Want to know what it's like on the inside of a restaurant? Kiley tells you her story with a hint of sarcasm and loads of stories that you won't believe are true!
I work in hell. Well, not literally, but on most nights it feels that way. I loved my job for one reason, and one reason only: the people. You meet so many people that are all different in their own special way, different ages and background, different experiences. This can sometimes be a bit dramatic, but then again this was the life we chose. The lifestyle that we live is exciting and you never know what is going to happen next. I am a server at your basic restaurant. By working in a restaurant you walk into the shift unsure of how much you will make and what type of night it will be.
I walked towards my eminent doom, desperately trying to tie my apron on as the wind fought with me. Stupid fucking wind always blew and fucked up my hair. Working in the service industry you tend to notice those who care about their appearance generally make a little bit more. If you care about your appearance, then you probably care about the service you are giving. I walked past the dumpsters and spotted Mike, Amy and Joe smoking. That’s another thing about this lifestyle, if you aren’t a smoker, you will likely become one. It’s your break from the hell that lurks inside the walls of the restaurant.
“Were you guys busy today,” I asked still trying to get my apron on just right.
“Fuck no, I made forty,” Mike said taking one last puff and dropping the butt into the bucket that was outside for cigarette butts. “Somehow this asshole made eighty,” Mike pointed to Joe who shrugged.
“I guess my good looks helped me out today,” he boasted. Amy and I rolled our eyes. It’s not that Joe wasn’t good looking, I mean hell, I’d get with him, but he knew he was good looking. “Anyways Kiley, you’re going to hate your section.”
“God damn it, I need to make enough to pay my cell phone bill. Where am I?” I asked getting angry. You either walk into a good section or a shitty one. There is no in between. The managers try to say its how you work it, but it’s not really like that.
“They put you in Coral Reef,” Joe said reluctantly. Damn it! I fucking hated that room! One shitty thing about my job, it was a themed kid’s restaurant called Sea Cove. It was supposed to be like a trip under the sea, but it was more like a trip to hell for the employees. With the way the tables and sections are set up in Coral Reef, you can barely move in there once it gets busy and you don’t make much because the tables are 2-4 tops. The only thing that makes it worthwhile is during the summer the patio is open and the Coral Reef servers get to take that, giving us extra tables. Today was a little chilly for the patio to be opened, so no such luck there.
I walked into the back hallway with Mike, leaving Amy and Joe to further blacken their lungs. I had been lucky enough to not develop that nasty habit, yet. I had worked in a restaurant for 5 years, this particular one for 3. I had to train the new servers and bartenders and deal with corporate bullshit.
“So what are you doing after work? I feel like getting fucked up. We should go to Jack’s,” Mike suggested. Jack’s was our usual spot. Ever since it opened, the entire crew could be found their on any given night drinking all their tips away. After about ten o’clock Jack’s would change from a restaurant to a bar.
“Yea, that sounds cool as long as I make enough for my cell phone bill,” we walked through the kitchen. I glanced over the crew to see who was working. Allen was the kitchen manager tonight and Shawna was working the QA line. Thank god, that means my food will actually come out right tonight and in a timely manner. I walked over to the floor chart and cursed under my breath. Fucking Coral Reef, at least I was sharing it with Andy. I walked to the computer, otherwise known as the POS system. We all like to call it the Piece of Shit system, but it really stands for Point of Sale. I clocked in to make my way less than minimum wage and went to stand in my section. Andy was filling his salts, peppers and sugars.
“Sup,” he said as he continued working. “So does Ashley hate us or something? Why Coral Reef?” He shook his head, obviously as frustrated as I. Andy had been working here about a year and a half and we had plenty of newbie’s this week who should be in our sections.
“I don’t fucking know,” I said while straightening the silverware and chairs in my section. “She’s probably just pissed off because she got promoted to management and doesn’t make shit now.” This is another thing about restaurants. Everyone talks about everyone else behind their backs. “Who’s working the bar tonight?”
“Cara,” Andy responded after a second of thinking. “If she gets swamped, we’ll have to save her ass again. It’s fucking ridiculous that they put her back there on her own for a Friday night. Should be one of us,” and he was right. Cara would cave if things got too crazy. She had only been bartending for about 3 months and didn’t do so hot under pressure. We loved the girl but she needed to learn the art of multitasking. Amy walked into the room and announced that preshift was starting. Yippee!
