Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Oh, She's JUST a Waitress

This is a subject that has been heavy on my heart for several years now.

*Disclaimer: This is in no way a stab at anyone in particular. Just something that has been on my mind for some time now. If you are offended, don't read :)*

You all probably know by now, I work in the food/beverage industry. Yes, I am a server/bartender.

A few years ago, while working in my hometown sports bar, I heard the comment, "Oh who cares, she's just a waitress" from one of my customers. Um.. Excuse me?

I have been in this industry since I was 15 years old. Needless to say, I'm damn good at what I do. One thing I have noticed while working in this industry, is the way people view those of us who say, "Can I take your order?". I don't know about you, but where I come from, I would get looked down upon for not being in school, and working double shifts every day at the local sports bar. And to be honest, it was mostly by my peers.


School is not for everyone people. I mean, congrats to those of you who have finished or are on your way, because that really is a huge accomplishment, but some of us have different routes to take. And honestly, I make just as much if not more money a year as you do with your shiny diploma, except here's the catch, I don't have student loan debt and I only work three days a week. (Except for this week :P)

If there were not people who worked as servers or bartenders, where you go out to eat? That happy hour you and your girls go to once a week? Yea that is because of people like me.

Just because I didn't want to continue with school after 13 years of it (no actually I just couldn't afford it anymore, let's be honest) doesn't mean I am in any way inferior to those who have degrees and work a big fancy corporate job.

Working in this industry is amazing when you're a 23 year old free spirit who decided to pack a suitcase on a whim and follow a boy to a rock in the middle of the ocean. It comes in handy when you randomly decided to backpack a total of 22 miles in the middle of nowhere. It's perfect when you're just shy of rent and can pick up a shift the night before it's due and make double the amount your rent costs in the first place. Yea...

People tend to forget we are humans too trying to make a living in this world. Every one has to eat. 

With all of this said, remember it next time you go out to eat or simply for a drink. Tip your servers and bartenders (if they do a good job obviously). We pay our bills with that tip money, not by standing on our feet for several hours of the day, waiting on you hand and foot. :)



Kelsey Eaton said...

Awesome post! I got SO much flack while I was going to esthetician school. "oh so you don't go to real college" "Can you actually get a job with that?" etc

Be proud of who you are and what you do, I think you're wonderful.

Kimberly H said...

I LOVE this post! You're so right about so many things that it's hard to know where to start. First of all, I love how you point out that continued education isn't for everyone, so having a diploma doesn't give you the right to look down on other people. I really wish some of my peers would learn that.

I think the most poignant part of your post was the bit about student loans. The irony is not lost on me EVER that my husband who is "just" a farmer (according to people at home and at school who describe what he does) with a 6 month post-high school program makes a LOT of money and has no student loans. Me, on the other hand, who will have two shiny degrees in a years time has no guaranteed job, a rocky over-saturated job market, and about $100k in student loan debt by the time I'm done. That doesn't mean that I regret the path that I took, but again like you said, no amount of education is grounds for looking down on someone else. Honestly, most days I feel like I would probably have just as well off had I never gone to college and/or law school...at least in the strictly financial department.

Sorry, that was a really long comment, but I totally agree with everything you said! (And I waitressed all through high school and most of college. I hated it, but I feel like everyone should have to work in customer service at least once in their lives to appreciate those who do it full time.)

Les said...

Great post! Do what makes YOU happy--that's what matters! And college is not for everyone; just think of all the jobs we NEED people to do that would be unfilled if every single person went to college.

Megan said...

I'm glad you posted this because it is the perfect opening for me to get on my own soapbox. So, sorry if this is kind of long. :)

I am an elementary school teacher and I HATE the amount of pressure that is put on kids over testing and passing a test and making passing grades. I try to encourage my kids to try their best and I talk to them about how everyone's "best" look different because we all have different abilities. Not everyone is good at school. That doesn't mean they're dumb. They're just talented and good at something else. Some kids just aren't going to meet the standards set forth by those in charge of education no matter what I do. That doesn't mean I don't think they deserve a good education. I just wish we would recognize that all kids are different, develop at different rates, and have different abilities. Also, I talk about their futures a lot and I never say "when you go to college..." I always say "when you go to college or get a job..." I know they will not all go to college and I don't want them to feel like that's what's expected. As long as they are making an honest living...it doesn't matter. As you said, someone has to do the job. It takes all kinds of people in this world. I don't mean that in a negative way. No one person is better than another based on what degree they do or don't have or what job they have. My dream job is to be a stay at home mom and my degree won't do me a lot of good for that.

So, I said all that to say- I agree with you and try to instill these thoughts in my students. :)

Kasey said...

LOVE this post! so well said :) I worked as a carhop at Sonic for 5 years before I finally quit. I had SO many customers ask me if I was in college and if I was going to make anything of my life...although I was in college it still stung because as you said, college is absolutely not for everyone. I've been in college, gotten an associates degree, have very little debt BUT haven't landed my "dream career" yet. So I'm in a radiology program now in order to get a degree in that and work in health care but turns out I HATE the program and the health care field in general..sometimes I actually miss working at Sonic. So, I say, if you love your job, no matter what it is, that is what is most important! Plus, IF you decide later on that you want to go to college you are always able to. AND you're exactly right, a lot of waitresses/bartenders make damn good money! Great post :)

Jake McCardia said...

I couldn't agree more. It's sad the way people look down on others for their occupation. Even if I am glad I am not a garabage man, I am glad someone is working their ass off to make sure my house doesn't stink. I was a server for many years, and I can say that the customer service aspect I learned in that field has helped me more with running a business than anything I learned in school, or any other job I have done. Great post.

