Servers And Servants Are Two Different Things
By Kristina Verdugo
There is no doubt that servers in every restaurant across the globe usually have to deal with an unruly customer at some point. There is a certain quality that you must have as a waiter or waitress that allows you to ignore the fact that your customer is being a complete jerk, one where you instinctively put on a fake smile and continue working.
Not everyone can handle it, and during my experience working as a waitress at the popular diner, Annadale Terrace, I’ve seen countless girls wave a white flag and quit their jobs in the middle of their shifts. I’ve had customers treat me as if I’m their personal slave for the duration of their visit and I’ve even been called stupid directly to my face.
“I believe that someone who has never worked as a server wouldn’t understand what it’s really like to work the long hours and encounter hundreds of different people every day,” said CSI alumni and Annadale Terrace employee, Amanda Goia. “Some Customers are understanding and patient, but others can be really inconsiderate and don’t realize that I have two hands and five other tables to attend to.”
The worst part is that sometimes, at the end of the day, the money we made isn’t even worth the struggle.
In the United States, the federal minimum wage for tipped waitresses is $2.13 per hour, which adds up to $30 per month in tips. If tips and wages don’t add up to $7.25 per hour during every shift, the employer is required to compensate by increasing their pay. The problem is that servers could make little, or almost nothing when business is slow or the customers are simply not tipping enough.
Tips are essential, especially when you’re working for a diner. Tips at an upscale restaurant are usually higher because the checks are more expensive, which increases the tax or gratuity. Diners have cheaper menus and the checks usually don’t include gratuity.
This can leave room for customers to either tip generously or not at all. Diner servers are usually tipped based upon the “double the tax” rule, but sometimes it does not compensate for the amount of time spent tending to rude and needy customers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, waiter and waitress jobs are a major source of part-time employment for high school and college students and people with multiple jobs. This does not include the multitude of servers who are full time and rely on their restaurant as their only source of income to support their families or pay their bills.
I’ve unfortunately found some customers to be judgmental toward servers, automatically assuming that we’re all the same, stating the only reason we’re working in a restaurant is because we chose to not receive a higher education and would rather make a quick buck.
“I was serving a couple one night and they were extremely rude from the moment I greeted them, to the moment they left. No please, no thank you, no smile, nothing,” said Evelyn Macareno, a student at Wagner College who is also a waitress. “When I dropped the check and told them to have a good night, the man told me that I should’ve stayed in school. I was so offended and told him I was one semester away from my bachelor’s degree. He must’ve thought I was a drop-out and treated me like crap.”
What restaurant-goers don’t understand is that, although you may be judging us, we are judging you too. Even the people you are eating with may disagree with your behavior.
“I’ve seen multiple wives tell their husbands to be nicer to me, and some have even came and apologized on their behalf before leaving,” said Jennifer Hilbert, a sophomore at CSI. “If I was ever on a date with a guy and they were treating the waitress like shit or left them a cheap tip, I would probably never go out with them again. I’ve felt that way even before this job, because it says a lot about people, you know?”
Working as a server in the restaurant industry is an experience that teaches you more than just how to take orders and carry plates. It teaches you how to deal with different personalities, how to multitask at an extreme pace, and most importantly, how to hustle.
Just remember, if you ever find yourself leaving a restaurant thinking, “Was I nasty to that waitress?,” or “Was my tip too cheap?” the answer is mostly likely yes, and your server is probably talking smack about you during that very moment.