12 Reasons Why Serving May Not be the Best Way to Pay off Your Student Debt

As a teenager who has been working in the restaurant industry since her preteen years, I would like to say I’ve encountered my fair share of interesting customers and unfortunate situations. I have had old men throw plates and food at me, a lady pout and refuse to talk to me after her fish wasn’t salted properly and I’ve been grotesquely hit on by men who are closer to my dad or grandfather’s age than my own. After being asked time and time again why I continue to put up with this job and the misfortunes it seems to bring me, the only answer that I’m honestly able to give is, “My student debt.”

Now, I am not alone in this situation. As tuition fees have tripled since 1993, the average British Columbian student is left with $29,000 of debt by the time they finish their degree. Other students who are battling the stress of figuring out how to pay for their education have joined me in turning to the service industry in attempts to dwindle this financial burden, and just as I have had ordeals with terrible customers, every other student waiter or waitress I’ve talked to has had a horror story or two to share as well. So, before you decide to follow in our footsteps, or our mistakes (however you want to look at it) of joining the service industry, I thought it would only be fair to expose you to the less peachy side to what this job truly has in store.

1.  The #1 Situation

“One time I cleaned up a spill under a table with a small child and the parents were unusually apologetic, which made me a little bit suspicious. Afterwards I found out that it was their child’s pee that I had just mopped up with some paper towel and rags.”

Katja K.


2. Failed Babysitting

“I had a small child jump off the table and smash their face on a wall. The mother proceeded to start screaming at me because I wasn’t watching her kid.”

Chelsea P


3. “I demand crispier crisps!”

I had a customer send her fries back probably six or seven times because they were never the exact level of crispness she liked. When she left she didn’t tip and she poured vinegar, ketchup and salt all over the table.”

Ria Z.


4. Bye, Bye Nemo

“Someone pooped in a beta fish bowl we had in the bathroom and killed it.”

Jaclyn R.


5. Because the Bathroom is Just too far Away

“Back when I was running pubs, I had countless mothers try to change their baby’s diapers on our tables.”

David P.


6. “Give me alcohol or give me fire!”

“I had numerous older drunken men in front of me one night, and it was almost time to cut them off. One man started screaming and throwing beer bottles followed by threats to burn the bar down if we didn’t give him more alcohol. We had to get security to let him out. His friend slipped me $160 for a tip though so that’s pretty cool.”

Fiona C.


7. Grandpa Still Has Game

“One time this older couple, probably around 80 years old, came in. I walked past and told them that they could sit wherever they pleased.  The lady goes to sit down but the old man says, “Anywhere?” I answered him saying,  “Yup! Wherever you’d like.” His response?  “How about on your knee?” All I could think to say was, “Sorry, I’m a little too busy at the moment”. Old men are the worst when waitressing.”

Kennedy S.


8. Body Mods on the Job

“I had a man who was drunk at 9 am threaten to rip out my nose ring with pliers.”

Chelsea P.


9. 3rd Time’s the Charm?

“In my first month of serving I spilled a Bellini all over an old lady. 15 minutes later I went to go get a new one. I spilled it again on the same lady.”

Max B.


10. Powdered Sugar Magic

“I was helping out another server when a customer rudely called me over by snapping at me and clearing her throat. She then shoved a plate onto my hands and asked for her pancakes to be boxed up. I told her “Of course, give me one moment.” She then called after me to ask for the powdered sugar to be removed from them before they were returned. Confused as to how I was going to vacuum pancakes I asked her if that’s really what she meant. She reassured me that yes, it was. She got some flipped over pancakes back.”

Chloe T.


11. Honey! I Forgot to Bathe the Kid!

“A woman let her kid bathe naked in the fountain we had in the middle of our patio.”

Alden L.


12. A Hearty Bowl of Soup

“There was this old lady who kept coming in for the spicy soup that we had. She had two heart attacks on two separate occasions because of it.”

Jaclyn R


So, if you are searching for a way to help pay off your student debt, you may want to consider your other options before turning to a restaurant gig.

Behind our “service with a smile” there lies endless horror stories that can make you stop in your tracks. Do a 180, and save yourself from following in our mistakes of handing in that resume.

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