Who has it worse?
The rivalry between cooks and waitresses started the first time a caveman cook asked a caveman server to bring food to someone. If cooks and servers could agree that both have difficult jobs, both are underpaid and overworked, both work long hours and both of their feet hurt equally, the debate would have never been started.
Alas, they can’t agree, nor will they. Nor will The Sober Sous Chef. There are equal points to be made for both. The cook will always say he is the superior restaurant worker, and the lesser appreciated, and the server will echo, ten-fold, the same about herself.
Here’s why no one will ever take the cook’s side:
- He’s a jerk. Generally speaking, of course, he failed to learn that you get more bees with honey than you do with vinegar. He lashes out over seemingly simple things. It doesn’t seem like a big deal to re-plate, or re-fire a steak that was rung in wrong, or that the guest doesn’t understand how to order. It is a big deal, especially in the middle of a busy period, and he makes sure everyone knows what a big deal it is.
- He keeps a running tally of the server’s errors in his mind, of which he is the absolute authority, and automatically multiplies each by three. If the server makes two mistakes, he will claim she made six. It’s how his mind works. He isn’t good at math, hence his constant complaining about not making enough money. He knew what he signed up for, and if he had any other skills he would likely be doing something else. Those skipped math classes come back to haunt the cook, in more ways than one.
- The best argument to be made for the cook is the disproportionate pay between him and the server. Customers generally pay better than employers. Servers only make about $3 per hour in Massachusetts, but the customer usually tips about twenty percent. A good server will leave a busy shift with about one-hundred dollars more than a good cook. On a slow day, however, the server may get sent home penniless.
- Often times the cook controls the server’s tips. A poorly run kitchen will have long ticket times and the server suffers. What if the shoe were on the other foot? What if the speed of the server getting drinks for her customers was directly related to the cook’s pay? How would that go over in the kitchen?
- Ultimately, though, the cook will lose the debate for this most simple of reasons: There are ten good, well spoken servers for every one qualified cook. That cook is stuck with a bunch of bozos trying to fix every mistake, from the front and back of house, and doesn’t have time to get caught up in the fray. The other, lousy cooks, will argue the point till they’re blue in the face, in an effort to hide the fact that they aren’t cut out for cooking.
Here’s why no one will ever take the server’s side:
- Servers don’t have each others side. They are constantly bickering with each other. They can’t stand in unison against the angry cook because they snicker when he lashes out at a server whom they are trying to get to quit. They will all but purposely sabotage her.
- This could easily turn into a man vs. woman debate, so The Sober Sous Chef will leave to the reader’s imagination all of the nasty, conniving things women do to each other, in all settings in life. The restaurant is no exception.
- And in no way does this imply that all servers are women, but the majority are—the floor (dining room) is dominated by women. That being said, the server complains too much. She complains about not making enough money one day, and then complains about being too busy to keep up the next. She complains that the food is taking too long at one point, and complains that the food came out too fast at another.
- Her feet hurt at the end of a long shift. Considering six hours to be a long shift really bites at the ankles of the cook. Her “double-shift” is the cook’s normal shift. She doesn’t have the luxury of rubber mats to stand on, as does the cook, but she only has to endure it for about half the time of the cook. Remember, she will make almost twice as much money as the cook.
- When the shift ends, the server’s clean up, or side-work, is a joke to the cook. The cook has to get on his hands and knees and scrub. He has a twenty-yard round-trip walk to turn off the equipment, which he does a half-dozen times—obsessively—before he can leave knowing the building could burn down if he doesn’t. If the server skips a job on her list, for a week or two consecutively, the consequence might be a fruit fly or two—and a lot of bickering over who’s turn it is to do it.
Finally, the argument usually comes down to this:
The Server says, “But I have to deal with customers and cooks.”
“I have to deal with waitresses,” replies The Cook.
“But I have to deal with you,” says The Server.
And The Cook, “I’d rather deal with customers than you.”
Unfortunately, most cooks don’t ever get the chance to “deal with customers.” They ought to, just as servers ought to cook for a shift or two, and learn a little about each trade’s difficulties—and rewards.
Most restaurants are like families, and there will be fights among siblings, and even mom and dad. At the end of the day, though, they all love each other. They can be bitter rivals throughout the shift and then close down the after party together. Whether it’s just a job, or a career, all would be advised to remember the other job is just as hard. Restaurant work is not for the faint of heart.
So, who’s got it worse? Leave a comment and let us know what you think!
Ask a dishwasher what he thinks!