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7 Struggles That Make Every Hostess Want To Flip A Table


Anyone who’s worked in a service or retail job (AKA 90% of employed/formerly employed college students) knows that people absolutely suck. Customers, though “always right”, are not always intelligent and polite, nor are bosses and co-workers. Whether you’re a service ninja or you’ve never had a job, here are a few struggles that plague us hostesses on the day-to-day.


  • Having nothing to do

In my experience, this situation can lead to two contrasting issues: either your boss catches you standing around and yells at you to find something to do, or there’s absolutely nothing for you to do but stand around. So you stay there bound to your podium, a prisoner of capitalism, questioning every life decision that lead you to this endless existential crisis for which your reward is a minimum wage salary and a free meal at 11 PM. (Hey, at least the sweet potato fries are good.) I personally prefer being forced to perform random tedious side jobs over standing around being bored—at least cleaning the menus for the fifth time kills a few minutes—but both cases are pretty awful.


  • Being lonely at your station

Seating people is the most FOMO-inducing job in the entire restaurant. There is no feeling of isolation like seeing the waitresses and busboys gathered in their little squad around the order input computers while you’re stuck at your station keeping an eye out for the one person who decides to come in for dinner at 5 PM. What are they laughing about? You’ll never know. Unless someone comes over to your station first or you find an excuse to head to the other side of the restaurant (don’t mind me, I’m just checking if table 105 needs another place setting), it’s just you and your lonely lonesome self.


Your happy co workers who aren’t socially isolated.


  • Picky customers

This alone could be its own article. No matter where you seat a customer, they can somehow manage to find a problem with that seat. Sure, there are the usual unfavorable spots (I’m looking at you, tables near the kitchen and bathroom), but even seats that seem perfectly fine raise issues with some people. “Oh no, I wanted a seat near the window. A booth. No, not here, this is right near the AC vent. This seat is better. No, actually, I prefer the other one. Actually that one is good—can you ask someone to clean it off? We’ll wait by your podium for the next twenty minutes and make you feel slightly uncomfortable.”


  • Filling all sections equally

Those waiters with sections near the door? They can kiss their tips goodbye for the night because no one ever wants to sit in their section. Normally they’ll come up and ask you to seat the next table in their section, which you try to do for the following three groups, who all exclaim “No!” when they see you walking in the general direction of the section, as if it’s being inhabited by a four-foot-tall arachnid. You’ll likely feel guilty that poor Mark only has one table while Tony has four, but hey, you tried your best.


  • Getting blamed for mistakes in to-go orders even when you didn’t make them

Okay, fine, more often than not I’m the one to mess up to-go orders, but it’s super annoying when you get an order perfect and your glory is thwarted by someone else’s mistakes! Especially when it leads to your boss yelling at you for something you didn’t do. One time an old woman called my restaurant to order six items with very specific modifications, one of which was a chicken breast with lemon on the side. Apparently in the past, the kitchen forgot to include the lemon every time, so when I printed the ticket I wrote “DON’T FORGET THE LEMON!” and underlined it twice. Well what do you know—an hour later the woman called saying they forgot the lemon. No matter how hard you try, the kitchen will always manage to screw things up.



  • Having to apologize to angry customers for other people’s mistakes

On the topic of other people’s mistakes… it’s always so strange hearing customers rant about slow service or the sogginess of their Philly cheesesteak and having to apologize in a way that depicts genuine remorse. It’s not like you made the bread on their sandwich sad and wet! You were standing here at your podium with no clue that sandwich was even being made. But as the hostess, you represent the restaurant, which means you have to take the blows made by angry customers on the phone and at the register.


  • Not knowing what people want when they come in

This struggle isn’t really irritating, it’s just plain awkward. As a hostess, you’re expected to pounce on every incoming customer with your charismatic smile and greeting, blasting them with a surge of welcomeness. Unfortunately, not every customer who walks through the door is looking to be seated. Maybe they’re picking up a to go order, meeting a friend who’s already there, or you seated them before and your memory sucks so you didn’t recognize them. Or, the pinnacle of awkwardness for new people—they’re not a customer at all. They work here. In any event, it’s always a good idea to do a microanalysis of everyone who walks in the door before greeting them.


Even though being a hostess can be completely draining, at the end of the day you have to admit your restaurant fam is pretty awesome. Sure, you’re suffering, but you’re all suffering together. Plus, again, those sweet potato fries are really good. And you can sneak a few in the kitchen when no one’s looking.

Laura Alexander is a sophomore at Brown University
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