Just A Hostess

Yes, yes, I love my job. Yes, yes, I love everyone I work with. Yes, yes, it’s all perfect. Everyone is just super. 🙂

Oh, please. Really. After almost three months here, um, no. 90 percent is great, 10 percent is not so great. Now, that ratio is still pretty damn decent. But the 10 percent is a very big pain in my you-know. And, at my current job, the annoying stuff is occurring for such perplexing reasons.

I work with three managers on a regular basis. Two are those with whom I would consider myself to be a peer; and they would tell you, I am absolutely a peer. One is a woman I will be replacing when she moves away in a month or so. Another is an old-salt maitre d’ who drives my GM crazy, but with whom I get along incredibly, suprisingly well.

The third is also a peer, at least in my mind, but he steadfastly refuses to acknowledge that I am. I am, instead, in his mind, “Just a hostess” because we are down three hostesses right now, and I work the door as a host, many nights out of seven, to help out.

“Just a hostess.” Isn’t that a nice phrase? No, it is not. It oozes thoughts that are both demeaning and degrading. And I used to like this guy, whom I am sure thinks these thoughts, most of all. Now, I just hope he quits. Soon.

Of all the restaurant jobs, the host position is both key and the hardest to fill and keep filled. Hosts come and go through a revolving door of sore feet that refuse to wear flats, of guests who ask to switch tables one too many times, of servers who bitch a thousand too many times that they were sat unfairly, of maitre d’s who blame hosts for their own incompetence, and of the last person who calls them “the girl” or “she” as if she has no name, because you are, after all, just a hostess.

Yeah, so what’s the big deal? All a host/hostess does is seat people. How hard could it be?

Hard enough to have guests grab you, throw things at you, spank you, curse at you, laugh at you at your expense. Hard enough to have the servers call you an idiot, a jerk, a brainless one, and anything else they can think of while not serving the guests you just seated in their section. Hard enough to be the fall guy or gal for anyone and anything that can’t be blamed on anyone else. And you rarely, if ever, get tipped for this.

Interestingly, I love the host job. Seriously, I do. Because it is the role I was given when I re-entered this biz more than two years ago, and I absolutely love the challenge and the brisk pace. Most of all, I love the few moments to connect with guests who tell me this is where they went on a first date with their wife, got engaged, sealed a business deal, had the best meal ever, made a life-changing decision. People tell hosts these things every night. A good host will actually listen to them, remember them.

The way guests see it at my restuarant, I, the host, am mostly on their side. The maitre d’, they quickly deduce, is not. Why? I don’t wear the tie, I don’t assign the table, and I am not the one to tell them there’s an hour wait. I agree that another table will work better, I explain the menus I hand out, I smile. I smile and I mean it. Because guests have to cross a lot of lines to get me upset enough to not smile.

This one co-worker, however, the other manager–well, he can make me want to scream and cry all at the same time, with an intensity that no guest or server or GM ever could. I used to smile with him. Now I grit my teeth at him. He has dug himself a black hole these past few months, and while I empathize with the black-hole thing, because I have lived it first-hand, I am tired of the arrogance he employs to mask it.

I am tired of him pointing to the phone for me to answer it, while he silently stares straight ahead. I am tired of him saying, “Yes, you can show them the private rooms, but get back here quickly,” when guests ask me about private events–a job I was, as he knows, hired to do. I am tired of him screwing up cover counts and blaming me for not seating the right tables, even though I seat every damned table just as he calls them out. I am tired of him calling out tables as if he is telling a dog to sit. I am very, very tired of him.

I also feel so sorry for him. He is in personal crisis. And I get personal crisis, especially his. I could be an empathetic ear, a sounding board. I could be his friend. I could help him professionally in his next step; I could be an older, wiser pal who knows what the nightmare feels like, and how the other side will eventually play out.

Too bad he won’t let me. Alas, I am, after all, just a hostess, every time I work the door with him. Which is the only time I work with him.

Sometimes people in pain have to inflict pain on all those around them, even when they have no clue that they do so.

More than one person recently commented on RG that my being an empath makes me extra prone to being hurt by those I work with. By those I like.

No shit.

I hate it when my readers know more than I do before I know it.






18 responses to “Just A Hostess”

  1. last one home Avatar

    some people just cannot be helped, and it doesn’t matter whether they are sitting at the tables or working the tables–at least with the hopeless guests you can wash your hands of them after a couple of hours–the co-workers are another story.

    As for covering the host slots, they are lucky to have you. I’m down two hosts right now, and trying to force waiters to seat people is like herding cows into the slaughterhouse chute–they’ll run away as soon as you turn your back.

  2. Angela Avatar

    Oh my God, thank you SO MUCH. I was a host at my current restaurant for over a year (we don’t have a maitre-de, so as senior hostess I usually plotted reservations, ran the book, answered the phone and seated people if there weren’t enough of us on–and there are never enough hosts on.) I just switched to serving because I was sick of being paid less than everyone else, being blamed for everything in the restaurant, and doing the busboy’s job all the time.

    So thanks for shedding light on the fact that it’s not just about taking people to a table ! : )

  3. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    Last one home–appreciate the supportive thoughts , and thanks for the laugh at the image of servers seating guests.

    Angela–You are more than welcome. Please, follow me this way….

  4. Kris Avatar

    I work with a woman who suffers from extraordinary depression that manifests itself in every imaginable way when she’s having an “off” day. Tears, throwing stuff, being a general bitch…you name it.

    I’m also an empath, and it was killing me. I work the first two to three hours of my shifts with her before she leaves for the day; my whole day would be upside down.

