Sunday, February 10, 2013

Tip your server, save the world

Will Pitt of Truthout wrote it, and would you please read it.

It's your fourth shift in a row at the restaurant, all doubles because you only make $2.65 an hour and need to pay for rent and heat and electricity, and your section is a set of booths and tables - six four-tops, four two-tops, one eight-top - that seat forty-four customers total, and it's been packed from start to finish across your whole rip with couples and clusters of workers from the accounting firm next door and families with children and foreigners who can't read the menu and have never heard of tipping, and twenty different people in your last two shifts have sent their meal back because the cook is new and in the weeds and can't handle the volume and keeps screwing up the orders, and that's not your fault, but the customers take it out on you because you're there.

And your feet are throbbing and your back is a bag of iron rods and your arm is knotted with aching muscles from carrying huge trays of food and drinks as you weave around and through the small sliver of space available after table three joined with table four and their chairs are sprayed out into the lane, and you move through them like smoke balancing six dinners and seven drinks on one hand without spilling a drop or disturbing a soul.

And would you please go read all of it. The waiters and waitresses and bartenders apparently get paid $2.65 an hour in some state, but in Texas it's $2.13, the federal minimum. That hasn't seen an increase since 1991. Twenty-two years, and no raise.

If tips don't bring the actual wage up to the federally required minimum wage for everybody else, which just rose to $7.25 per hour (in July 2009), then the restaurant owner must make up the difference. In practice, experts say this rarely comes into play.

You perhaps took note of the female pastor who objected to an 18% gratuity added to her large party at Applebee's with the note on her tab? That got posted to Reddit and then Facebook and other social media? And when the disgraced clergywoman complained to the manager at Applebee's about being outed as a skinflint, the manager fired the waitress who posted the photo?

Here's more scolding. But it's for me and you.


Worry about drones, about lawyers for the president arguing they can kill Americans anywhere and for basically any reason, worry about all of that and everything else besides...but real change comes in small doses, and actual kindness happens within reach of your arm.

Want to help the workers? The economy? The whole country?

Tip your server, don't be a jackass about it, and worry about the rest of the world after you do what is right within reach of your arm. Maybe, if you're really interested in helping your community, work towards establishing higher wages for the people who bring you food when you go out to eat; there are thousands of them right where you live. First things first; if you shaft the person making slave wages who feeds you and then go home to whine on Facebook about the poor, poor people from somewhere else, you're as much a part of the problem as the people in Washington dropping bombs and deploying drones.

All politics is local.

And if you need some additional encouragement for penance, here's how those first-world problems sound when they are read in third-world voices.

Must. Do. Better.

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