12 Things You Don't Understand About Being a Restaurant Hostess

05/05/2015 10:11 am ET | Updated May 05, 2016

While most people have some grasp on the crap waiters and bartenders go through, few understand the plight of the host/hostess. They stand behind podiums shrouded in mystery and free mints, and vanish from our minds the second we reach our chairs. In an attempt to better appreciate the gig, we reached out to several current and former hostesses for inside info on the job. Turns out there's a lot more holiday blues -- and, in some places, coloring -- than we anticipated. Read up on the details before you call that trendy new tapas place about a table for 10... for tonight.

1. The wait times are not their fault
Look, they're not hoarding empty tables. If there's a wait, it means there's not enough space for you yet -- or there aren't enough servers to take your order. Don't get huffy because you forgot to make a reservation on a Friday night.

2. There is a method to their table choices
They don't just spin around in a circle and point. Hostesses have to map out the seating arrangements so that servers have a fair share of tables, but can also handle the workload. When it's slow, they've gotta spread the love across sections. And when it's busy, they've gotta make sure they're not overbooking one unfortunate waiter. If you get seated next to the kitchen, though, that just means you pissed them off. (Kidding! Kind of.)

3. There's really nothing they can do about your undercooked steak
If you have a problem, don't bother the hostess -- flag down a manager. Not only is your entree not the hostess' problem, but literally all she can do is go and get the manager herself. And are you really going to make her do that? Oh, you are? Back to the kitchen table you go.

Credit: Kristin Hunt/Thrillist

4. Tipping is encouraged, even if you don't think about it
There is no chance you'll look like the slick mogul you think you are as you "sneakily" pass them an Andrew Jackson, but they really are trying to accommodate you. And they don't enjoy the regular tips the waitstaff does, so you could make their night with some extra cash.

5. They've got their share of customer horror stories
Just because hostesses have less interaction with the clientele than servers doesn't mean they get out unscathed. People still yell at them, creepily hit on them, and even throw things at them. Really, that podium should come with a spray bottle.

6. If they have an attitude, it might be management's fault
At some places (read: the fancy ones), the boss actually wants the hostess to be a little blasé. So while the person taking your name down might be a perfectly sunny person outside the restaurant, she has to turn on the anti-charm to keep her paycheck. Blame the Man.

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