    So now, when I work with her, I take the time before I leave for work doing a little mental protection. At first I thought it was weird and stupid, but it works! When I don’t do it, my day is shot.

    I just take about a minute, close my eyes, and imagine mirrors coming up in a circle around me…all facing outward. The idea is that whatever is flung my way will deflect right off and not get into my own mood.

    This business is really difficult for those of us who soak up other people’s moods. This little trick – and I admit it sounds ridiculous – does what it’s designed to do, and not only those co-workers who are nuts, but the cranky customers that cross my path as well.

    Can’t hurt to try.

  5. Kim Ayres Avatar

    It’s a cruel twist of fate that those with the most empathy, and so those who end up in the jobs where empathy is required, tend to be most walked over and badly paid (nurses are another example) – by people who lack it. Part of this is to do with not taking a stand – when someone treats you badly, rather than letting them know they have done so you are more likely to accept it and “understand” they are going through a tough patch and not want to burden them further.

    Empathy is one of the most powerful of all human traits, but if you don’t want to be treated like crap, you have practice being asertive too.

  6. Canadian Girl Avatar
    Canadian Girl

    Yes, you’re “just” a hostess, and I’m “just” a mum – in the eyes of the clueless. Don’t let it get you down, Gal. Kim’s comment strikes me as quite to the point. Thanks, Bearded One!

  7. savannah Avatar

    i like the mental exercise, kris! if there’s one thing i’ve learned, you can’t help everybody…but, it really is difficult to not try. *hugs*

  8. Julie Avatar

    I was once a baker at a restaurant — muffins, pies, dinner rolls. I worked in the wee hours of the morning three days a week, which also happened to be the time when hostesses were most difficult to keep. The manager, a friend, needed help and asked me to pitch in at the host stand. So, I was up to five days. Servers would get annoyed with me because they had too many customers, so I started getting their first rounds of drinks. And, then, the tables wouldn’t get cleared (bus boys were hard to keep), so I ended up doing that as well.

    During my last week — I was moving far away — the servers started sharing their tips. According to the restaurant policy, it’s something they should have been doing the whole time.

    P.S. I started baking there as a favor to my friend, too. I had a full-time job as well.

  9. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    Kris–Trying the mirrors, immediately.

    Kim–Assertive vs. keeping a low profile so as not to get an earful or more of an attitude or both. I tend toward the low profile because I don’t do well with the confrontation. I am prone to tears when it gets nasty, and I have a rule that those who have read RG from the beginning know quite well–if I am reduced to tears on the job, I have to quit. And I like this job. Having said all of that, I totally hear you and will try to find that balance.

    Canadian Girl–Why can’t everyone just let everyone else be just fine as they are?

    Savannah–Hugs back attcha.

    Julie–Isn’t is great when you can “pitch in” to help out a friend? So, are you still friends? 😉

  10. m Avatar

    Kris, the mirror technique is brilliant. Can’t wait to use it!

  11. Sue Avatar

    My question ——-:If servers who bitch a thousand too many times that they were sat unfairly, —-what should we do???? and I do work (Hostess), is counting people, not the tables,also have section with A, B, C

  12. Annie Avatar

    Hi Gal! What a relief to hear this! All the servers at the restaurant I work at tell me how “easy” it is to be a hostess. It makes me so frustrated. I’m going to try out your mirror technique, Kris!

  13. tanya Avatar

    I am a hostess too, and I absolutely hate the servers, instead of cleaning the tables and serving the tables they’re bitching about how the other server and the other one got more people then they did, it’s horrible!!!!

  14. Lauren Avatar

    I know you posted this a while ago, but I just so happened to stumble upon it. I just started as a host, almost a month working there actually. And we are always so busy. I like the rush and never being bored but sometimes I can’t handle my coworkers. for some reason they always drop their shifts and ask me to cover for them. But to me when they ask its optional and I base my schedule around when I work. So if I dont work a day I have other plans. Also, I dont drive. I take the bus everywhere so texting me last min to cover a shift wont work. So now my other host dont like me because I wont cover their shifts. I feel like I’m TRYING to find a reason-just one thing, to quit bc I’m kinda fed up with it.

  15. Melanie Avatar

    My mother just opened up a restaurant a few months ago and since I’m too young to be a server (we have a bar and you have to be at least 18 in order to even touch alcohol), I’m the hostess. I was Google-ing some hostessing tips to be even better (since my mom is the owner, I don’t want people to feel like they have to be nice to me and I figured the best way to do that was to get really good at my job) and something I saw a couple of times in the comments really surprised me: are the servers really supposed to give the hostess part of their tips? No one has done that yet and no one has said anything about it, not even Mom or my general manager (who is my English teacher’s son, by the way – small world, huh?)

    I would really appreciate some feedback on this – I go to college in two years and I really need to save more money for it!


  16. Sad little host Avatar
    Sad little host

    Being a host sucks…..I remember coming home crying because guests or servers were sooo rude to me. Now that I am more experienced my restaurant has me doing the work of 4 hosts, being their bussesr, and helping servers run their food and get their drink orders. All for barely more than minimum wage. Such a relief to know I’m not the only one getting screwed

  17. Samantha Avatar

    I just started my first job ever: a hostess at a brand new restaurant . When they hired is hosts, they didn’t hire one with experience. We also did not have training. ): I get confused when I give each section equal tables and very close patron numbers and the waitresses still come up to me and tell me that I am doing it wrong! Will this ever stop, or am I really messing up?!

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