Anyone who’s ever waited tables knows how hard it is to transition from one restaurant job to another. To help make the process a little smoother I’ve compiled a list of warning signs to help waiters avoid working in dysfunctional shitholes.
1) They hire you the moment you say, “I’m looking for a job.”
2) You start working Friday and Saturday nights the first week. (That’s because waiters quit with alarming regularity.)
3) Your boss doesn’t ask you to fill out a W-2 or ask for ID of any kind.
4) Training consists of a cursory tour of the restaurant and the head waiter telling you “sink or swim.”
5) The restaurant doesn’t pay new hires a training wage. Trainees often get used as unpaid slave labor and are told after their “probationary period” that “things aren’t working out.”
6) There are porn screensavers on the owner’s computer.
7) There are porn screen savers on the POS computer.
8) The kitchen guys have names for the mice.
9) The employee bathroom is so gross it would just be better to just have a hole in the ground.
10) The toilet paper in the employee bathroom could double for sandpaper.
11) The owner’s banging the hostesses. (How déclassé)
12) There’s always too many waiters on the floor or not enough.
13) Employees threaten each other with physical violence.
14) The manager solicits bribes for good sections or Saturday night shifts.
15) Owner, GM, or chef screams at employees ALL THE TIME.
16) Owner, GM, or chef makes fun of a staff person’s significant others.
17) If a waiter makes a mistake the kitchen staff would rather go on a power trip and watch the server squirm instead of fixing the problem. Of course, the customer suffers.
18) The chef refuses to make reasonable substitutions.
19) You start drinking more.
20) The restaurant doesn’t provide aprons or dupe pads.
21) You have to bring your own bank. (Money to make change)
22) You have to pay the owner a percentage of the merchant fee on your credit card tips.
23) The manager expects a share of your tips. (ILLEGAL!!!!!!!!!)
24) They take money out of your check for staff meals but don’t feed you.
25) There aren’t enough teaspoons so you hoard them in your apron so you’ll have enough to do dessert service.
26) The manager makes you empty your pockets, looking for aforementioned hoarded teaspoons.
27) There’s never any soap or hand sanitizer around.
28) Your work schedule can change without notice.
29) The manager is constantly calling you to work extra shifts and threatening you with dismissal if you don’t “help out.”
30) You show up for work to find the manager cut you from the floor. No one bothered to call and tell you.
31) Management tells you to work sick. (Good evening, I’m Typhoid Mary and I’ll be your waitress tonight.)
32) If you lose a credit card slip the owner takes the check amount out of your compensation until the credit card company transmits the funds into his account. You lose the tip.
33) The restaurant makes you pay for breakage.
34) Management makes you pay if a customer skips on the bill. (Common)
35) Busboys take uneaten bread out of table’s breadbasket and use it for a new table.
36) You’re working a double and the manager laughs when you ask to take a break.
37) You’re asked seven times a day if you’re gay or lesbian.
38) The owner tells you that you’re part of a restaurant “family” and going “above and beyond” to “exceed customer expectations” is expected. After a couple of shifts you begin to realize The Manson Family had more on the ball than these guys.
39) The restaurant is dirty.
40) Heavy turnover of waiters, busboys, and dishwashers. The place is a meat grinder and you are the meat.
41) The salad guy doesn’t use gloves.
42) You see the Health Inspector snoozing in the back.
43) Fire exits are always blocked by extra chairs, tables, or pieces of equipment.
44) The waiters talk about the owner/chef in hushed tones usually reserved for people like Jim Jones and David Koresh. Don’t drink the Foodie Kool-Aid!
45) There’s no first aid kit.
46) The owner’s never around when you need him and always around when you don’t.
47) The restaurant has a video surveillance system. That in itself is not a bad thing. But if the owner uses the system to satisfy his voyeuristic control freakiness, it’s a bad thing.
48) On your first day all the waiters tell you how much the owner, kitchen staff, busboys, and the other servers suck.
49) Waiters surreptitiously drink themselves sober while working Sunday Brunch.
50) Waiters tender their resignations by screaming “Fuck this place!” in the middle of the dining room floor on Saturday night. Classy. Could be me real soon.
Feel free to list your own warning signs in the comments section!