10 Bosses everyone who's ever worked in food service has had

Aug 27, 2015 at 4:30 p.m. ET
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When you're in food service, it isn't just the customers you have to contend with. Sometimes the person making your life completely miserable is the one who has the power to fire you.

Being a server is like being a part of the world's most conflicted club. Whether you've done your time in a family-style eatery, pizza delivery joint or white tablecloth establishment that requires the purchase of actual slacks, you know exactly what I mean. Almost every server has uttered the phrase "I hate my life so much," and almost every server can nod in agreement when you bring up the subject of how close the staff gets. You wear your time as a card-carrying member of the no-slip, non-marking, black-soled shoe club like a badge of honor, swapping stories with fellow servers wherever you go.

One thing you've probably bonded over? Your terrible boss, who probably took the form of one of these:

1. The chipper manager who sleeps with the handbook under his pillow


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You know this guy. He is so upbeat that it's impossible to like him, because you know that no one gets that excited about adding a new panini to the menu. Underneath the sugary crust of his cheerful veneer, though, is something a little more sinister. He has a personalized write-up pad and will nail you for every single infraction you commit since he's memorized them all. Got your name tag pinned to the wrong side of your shirt? He sees that. Forgot to stash your nonregulation hoop earrings before you got to work? He sees that too. Switched shifts without filling out the shift-switching form in triplicate to be submitted to corporate three weeks in advance? You're on thin ice, Missy!

More: 15 Undeniable truths every server knows

2. The screamer


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Is the screamer mad at you? The answer is yes, but don't take it personally, because the screamer is mad at everything. A true fact about the screamer is that she hates fluffy puppies, rainbows and the heart-lifting tinkle of a baby's laugh. She yells — a lot. She yells at the cooks. The bar backs. Sometimes she'll even yell at a guest. Mostly, though? She just yells at you. Her catchphrase is, "If you have time to lean, you have time to clean!"

You must never cry in front of the screamer. It makes her angry, and she'll evolve into her final form: the red-faced shrieker who is THIS CLOSE TO FIRING YOU, DAVE, THIS CLOSE! THERE'S NO CRYING IN BENNIGAN'S!

3. That manager who is "just like you"


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Oh man, this guy is so cool. He never misses an opportunity to tell you about some "phat" concert he went to or how his neighborhood's annual National Night Out barbecue was "da bomb, yo." He would like to go to a rave with you, and there is an almost 100 percent chance he will ask you to score him "the drugs." He does not know which drug, so someone will probably end up selling him some Midol. Will you make him feel young again? Oh God, please? He feels so dead inside.

4. Touchy-feely dude


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Touchy-feely dude sends servers of both sexes running with his weird, unsolicited back rubs, shoulder punches and strangely painful neck massages. He does these things while you have a plate of sizzlin' hot fajita meat in your hands so you can't do much but cringe.

Touchy-feely dude's malicious little brother is "the creep," who hires "hotties" and stares at women for way too long. Eventually you leave and learn that "the creep" has been a) fired, b) arrested or c) fired, arrested and then hired back, where he is as prolific a letch as ever, just an aging one.

5. The ghost


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Where is this boss? You do not know. You last saw her when she hired you. She is always in her office, door firmly locked. They manage to see all, though, because they still manage to make it rain write-ups by pinning them to the break room bulletin board, and the schedule is always updated. She probably lives in the supply closet.

More: How to tip in the service industry

6. The power-mad corpo wannabe


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Assistant manager at Domino's is just a stepping-stone for this guy. He dresses for the job he wants and not the job he has, but always gets mad when he trails his Perry Ellis oxford shirt cuffs in the marinara sauce. He is a self-proclaimed entrepreneur, with a leadership blog he requires all his staff members to follow and a framed copy of every participation award he's ever gotten, including the ones from high school. If anyone is going to make you do a trust fall, it's this guy, and if you refuse, he's going to cut your hours down to practically nothing. Then he'll tell you that maybe when you have to explain to your 5-year-old why she can't be in ballet anymore, you'll have a better grasp of why team-building is so important.

7. The blame-shifter


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This manager hates confrontation. When someone raises their voice, she begins to sweat — profusely. She sows discord among the cooks and staff by foisting her mistakes onto them, and heaven help you should a guest want to "speak to a manager." She will come out, trembling, and acquiesce to their every shouted request, agree that you are indeed "the biggest moron ever to walk the hallowed halls of IHOP" and agree to fire you. Later she will sob in dry storage while she asks for your forgiveness.

8. The manager who is way too hands-on


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Maybe this is a new manager, or maybe this guy just doesn't want to let go of the "fun" of being a server. Either way, he will tromp to the back of the house and either run your food to the wrong people, piss off a cook by mixing up tickets or accidentally refill the wrong soda in the fountain without telling anyone, which means everyone who orders Diet Coke for the next hour but gets root beer will hate you. Your tips will be dismal anytime you have a shift with this guy.

9. The deluded kingpin


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This guy. Hooo, buddy, this guy. This manager insists he knows everyone who is anyone in your town: East Jebumblepooty, Wyoming. He wants everyone to believe that he "runs things around here." This mostly just manifests itself in quoting Scarface a lot and comping a lot of meals. Every once in a while, though, this guy will surprise you by being arrested for being the main pipeline of meth to the entire trucker community in East Jebumblepooty.

More: 20 Things restaurant servers want you to know (but their employers may not) 

10. The boss who is actually cool


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Once in a blue moon, you will have a manager who is empathetic but has good boundaries, will stick up for you when a guest is being unreasonable and who can go out for a drink without assuming you'll sleep with them. They make fair schedules and can run food without costing you tips. This boss deserves a hug but won't make it weird if they get one.

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