Faster! Food!
Tuesday November 16th 2021, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

If this kid puts this on her college admission, then I imagine anywhere she wants to go, she’s in: at 17, she got her essay published as an op-ed in the Washington Post. She’s polished, she’s to the point, and she’s very funny about what it’s like to be a front-line server at a restaurant.

Some of the comments completely make her point: one guy said he had to pay a percentage of sales to the owners to pay the other staff, so that when someone stiffed him of any tip on a $2500 catering job he had to pay $75 out of pocket to his fellow workers from pay he did not get for eight hours’ work. Wow. Straight-out wage theft. No wonder people are quitting in droves. Yes of course such people should be included under the same minimum wage laws as everyone else.

When I was nineteen, I got a summer job at a Farrell’s Ice Cream shop. This was considered among my peers as way cooler than, say, a MickeyDee’s. Farrell’s was a popular spot.

A few weeks later, a high schooler got hired. He was treated far better than anyone else on staff, though I’m not sure he knew it. The manager went out of his way to be nice to him and then in one memorable moment turned right around and snapped his fingers and barked at me for leaning against the wall in weariness in the kitchen for just the blink of an eye. “None of that!”

His instructions (I was told privately at one point) were to have the new kid do some of every job there, from preparing food to cleaning to closing up to you name it. He didn’t know I knew who the kid was, but I did–his older brother was my age and I’d grown up going to church with him.

His father wanted his youngest to learn the business from the ground up. It left me hoping he did see what it was like for the other workers.

His father was the owner, and not just of Farrell’s.

Marriott headquarters was just a bit down the street from there at the time, and I imagine it made it easy for the dad to happen to stop by, although I hurt my back on the job not long after the kid came on and I quit, since it was my second job anyway and I could move to full-time typing punchcards by that point. The olden days of computers.

That manager could see a whole career both ahead of him and on the line while that kid was there. I have no idea how it turned out for him, nor do I remember his name. But I’ll never forget that solicitousness and then those snapped fingers at me.

Memories like that make me want to be the best customer a restaurant worker has any day I ever come in. (Even if it’s still just pick-up these days.)

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I worked at Pizza Hut in the late 70’s, when it had a dining room with waitresses. People would order multiple large pizzas, drinks, etc., and leave a dollar or fifty cents tip. Tips were part of our pay – we got below minimum wage plus tips.

Comment by Anne 11.16.21 @ 11:59 pm

Now more than ever, people who mistreat waitstaff make me crazy. If you can afford to eat out, you can afford to tip–well–and remember these are people, and don’t give them any grief. What is wrong with people?

Comment by ccr in MA 11.17.21 @ 7:53 am

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