The Cantrell's said...

I love this! My brother didn't go to college and he makes more money than I do(not that I'm bitter or anything). I won't say school doesn't matter, but if you're doing what you love and you're making enough to live then you are blessed. Great post.

Helene said...

what an amazing post Tarrole!!! Seriously agree, and you are right school isn't for everyone. Plenty of very successful people never went to school. I don't understand why some "look down" on those that serve others. thanks for posting this!

Hallie @ Life:Oceanside said...

a freaking men girl! preach it So true. I was a server for only a couple of years but the way taht people treat us in the hospitality business is sooooooo lame, and as if serving is looked down upon.
you go girl!

Lisette @ Northern Belle Diaries said...

I, too, waited tables but I waited tables during college so people looked at me differently as a college student. I understand. My father worked in the restaurant business all my life. I understand what it's like to work as a waitress and get crappy tips. Especially the ones that give a $5 tip no matter what the bill. I ALWAYS give a 20% tip. You have to be REALLY horrible to get anything less than 20% from me. Keep on doing what you do. I agree; EVERYONE should have a job in customer service at least ONCE in their life.


amber.m said...

Oh my goodness, I love this post SO much!!
I spent a good chunk of my working years as a server and I loved it! I hated the judgmental feeling I'd often get from others. (I actually still get this from a lot of my peers for being a stay at home mom, for being tattooed and for being an army wife and for dropping out of school--mix those together and BAM! Judgement all around!)
But, I couldn't agree more! Nothing makes me angrier than when people judge like that!
My friend is a Hooters girl! Has been for YEARS now and she is AMAZING at it. She makes more than any other girl, works less and has tiny boobs :p
She's a single mom of 2 boys and has supported her last THREE boyfriends by herself. (She picks some winners but that's not the point) She pays her bills by herself. Without help. Doing what she loves. She makes more than half the people she serves!
Okay, rant over!
Go you for speaking your mind :)

Lindsay said...

You are SO RIGHT. College has always been REALLY important in my family -- even my grandparents were doctors, back when no one really WENT to college at all. Both my parents graduated from private universities on scholarships. They always valued education. However, like you said, it's not for everyone. I'm an artsy spirit and was never a great student, despite being bright. I had a book published when I was a junior in high school but nothing made me crazier than "creative writing programs" in college -- heck, creativity can't be TAUGHT, people. I only finished with my AA in English and then putzed around at a local art school dabbling in photography. Did I end up working at an animal hospital in reception after school, aside from doing freelance photography on the side? Hell yes, I did. Did I get the "just a receptionist" all the time? Hell yes. One night I was working the overnight shift when a man came in with his dog on emergency and had to leave a $7,000 deposit. He looked me in the eye and said "what would someone like YOU do if this happened to you? Your dog would be dead, it's not like you could afford it. You're just a receptionist!" I remember looking up his account later and seeing he lived two houses down from my parents, where I grew up. His kids attended the same schools I did. I love the satisfaction now that both of his kids (in their 30's) still live at home, and I own a beautiful home in the gated subdivision of my dreams that my husband and I worked hard for. And, more than that, I know that each person is a PERSON -- no one is "just" anything. My husband is an accountant and LOVED college -- LOVED! -- thrived in traditional learning, wants to get his second master's degree for fun...and I encourage him, because that's where his heart is. But my heart? My heart is a free spirited one. I'll always raise my son to know that education is important, but so is following your dream and treating EVERYONE with respect!

Nikki said...

Good for you! I served and bartended for years while in school and had to deal with the same. now working in my corporate job with my $50k in student loan debt..I miss it.I took a paycut from bartending to this! It's insane

Natalie Hinkley said...

What a great post! Being a former server myself, I am the best tipper I know, lol. And I am so sad that anyone tries to make you feel beneath them because of your job. That actually says plenty about them and the type of person they are, versus you. As long as you are happy with yourself and what you do, nothing else matters. Come to think of it, I feel sorry for those whose identity is only their job, and that is all they have to feel good about themselves. Life is sooooo much more than how you earn money.

Priscilla said...

You make a lot of great points. I'm not sure exactly how glamours waiting or bartending really is, but it's something I've always wanted to do. I need to grow a pair and try it. The flexibility sounds nice.

Jennifer said...

This is a great post! I also did not go to college, so I know the feeling of how people look down on you because you couldn't afford to go and decided to work instead. People automatically use to assume I should have been in school. It's like, no I just work! I work my butt off! I now make more money than my bff who went to college and she just sits home acting like work is the last thing on her mind since she, her husband and two kids live above her parents. I mean really, grow up and move out!

Meagan P said...

I love this. Seriously though... the money doesn't lie. I went to school for a whopping 3 semesters and hated every second. I'm still paying the loans. I grew up playing and teaching tennis and always wanted to be a Private Coach. For some reason I was pushed into college though?! What a joke. Now I am working and coaching part time-- soon to be full time coach. Working MY hours at MY prices... but still paying MY student loans. Oh well.

-- Also, I'm interested in sponsoring/swapping ya! Shoot me an email with some info?? Pretty please?? :)

WhatJeanLikes said...

I am of the school of thought that if you are polite and respectful to a waiter/waitress/bartender/etc, that the service will be better. People lately have such bad attitudes like you're beneath them because you're a server. I have come across a few awful ones but the good ones make up for it. :) At the end of the day, it's about being polite and having good manners and even if you don't like the service or food, you don't need to be a jerk to whomever is serving it to you! :)