Waitress worries over working woes

Amy Pham, Print Editor

With a smile plastered across her face, senior Katherine Serrano shifts from a joking chat with a teenage group to dealing with a fuming lady. In addition to constantly maintaining a bright attitude, she must not frown, lose her composure, or talk back at any costs in order to successfully feed her diners —and her wallet.

Serrano has been working at Babe’s Chicken Dinnerhouse for a year, but became a waitress about four to five months ago, after previously serving as a hostess.

“[Being a waitress isn’t] the greatest thing in the world, but it’s not the worst,” Serrano said. “My favorite thing would be [that] you get to meet new people and you get to have really good friends.”

Currently, Serrano works five or six days a week for 30 hours and said that her schoolwork has been impacted by her schedule.

“I technically have about one or two days to myself each week,” Serrano said. “The rest are dedicated to work. By the time I come back from work, which is about 11 or 11:30 p.m., I’ll be too tired to do [schoolwork], and I’ll pull an all-nighter just to get my work done. My grades have not been as good as they used to be, since I have to balance both, but I’ve been keeping up.”

Aside from maintaining a balance between a work schedule and school, other difficulties for Serrano include dealing with customers and coworkers.

“Some customers come in and don’t have consideration of the workers and how hard it is to stay happy for them, when they’re making it really hard,” Serrano said. “Sometimes [workers] will bring problems [in] from outside, and they’ll start crying. Or everyone’s frustrated with each other and it starts fights. It’s pretty intense.”

Whenever there are conflicts within the workplace, Serrano says that her boss intervenes and has a conference with the workers to find a solution. Her boss is also involved whenever customers cause problems that employees are not able to fix.

“We try to keep [the customers] as happy as possible if they’re disagreeing with something,” Serrano said. “If they keep being adamant, then we go get our boss.”

Serrano says that she is able to keep calm while working due to the fear of getting fired if she were to talk back to a guest. She says that she becomes annoyed when customers come in with a bad mood, which makes it more difficult for her to have a pleasant attitude toward them in return.

“The way I serve them is with the most kindness,” Serrano said. “Absolutely there is no [talking back from me], and whatever they need, I try to get as soon as possible and in a timely manner.”

According to Serrano, when she acts nicely toward diners, most of them return the kindness. However, Serrano says that some come in with a negative attitude and are rude.

“Some of them don’t really care whether I’m there or not, they just think of me as another worker and they ignore me,” Serrano said. “I’m okay with that, as long as they tip well.”

A skill that Serrano has developed through waitressing is being able to better communicate with people.

“You have to be mentally strong enough, because if you have to deal with all these different personalities with all the customers that come in, you have to act a certain way,” Serrano said.

Despite the difficulties that are included with working in food management, Serrano believes that her experience with being a waitress has benefited her overall.

“It’s great. It gives us inexperienced teenagers a chance to get work experience,” Serrano said. “I think they’re taking a gamble there, giving us teenagers such responsibility. I’m pretty grateful for that.”