As a server, I have so many stories to tell, and as a writer, I can write them.
It sounds corny, but working as a server has opened my eyes to a lot of different societal issues just within my small, mostly vegetarian restaurant. I see a lot of inequity in a lot of different forms, but most of it revolves around people thinking that people who work in restaurants are unworthy of common decency and respect. That’s almost a “duh statement,” as one of my English professors would put it. The struggle between lowly service industry folk and anointed professional people is such a common trope that I don’t think it needs any more attention.
There’s always a certain narrative following a young female server. They’re putting themselves through school, or working to support their kids, and their pluckiness and “daring to dream” makes all their regulars love them and maybe leave them a huge tip. (Or fall in love with them, depending on what movie you’re watching.) In some way, we’re all just trying to put ourselves through, regardless of what job we work, but the same pluckiness doesn’t really apply to retail workers or bankers or writers or virtually another job. There’s almost a glorification of young female servers, but more of the trope, not of the person. There’s always a special interest story in some newspaper about how a girl saving money to go to college receives an exorbitant tip and freaks out because now she can buy books, or a young mother receiving enough cash to fund her baby’s birthday party. But for every feel-good story like that, there are hundreds upon hundreds of people stiffing their servers for some flimsy reason, or snapping their fingers or waving or shouting, or leaving a nasty Yelp review calling a server out by name.
Why this disconnect? Why do customers know that they could change a server’s life with generosity (or even just 20%), yet treat many servers like absolute dirt?