Confessions of a Bad Waitress

Avatar photo

I have lived out my adolescent dream. I’ve come home after a night of work with several hundred dollars having kept all my clothes on. And that part is really nice. But is it worth feeling constantly stressed and worried about working a job, about keeping a job that you aren’t good at and do not like?

For the better part of my adolescence, since I was about fifteen years old, I wanted to be a server. Not permanently. Certainly not as a career choice. I just thought that of course I would need to trudge through a series of demeaning, temporary, low-paying jobs before I hit my stride and became rich and famous or win the lottery. I figured as so many young girls do that certainly, definitely, without a question I should be a server. That’s a super easy job and you make ‘mad cash’ right?

That was the wrong assumption, and the wrong decision. I am a bad server. A very bad server. And I do not enjoy my job at all. But I make money. There’s only one reason anyone who has never been a server makes the decision that this is what they want to do – money. I would bet that 98% of people become servers for the money. There are very few other perks in working this kind of job. The hours suck. You always work weekends, and you never really know what your hours are, so it’s virtually impossible to schedule your time.

You don’t get breaks. Unless you smoke. If you smoke you can usually convince your manager to let you run out for a quick smoke break, because they get it. They smoke. Everyone who works in a restaurant smokes. Because they work in a restaurant. It’s just how you get by. So even if you don’t smoke, you lie and say you do because it’s the only way you’re granted the luxury of sneaking outside (and sitting down for a moment).

The ‘cigarette’ is not enjoyable because the entire time you know that despite being given permission to be outside, even though you have been on your feet for nine hours, if one of your tables wants a beer, some ketchup or their bill and your ass is not there to get it for them, there is a world of pain waiting for you when you get back inside. Even other servers have been running around frantically looking for you even though you were gone for three minutes.

Most young girls want to become servers because they’re thinking “TIPS TIPS TIPS”. You grow up and you hear these wonderful stories from a few people you know who managed to score serving jobs at sixteen, and leave at the end of the night with hundreds of dollars, and get bought shots by cute boys who just think they’re doing such a good job. I tried for years to get a job as a server and it was always the same situation – If you don’t have any experience, no way in hell we’re hiring you as a server. I worked several hostess and junior serving jobs before I ever got hired as a server and I used to think this was stupid as fuck, but I kind of get it now that I’ve learned this shit is actually hard, and I’m not very good at it. I’m not going to mention where I’m actually working now because this is 2015 and I’m not an idiot. As much as I hate and sometimes fear my job, I’d like to keep it for now.

When you’re a really bad server you’re much more concerned with finishing the shift alive. If I get through my shift without crying, severely screwing up someone’s order, getting yelled at or in trouble with the management, my night is a success. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to continue this job, but weirdly one of the things that kind of gets me through it is just knowing how much I suck at it.

I feel like it’s only respectful to give some serious props to the people I have met who actually are good servers. They blow my fucking mind and I spend most of my shifts in awe of how any one person can remember so much shit, be doing so many different things at the same time and actually be smiling and happy. I get that these people have been doing this much longer than I have. They’re more familiar with the restaurant, the menu, the policies, the clientele and the standards. It doesn’t make it any less amazing that someone can be serving maybe fifteen tables at a time who are all doing shots, ordering food, asking questions, wanting separate bills, and any other number of things that are just annoying to deal with.

I had a guy last night who explicitly told me he wanted four slices of avocado with his chicken wings. What the fuck? This is a lot to deal with. And when you don’t have a lot to deal with it’s almost worse because you are bored as fuck. There is only so much cutlery you can polish, linen you can fold and random shit you can wipe with a cloth before you are basically contemplating suicide.

