For those of you who were waitressing while in nursing school, could use advice!


I just started a job at a restaurant today. I'm training to be a server but in order to be a server, I have to be a food runner for anywhere from 2-4 weeks. I've worked at other restaurants as a server before but at this restaurant their plates are burning hot!. Most of the food runners that stay as food runners are men, so maybe they have thick skin. They said I'd get used to it, but my fingers are burning and I need to put ice on them when I got home. I don't think my skin will get used to it. They had cleaning towels on the table, but they wouldn't allow me to use those. They don't use trays. I tried to put a clean plate underneath the plate but the plates are all heavy and it makes it harder to carry. They are still hot, too!

I don't want to quit my job and can't because I need an income. I don't know how other people who trained did it. Would the manager think I'm complaining if I ask him if I can use the cloth napkins out front, or a dish cloth I could bring from home??? What else can I do? I feel stupid if I'm the only one who can't handle it.


576 Posts

Specializes in Psychiatric. Has 9 years experience.

Wow...we used trays so I never ran into that unless the plates sat on the line too long. I would ask the others how they manage to avoid having their fingers burned. At first I thought about those clear band-aids on your fingertips, but most places require that band-aids be covered with those little blue things. Good luck!


42 Posts

They might allow you to use paper napkins, but then again, they are expensive. DO NOT bring a dishtowel from home! That would be against health dept rules. Perhaps they have some cloth napkins? I've seen servers carry out plates using those, but then if they get dirty, you'll need to replace it, so find yourself a big stash. Gosh, I feel for you, those plates can be very hot! Maybe you should try another place of employment if you can't find a solution. I waitressed for years, but they didn't heat up the plates, and we could use trays. Also, you will get used to it. It might take two weeks or so, but your hands need to toughen up. Don't put on moisturizer.


264 Posts

Specializes in Pulmonary, MICU. Has 5 years experience.

When I served, colored linens were actually part of our uniform (I served at Outback Steakhouse). We also used trays/trayjacks. Even through the linens, those plates are incredibly hot.

On the flip side of things, you will get used to it. Eventually you'll develop callouses and sear the nerves in your hands and it won't hurt anymore. I didn't know what the "squishiness" of a vein felt like for about a year after quitting serving because the sensation in my finger tips was almost entirely gone. I also couldn't palpate pedal/tibial pulses.


1,753 Posts

Specializes in Surgical, quality,management. Has 12 years experience.

I spent the 4 yrs of uni doing waitressing and bar work so i feel your pain!! Also when i first started nursing I was still working every second weekend.

Tell your manager definatly that you are burning your fingers and and suggest that a clean cloth or towel would help you. It is true that your fingers will harden up. But you shouldn't have to suffer acutal burns from constant piping hot plates. Also you will find that you will develop a stronger muscle on the arm that you carry 3 plates on as opposed to the other arm!! good luck and just remember it is a means to an end

Jules A, MSN

8,863 Posts

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

We always used the cloth napkins as a buffer for hot plates.


166 Posts

Thanks for the responses. I asked to use the cloths, and that helped my hands a bit more. I will hopefully get use to it, I am slowly starting to. I appreciate the sympathy, nice to commiserate every so often.

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