What Is It Like To Be A Waitress? | First Person

By Anonymous July 10, 2017
Illustration: Brandon Joseph

That you’re reading this post probably means you’re into food. It would also mean that you like dining at fine restaurants, at least at the start of the month. For me, a warm ambiance for delectable food, the company of good people, and sublime hospitality are big enough draws to have a good gastronomic time.

Now, guess who doesn’t enjoy when you head out on one of your food expeditions? Your polite, smiling waiter. And how do I know that? By being one.

Now, being a waitress is a rather amusing job most of the time. For most of my stint, I was either serving or being the hostess at this posh five-star coffee shop, far less expensive than the other specialty restaurants at the property. It attracted a lot of people who were curious about a five-star experience without bruising their wallets.

Many of the customers were rich, at least when accompanied by company credit cards. This post is going to be my personal memoir of the most amusing and irritating types of people I’ve encountered while interacting with guests in Mumbai. Let’s get started!

  • An NRI will make sure you know about their NRI status. They’ll also use the word “hot” instead of spicy to test your understanding of the world.
  • A vegan guest is trouble with a capital T. He or she may ask you recite recipes for everything, especially dishes they aren’t going to order.
  • An average of one Indian parent a day will point to a waiter and tell their fat kid “Padhai nahi ki toh ye karna padega!”
  • Too many men think it is okay to try a pick-up line on a waitress. Thank you, shitty Bollywood films for making hapless young girls a target of tackiness in real life.
  • Grammar Nazis are commonly overheard. They think correcting a waiter’s diction at a five star is legit. Guess what? It’s not.
  • The manager is every guest’s favourite scapegoat. From “Get that dog on the street to stop barking!” to “I think the air conditioning is too cold”, he is accountable for more than God.
  • Hearing complaints after the food has been polished off the plate is very, very common. If you thought your soup was too salty, why did you gulp it down so quickly?
  • Indian parents will do nothing to make their kid stop crying or wandering around the restaurant. It is the waiter’s responsibility to go pacify it with candy and bring it back to the table.
  • “Waiter, please get us one plate of everything from the buffet to our table!” NO! THAT IS NOT WHAT YOU’RE PAYING FOR.
  • Everything on the menu should be one-by-two-able in the guest’s opinion. It is a waiter’s worst nightmare to go tell the Chef to divide his gourmet Panini into four parts instead of two.

Coming across such behavior almost daily tells one enough about an average Indian at a restaurant or cafe to conclude that:

  • Indians have zero dignity of labour and
  • People think they can get away with rudeness when they pay for hospitality.

There have been times when I’ve rushed to the back area of the restaurant in tears. I’ve seen tough, grown men cry.

The next time you visit a restaurant, greet the doorman back. A smile received in return means a lot to him. Do not size up the hostess, she knows when you do that. Keep the kids at home if you can’t press their mute button. If you like your steward’s service, tell him and make it official in a feedback form. Most importantly, don’t make unreasonable demands. The restaurant staff didn’t get superpowers with their training. Comprendre?


An Ex-Waitress In Distress

Do you think waiters get a particularly raw deal in India?