There is no nice, normal pace in a restaurant. You are either running your ass off, sweating, clearing, running drinks, running food and assuring the three tables of eight you just triple sat that you promise you’ll be there in one minute, or you’re serving two dudes who both just want water and some french fries. You’re walking laps around the bar, watching the minutes crawl by and trying not to think about how much your feet hurt. There is really no in between.

by Fritz Ahlefeldt

Can I just bitch for a quick minute about people who order fucking water? I realize it’s the cheapest beverage you can get (i.e FREE) and it’s good for you. Usually there is no issue with this. But when you’re serving a huge section that’s totally full and all six people at your table order a beer…and um a water too please? Annoying. Or when someone grabs your arm as you pass and asks “Hey could I have some water?” Realistically these people are doing nothing wrong, and it shouldn’t be so annoying but it is.

I’ll tell you why it’s so easy to forget that someone wants water. When someone orders anything that costs money in a restaurant it gets punched into a computer, and someone makes it for you and it sits there waiting for you to fucking run it. If you don’t, there is a bartender or a manager who shouts “HEY, YOU GONNA RUN THIS?”

See Also

When someone wants water, nothing is punched in, and it’s really easy to forget about, especially when you have twenty other things to do. I often forget to bring people water, but as we’ve established I’m a bad server, it makes sense that if you’ve asked me twice for water and I haven’t brought it – you get a little pissed off. Justified. But after doing this for a while, I can’t tell you how annoying it is when it’s twenty minutes to last call and you’re running your ass off and have two tables full of bitches who are drinking WATER and just want more and more every five minutes. How fucking dehydrated are you? Go home. I’m sure you have water there. If you don’t, you have serious life problems and probably shouldn’t be here in the first place.

So I’m a really bad server. I’m bad at my job and I really do not like it at all. But this is okay. I won’t be doing this forever and I don’t have to be good at everything. I’m good at reading, writing, ranting and bitching. I’m good with animals, with planning and organizing. I’m a great cook. I’m pretty decent at yoga, at hiking, at figure skating, piano and I know my shit about wine.

But I am not a good server. I have lived out my adolescent dream. I’ve come home after a night of work with several hundred dollars having kept all my clothes on. And that part is really nice. But is it worth feeling constantly stressed and worried about working a job, about keeping a job that you aren’t good at and do not like? No, absolutely not.

Cover art by Alvaro Tapia Hidalgo as part of the Angry People’ project.


View Comments (37)
  • Thank you sooo much for sharing this and for all that have commented underneath. I worked for the same company for years as a general manager and got out of it so I could focus on school and get into a better career. A girl still has to pay her bills though so I decided I’d do waitressing (good money less stress). Much like everyone else here. I was wrong. I have searched how to be better server, how long does it take to get good at serving etc. Tonight my manager seated a server and her family (who came in off duty obviously) in my section, then i got triple sat and then had a group of 5 come in. I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I forgot to make a tables salad before their maim course came out, took forever to bring checks and clear tables and completely neglected my coworkers table (which sucks cause I actually like her and shes nice to me). Long stort short I came home and googled I suck as a server. I feel like an idiot Every. Day. And feel anxious my entire drive to work each time. Im trying but fu** am I ever going to get better at this? Thank you for making me feel less alone.

  • im 16 and ive just started my first job ever as a waitress i have been there a week and a bit. The shop gave me no training whats so ever (they did show me how to make a milkshake)so i still dont know how to use the POC till and tablets properly. There is only me 2 other girls and the manager and assistant manager because we are so understaffed as its a new restaurant most days its me and a manger behind the drink bar that makes milkshakes and stuff and i get so stressed working with managers because i know they can see how bad i am constantly being told i am to slow i feel like i drag them down and they could do a better job without me there. The other girl who works weekends is only 17 and its her first job to and shes way better than me already i feel like i have no common sense and ask way to many questions. Im so forget full and clumsy i haven’t dropped any drinks but i hate taking them on the tray not to mention im so shy and awkward and am always being told to speak louder by the manger cuz im so quiet when passing information around. I feel like they find me so annoying cuz im honestly so stupid and i hate working when i feel like eyes are on me i feel judged my anxiety attacks are really bad and i hide in the toilets and cry. I have gcse to do while working 5-10 so im so tired i know i should work less but im broke. The people at the place are nice so i feel bad when i annoy them by being dumb