Preshift was the same old bullshit everyday. Prebus your tables, sweep the floor, run food and keep the coves clean. Oh and just so you don’t get confused by all these strange oceanic words, the coves are server stations where we make drinks, ring in orders, you know, things like that. Ashley stood there with her little headset on and clipboard in hand, reading off the BS list that our GM, James, wrote. James had never been a server in his life so how the fuck could he tell us how to do our jobs? Just didn’t make much sense to me. Everyone felt that way though. If you have never been a server, then you have absolutely no room to talk.
“Alright, now go check your sections and go to the front to seat tables,” Ashley said and put her clipboard back on the wall and walked to the front to give the hosts their stations for the night.
“Yay, my goal for the night is to seat all the tables that won’t come in for two hours and make nothing. I’m so glad that I make $3 and hour to seat tables,” I said annoyed. Why the fuck did we have hosts if we had to seat the tables ourselves? We need to be paid more, that’s all I have to say. Completely disobeying management, I decided to go stand out on the patio and watch the shoppers walk by. I walked through the restaurant and onto the patio to find Eric sitting outside.
“Hey,” he said pulling out the chair next to him for me to sit. I sat down and looked at him. He always looked completely gorgeous, even when he rolled out of my bed hung over and walked into work. He and I had been a “Thing” for about two weeks now. One thing you will also learn about restaurants is that you will have many flings with coworkers. It just happens that way. You get pushed into a confined area, work closely and then go out and drink together. Things are bound to happen.
“Mike wants me to go over to Jack’s tonight. I might be going, are you?” I asked leaning back in my seat and glancing over to Jack’s. It was directly across from Sea Cove’s front doors. Eric thought for a second before responding.
“Yea, I probably will. Who all is going?”
“Not sure, probably the usual crowd, half our staff,” I looked over at him and he nodded. He stood up and pushed his chair in.
“Gotta check my section, haven’t in like 10 minutes and I’ll probably get a fucking shopper,” he said before he kissed me and walked inside. It always excited me when we would kiss at work. We were kind of a secret and we wanted it that way. People gossip too much and then everyone would be in our business. When we would kiss, it was the possibility of being caught that made it exciting. I took one last look around before heading back to my section in hell.
‘Yes, a table. Bet they’ve been sitting there forever,’ I thought as I grabbed some beverage napkins, or bev naps. I walked up and placed bev naps in front of each guest introducing myself.
“Hi everyone, my name is Kiley and I’ll be leading your deep sea expedition tonight,” I said smiling. My smiles were only half sincere. I smiled because I had to and because I wanted them to like me. If they liked me, I have a better chance of getting a good tip. Oh, and we had to say some fucking cheesy shit at tables. That was almost embarrassing enough to make some quit. I got their drink orders and headed to Coral Cove. Coral Reef had its own cove and it was the size of a coat closet. Whoever made this place didn’t think about the fact that people would be working inside it. I swiped my card in the POS and began typing in their order. Joe walked in.
“Hurry up I need to ring in a crab dip that I forgot,” he said, tapping his foot impatiently.
“Well first of all, good going,” I closed my screen and turned to grab some glasses. “And second of all, aren’t you in Deep Sea? You have your own Cove.” We always gave each other shit for coming to Coral Cove. It was kind of like a secret hangout. Captain’s Cove was the main cove where the kitchen was. When you wanted to avoid running food or management, you came to Coral Cove.
“Ashley was in there making people run food and I really didn’t feel like it,” he typed in the order of crab tip and rushed out with app plates. Fucker better bring some later because that’s my sidework.
I returned to the table, placing the drinks on top of the bev naps and pulled out my pad of paper. “Did we want some crab dip or shrimp cocktail tonight?” I asked, praying they would say yes. Come on PPA! PPA was per person average and you wanted that to be high. If it was too low then you had to listen to management bitch.
