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Working for the weekend

Story by Avery Gregurich

Photo by Luke Nankivell

waitress1-w800-h800With the ever-increasing cost of tuition and constant black hole that is laundry, it’s no surprise that college students are always in need of a little extra cash. Many students fulfill this need with one of the many on-campus jobs, but others take their available time and talents elsewhere in Des Moines.

One of the most constant sources for jobs for time constrained scholars has been in the restaurant industry, specifically as food servers. Why do students choose jobs as waiters and waitresses over others? Is the pay worth the struggle of putting up with difficult and hungry customers? And, the question everyone is scared to ask, “Do waiters exact their revenge on rude customers with adding a little extra something to their food?” The Times-Delphic tracked down some Drake students currently working at restaurants  in the Des Moines area to find some answers.

Sophomore Megan Streit is an International Relations and History double major at Drake who also waitresses part of the time at Saints Pub + Patio in Beverdale. Her current position is her first in the restaurant industry, and she insists that getting it wasn’t exactly a cakewalk.

waitress2-w800-h800“It was really hard to get a job as a waitress as no one would hire me because I didn’t have experience, and I couldn’t get experience because no one would hire me,” Streit said.

Luckily, a Facebook status and a response from a cousin of the owner of Saints landed her a spot on its payroll. When asked what has been the most difficult aspect of the job, Streit said that it has been hard to get used to “how degrading it can feel at times.” The hungry weekend patrons can get “pretty rowdy,” Streit said, and the degradation ranges anywhere from “your run of the mill pickup lines” to “physically having customers who follow me around.” But there is a definite plus side to having to  deal with customer’s antics.

“I do get paid to sit at the bar and watch the Bulls when it’s slow” Streit said.

Emily Grimm, a sophomore politics major, works at BBQ joint Jethro’s. Grimm had worked in the restaurant business before coming to Drake and had an easier time getting directly into the position.

“I had a three day training session, and that basically entailed me following around seasoned waitresses and learning the setup of the restaurant,” Grimm said.

Grimm talked very highly of her job and her co-workers at Jethro’s and said the crew is sort of like a “mini-family.”

“All the older servers say they relive their youth through me. They always beg me for fun college stories,” Grimm said.

waitress3-w800-h800Grimm hasn’t had the same difficulties as Streit and felt that the only complaint that she could make about her position at Jethro’s was a minor one: that occasionally her “feet hurt from being on them all day.”

One of Grimm’s co-workers at Jethro’s BBQ is Hayley Keil, a junior public relations and marketing double major. Like Grimm, she also had experience in the restaurant world prior coming to Des Moines. Two problems that confront Keil daily are the especially unrefined customers and her own mental mindset.

“It can also be a challenge to serve when you’re having a bad day,” Keil said. “Your customers don’t care about what happened to you earlier, so you have to essentially put on a game face for work in order to give great service.”

Like Streit, Keil has been confronted with constant attempts by interested eaters, but takes a slightly different viewpoint.

“It is always interesting to see how creative guys can get when trying to leave one of the servers at the restaurant their number,” Keil said. “I think I have seen everything from just a number to ‘Call Me Maybe’ lyrics to full-blown story lines, characters and drawings. Props to their creativity, it always amuses.”

All three waitresses whole-heartedly said that they had never added any extra ingredients to their customers’ food. So, it appears that you are safe at these restaurants, at least as long as these ladies are on the clock.

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