  • I leave for my shift in 10 minutes and just found this post and let me say THANK YOU it’s so comforting to hear that others feel this way. It seems like everyone at my work is amazing and never makes mistakes while there I am new and clueless- I find the worst part is having to constantly talk to customers- i can’t just zone out while I work and think- I have to be bubbly and talkative, its so draining and makes me dread work. I’ve been working for one month and just started a second job at another place- one more month and I am off to uni thank god. in the mean time thou i will suffer thru the month- another downside is the main place I work out doesn’t give the staff full tips so it’s not even worth it but I need the money

  • Omg that’s exactly how I feel right now, but I feel like if I give up now, I won’t be strong enough to handle challenges like this in the future. I need to keep going until I’m either fired for incompetence or somehow manage to get better. LMAO I came in thinking I was ready to bartend

  • I’m so glad I’m not the only one. I’ve been serving for like a month now but I still feel like I’m terrible. I forget stuff a lot. I even worked today & it was just really rough & busy. I had the rudest old people today. I had a breakdown cuz they were being so rude for no reason at all which is just really frustrating. I told this other server to take them cuz I didn’t want to deal with them. I was just a mess. I spilled drinks& just felt like I was doing everything wrong. I forgot to take a meal off this ladies bill cuz I rang up three instead of two so I had to get the manager to fix it. I feel like I’m always bothering the managers cuz I make so much mistakes. ??‍♀️I feel like I’m not getting paid enough either.Servers should get paid more for the shit we have to deal with honestly??

  • Oh my GOSH thank you for this post! I have never read something more relatable. Every other day I am having a mental breakdown and crying at this job and I know what I look like to the other staff, it embarrasses me deeply. I leave every shift mentally and emotionally exhausted. I do well and make lots of money and overall would consider myself a good server, but this doesn’t matter to me – I absolutely dread every second of it. It gives me the same anxiety attacks I got back in school when I was getting bullied. I just have to remember this isn’t forever.

  • Thank you for writing this post and thanks to everyone who commented. I feel like shit too and I’m considering quitting my waitress job (I just completed my third shift last night and it was TERRIBLE) but I really need the money and I feel like if I quit, I’m just gonna create more problems…. Hopefully things get better

  • Omgggg, thank you guys so much for the comments. I am also a student of a pretty good University and even went to IB in high school. Yes, I am aware that I have ADHD issues. But serving really proved me that I may have issues with thinking abilities ? I feel like a retard 99% of the time. But now it’s gotten better ( or not, maybe a bit), I don’t hear as much yelling and see angry faces of my managers. Or probably that time I cried also contributed somehow to a change in their attitudes (yep, I couldn’t handle my shit anymore and had a drama right when the shift was about to end, super embarrassing what I can I say).

  • all the time i used to read smaller content that
    as well clear their motive, and that is also happening with this piece of writing
    which I am reading at this place.

  • Well guys, here I am too. I just got let go from the serving job I had…for about 3 months. I can remember orders and be polite with people, I can be on top of things, but this restaurant has two servers handling the whole place and everyone is for themselves here. But maybe ive also just lost my touch and become a shitty server, I get overwhelmed sometimes and then things get neglected and then i just see managers shaking their heads and saying im too slow.

    Its pretty haunting to want to work as a server but feel like maybe i just suck too much to keep a serving job longer than a few months.

    Reading through all these comments has been so comforting, I am gonna keep trying I guess…if anyone has advice please let me know. Thanks serving fam.

  • Like eveyone else, I too came to this blog by asking google why I’m such a terrible server. I’ve been working banquets as a side gig since I graduated high school , and recently I got a job as a server at this really upscale country club . I was in wayyyy over my head and am legitimately thinking about taking a manual labor job instead, that way I can end my nights with my dignity intact. Lol , good luck to all my inept waiter-homies.

