Memoir of a restaurant hostess

Courtney Johnson

After attending “College Night” at Irvine Spectrum’s Improv, I realized from a hilarious comedian that many other people feel as I do concerning the pros and cons of restaurant work. The comedian expressed how both one’s views of people, and how the public interacts, could completely change after working in a restaurant environment. As I work at an upscale restaurant in Laguna Beach, I can safely say I agree with his statements.

The reality of restaurant work is that you get to know your staff and customers in a way in which you probably never wanted. Conflicting personalities and high levels of frustration, caused by customers and co-workers alike, seem to occur on a daily basis.

When people enter a restaurant, more often than not, they expect the fastest seating, quickest service, and, of course, the best table in the restaurant. If a customer does not receive what they expect, an easygoing night out is often transformed by complete rage towards hapless restaurant workers. Usually, there is no turning back after this point; there is nothing you can say or do to change an individual’s mind once he or she has gone crazy.

Although I might be generalizing, it seems that the locals are not usually as bad. The worst conflicts I have experienced at a restaurant would be the ones with the tourists. They cannot seem to handle the fact that as part of their amazing vacation, they have to wait a few minutes in order to sit down and eat. Even though the locals don’t appear as bad, sometimes they do feel that they can walk in a restaurant at any moment and get a table – without even calling.

Like many other college students, I work as a hostess. Some argue that I have an easy job, and that may be true. Yes, my job description is answering the phone and seating people, but in fine print it would also say: “responsible for dealing with most of the customers’ wrath.”

Working in the front of the restaurant, you deal with every type of clientele you could imagine. You really never know what kind of outburst may occur. Hungry people are usually the most impatient type of people. Telling someone to stand for a couple minutes, instead of sitting him or her down right away, automatically makes you the bad guy.

Blaming the customers, however, would be unfair because the staff – including you – could be the source of the problem. The tension of running a restaurant smoothly can occasionally build up and cause conflict between co-workers. Sometimes, when innocent people walk in to dine, and you are hating your job that day, you are actually mad at them for simply wanting to go out and eat.

Being a part of a restaurant staff is definitely stressful and difficult, but it can be erratic and exciting at times. Working in the restaurant business has taught me to deal with different personalities and work under even the most crazy of situations. Restaurant life is a constant party that many of us can relate to, but you have to have thick skin to have a job like this.


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