “Community Shares”, a workplace donation program. 

You can even go to and designate Radio Free Nashville as your charity of choice. Afterwards, everytime you do a web search through the site, WRFN will receive a small donation. And if you make in internet purchase through one of the vendors listed at Good Search, the station will receive a percentage of your purchase. This can be quite substantial if you purchase a large item such as computer or other high-dollar item. Most of the major on-line retailers are part of this program so I hope you’ll check out this way to donate without having to fork over your hard-earned cash.

You don’t have to be a Leftist to consider Radio Free Nashville worth supporting. Those of you who are on the Right should celebrate the idea of organizations being self-supporting without government assistance and consider the idea that even people with conservative views can organize and create their own local community low power radio stations with their own agendas.

Radio Free Nashville can be streamed anywhere in the world that has access to the internet.

Thank you for your consideration. when you donate, please say you heard it at “So You Want To Be A Waiter”.

Here are some pictures from their “barnraising” five years ago, a station built out of whole cloth by an army of volunteers:








IMG_1940Beau, first Friday

The last check on quality control

As a waiter, you are the very last QC engineer before the guest gets their food. Obviously, if your restaurant uses food runners exclusively, this doesn’t apply to you, but if you run your own or other waiters’ food, you should always make sure that the plate looks like it should. Are all of the garnishes present? Check. Does the plate rim have parsley (if required)? Check. Are there any sauce drips on the rim? Quick wipe. Has a skin formed on the sauce? Have the chef fix it or run a toothpick or knife through it. Is the lettuce on the burger starting to wilt? Swap it out.

I know that it gets hectic and sometimes we just pick up and run, but we are literally the last chance to assure that the plate of food that the guest is getting is to spec. It’s part of your job to make sure that the product matches the promise.

If your burger looks like this, you should fix it or get it fixed:Burger King Whopper Open