  • I’m so happy I found this! I constantly feel compared to the other servers when I am not doing as well. I do make mistakes sometimes but not nearly as many as when I first started. Still, I always feel my boss over my shoulder and that stresses me out and makes me more inclined to mess up. I just hate that this job makes me feel stupid when I know I am intelligent. I’m sure working 6-7 days a week while going to uni doesn’t help.

  • I’ve never been more comforted reading about others’ misfortune in my life haha. I’ve been a server for about 3 weeks and I feel like my life is constantly just stress now. If it’s not stress from being at work, then it’s stress THINKING about going to work. I feel like a horrible server and the worst part is my restaurant is horribly understaffed so what I hoped to be a 3-4 days a week summer job is now 6 days a week. I’m wishing you all peace and comfort and that we can all GET THE HELL OUT OF THE SERVING INDUSTRY

  • I’ve been a waiter at a family owned restaurant for almost 6 years. I became manager when the old manager quit unexpectedly after I was there for only about a year and a half. I would have terrible days, and I would have the hell shifts. It took me at least 6 months to really feel okay about having my own section. But this being family owned, we only used hand-written food tickets. I would communicate what I needed with the kitchen and they’d read my ticket. No POS system. After feeling like I mastered serving there, fast forward to today.

    With all these years of experience, you’d think I’d be good working as a server in another restaurant. Nope. I’m terrible. I have no POS system training before this, and this pace is ridiculous. Today I messed up so many order by simply getting table numbers mixed up on the POS. The Expo was so mad at me, and I don’t even know who to ask for the sauces or cheeses.

    It seems like I’m just a drag on the other servers, especially the hostesses, hosts, bartenders, and expos. I bet they’re looking at me thinking they can do better, and I feel like they’d be right. I only wanted a night job while I go to school, but I feel like I’m either gonna have to quit or they’re gonna send me to another location. Today was a day to forget.

    Does anyone ever replay ever stupid mistake they’ve made over and over and want to hide and never show your face at the restaurant you work at? That’s all I’ve done today.

    • Yup, I feel like quitting after today’s shift. I work at this place only 2 days a week while having another job at another restaurant. At the other restaurant I feel like a fish in the water, but at this new place I feel like I constantly mess things up. The way the restaurant operates is totally new to me. I’ve been here for 3 months, but in reality it’s only like 1 months because its 2 days a week. And I always stress out about it. Today I messed up two tables, put the order on wrong checks. Two tables, at the same time!!! How??? And i just dont understand why this keeps happening. I simply keep confusing table numbers. There are a lot of tables though.
      A lot. Like i’m ok at the other restaurant,but I keep fucking it up at this place. This is how I found this blog: my shift is over, I’m at a bar next door having a drink (you can imagine, I need a drink), thinking to quit before I get fired, and goodling shit like “I’m a bad server”.
      Like wtf, I’m not a stupid person, I’ve been studying education and foreign languages, I’m planning to go back to school next year. I’m a very organized person otherwise, so why the fuck am i confusing simple things? Like at some point when I so stressed out I’m taking the order and I have hard time figuring out what table I’m at. And I do not get overwhelmed easily. Like at my other place I can have 15 tables and if they are spaced out more or less okay – I’m good, I can handle it. But at this place i just feel like an idiot

  • I can understand that. I am a bad server myself too, or any job that is related to food. I am always told to be go faster but how? Its hard to be “faster” when I am really going at my maximum speed.
    Worst of all, I make many mistakes too. But I am glad its only a temporary job, I am quitting in June. Until then, I will just do my best to hold out.

  • This is so true. I felt like shit after coming home from a long shift last night cause I kept getting yelled at for being too slow. I am so bad at carrying drinks, especially if it’s a huge table and they’ve all got different drinks and I’m running around trying to figure out who ordered what and not break anything at the same time. I feel like the only thing that keeps me going back is the fact that the job is temporary and the money of course.

