So You Want To Be A Waiter

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

Why would I want to be a waiter if…

…it’s a job that keeps me on my feet for hours? Or acceptance of the fact that I probably won’t get any raises? Or the fact that the chances are slim that I’ll get paid vacation and other benefits that many workers get? Or that I’m almost like an old household slave beholden to the master and mistress of the house? Or that I can’t count on a reliable and predictable income? Or that I’m confronted with the fact that my income is drawn from specific “projects” (read tables) and that every patron that I wait on directly determines my rate of pay, unlike most jobs where a fixed salary is drawn regardless of whether I fall short on a single task or two? Or subject to the fact that we usually don’t even earn enough hourly wage to cover our withholding taxes?

All those things are good points. Those are even points that people who look down on the job of waiting tables fail to consider, or use as reasons why a person would be stupid to wait tables.


…waiting tables is like any job in America; it has good points and not-so-good points.

If I work in an office, I have to punch a time clock. I probably have a hard time switching shifts with another worker so that I can go to my kid’s soccer game.

Increasingly, if I work in a “real job”, my benefits are getting whittled down.

There are many sedentary jobs that contribute to a breakdown in physical health.

Some jobs are being reclassified in order to allow benefits to expire or be reduced. In fact, some jobs have seen a halt in periodic raises and bonuses.

Most job holders are like slaves beholden to a single master. They tell you what you will and won’t do and hold the promise of a bonus or a raise over you.

Sometimes a year’s bonus rests on performance of a single metric.

So really, we’re not all that different in many respects from those who have “real jobs”.

The benefits are many.

We have flexible schedules. Many of us can get a sub at the last minute for something that comes up unexpectedly. We can actually take as many days off (up to a point) as our pocketbooks and wallets will allow. We can actually have many “mini vacations” during the year as we like and some of us even get a few bucks for the hours that we lose, if we request the time as “vacation time”.

We are paid daily. In some cases, waiters are paid weekly, but most of us walk with money from our efforts every day.

We keep a certain level of cardio due to our requirement to stay on our feet and due to our flow through the restaurant.

We have the flexibility of having available positions due to the many restaurant that exist in our communities.

We meet a widest cross-section of our communities of virtually any job around. We meet and wait on everyone from the mayor to the most humble ditch digger.

We are constantly challenged from every table that we wait on. Every table is different, unlike many jobs that suffer from the sameness of the tasks that have to be performed.

Our job is paid better on average than virtually any other service position, especially those that require no college degree.

And, perhaps most importantly, we are the people who bring enjoyment, convenience, entertainment, business facilitation and just plain social lubrication to our fellow community members. Without us, life would be much harder, more stressful and more one-dimensional. 

So yes, there are challenges to being a waiter. There is a small segment of the population that looks down on us, minimizes our importance, dismisses us as “mere servants”, accuses us of everything from being overpaid to buffoons.

They are wrong. 


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