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The beer at Oktoberfest flows freely, and often ends up soaking customers. Leather-tough lederhosen makes sense in an Oktoberfest tent.
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updated 9/22/2011 8:34:20 AM ET 2011-09-22T12:34:20

Stereotypes fit
For Germans, Oktoberfest is more for families and older people — a place where businessmen meet for lunch. When it comes to foreign tourists, the stereotypes kind of fit. English people tend to brawl more than others. It's not uncommon to actually see glasses flying through the air. But in my experience, I'd say people end up quite the same when they get really drunk. Doesn't matter anymore where they're from.

Slideshow: 19 toast-worthy reader photos from Oktoberfest

You would not believe how dirty it gets in the trenches
For first timers, it's kind of hard to imagine how noisy and dirty it can be in the Oktoberfest tents. Each of the big ones holds about 5,000 people. In the evenings, it gets really messy. People leave behind their umbrellas, their raincoats, their cell phones. There are loads of broken glasses on the floor, spilled food. People stand on the benches with dirty shoes. And then: People drink and throw up. They puke in the tents, under the tables. We carry these big trays with maybe 12 or 14 different plates of food on them. The worst thing I ever saw was when a colleague of mine put one down on the table, and a guy puked right on it. So … that was kind of disgusting.

Prepare to have your clothing destroyed
It doesn't bother me when tourists wear lederhosen (leather shorts), as long as they wear real lederhosen and not one of those T-shirts with the pattern printed on it! I would actually recommend wearing one, because you'll probably destroy every other item you could wear. They're tough. You can wipe things off them. Especially in Oktoberfest party tents, people wave their beer glasses around with the band — I haven't seen anybody get out of there clean. It's really a mess. For example, waiters can carry 14 beers at a time, six in each hand, and one balanced on top of each group of six. And you tend to spill a lot. You have to move fast, and then you set them down heavily. You end up soaked in beer after your shift. I wouldn't wear anything else but lederhosen. I don't envy the girls!

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Drunk on the job
"Officially," I don't drink on the job. But I can hardly think of anyone who lasts the whole 17 days without drinking at work. It's quite common for guests to buy you a beer. It's probably the best way to get on the waiter's good side.

We don't have to be nice
As an Oktoberfest waiter, you make the patrons treat you well, or they just won't get served. So it's not like in an ordinary restaurant where you have to be really nice to people. If you don't like someone at Oktoberfest, you just kick them out. For 17 days, I get to behave a bit like an a--hole!

The worst job in all of Oktoberfest
Being a bouncer is really a hell of a job. You get abused all the time! On the weekends, they close down the tents, because they get so full. Every door is closed and guarded by about four to six bouncers at least. "Why won't you let me in? I'll give you 50 bucks … Why won't you?!" And then there's name-calling. It's a tough job. But I wouldn't mess with an Oktoberfest bouncer. Really, if they say go, then go, because that's not going to end well.

In my experience, Italians can't handle their beer
The second of the three Oktoberfest weekends is nicknamed "Italian weekend," because it's when all the Italians come and none of the waiters like them very much. They drink about two beers, and they tip badly. Plus, they aren't used to beers, so after one or two, they're usually sick.

We love Americans
The United States might have a bad reputation internationally, but the general American population does not at all. I've been a waiter for years, and if I could choose, I'd have all American guests. And it's not just because of the good tips! Germans and other tourists are really tight and not very grateful. Americans are easier to talk to. They're not so complicated. If you tell them a little bit about whatever they want to see or where they should go, they appreciate that. They're not like, "Oh, I don't care." They treat you like a regular guy, not just some guy who serves them.

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Photos: Prost! Oktoberfest in Munich

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  1. Hang on

    A carousel spins during the 178th Oktoberfest in Munich, an event that started in 1810. (There were no festivities during the two World Wars.) (Felix Hoerhager / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Lots of company

    Millions were expected to attend Oktoberfest, which ended Oct. 3. (Felix Hoerhager / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. More than a sip

    Beer drinkers wield one-liter mugs at the opening of Oktoberfest in Munich on Sept. 17. The first Oktoberfest was held in 1810 in honor of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig's marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The annual event was moved up to September to take advantage of better weather. (Matthias Schrader / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Wishing well

    A priest speaks during a church service at Oktoberfest in Munich. The mass was celebrated partly in memory of showmen, marketeers and 'Wiesn-Wirte' (Wiesn landlords). (Frank Leonhardt / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Taste testers

    A chef grills sausages during a sausage inspection at Oktoberest. The inspection commission tested eight different sausages from different tents. (Marc Mueller / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Just a bite

    Gabriele Weishaeupl tests a sausage during the sausage inspection at Oktoberest. (Marc Mueller / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Another round?

    People toast during the opening ceremony of Oktoberfest on Sept.17. (Matthias Schrader / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Rain dampens business

    A vendor waits for customers on a rainy day at Oktoberfest in Munich. Two days of heavy rain scaled down expectations at the world's biggest beer festival. (Matthias Schrader / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Beer ... but no customers

    Oktoberfest waitresses wait for customers during a rainy day in Munich. (Michael Dalder / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Elbow room

    Tables sit vacant inside one of the tents at Oktoberfest. (Tobias Hase / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Celebrating beer

    People in traditional costumes dance during the Oktoberfest parade in Munich. Millions of beer drinkers from around the world typcally descend upon the Bavarian capital for the annual two-week event. (Michaela Rehle / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Packed beer tent

    Revelers celebrate in the Hacker-Pschorr beer tent during Oktoberfest at Theresienwiese in Munich. (Johannes Simon / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Cigarette break

    Three waitresses crouch beneath a piece of cardboard during a smoke break at Oktoberfest 2011. (Tobias Hase / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Sleep when you can

    An Australian visitor, dressed in a traditional German costume, sleeps near a crowd waiting to enter a beer tent in Munich. (Karl-Josef Hildenbrand / Zuma Press) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Good cheer

    A woman poses with a beer mug in the Hofbraeuhaus tent after the Sept. 17 opening of the famous Bavarian Oktoberfest beer festival. (Matthias Schrader / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Fun for all

    Visitors enjoy a ride on a merry-go-round in an amusement park in front of St. Paul's church during Oktoberfest. (Matthias Schrader / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A family event

    A mother and daughter ride the flying swings at Oktoberfest. (Andreas Gebert / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Bavarian style

    Men dressed in traditional Bavarian garments attend the opening day of the beer festival. (Johannes Simon / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Time for a beer

    People reach for a beer mug in the Hofbraeuhaus tent after the opening of Oktoberfest. (Matthias Schrader / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. You’re wearing that?

    A tourist shows off an Oktoberfest outfit inspired by traditional Bavarian dresses during opening day of the beer festival. (Johannes Simon / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Sky-high views

    A Ferris wheel affords some fresh air during the start of Oktoberfest. (Matthias Schrader / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Another round

    A barmaid hefts 12 mugs of beer to Oktoberfest guests. (Andreas Gebert / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. A hop-py day

    Two visitors wear hats covered with hops. (Alexandra Beier / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Nighttime fun

    Tens of thousands of revelers stroll at the Munich Oktoberfest on opening day. (Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Sleeping it off?

    Visitors rest in a grassy area during Oktoberfest. (Frank Leonhardt / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. A quiet kiss

    Revelers wearing traditional Bavarian clothes embrace on the stairs of the St. Peter and Paul church after leaving the Oktoberfest celebration. (Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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