  • This article and these comments are both making me feel a lot better right now haha. Googled “why do I suck at easy jobs” because goddamn, always being confused and yelled at in the restaurant I work in is really fucking embarrassing.
    Boss told me I might be the first person she ever lets go. I’ve been pretty successful at a prestigious college that’s supposed to hook me up with a nice job one day, but I can’t even handle a minimum wage paying restaurant?
    If anyone ever wants to feel less alone, hit me up lol

      I recently acquired a serving and bartending job and I absolutely suck. Constantly dragging down the people i’m working with because i’m asking questions or asking where things are or how to make certain drinks and they expect me to know it all already and i’ve only been even working there a month. The other girl who works there is amazing at her job and gets along with every single customers and knows all the regulars and she has only worked there a month longer than me. I’m really struggling and decided it was because I truly am just the biggest lamest clutz but i’m thankful to find I am not alone. This job is still making me miserable though.

  • Wow I found this page also by googling “Am I the worst server ever?” This blog made me feel better that there are people out there who are in the same boat as me. I’m a university student who doing fine in school. I never thought serving would be such a hard job. Today the bartender was being rude and making snarky comment about everything that I did and made me feel like shit at work and on top of that I hit a customer’s car. Not to mention that I broke a patron bottle last week. :/ This job is definitely for clumsy people.

  • I am so grateful I found this blog! You are amazing. I googled “Why am I a bad server?”This article came up. I’ve worked at, at least 10 restaurants as a waiter from Dc, Md, and Mi(my current home). Although I have come a long way in the 5 years of serving, however I don’t think it’s nearly enough in this industry. I look at all of the other servers and it seems like they all tap into this unique, strategized , rhythm and consistency every time they hit the floor. Almost as if they go into auto pilot mode. Unfortunately, I am constantly finding myself forgetting items, being unorganized, missing pens, lighters, wine keys, running late etc. Getting yelled at and very easily distracted upon arrival catching up with critter chat. I have a bubbly personality that a server should have but that’s pretty much it. I get the worse sections, no parties [not that I want them lol], no good reviews online like everyone else, can’t upsell to save my life, never win any competitions and the list goes on. It hurts. It seems unfair. I don’t think it’s by coincidence that we all came here. I believe either we are some of the best servers in the making and haven’t tapped into it yet and or millionaires and billionaires. #Believeit This isn’t just by coincidence. #Peace&Love

    • Hey, of course I have no idea, but have you ever considered that you might have ADHD? I do, and what you describe is exactly me if I’m not on medication. I am a server, and things go to hell in a handbasket if I haven’t taken my dexedrine. Sometimes it goes to hell in a handbasket anyway, but I notice a huge difference in my ability to stay focused when I’m on my meds at work. Anyway, I just thought I’d throw that out there.
      Serving is a really hard, thankless job, so try not to be too hard on yourself, whether you have adhd, or not!

      • I’ve been thinking about getting back on meds just so I don’t suck at this job, but I’m scared they’ll make me depressed.

  • omg this is the right place for me now. going through a very confused period of my life, so after getting two degrees in law I decided to try something i hadn’t tried before. being a waitress. worst decision ever, I am such a bad one and 3 months into it and not a day goes without being told off by the managers. Found this blog by googling “I am the worst waitress ever”. On top of that I am often late, because I suck at time management. Anyways, whoever needs to talk, do get in touch!

    • I quit serving because of this! But now I’m thinking about doing it again cus the money is good. I got here by googling I am bad at being a server haha

