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7 Lies You Tell Yourself When You Go Back to Waiting Tables

by Emma Thieme Oct 21, 2014
1. This is only temporary.

This will also be the ninth year running that you’ve claimed that.

2. You’re not going to sleep with anyone from the kitchen.

Everyone who works in a kitchen is either a musician, recovering / current addict, person who “missed their calling”, or all three. Kitchen workers are rarely shy and they rarely turn down a chance to tell you what your ass looks like in a polyester tuxedo.

There’s a strange sexual tension that occurs within the confines of a kitchen — apparently anything can be said in the presence of a lot of knives. Your line-cook friend once gave you, the dishwasher, and the guy on pantry, an intimate first reading of her lesbian erotica memoir — right next to the frialator during happy hour.

You know from experience that on the last hour of your third swing shift, nothing will seem sexier to you than an ex-con in loosely fitted, checkered pants. But be warned, when you get him out of the walk-in cooler and into your apartment, he’ll suddenly look like a pale, squishy alien in street clothes, lost without access to a stainless steel appliance. You’ll start wishing he’d get out of your bed and get going on that caprese salad you requested.

3. Goddammit, you’re going to save all that money this time.

But every server knows the most reasonable reward for serving drinks is drinking drinks. And expensive body-care products. Lots of overpriced body-care products.

4. This will be a great networking opportunity!

You’ll get the chance to rub shoulders with some big-wigs, some fancy-pants execs, some hot-shot superstar independent film extras, while they feast on slow-braised beef short rib and continue to drop their napkins on the floor.

You know the drill. You know this tuxedo-clad publisher is only speaking to you — the less-flattering-tuxedo-clad waitress — because the rest of his table is occupied with Instagraming their steak tartar. You’ll get to chatting. You’ll impress him with your ability to recommend the perfect vintage of Garnacha for his feta-topped lamb burger on housemade brioche bun. But when he asks what you do outside of “your work,” don’t mistake his slight interest in the “sudden fiction” writing course you’re currently taking through Adult Ed as actual interest in the piece of fiction you suddenly wrote after a bottle of table red and one too many Gillian Welch albums.

The only time this person is actually going to use your business card — the one highlighting your vague “freelance writing” career and questionable “leather working” business — is when he pulls it out to section off lines of coke at his Kennebunkport summerhouse later that evening. And no, you won’t be invited.

5. You really appreciate food. That’s why you’re here.

Do you really care about the exact spice combination in that Korean barbecue sauce, though? Are you actually going to memorize what the charcuterie plate is today? Do you even know / give a fuck about what a béchamel sauce is?

Probably not. To all those questions: Probably. Fucking. Not.

6. You’ll have seniority.

Even if your resume boasts 10 years in the service industry, the 23-year-old sous chef is still going to address you as “muffin.” Until you start addressing him as “limp dick,” then he’ll stop addressing you altogether and your extremely complicated staff meal — made up entirely of substitutions — will be discontinued.

7. You can work with anybody.

“I’m like ginger ale. I mix with everybody!” you inform the manager in your interview. (Your grandmother told you to say that. She really wants you to land this “networking opportunity in disguise.” She hasn’t given up on you yet.)

When you’re hired, that same manager will suggest — on a slow Tuesday night in January — that you work harder to “sell more cups of coffee!”

“Don’t forget the garnish! It’s the most important part of the drink!” she’ll chirp when you’re in the midst of slicing a lime. When she pops over to you at a table and loudly whispers in your ear to “really give those toilet bowls a good scrubbing!” you’ll realize that — sorry Grammy — you’re not fucking ginger ale.

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