“Actually we just came in for appetizers. We just wanted to check this place out,” the dad stated. Great, a fucking waste of my time and a lot of work for a shitty tip. I smiled and took their order. Thank god I don’t have to bus my own tables because the toddler at the table was throwing the cheerios, which his mother handed him, onto the floor. If that kid touches the sugar caddy then it’s on! I walked back into Coral Cove wondering how parents just let their kids do whatever. Do they not realize that someone has to clean up after their children? And do we honestly put the sugar on the table for your little brat to pull out and rip up? And would it honestly kill you to put the sugar back in the caddy, organized by color? At the end of a shift, I would say that I spend close to 5 minutes refilling their salt, pepper and sugar caddies. Give us a break would ya?
After ringing in their order, I dropped off app plates and some extra napkins and glanced at the dad’s iced tea. Fucker sucked the whole glass down while I was ringing in the order. I turned to grab and iced tea pitcher when the dad turned to me and said “Can I have some more iced tea?” I smiled and walked into the cove. Did he not watch me stare at his glass and head back to the cove? Am I blind? Do I seem like I would ignore the fact that he didn’t have anything to drink? I returned to the table, filling the glass to the brim and set it back down on the bev nap. Did I get as much as ‘thanks’? Nope. Nothing at all.
I put the pitcher back in the cove and headed to the bar to see what Cara was doing. She was restocking the beer fridge one bottle at a time from the box. “Hey Kiley, are you going to Jack’s tonight?” she asked me as she tossed the empty beer box to the side. It’s not like she would come with us anyways. She never came out with us because her boyfriend hated it. It was a rare occasion to spend time out with Cara.
“Yea, I was thinking about going. It just depends on how much I make tonight. It doesn’t look like we’re going to be busy,” I said as I glanced at the front door. Not one soul was standing there to be seated.
“I know, rent is coming up and I’m short on half of it. Josh is going out with his friends tonight so I thought I’d come out with everyone,” she shrugged.
“Oh my god, he is letting you come out and play!” I mocked. Cara glared at me. We always gave her shit for letting her boyfriend decide when she could go out. If he wasn’t doing anything, he expected her to be home.
“Oh hey, have you seen the guy at the other end of the bar? He’s applying to be a server here and he’s smokin’,” she sang smokin’ and I shook my head and walked a few feet to my right to see the other end of the bar. The guy was pretty hot, but he was one of those who could either be 18 or 22.
“Nice,” I commented. “I better get back to my table, the dad is sucking his iced tea down as if he’s in the fucking desert,” Cara laughed as I walked back into Coral Reef. And what do you know, he was looking around and his glass was empty. I was gone 2 fucking minutes and he was already impatiently looking around. I walked into the cove and returned with iced tea.
“There you are,” he said. The fucking prick, as if I was gone for that long. I gave him a forced smile and headed back to the cove, cursing under my breath. Deciding that their appetizers should be ready, I headed to Captain’s Cove. Most of the staff was in here waiting around for something to do. I walked up behind John and untied his apron. It fell to the ground, his pens scattered everywhere.
“Damn it Kiley,” John laughed. He bent down and began to gather his belongings. “If I had known that you were working tonight I would have double knotted it.” I looked up at the screen. All of our orders would post onto one of 2 screens. One was for appetizers and the other for entrees. My appetizers were of course in the red. That meant that they were taking longer than they should. I looked through the window to see if they were anywhere near ready. The crab dip was ready but only half of the appetizer sampler was on the plate.
“Shawna, how long on my apps for 43?” I questioned. In the back of my mind I knew that the stupid prick probably needed more iced tea. I turned to John. “Hey will you take iced tea to 43 while I wait on my apps? That fucker is sucking that shit down.”
“Anything for you baby,” John teased. Another thing about working in a restaurant, you generally felt desired. Everyone flirted with everyone else. And we were always sexually harassing each other, but everything was always a joke. It made the work environment pretty entertaining. I turned back to Shawna who was barking orders at the Mexicans. As usual, they were fucking around and half assing it.
“Jose, quit picking your ass. Where are the quesadillas? I needed them yesterday,” she griped. One thing I loved about Shawna is that she told it how it was. She made those cooks work their asses off. Within two minutes I was headed to the table, appetizers in hand. I set them down in the middle and turned to the dad.
“Do we need anything else?” I glanced around. His glass was half empty. Jesus, I might as well leave the pitcher on the table.