    • Oh my god. I think I’ve read this blog at least four times in the past two years. I have a law degree too. I’m working on another degree and being a server is the only way I can work with my schedule. I was absolutely terrible at it in the beginning, years ago. Now I’ve come to accept that I’m just a bad server. I’m good at other stuff, but I can’t deal with people asking me about weird substitutions, drinks I don’t know, or food items that aren’t even on the menu when there’s no manager around for me to ask. I can’t deal with taking delivery orders on the phone with people with heavy accents describing random places that don’t show up on the screen. It’s usually just me when I work so I have to deal with EVERYTHING. From sitting people to taking carry outs and delivery orders. Sometimes the phone won’t stop ringing and I think I’m going to lose it. When I get tables with more than 6 people I flip out. I can’t remember shit. And because the times I’ve been early I’ve had to wait for someone else to open the restaurant, I’ve become accustomed to being late. The restaurant where I work is pretty shitty, as well as some of the people working in it. To top it, I have anxiety issues and I’ve never been really good at talking to people, so I’m not the most attentive or talkative server as you can imagine. I don’t give a damn most of the time. But when I read reviews online I feel like shit. I can’t wait to graduate and get a real job. I fucking hate working as a server.

  • And Julia, I know maybe this isn’t relavent, but you really should know it’s not your fault. You’re only a human being. it’s ok to make bad decsions and to be confused or overwhelmed with certain situations.

  • OMG, I’ve just started working in a restaurant, and contemplating quitting, but this just made my day!
    I felt like the only bad waitress in the world, and this article really made me laugh:) thank you!

  • Tonight was the worst night I’ve had at my current job, ever. I felt like the worst server ever. First off, because one of my coworkers told me I was a terrible server, and he wasn’t kidding. He was totally serious and rude about it and we got in a big argument over it. He told me I was terrible because my table, who only half had shown up and had only ordered drinks, asked him for silverware and napkins. I would have gotten them those things at some point before they got their food, but they weren’t all there yet and hadn’t ordered any food yet. But because he had a party of 16 he was splitting with someone else, he was mad about it. And totally rude to me… for the rest of the night. Just would not relent. Told me numerous times how shitty I am. And then later on I had a two top. They ordered their two dishes and I rang them in. After waiting for 20-25 minutes for the food, one dish was made. When I asked about the other dish the kitchen told me we were out of it. You couldn’t have told me this 20 minutes ago?! So now I look bad and have to break the bad news to my table. They were clearly upset but not complaining so I grabbed one of the assistant managers who gave them a free meal. While all of this was happening I had gotten triple sat and was being run around by everyone, but mostly the two top, who ended up stiffing me, by the way. One of the new tables came in with a shitty attitude, complaining about her last trip to my restaurant. She of course wasn’t happy with my service, because I had taken a bit too long to bring their drinks (hello, triple-sat and issues with that two top), and because I had rung in the large portion of her pasta when she wanted the half portion. She ended up getting my GM involved, and my GM was not happy with me. She basically made me feel like it was ALL MY FAULT. Like wtf, can I not do anything right?? Tonight really put a bad taste in my mouth, and I honestly never want to show up to that restaurant ever again.

  • God I needed this. I found it by googling “why do I suck at serving”. I had a table yesterday tell my manager I was the worst service they ever had. Needless to say, they didn’t tip. T-T It really sucks when you truly are trying your hardest and you see no improvement over several months. I’m starting to moss my old receptionist job that I *used* to think was stressful.

  • I just got yelled at by my manager today. I feel so stupid not being able to do this well. I’m at the very least of average intelligence and I graduated from a good university…but somehow I just can’t get through one shift without screwing something up and having my boss tell me that I need to shape up…or else. Can’t wait ’till the end of summer.

  • I found this by writing in google: “why am i a shit server”
    This was a pleasant read. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one out there.

  • I feel the exact same way…. Especially keeping a smiling face on. I write everything down pretty much because we have to but when everyone at a table of 6 is ordering entrees and appys at the same time and each single one of those orders has some variation too it (can I get no potatoes extra veg, or instead of this sauce can I get that sauce ) it’s fucking hard.

    Not to mention, they all get impatient as you’re writing it down and the next guest is so eagerly awaiting to order. Like can you give me a fuxking second before you jump in and Demand to order so that I can write this guys super complex custom order down. Jesus fuck.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

© 2019 Issue Magazine Wordpress Theme.
All Rights Reserved.

Scroll To Top