10 things I learned working in the hospitality industry

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Before I finally put my very expensive degree to work and got my job in PR, I had to pay the bills. I was a very good barmaid and waitress for five years. Five. Long ass. Years. It sucked, the money was bad, I worked shitty hours, people are crazy, your colleagues are even worse. But to be honest, I learned a lot during my time in the hospitality industry – about myself, about other people, and the way the world works. I got by and I dont regret it for a second. Here’s the ten things I learned whilst doing my sentence:

It won’t prepare you for real life, but it will prepare you for shitty people
I got paid to make a customer’s day better and that sometimes includes talking to their kids. One such time, a little girl liked me so much she told her mother she wanted to be just like me when she grew up. Without missing a beat, and not even giving one shit that I was wiping down the booth RIGHT next to her, she exclaimed: “No darling, you want to have a better job than just a waitress“.

No bullshit. Man, that hurt. Especially since I was working two jobs and studying for my exams at the same time. That was a shitty thing of her to do, but I knew she was wrong.

The customer is not always right. Like, they are hardly EVER right
Just get over it. You will always be ‘wrong’ in the long run if they try to escalate. People are fucking dumb. They’ll tell you you’re wrong even if what they asked for is put down in front of them five minute later. ESPECIALLY if they’re drunk. Just whatever dude. Smile. Take the tip. Punch a wall. Chill. It’s not forever.

You can eat whatever the hell you like
Always. Burgers. Ribs. Fat off the grill. I promise you won’t gain weight. You’re running around 14 hours solid. You need it!

You will always smell like food
It’s not nice. I’d go round stinking of this gross ribs/fat hybrid grossness. It’s gonna happen. Wash your uniform. Wash yourself.

Your boss is (probably) a prick
Oh yeah. Someone I encountered was literally the most jumped up, sarcastic, power-tripping man I have EVER met – I’ve actually never met someone so abhorrent since. You can be a boss and be a leader, but when you’re making people feel like actual shit for no reason because you’re ‘in charge’, you have an issue. I cried in the staff toilets so many times due to his nastiness and rudeness, and I know I wasn’t the only one. Anyway, I satisfy myself now in knowing I’m doing better than he ever will.

Bitches actually be cray
I once sent a lovely salmon caesar salad to a table only for it to be sent back and be shouted at as it was ‘fishy’. Also, be prepared for someone to ask you for a strawberry milkshake and then slam it down on the table as they CLEARLY asked for a chocolate one. Perfect that evil smile. The gritted teeth. Of course, madam…

Not only that, but people will fuck with you if they think it’ll get them money off their meal. I served a table of 25 perfectly, for some kid’s birthday. This one auntie went mental when I tried to clear her plate after like an hour and a half and then again when I told her it was NOT kids eat free as it was Thursday and not Sunday. She then went cray at my manager saying I had been an awful waitress to try and recoup the money from her little ‘deal’ she had going. Luckily my manger saw through it and was like no…

People think you’re an octopus and get mad when you’re actually not
I have two arms and they are fairly normal sized. I’ve mastered carrying three dishes at a time, four if it’s a little one on my little finger. I once had a guy stand up and scream that I’d “totally fucked everything up” as I brought out three of his selected eight dishes. Man. They’re right there, give me two seconds and I’ll get them. I couldn’t even. Sorry dude let me CRACK OUT MY EIGHT OCTOPUS ARMS AND LAY DOWN YOUR DISHES IN AN OCTOPUS MANNER.

I literally said “I’ve got two arms, I can’t bring everything at once”, but unfortunately, that was too much for his little brain to compute. Meal ruined. Oh my actual god.

You will have to clear up bodily fluids
Nah, no joke. As a waitress, I had to clear up kids puke, spit and grimy plates. But in a BAR? Man. Think of a bodily fluid. I’d cleaned them all. Puke from too many shots on a curry dinner, menstrual blood, and even…spunk off the wall. Yep. That wasn’t the best day. Prepare yo’ self.

Waiters and waitresses are all actors
Everyone has a “persona.” You use this sing-song voice, start saying ‘folks’ and ‘guys’ and you get this upbeat attitude that Disney employees would be jealous of. It’s just like that scene in Waiting where Naomi goes from shouting F-bombs all over the kitchen to being all smiley and shiny at her table.

It’s not all bad
This all sounds bloody awful but it’s really not all bad. You get to and HAVE to speak to different people every day and it prepares you for your personal and professional development. You learn to grow a thick skin and not be so sensitive – people are arseholes. Don’t be one yourself though!

I think everyone should have to work in the hospitality industry for a week, just to understand what it’s like. The difference between the people who have never worked in food service, and the people who have, is always clearly visible. And a lot of time it has to do with the basic degree of respect they give to the people who are serving them.

What do you think?

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1 Comment

  1. Katherine
    6th May 2017 / 7:54 pm

    I might just try it out for a week. Wish me luck.

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