“Just some more iced tea,” he turned and began dishing food out to the kids. At this point I noticed that the toddler had resorted to eating sugar packets. Awesome, I have to clean that when they leave. I returned to the table and saw that two of my other tables had been sat. So we are dead and I’m getting double sat. Not that I really mind or couldn’t handle it, but the other servers would soon be bitching at the hosts for it. It looks like business is starting to pick up, thank god.
The next four hours flew by. We ended up being on a 2 hour wait and we got off the wait about 15 minutes ago. It was now 9:20 and we closed in forty minutes. My sales were pretty decent, so it looks like I’ll be drinking after all. I began cleaning the tables and booths with a rag. Coral Reef was usually one of the first rooms to be cut. My last table had just left and Andy only had one table. I was filling my sugar caddies when Eric walked up.
“Make much tonight?” He sat down at my table and began helping me fill my sugar caddies.
“I think I made like ninety,” I noted as I counted the sugars. This place was way too picky. There had to be exactly ten of each type of sugar. No one ever uses the blue ones either, so why bother putting them in there. “Are you cut?”
“Yea, Ashley just cut Turtle Beach and Shark Reef,” he flipped his book open on the table and began organizing his checkout. “Hopefully you get cut next; I’m ready for a drink.”
“I hope so too. I’m almost done with everything, I just need to shut down the soda machine and sweep,” I glanced over at Andy as he walked up to us.
“Are you guys going to Jack’s? Amy wants to go hang out for a little while,” he sat down next to Eric with his sugar caddies and began filling them.
“I’m going; I know Mike is going, Cara even said that she was going.”
“What? Josh let her off the leash for one night?” Eric teased. Andy and I laughed knowing that Eric’s words were true to the situation. Josh had some sort of death grip on Cara’s will. I set down my sugar caddies on their respective tables and made my way to the host stand.
“Did Ash cut me yet?” I glanced at the floor plan to see who was cut. Jaime shook her head. “She said that she was going to wait 15 minutes and then cut you guys if it stays this slow,” she turned back to the floor plan, drawing little flowers on it. I walked away and headed into the kitchen to grab a towel to clean off the soda machine. Mike was sweeping the floor and I stepped around his pile. “Are you cut yet Kiley?” He asked as he continued to sweep. “Not yet, but I should be soon,” I grabbed a towel from the kitchen office and headed back over to Mike. “You’re cut aren’t you?” He nodded and dumped the dustpan into the trash. “I just need to sweep my tables and I’m done,” he said as we walked back out into the restaurant together. “I just need to shut down the soda machine, sweep and get cut,” we parted ways as he went to his section and I headed towards Coral Cove. Eric was inside clocking out. “I’m still not cut, its bullshit. Go work some magic on Ash,” I said as I removed the nozzles from the soda machine. “Sure thing,” he said grabbing my ass as he walked out.
Within a half hour I was cut and on my way to Jack’s with Andy and Amy. Mike, Joe, Cara, Eric and John were already seated at a large booth. I slid into the booth next to John; Andy and Amy pulled two chairs up to the front of the booth. Our waitress joined us within a few minutes.
“Hey guys, what’ll it be tonight? Jaeger bombs? Beer?” Carmen asked. She was our waitress most nights. One awesome thing about having the same hangout every night: the wait staff hooked you up. We ordered our drinks and I got up to visit my favorite bartender. He was about 6’1’’ with dark hair and bright green eyes. He made you glad to be a woman. I took a seat at a stool along the bar top was greeted by Ashton shortly. He reached his hand over the bar and took mine. “Hey baby, how are you?” He asked me smiling. He greeted me this way every time. “I’m doing better now that I’m about to have a fucking drink,” he laughed. “That bad of a night?” He asked while making me a shot. “Just a little hectic, that’s all. I had every picky person in Henderson county,” I took the shot and slid the shot glass back across the bar. “Thanks babe, I’ll see you a little later,” I smiled and made my way back to the booth. My drink was waiting for me. Yummy, a giant Miller Lite. John had gotten up to flirt with some chick and I scooted further into the booth. Eric smiled at me and took a swig of his beer.
