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10 Things Waiters Do When They're Not at Work

by Danielle Page Jan 21, 2015
1. Overtip

Even if you don’t believe in karma, you feel for your fellow service industry workers, and are compelled to tip them extra just because. You don’t count certain things against your server, like food being backed up in the kitchen, or the reservation that the hostess somehow lost, because you’ve had this happen to you many times before, and you know that it’s out of your server’s hands. If you’re out with a group of people who are tipping below or exactly 20%, you always throw a few bucks extra in to make sure your server knows they’re appreciated.

2. Pay extra attention to the state of your drinking glasses

When glasses with hard-water stains or leftover long-wear lipstick end up affecting how much your tip will be, you spend a lot of time making sure those suckers are as shiny as Beyonce’s weave. Inevitably, you start inspecting your own glasses just as hard when you’re home, and emptying your dishwasher becomes an hour-long task.

3. Actually set your table the right way

Especially when you work at a high-end restaurant that supplies its customers with multiple forks and spoons Titanic-style, you get so used to the attention to detail that goes into setting the table that you find yourself mimicking it when you’re not at work. Even if you’re eating with plastic cutlery and paper plates, you feel compelled to make sure that your knife is turned inward.

4. Spend an extra few seconds on plating your meal

If one of your eggs is runny, you find yourself grabbing a paper towel to wipe the excess — for presentation purposes. You reach for some garnish, just to realize that it’s not there…because it’s your day off and you’re in your kitchen. But yet, you end up paying attention to the appearance of your breakfast (and lunch, and dinner).

5. Answer your phone and say the name of your restaurant

Especially after working a weekend shift with that hostess who is notoriously MIA and the manager who always gets caught up with some kind of customer issue that needs his undivided attention. Your friends are actually used to it. In fact, they kind of get a kick out of it.

6. Mimic the moves you’ve seen in your restaurant’s kitchen

You’ve tried to flip your omelet in the pan with just the movement of your arm and a prayer. You chop your onions fast and furiously in hopes of not crying the same way that the kitchen staff manages not to do. You really, really want to try to flambé something — but you’re too nervous to actually go through with it.

7. Accidentally pour your water pitcher sideways

You’ve abused your Brita water pitcher countless times by losing the top of it as you go to pour it from the side, because you’re so used to pouring those pitchers sideways at work to get both the ice and water into a customer’s water glass. And because, let’s be honest, those plastic pitchers suck.

8. Act extremely polite

When your roommate asks you to do them a favor, you automatically respond with “Yes Sir.” You’re overly polite toward strangers. You hold doors open and wish the person exiting “Good Evening.” You compliment people on their scarf or bag or hairdo subconsciously, because you’re so used to using that flattery at your job that it just comes naturally now.

9. Bus your own table

Whether you’re out to eat or at home having dinner with friends, when the meal ends you stack your plates and silverware appropriately. If you’re out, you know it will make the clean-up easier on the staff, and when you’re at home you can’t imagine just taking one plate at a time from your table to the sink (plus your balance skills are impressive — why not show them off?)

10. Experiment with new napkin folds

You’ve already mastered the accordion-style fold that your restaurant uses, but when you’re out to dinner at a place with napkins that feature a more intricate fold, you can’t help taking it apart slowly, and then challenging yourself to put it back together. You occasionally find yourself experimenting with your napkins at home just for kicks — even though those paper napkins don’t hold up quite as well.

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