Photo cred - Dana
Montreal boasts the largest number of restaurants per capita in Canada and second highest in North America. We also lead the nation in the average of full-service dining experiences on a monthly basis. There’s no denying Montrealers love their restos. But for every dining experience we have, we forget there's a whole behind the scenes world unto itself that made it possible.
This would be the service industry. And just like in the iconic movie Waiting, for every 10 friendly and respectful customers there is one that makes you want to punch face. Not to mention the day-to-day realities of working in this business.
These are just a few of the struggles of working in the service industry in Montreal.
1. The Inverted Shift Work
Get used to working every manner of event from Grandprix to the Habs playoffs season - literally anything exciting that’s happening in the city you can guarantee you'll be watching through the tired eyes of a server who only went to bed at 6am. And forget your friends who work 9-5 and party Thursday - Saturday. In the industry you’re ready to rage Sunday -Tuesday. But that’s okay, you’ll make new friends. You’ll have to. Because the only people out besides people working the bar scene, are creepy uncle Bob & co. who’ve been on a pretty steady bender since 1999.
2. The Hatred Against Humanity
Full disclosure, working in the service industry will make you grow to hate all people eventually. Not forever, just brief spurts of hate. A spurt here, an assault charge there. Totally normal. It’s a mixture of the stressful atmosphere, long hours, and requirement to indulge the whims of every single person no matter how ridiculous. You want ice cubes with no bubbles in them? No problem. You didn't know that burger had meat in it? I'll have the chef whip you up something less confusing.
Also the tips. They’re like a nightly rating system of how you measure as a person. And on those nights when you worked 9 hours straight without even so much as a bathroom break, smiled so much your cheeks hurt, and made barely enough money to cover your Uber ride home, it's normal that seeds of hate against humanity are planted deep within your soul.
3. The Tourists
In Montreal people working in the service industry make less than minimum wage and tip out, which means they pay a percentage of their sales to the restaurant and its employees. If you don’t tip then your meal is costing them. And I get it, it’s a cultural thing, they don’t tip in your country. But learn the rules of the road buddy! We don’t come to your country and try to impart our Montreal habits on you. We don’t encourage you to respect each other’s differences, have lots of sex, smoke like it's going out of style, and party like The Rolling Stones circa 1970. Well, maybe sometimes…often…okay WE DO WHAT WE WANT. Regardless, tip or get off the pot.
4. The People That Make Stupid Jokes
No you cannot sit in the smoking section.
5. The Endless Bachelor Parties
They walk in off of Crescent with their blow up sex dolls, and the groom who has the traditional ball and chain around his ankle. They’re in town from one of the Eastern states, and yes somewhat charming when, you know, they aren’t being belligerent and obscene. “Where should we go tonight” is your cue to tell them exactly how far away the nearest strip joint is. Do you have eyes sir? Please just go outside and open them and you will find the strip club. In some ways they're the ideal customers; they joke around, they order simple meat and fry dishes, and they tip well. God bless America. It’s only the ass smack that you can complain about as a server, and really, so long as you’re not carrying a tray full of drinks, what’s the harm? Just kidding! Touch me and I will crack you in the jaw.
No, Bachelorettes you weren’t forgotten. It’s pretty hard not to remember the group of ten drunken ladies in their neon green leotard outfits and blackout bridezilla. No need to shriek, your slippery nipple shots are on the way.
6. The Families
We get it. You’ve spent all week cooped up in the house with these animals you call children and want to show society what a happy functioning family you are. But you are in public now. If that pickled alien you keep referring to as a baby cries one more while you sit there like it’s the most normal sound in the world I will go full Rambo on you. And stop ordering things that aren’t on the menu. No we do not have a child’s portion of the New York steak!
7. The Water Sippers
This is the dinner rush, we are in the juice and although your ability to digest that glass of water particle by particle is somewhat impressive, we are here to flip tables. Let’s go Let’s go Let’s go!
8. The Small Tippers
It’s almost better not to tip than to give the waitress who has slaved over you for the past two hours while managing a section of eight other tables the dollar you found in your back pocket. That small tip says “I realize tipping is a thing I’m supposed to do, but you’re just not worth the standard 15%.” It’s degrading. If the service was bad, that’s one thing. But unless you're so poor that you had to switch your toothpaste for a mint flavored herb you stole from your neighbours garden then IT’S STILL NOT AN EXCUSE. If you can’t afford tipping, you can’t afford going to a restaurant/bar. C'est tout.
And if you're using a Groupon, your tip is not based on the cost of your meal after the discount. If you buy a pair of shoes on sale you don’t take just one shoe, do you?
9. The I Don’t Want To Be Rude But [insert rude comment here]
We don’t want you to be rude either. So please just end your comment there. If we forgot something, or you would like to ask us for something, just do so in a kind and respectful way.
10. The People You Almost Murdered
Dammit. You said you didn’t want any tomatoes. You failed to mention this was a deadly allergy. Now you are dead. Are you happy now?