Not-so-many moons ago, when I worked as a restaurant server to pay for tuition, part of my prep-work included squeezing butter out of a plastic bag into delicate flower shapes that were brought to tables in tiny ceramic ramekins. I was terrible. By the time I finished, I’d have butter on my button-up, smeared across my apron, and even in my ponytail. The cooks went so far as to point, laugh, and nickname me Butters. And this was just the beginning; by the end of a shift, I was even more disheveled. But, let’s face it, that’s what happens after eight hours of scraping Barramundi bits from dinner plates and running between guests because the hostess oversat your damn section... again.
Keri Russell in Waitress aside, being a server makes looking put together difficult. Commercial kitchens are not glamorous places. And dining rooms are sweat-inducing — not just because navigating between tables requires aerobic stamina, but because that curmudgeon on table six thinks it’s your fault the restaurant’s out of crème brulee, and you can feel his stink eye from across the bar.
So, if there’s one thing you can take comfort in at the end of a hard week (besides the wad of cash that will likely dwarf every paycheck you earn once you leave the industry), it’s that you’re not alone. Amongst those in the biz, there’s solidarity in this truth: Everyone’s a hot mess. Here’s what you can expect, fashion and beauty-wise, if you ever sign up for the front-of-house trenches.
1. Your Hair Will Smell Like Almond-Encrusted Almond
Or whatever the fish de jour is, for hours after your shift. But by the time you get home, you’ll be too tired to shampoo.
2. You Will Covet The Wardrobes Of Friends With 9-To-5s
Do they appreciate being able to wear their cutest t-strap sandals to their desk jobs? Do they!?
3. You Will Bring A Change Of Clothes For Hitting The Bar After Work
But you will opt to go out in your uniform, anyway, because at least then people will know the reason your hair is so frizzy and your face is so sweaty, er, glistening.
4. You Will Break Down And Buy The "Waitress Shoe"
But the Dansko Women’s Pro XP Pull-Up Clog be damned! Your feet will still hurt at the end of the night.
5. You Will Be Provided With One Uniform For Free
But it will take you about 20 seconds to realize that if you don’t want to spend all of your free time bleaching out ginger beet puree, one uniform isn’t going to cut it.
6. You Will Resent Having To Pay The Other Uniforms Yourself
Especially if said uniforms require a bow-tie/vest/shapeless cotton shirt/some other accessory that doesn’t breathe and that you would never wear in real life.
7. You Will Remember Antiperspirant
Or you will feel the type of panic you have not felt since you got your period for the first time during the middle of seventh-grade gym class
8. You Will Remember A Hair Tie
Or you will be forced to bum a rubber band off of a cook and, oh, the split ends!
9. You Will Learn To Wear Waterproof Mascara
Or the heat of the kitchen will have it smearing down your cheeks.
10. You Will Stomach Comments About Your Appearance From Strangers
You’ve waited on him so many times, he feels like he knows you, and like it’s okay to offer unsolicited reassurance that your new haircut will grow out. Try not to stab him with a butter knife.
11. You Will Try Very Hard Not To Spill Red Wine On The Laps Of Such People
But you will fantasize about it while opening a bottle, therefore spilling on yourself.
12. You Will Learn All Sorts Of Stain Removal Hacks
White wine takes out that red, FYI.
13. You Will Revel — Ridiculously So — In The Feeling Of Tying On A Clean Apron
You actually remembered to wash the thing? It’s going to be a good night!
14. You Will Deal With Zits
Because your work environment is greasy. Oh, so greasy.
15. Your Hands Will Be Dry
Because you will constantly be dipping them into sinks full of industrial-strength dish detergent to fish out spoons. Why, oh why, are there never enough spoons?
16. You Will Feel OK Skipping The Gym Tomorrow
Because your pedometer says you walked seven miles tonight.
17. You Will Long For A Desk Job
On the bad hair days that make you want to hide away in a cubicle
18. You Will Love Your Job
On the days you realize you don’t have to outfit plan.
19. You Will Hate When Your Ex Comes In To Eat
Because of course he comes on the night you’ve got Israeli cous cous smeared across your breasts.
20. You Will Appreciate Getting Dressed Up So Much More
And your colleagues will not recognize you when they see you in your fancy-pants clothes.
21. You Will Look Back On The Job With Fondness, Even Though You Couldn't Wait To Get Out
Except for the uniform. May that thing rest in peace forever.
Images: HBO; Giphy