I would like to pass on my knowledge and disillusionment to any and all who are willing to read what follows.
You have been warned.
- Microwaves are a thing. A very essential thing. How else are chicken strips supposed to be defrosted before being deep fried? Hot chocolate? That ain't stove heated. The warm cookie in the warm cookie Sundae doesn't come fresh out of the oven. The lovely melted cheese on your burger? Yep.
- Leftovers are not a thing. The restaurant business makes scavengers of the best of us. Try working over meal hours on an empty belly around all kinds of greasy food. That last piece of pizza you couldn't eat? Those fries you barely touched? The mushroom and onion burger you sent back to the kitchen because you clearly specified you were allergic to onions? Dibbsed and devoured in a manner of minutes. Don't even think about coming back to ask about the to-go box you forgot on the table.
- If you're part of a large party, your food will not all be ready at the same time. That's impossible. Half of the dishes will have been sitting beneath a warmer for 5-10 minutes while your waiter/waitress waits for the last burger or pizza to be finished.
- If you are an attractive individual who appears to be dining alone, servers of the opposite gender will be making trades and offers in order to be the one to wait on your table. Example: "I know it's your turn for a table, but I'll give you my next two." "I'll clear all your dishes for you." "I'll give you all the quarters from my tip jar for the gumball machine." And so on.
- Kindly do not let your children eat off of the table's surface. They are just as gross as you might imagine. We do our best to swipe it down with a rag (that has been used countless times already) from a bucket of sanitary wash (that has been changed once all day), but please imagine the elbows, the sneezes, the people who do not wash their hands after using the restrooms.
- Not everyone takes kindly to not being tipped well. While all servers are not like this, recently a fellow employee was telling me about how he'd been tipped less than 10% on a table of seven or eight and because of that, did not yell after the group that a lady had forgotten her purse. For 10%, she could discover her mistake on her own and come back for it, he said. He called it karma. I personally think it was a little vindictive, but hey, moral is if your waiter does a decent job, he deserves at least 10%. At. Least.
- If you appear to be on a date and the restaurant is particularly slow or your waiters are particularly bored, you will be casually stalked. Example: "That lady totally wears the pants. She ordered everything and barely let him say what kind of dressing he wanted." or "Every time I walk past them, he's explaining to her why a different relationship of his failed. Bad form, pal." or "Plot twist! She insisted on paying." or "Yeah, that date's going badly. Look at them both staring in different directions. Bring them their check A.S.A.P. and don't suggest the dessert menu!"
If you've made it this far... I'm sorry. There's more I could have described, but I think I will leave some illusions intact. Especially because these revelations are not exactly universal and might only apply to the restaurant where I worked. Maybe other places actually melt the cheese over the burger while it's on the grill! ... Eh... maybe.