Ask The Salty Waitress: Am I too old to wait tables?

Photo: Wavebreakmedia (iStock), Graphic: Nicole Antonuccio
The Salty WaitressThe Salty WaitressSalty Waitress is The Takeout’s advice column from a real-life waitress that will teach you how not to behave like a garbage person while dining out—and maybe in real life.

Dear Salty, Hi, my name is Joan. I used to be a waitress years ago and was a good one if I may say so. I’m now retired from my current job for the past 8 years, I’m 65 and still in good shape, do you think I’m too old to go back to being a waitress part time, just to have something to do? I’m retired from the Queens Public Library after 35 years of service.

—Joan

Dear Joan,

I plan to spend my retirement snuggled up in a Tuscan villa with Chris Hemsworth, but I understand why you’d want to keep working. It keeps you busy, gets some money coming in, and saves you from accidentally spending half the day watching Murder, She Wrote reruns. I say if you feel good enough to work, you go for it, girl. I may join you if things with Chris don’t work out.

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You might be surprised to find that you’re not alone in it, either. Seniors are poised to be the fastest-growing part of the labor market through 2024, and lots are going back to work in hospitality. AARP found seniors are filling half of all new jobs. And fast food joints are especially paying attention.

But think about where you want to work. I don’t need to tell you that waiting tables does a number on your feet and back. (I’m not wearing these clogs because they’re cute.) And despite how many more seniors are working these days, age discrimination is still very real. You might find the pace a lot faster than it felt decades ago, and since you worked at the library, you already know that people’s manners haven’t gotten any better.

My advice? Stick to just a couple shifts a week to start, if that works for your budget. Find a business that treats you right and isn’t too physically demanding. Maybe that’s not the same kind of restaurant you worked in before, but a bakery or catering company or a place with counter service. Be upfront about your expectations and any physical limitations when you apply, and see how employers react. The right one will value your age and experience, not hold it against you.


Got a question about dining out etiquette? Or just a general question about life we can help you with? Email us: salty@thetakeout.com

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