Whether you’re at a museum, an upscale restaurant, or—and this is the worst situation for such a burden—a chic nightclub, you never realize how much you need a coat check until, well, you need a coat check. Temporarily stowing your winter-weather armor away can be the difference between a fussy affair and a fun-filled, distraction-free one. But be aware that you’re storing your coat in room of secrets.
Did you know, for instance, that a coat check gig is one of the hardest to nab in the service industry? Or that, once they do get hired, they can expect people try get down and dirty in their workspace? Read on, and learn what secrets your coat check attendee is keeping cached next to your jacket. And when you want something impressive to put on that coat hanger, be sure to follow 30 Best Tips for Dressing Well in Your 30s.
They Won’t Help You Score Drugs
Despite what you may have heard, a coat check employee’s job is checking coats, not being a middleman between you and your fix. “Please don’t ask the coat check person where to buy drugs,” says Emma, a former coat check employee at a Manhattan nightclub. And yes, she assures, that question gets asked a lot. Before you even scoring the stuff from anywhere, however, you should be well aware of the 20 Ways America’s Favorite Recreational Drug Affects Your Health.
They Aren’t Paid an Hourly Wage
While some individuals in the service industry get an hourly wage, coat check employees are unlikely to. “Each item checked was $2, and I got to keep a dollar,” says Emma.
Tipping is Essential
Tips are how coat check employees are able to pay their rent, so yes, you do have to give them a little extra cash every time. The standard tip is $1 per item—and more if you’re feeling generous. For more etiquette rules, be sure to bone up on the 25 Things You Should Never Do at a Fancy Restaurant.
They Can Make a Lot of Money
In busy restaurants and clubs, your coat check person isn’t making out too badly at the end of the night. “I would often make more than the bartenders,” says Emma, who says she regularly made $500 a night. But that’s still small potatoes compared to what you can make from the 20 Most Lucrative Side Hustles of All Time.
The Job Gets Pretty Boring
It’s not unsurprising that working in a coat check isn’t always exciting. However, Emma says that some clubs and restaurants allow coat check employees to bring books or schoolwork to pass the time on slow nights.
You Really Do Need to Remember Your Ticket
If you don’t have your ticket with you, don’t expect to leave with your coat. “I can’t just give a random person a coat without a ticket. What if it’s not theirs and they’re stealing it?” asks Emma.
People Leave a Lot of Stuff Behind
Especially at bars and clubs, patrons leave their personal belongings behind with shocking frequency. “People always get drunk and leave stuff—probably a couple of coats a night,” says Emma. “People also often forget their ticket and leave their coat overnight.”
Coat Check People Aren’t Thieves
While it can be nerve-racking to leave your possessions with a stranger, you probably don’t have to worry about them going through your stuff. Not only do many coat check employees make decent money, most probably don’t want to lose their job for rifling through your pockets. “I never stole anything, and I don’t think most people I worked with would have,” says Emma.
They Really Aren’t Equipped to Handle Your Luggage
If you’re short on time, it might seem reasonable to you to head straight to dinner from the airport. However, whenever possible, don’t saddle a coat check employee with your suitcase. “Please don’t try to check luggage. Leave it in your room,” says Emma. “Extenuating circumstances, I get, but please try to leave it at home.”
And If You Do Check a Heavy Bag, Tip Well
Coat check employees are working with limited space, so dealing with your suitcase often means finding new places to store it over the course of an evening. “If you’re expecting someone to deal with your heavy luggage, tip them well. They’re not only going to have to check it for you, they have to keep moving it when it’s in the way.”
They’re a Magnet for the Antisocial
When people feel uncomfortable at bars and restaurants, they tend to cling to the coat check employees. “The people who didn’t really want to be at the club would often stand by the coat check and talk to me,” says Emma. “People will often come back periodically throughout the night.”
They Get Hit on Frequently
Women working the coat check are likely no strangers to sexual harassment on the job. Emma says that both co-workers and patrons would routinely hit on her while she was at work.
People Hook Up in the Coat Check a Lot
Drunk patrons can turn any room into a bedroom, the coat check included. Emma reveals that, toward the end of the night, people would often try to sneak into the coat check to hook up.
They Generally Don’t Get a Shift Meal
While many individuals in the service industry get a meal at work, the person running the coat check is unlikely to be offered one. However, that doesn’t mean you should bring them anything. “Please don’t bring the coat check person food unless they ask for it,” says Emma. So order for yourself only, and make sure you’ve perfected the 19 Fancy Menu Phrases Everyone Should Know.
And Don’t Bring Them Drinks, Either
While it may seem like a nice gesture to bring the coat check worker a cocktail, most bars and clubs don’t want their workers drinking on the job. “Don’t buy the coat check girl a drink,” says Emma. “Some places have more of a culture of drinking than other places, but it could get them in trouble.”
It’s Seasonal Work
Coat check employees tend to only be employed for a few months out of the year—generally from September to March—so there’s a very specific window in which to apply for the job. “Apply in August if you want to get hired,” says Emma. “It’s seasonal work, so you won’t have a job in the summer.”
It Can Be a Difficult Job to Get
Many clubs and bars won’t post their positions on job sites, says Emma. “I had friends who were already working there, and that’s how I got the job.” Before you apply for the gig, make sure you know The 15 Best Tips From Hiring Managers.
Bathroom Breaks Aren’t Really a Thing
Another reason not to bring a coat check employee drinks? It might be difficult for them to use the bathroom during their shift. Most coat checks require someone to be covering them at all times. “Luckily, bar backs will sometimes take over when coat check girls are in the bathroom,” says Emma.
Your Stuff Might Get Tossed if It’s There Long Enough
While it’s unlikely that a coat check employee is going to try to steal your coat, if you leave it somewhere for months, it will be gotten rid of. “There’s a coat check lost and found. You leave it there for a little bit, and when no one comes to claim it after three months, you let whoever wants it go wander off with it,” says Emma of her former employer’s policy.
They’re Not the Lowest Rung on the Service Hierarchy
At bars, clubs, and restaurants with coat checks, the coat check employees tend to be treated with more respect than some of their colleagues. “People tend to treat the dishwashers worse. Coat check employees tend to get treated the same as the bartenders.” And for more on your barkeep, discover the 15 Secrets Your Bartender Won’t Tell You.
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