15 Things That Made My Heart Drop To The Pit Of My Stomach When I Worked In Restaurants
I will never forget the horror of a huge party asking for separate checks during the dinner rush.
Hi there, I'm Morgan! Before I became a BuzzFeed writer, I spent five years as a bartender. And for my last year in the service industry, I was a server too!
Even though it's been a couple of years, I'll never forget that time of my life. Sure, some of it was awesome, but a lot of it was truly hell on earth.
So here are 15 things that still give me nightmares from when I worked as a bartender and server:
1. Running the wrong credit card for a check.
This only happened to me once, but I still remember the dread in my stomach as I walked up to the guest to let him know. Yes, he was very upset and yelled at me. No, I never did it again.
2. A huge party asking for separate checks.
Separate checks when we're slow? No problem. But I'll never forget the horror of finding out that a party of 15 wanted separate checks during the dinner rush. During the age of Venmo, there's really no excuse for this.
3. When your drawer is off.
One time, I had $20 too much in my drawer at the end of the night. I told my manager I must have accidentally put a $20 tip in the drawer instead of my tip bucket. I asked him if I could just take it out, but he said no and gave me a write-up for not having an accurate drawer! What a joke.
4. The POS system going down.
Thankfully, this didn't happen often. But when it did, oh boy, all hell broke loose! A POS system is how we enter orders into the computer and run credit cards. So I had to write down orders and run to the kitchen to relay the message. And I had to ask guests to pay in cash and or walk over to a nearby ATM to pay their tabs. As you can imagine, people were not happy!
5. Spilling a drink on a guest's table.
I only remember doing this once, but I was absolutely horrified. I knocked over a guest's vodka soda, and it spilled all over their table and splashed onto a guy. Luckily, it was a table of regulars who were also in the industry, so they didn't sweat it. But I was so embarrassed that I replaced his drink and then bought his next one.
6. Cleaning up vomit.
As a bartender, vomit just comes with the territory. Some places I worked didn't have barbacks or bussers, so the responsibility fell on me. Not fun. PSA: If you can't handle your liquor, PLEASE just drink at home!
7. Getting a walkout.
For the uninitiated, a walkout means your table enjoyed their drinks/food, then left without paying. It freaking SUCKED. At some of the restaurants I worked, you had two choices: Get a write-up, or pay the tab yourself. Because of this infuriating policy, I found myself sprinting out into the parking lot quite a few times to chase down the losers who dined and dashed.
8. The kitchen running out of something a guest just ordered.
Of course, if a regular ordered something, and we realized we were out, it was no problem; they just ordered something else. But there were quite a few guests who informed me they came here just for that particular item, and it was unacceptable that we didn't have it. Sorry to inform you, ma'am, but I don't do the ordering around here! Don't get mad at me!
9. Being yelled at by guests.
I've been yelled at for just about everything under the sun: cutting people off when they got too drunk, turning off the music at closing time, making drinks that weren't "strong enough," and so much more. Not cool, guys!
10. Realizing that you completely forgot about a table.
Sometimes, you'll get one random table outside of your section, like on the patio or in the far corner of the restaurant. You're racing around, multitasking a million things at once, and you just forget about them completely. My heart would just sink into my stomach the moment I suddenly remembered the poor table who hadn't seen me for 20 minutes.
11. Forgetting to last call your tables.
As a bartender, it was pretty easy. You just yell, "Last call!" as loud as you can. But when I started serving, I had to walk over to each of my tables and ask if they wanted anything before the kitchen/bar closed. I definitely forgot a few times at first, and that was not a fun conversation to have.
12. Ringing in the wrong food.
I had just finished training at an upscale steakhouse, and I accidentally rang in a prime rib instead of a ribeye. The guest was NOT pleased and sent it back. Then, he had to wait for his ribeye to be cooked! I remember being super worried that I would get fired on the spot. Luckily, the restaurant cut me some slack since I was new, but I felt so bad for making such a costly mistake.
13. Having a guest's card decline.
Sometimes, you let them know, and they just hand you another card. But I've had guests insist there's money in their account, beg their friends to cover their tabs, or tell me they don't have a dollar to their name. It's all super awkward and time-consuming. If you don't have the money to go out (and tip properly), please just stay home!
14. Forgetting to give someone their ranch.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who has literally woken up in the middle of the night and sat up in bed, thinking, "OMG, I forgot to get that ranch for table 28!" As a ranch-lover myself, I know how much it sucks when your server forgets your ranch, so I always felt super guilty about this.
15. And finally, guests complaining to your manager about you.
Anyone who hasn't worked in the service industry might not know this, but servers tip out their bartenders for the drinks made for their tables. So if you order drinks and don't tip your server, they now have to pay the bartender money out of their own pocket!
I had a couple who came in fairly often, drank a lot, and never tipped me. But when they sat in other people's sections, they would tip them! Ridiculous! Eventually, I asked them not to sit in my section anymore since they were costing me money. And they complained to my manager about it! The audacity of some people!