A few rounds of shots and beers later Jack’s was doing last call. I gave Carmen my tab and got out of the booth. We all began to gather our things and head towards the entrance. I waved goodbye to Ashton and walked out into the night. It was slightly cooler than earlier and I zipped up my hoodie. “Bye guys,” Amy and Andy said as they walked in the direction of their car. “See you bright and early,” Mike faked enthusiasm and walked off with John and Joe following behind. I had parked on the opposite side of the building as everyone else. Eric walked with me to my car. “So, can I come over,” he leaned close to me and kissed me. I could taste the beer on his lips. “Well, I guess,” I said jokingly. We got into my car and I drove off to my apartment down the street.
The alarm went off way too soon. I cracked open one eye to see what ungodly time I had set it for. It was 10:25. We had to be at work at 11. I groaned and sat up, the sheet falling off my naked body and I shook Eric. “No,” he said and pulled the covers over his head. I laughed. He was so cute when he was sleepy. “You’ve got 10 more minute while I take a shower and then we’re leaving to get some breakfast,” I stated as I made my way to my bathroom.
I turned on the shower and brushed my hair. As usual I had forgotten to wash off yesterday’s makeup. Oh well, the shower will fix that. I climbed into the shower, the water slightly burning my skin. I slowly woke up and sobered up as the water ran over my body. I wish that I could have slept in. Working in a restaurant sucks because you work all weekend, every weekend. After I washed my hair and body, I turned off the shower and wrapped a towel around myself. Eric walked into the bathroom and turned on the shower. He was still naked from last night’s events. He kissed my cheek and stepped into the shower. I towel dried my hair and walked into the bedroom to put on my uniform. Within minutes Eric emerged to do the same thing. Our uniforms sucked. I wore it more than actual clothes. We had to wear khaki pants, royal blue polo’s with the Sea Cove logo and our name tags. Our shoes also had to be white non-slip tennis shoes. I walked into the bathroom, applied eyeliner, mascara and threw my blonde hair into a messy bun. Within 15 minutes, Eric and I were in the car and on our way to the gas station. We each got a coffee and some sort of junk food for breakfast. Eric bought my items and we hopped back into the car and made it to work with only minutes to spare.
We both walked up to the POS and clocked in. I headed to the office to get my drawer. I was working the bar all day. This would be a nice change. I will actually make money for once. Joe was in the back cutting lemons when I returned with my drawer. “Someone looks sleepy,” I ruffled his hair and he grunted. “When we left, Mike, John and I drank more at Mike’s and stayed up until 6,” he recounted his night and took a couple gulps of his energy drink. I patted his back and headed to the bar. Great, James was standing back there inspecting the whole thing. “Morning,” I said as I placed my drawer in the register. He began to complain about something that Cara didn’t do last night and I basically tuned him out. I knew what had to be done. After two years of bartending here I wasn’t stupid. I just nodded in agreement and when he walked off to the office I got to work. Cara had actually stocked everything for once. Generally she will forget to grab something, such as milk or extra souvenir glasses. Setting up the bar wasn’t hard when someone actually did everything right the night before. You had to unlock the taps, turn on the cocktail base machine, turn on the yogurt machine and fill it. Then all that was left was setting out drink menus along the bar. Not too difficult at all. I managed to finish all of the above in about 10 minutes and the doors were opening in the next five. Jaime walked up to the bar.
“They didn’t give you a section today so I’ll make sure guests know that they can sit at the bar,” she said as she played with the drink menu. “Thanks Jaime, do we have a lot of reso’s?”
“Not really, mainly a bunch for later tonight. There are just a few Under the Sea parties today,” she stated as she returned to her post at the host stand. Great, that meant a shit load of little kids running around and causing trouble. That also meant all I would be making for the next few hours would be apple juice and chocolate milk. This place didn’t trust servers enough to allow them to pour their own fucking milk and apple juice, so they gave me the lovely responsibility.
Andy walked behind the bar rubbing his eyes. “They’ve got the both of us back here tonight, so I hope it’ll be busy.”
“Yea, me too. I’m just glad that they didn’t put us both back here all day,” I turned as I heard the printer go off at the well. I walked over and guess what it was? Chocolate milk, but at least it was for Eric. Within a minute he appeared at the other side of the well and smiled. “Thanks babe,” he said stabbing his ticket. When I turned back around, Andy had left. Oh well, I’ll just stare out the windows. That’s usually what I’d do when the bar is slow. If I was serving today I’d be outside on the patio with everyone else.