The life and times of a restaurant employee


The other day we were in a busy restaurant. The employees were full of energy. Many of them laughing at inside jokes. It reminded me of a day when I too was a restaurant employee and as usual it brought back a handful of memories.

Working in a restaurant is unlike any other job. Maybe it’s the close quarters. Having to always bump into one another. No personal space.

Hearing every little detail of everyone’s business.

Or maybe it all comes down to the fact that in every restaurant someone will hook up with a co-worker and eventually break up.

That’s when things get interesting.


All I wanted was piece and quiet

My memory took me back to a week following my 21st birthday. I was broke. In dire need of a job…any job mind you and when this nice little restaurant took pity on me I figured I was in for a peaceful and quiet time.

I was a little wrong.

It was border line insane. It was loud and back breaking hard. It was also some of the best times of my young life.

Little things became major details. For example: The super long telephone extension cord. I learned the hard way to stay out of the manager’s way whenever it was in use.

If you happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time you would be trapped like a juicy bug in a Venus fly trap.


Yes, a tad dramatic but now you see the picture.


The Front and the Back

There were two faces in the restaurant world. The front was pure theater where we entertained the customers with smiles and happy suggested servings while the back was nothing short of back stabbing dress rehearsal.

Months after I arrived the pressure of the restaurant caused our manager to have a nervous breakdown. To give you an idea of his mental state check out an episode of Scrubs and seek out the hospital lawyer.


I remember a barrel near the dumpsters. It was a grease barrel full of all the disgusting day’s events. It was also the perfect location for our dishwasher to get ‘just a little high’.

His words not mine.


Religion and Hook-ups

Religious and atheist arguments were an on-going battle. Thankfully the arguments were rather friendly and a winner never declared.   

When the restaurant closed for the night it gave birth to a different world. The doors were locked creating an eerie silence as the smell of grease and a ringing phone every twenty minutes.

I remember my first attempt to answer it only to have the closing crew scream for me to stop.

The manager, the one whose future consisted of a nervous breakdown, would call to see if we were done. He could purposely add inexperienced employees to the closing hour in hopes one would fall for his trick.

I just thought it was cool the extension cord was so long.

Phone Cord

Aside from the exhaustion, closing time was my favorite. The conversations and debates centering on politics, religion and who was hooking up with who created endless entertainment.

It did not take long before I learned the love affairs of every employee.


The Perfect Job if you’re a Writer

Looking back, restaurant work was more than just a job, it was a really weird and exciting experience. The memories of those days have allowed me to create characters I never could have had I worked somewhere else.

I truly believe it is a young person’s job. If you are this particular young person it makes for a good experience.

But if you’re a writer in search of storylines and characters to fill those stories, restaurant work may well be the world’s most perfect job.


Happy Friday Everyone!!!   


19 thoughts on “SPONTANEOUS FRIDAY

  1. I’ve never had the pleasure of waiting on tables, or been trusted behind the bar, but I can well imagine the arduous experience. The Mrs and I can be fairly social patrons, and tend to make friends of the servers. On purpose, a little, because we’d rather be the ones they want to see come back as opposed to the ones they are tempted to bedevil in the back rooms. I know that, most times, the kindnesses are for show but I do my best to make those smiles real. And I’m a good tipper. The world is too hard and cold, and folks have to deal with all manner of nasties; I hope to be, at least for a moment, a ray of sunshine in otherwise cloudy lives.

    Succeed? Not always. But always worth the try.

    Thanks for the retrospective, Bryan. Have a great weekend!


  2. Hey Tom! Have a great weekend yourself.

    Those little smiles and kindness do add up. I always looked forward to those who were kind and patient. It made my work easier and because of that I always gave them extra service.


  3. This took me back too, to being an utterly hopeless waitress as a student. It’s so much harder than it looks. But yes, with a writer’s eye, one encounters a whole cast of characters.


  4. Ha! That[‘s a great advice! I know quite a few restaurant owners and know that is a very demanding business. they were always very stressed. But I never knew of all the secrets you could learn after hours! I bet working on a bar would be like that too!


  5. It’s nice to read of others’ experiences in the restaurant business. I worked through college at a diner, and it was the best job I’ve had to date as I was very shy and it brought me out of my shell. The manager and employees were all Southerners, except me, and most of our customers were similarly from the Deep South, and they came into the diner to talk about “home” … I loved my job and will be writing a post about my manager who was like a grandfather to me because it is 40 years this month since I left. I started to write it for Bosses Day tomorrow, as he was my first boss, but it will be this month at any rate. For years I’d see customers at the mall and I would remember their order like it was yesterday. 🙂


  6. That is a great story, Linda.

    Restaurant work creates a close quarter environment. You’re close to the employees and customers. It’s a tight relationship. I worked with a person like you who was shy. By the time her and I moved on she was a lot more confident about herself and a lot less shy.

    Thanks for your comment. Excellent!!!


  7. Oh, wow, now that you mention it, I could definitely mine my restaurant days for story and character ideas. An amazing character just popped into my head! Thanks, Bryan!


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