Going out to dinner may seem like just another thing to do, but the next time one goes out to eat, try to have some empathy for the server.


I work at a brunch place in West County, Missouri, on the weekends, and, as much as I love watching little kids shoving pancakes in their mouth and talking with the weekend regulars, the job does have its downsides.


To start, I’ve repeatedly been called, “the help.” I get it. I am there to take an order, bring out food and refill drinks as needed, but, where I work, it is crazy, fast-paced and a difficult task. In one situation, I was ringing someone out and asked how their meal was. I told this person my favorite meal, and their response was, “Oh, it’s good to know the help eats here, too.”


Maybe I’m just sensitive, but to be honest it kind of hurt. Servers are often demeaned and looked down upon because of their choice to work in the food industry, and people forget they are human, too.


When working in the food industry, there is also a sacrifice of time. A server is usually expected to work almost every holiday because those are the busiest days for the restaurant. It’s not that they are greedy but, if they want to keep their job, it’s a must. So, especially on holidays, respect the server.


In addition, people generally feel the need to insert themselves into my personal life. I constantly get asked if I am still in school or if I have children. It’s almost like they expect me to give them this sob story about being a college drop-out who got knocked up… because why else would I be serving? The truth is I have three jobs to pay for summer classes and rent. Not everyone’s story is the cookie-cutter stereotype, and people shouldn’t treat them as such.


And servers who didn’t have the option to stay in school or maybe family life started a little earlier than planned shouldn’t be made to feel any less than someone going the college route. All of our stories look very different, and there is no shame in working hard.


Finally, please don’t forget that tipping is how that person is making their living. Servers rely on tips because the states allows them to be paid far below minimum wage, and when they get stiffed, in Illinois currently, they are being forced to work for $4.95 an hour.

They are expecting a certain number of tables and trying to pay their bills. If that customer sits in one of their tables for three hours, they should tip accordingly or over tip them. The standard should be 15 to 20 percent if they did a great job. Treat them as such.


And if they didn’t give exemplary service, please understand there may be reasons beyond incompetence. Maybe they are just incompetent. That could definitely be the case. However, it’s more likely the case that they are understaffed, backed up in the kitchen or it’s just a bad day.


Never forget that those in the service field are people, too. Maybe they chose a different career path than what you deem to be respectable, but there is absolutely no shame in that. No one should be made to feel less than because of their job. Everyone wants to make money, support their kids and pay the bills. Just treat others the way you would want to be treated and have some compassion.


(1) comment

Larry Martinelli

What, exactly, is "West County. Missouri"?

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