Here Are 8 Things Waiters Would Love To Tell You (But Can’t)

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Getty Images | Joe Raedle

If you have ever worked in the service industry, you know it’s not an easy gig. Between demanding customers, working for tips and the wacky hours, it’s no wonder that working as a server in a restaurant ranks as one of the most stressful jobs.

Part of the problem is that your typical diner doesn’t know how much is on their server’s plate, so to speak. We talked to a few waiters and waitresses to get their firsthand insight on the top things they wish customers knew about their jobs. Read on to find out how to be your next server’s favorite table!

1. Try To Consolidate Your Requests

You need a refill on your drink. Someone at else at your table would like some ketchup. No problem. But, don’t fetch your waitress, only to call her back 30 seconds later. When they ask, “Does anyone else need anything?” that’s because they have other tables and would like to grab everything you need in one trip, according to Dana, a waitress in Los Angeles.

2. They’re Crazy Busy

In addition to waiting on multiple tables at a time, servers must also complete “side work” such as rolling silverware in napkins, refilling table condiments and cleaning floors, according to So next time you look around and your server is nowhere to be found, cut them some slack. They’re likely still working and should stop by your table soon.


3. Tips Are A Big Part Of Their Income

You may think servers are at least making minimum wage, but that’s often not the case. According to the United States Department of Labor, servers can make as little as $2.13 per hour. That means that without decent tips, those in the service industry can scarcely pay their bills. If you receive fair service, you should tip at least 15 to 20 percent of your bill.

4. They Don’t Make The Food

Your tip shouldn’t be dependent on the quality of the food. Tips should be based on the service alone—because your server has nothing to do with the way your food tastes! Did you order your steak medium-rare, and it came out well-done? Wish you could scrape some salt off your dish? Chances are, the problem lies with the kitchen, not your server, so don’t take it out on them.

beef steak cooking over flaming grill

5. They Actually Like Their Jobs

Despite the late nights, occasional annoying customers and the fact that they come home from a shift reeking like garlic, most servers actually enjoy their jobs for the most part. There are some perks to the job, such as free meals, easy reservations at neighboring spots and the camaraderie of others working in the service industry. “I tried working outside of the industry for awhile, but I found I missed it and my friends too much,” says John, a server in Chicago.

6. They’re Not Just Trying To Upsell You When They Recommend Menu Items

Having worked as a waitress at a busy bar and grill myself, I can attest to this one. When your server recommends some of his or her favorite dishes, you might think they’re trying to earn a bigger tip by pointing out the priciest items on the menu. While that may be true, they’re probably trying to steer you in the right direction. They want you to enjoy your meal! Most restaurants offer free or discounted meals to their employees, so the servers have been there, tried that when it comes to most of the fare. Bottom line: Take a chance on their expert opinion!

waiter photo
Getty Images | Joe Raedle

7. Don’t Be Offended If They Don’t Remember You

You’re in a certain restaurant a couple of times a week, and you think the server who normally waits on your table should recognize you by now. Still, they call you by the wrong name or mix up your “regular” order. What gives? “Don’t take it personally,” says Keegan, a server in Chicago. “I see so many customers a day, it can be tough to keep all the regulars and their orders straight.”

8. Sometimes They Have To Work While They’re Sick

Only 61 percent of American workers in the private sector have any paid sick time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Servers are no exception. That means that even if your server has been up all night coughing, they most likely have to schlep into work the next day anyway. Some hand sanitizer after your meal arrives may be in order.


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About the Author
Kate Streit
Kate Streit lives in Chicago. She enjoys stand-up comedy, mystery novels, memoirs, summer and pumpkin spice anything. Visit Scripps News to see more of Kate's work.

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