10 Things I Learned Waiting Tables At A Truck Stop

Back in college I got a job waiting table at a truck stop. I worked there for two years. On my resume I would classify it under “cultural experiences.” Interviewers would always raise an eyebrow and it made for interesting conversation. I was fired from the truck stop for telling a local foursome that if, “You can’t afford to tip, you shouldn’t go out to eat. McDonald’s is up the road.” Funny thing was, it wasn’t even my table.The next day they called the manager and threatened to sue for harassment and defamation of character. What a load of crock. I left the truck stop, but not without a few lessons first.

I learned:

1. The term “lot lizzard,” which essentially is a prostitute who hangs out in the (parking)lot and has sex with the truck drivers in their trucks. (Luckily, I have not used that term since working there.)

2. That tipping is optional no matter how many cups of coffee they run you for.

3. That Mennonites don’t tip because it’s against their beliefs. (Although, one time in 2 years I did snag $4 from a foursome of Mennonites. Lucky I guess.)

4. Required uniforms of a “mini-skirt” is not sexual harassment and is totally legal, despite how degrading it may seem.

5. That long skirts were considered an occupational hazard and they can get you sent home because “you might trip” and hurt yourself, says management.

6. Practical things such as putting rice in salt keeps it from clumping in the humidity. (At 18, who knew?)

7. That truck drivers who frequently haul furniture on their load are referred to as “stick haulers.”

8.That if you are nice to truck drivers, they will almost always give you a $1 for the jukebox just so that they can watch you saunter away and have a valid reason for watching your backside in motion.

9. You should always save for a rainy day because you never know when you are going to lose your job.

10.  Lastly, a funny-dirty-charming little joke a truck driver told me which goes like this:

A waitress puts down a shiny copper penny heads up on the counter and says to the patron, “Do you smell anything? He shakes his head no. She says, “You should, there’s a scent.”

She lays down another penny beside it and says, “Do you see any fruit?” He shakes his head no. She says, “You should there’s a pear.”

She lays down a third penny beside it and says, “Do you see any snakes?” Again he shakes his head no. She says, “You should there’s three Copperheads.”

She lays down a fourth penny and says, “Do you see any cars?” He shakes his head no. She says, “You should there’s four Lincolns.”

He smiles as she lays down the fifth penny and says, “Do you see any p-u-s-s-y?” A grin comes across his face and he shakes his head no. Then she scoops the pennies off the table into her other hand and says, “And you won’t for 5 cents.”

Now in all honesty, it was a great experience. Truck drivers are just people who are making a living. I used to have regulars who would request to sit in my section every week as they passed through town. Those were tips I could always count on. In fact, I had more money than most kids in college because I worked three 8-hour shifts a week while going to school. The shifts were 7am – 3pm, 3pm-11pm, or 11pm-7am. I usually worked one of the first two and on rare occasions I would work the 11pm-7am shift which was brutal at 4am and always required lots of pots of coffee.

In the end I would not change working there or getting fired. I strongly believe that if you can’t afford to tip, you shouldn’t go out to eat and that (really) is what fast food is for. But hey, that’s just my two-cents. What do you think? Sound off in the comments below.

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