There is no doubt about it: working in the service industry can be difficult at times. When working in the service industry, you witness people at their best and their worst (but mostly their worst). There are a lot of ugly truths that are revealed about people upon handing them a plate of food that you may not have realized before you started working in the service industry. And those who have never served a day in their life just don’t get it.
Sure, tips are great, but sometimes shifts working in a restaurant play out more like a nightmare than a dream. If you have ever worked in the service industry, you can probably relate to at least one or two of these stories. Here are 11 real stories from real servers on what it is like working in the service industry in Toronto. Please note these servers have been given different names as they have asked to keep their real identity concealed.
"When I was working at a banquet hall, I was serving a wedding one night. The meal was over and we were all out cleaning off the tables. With my hands full, an older Italian man I could hardly understand started dancing around and getting close to me. He grabbed my shoulders and landed a big, wet kiss right on the side of my face. Of course I froze; I couldn't push away since I had full hands of dirty plates, plus I was only 16-years-old and this was my first job in the serving industry so I was new to its craziness." - Ashley, 26
"One night a girl was sat in my section by herself with two menus. I go over to introduce myself and she interrupts me and asks for two vodka shots. I bring her the shots assuming they are for her and her guest but when I put them on the table, she takes both and asks for two more. I ask her if everything is okay. She said her boyfriend of two years was coming to meet her and she planned to dumping him. I am about to go all Dr. Phil on her and tell her that breaking up with someone in a public restaurant probably isn't the best idea, but instead just nod and walk away. When I come back I see a guy sitting with her and within 5 minutes he starts to cry and leaves. I go over to see if she is okay but she is on the phone with a friend laughing." - Mark, 30
"I was serving this one guy all night and he became super forward and was hitting on me quite aggressively. He would not quit and I kind of got mad about it. As soon as my shift ended, I had to run off to a friend's birthday, so I changed out of my uniform in the bathroom and when I came out the guy was waiting for me. He would not stop commenting on what I was wearing and followed me out of the bar when I left. Security realized what was going on and finally blocked the guy from following me further. I had to take this insane route to get to a place only a few minutes away so I could get there without him knowing." - Penelope, 21
"One time I was serving a group of young guys and by the end of their dinner experience, I may have served them one too many cocktails. While I was billing them out, one of the guys turned to me and asked if I like anal sex. I said, 'Excuse me?' He said, 'Oh, sorry, you just look like the kind of girl who likes anal.' I decided not to stick around and ask him what that exactly means." - Sarah, 23
"Instead of tipping me in money, I once had a table leave me two rolled joints on the table as my tip. I guess it is not the worst thing to happen to a server, but I would still rather have money than drugs from strangers." - Steve, 31
"Once upon a serving shift, this crazy old homeless man wandered into the restaurant and was seated in my section. He looked like a homeless Santa Clause or someone from the Duck Dynasty cast. His bill ended up being fairly pricey and he eventually tried to skip out on it. Now keep in mind this old man had a cane and did not walk very fast so security and I obviously chased him down, brought him back into the restaurant to pay only to find out he literally had no money so we had to call the cops. He proceeded to use his cane as a weapon and started yelling racial slurs at us. The police finally showed up about two hours later and said, 'Oh, this guy does stuff like this all the time.' They proceed to un-cuff him and let him go without paying his bill." - Evie, 20
"As I was billing out one of my tables, I asked the famous question: 'What are you guys up to after this? Any plans?' They said, 'We are going to go home and do cocaine. You want to come? You look like the cocaine kind of girl.' I just laughed and said, 'Thanks, but I have an early morning tomorrow" (because of course I had not gotten their tip yet and you know you do anything for that money). After they finished paying and tipped me a measly 5 per cent, I told them they should probably find a better way to pick up girls than offering cocaine." - Brianna, 28
"I was once serving a group of four couples who were exceptionally demanding. They had a million food modifications and asked to get their drinks remade multiple times because they didn't taste the alcohol in them. Apparently they had also asked every other server to get them water except me, their actual server. Of course, none of the servers followed through with this so they started taking it out on me. When I got my manager, he actually apologized to the guests and brought them a round of shots on the house. He then proceeded to take the automatic gratuity off their bill because he claimed that I was not providing a high enough standard of service to the guests. That was my last night working there." - Ben, 26
"I had a walk in of 15 people transfer on to the patio. They were already mad that they had to wait 25 minutes to sit outside and one lady had threatened the hostess, leaving her in tears. The manager, who witnessed this, rather than kicking them out cleared my section on the patio for them and gave them a round of free drinks. The same lady spent her entire meal yelling at me and any server that came near the table. She told me multiple times that I was a loser and would never amount to anything. Some of her friends actually left halfway through the meal because they were embarrassed of her behaviour. She barked orders at me with no rhyme or reason and monopolized so much of my time that I could not look after my other tables. I am a server, not a servant, but most importantly I am a human and deserve respect. This experience is one of the reasons why I am not in the service industry anymore." - Chris, 19
"I remember there was this guy on the patio who had been drinking all day and he was trying to buy drinks for the girls at the next table, but they were definitely not interested. He kept trying, but the girls kept telling him no so he started to cause a scene. A manager took the guy to the front and waited with him for our security to show up. While they were waiting, the guy pulls out a baggy of cocaine and rips a line right off the table. He looked up at my manager and said "Well, the cops are coming, I had to get rid of it somehow." - David, 22
"The other night when I was serving I got a tickle in my throat so I politely turned away from my guests to cough. The woman at my table looked repulsed and asked me if I had the Zika Virus and then proceeded to order 'Nachos with the germs on the side, please.'" - Kate, 24
"A woman once ordered a kale salad from me, but said she had trouble digesting kale and asked if she could just have the kale salad without the kale. I tried suggesting she choose something else off the menu, but that was the only thing she wanted. I asked if she wanted arugula instead and she said, 'Isn't that in the same family as kale?' (Sorry what? The lettuce family? Why are you eating salad then?) She just wanted more of the other ingredients in the salad which was just some nuts and frisée - the garnish. So I brought her a $15 plate of garnish with dressing on the side." - Nathan, 29
"I had this one table of older men who kept trying to reach up my skirt. They kept brushing their hands against my thighs and were saying explicit things that made me extremely uncomfortable. So I went to get my manager, but when I told him what was happening he said I was just being dramatic. When I started to cry he told me that this was part of being in the service industry and if I can't handle it I should not be in it. I quit the next day." - Tiffany, 27