Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mel, You can Kiss my Grits!

Today I want to talk about what it is like to be a server in a state that sees fit to pay servers $2.73 an hour. This has been the standard sever wage for twenty plus years. Not a single raise, at any point. People might think this is totally fair, if you are earning tips. But let me tell you something, tips aren't all they seem to be. I have worked in every type of restaurant from high end, to the diveist of dives. In between I've worked in many different styles of bars. And no matter where, you have good, and bad nights, as is to be expected. When you earn under three dollars an hour, you literally can't afford bad nights. I worked one week for a coworker, seven shifts in five days, two of those days doing double shifts, and my pay check was for fifty four dollars and some chump change. I will always remember the number fifty four, because I almost shat myself, while crying/laughing like a maniac. I have also suffered some pretty serious workplace abuse by people who are paying me under three dollars an hour. The restaurant industry is pretty abusive, in my experience, but it brings it to a new level of low, in my opinion when someone is allowed to 1) pay me under three dollars an hour 2) talk to me as if I am less than human. Drop f bombs in my face, and leave me almost in tears, while I still have to maintain a pleasant exterior for the customers.
I've worked in many different restaurants in this city, and at each one I've tried to ignite some kind of passion about the low wages, and how we need to fight to change it, and I kind of get treated like I'm some kind of rebel rouser, and if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I try to tell them it's not like this everywhere, that most states have upped server wages to minimum wage, and lots of fighting is being done to raise that. I don't think they believe me, or they don't care enough to speak up, who knows, but it is insane.
Being a server is hard work. I'm not begging for pity, or saying it's harder than anything else. But I am saying it is not a posh job. It is physically demanding, physically draining, emotionally draining, and don't get me started on how GROSS some people are, so it's rather disgusting sometimes. And I have never worked at any restaurant, in any state that offers health insurance, or hazmat gear. There are no on site therapists to sooth your scarred ego, you just have to battle the customers, and moody chefs/owners all on your own, all for the satisfaction of three dollars an hour, plus whatever the customer sees fit to leave you. In ways, it feels somewhat like being a panhandler, because I'm essentially begging them for their money, so that I can live, and eat. You also do not get meal breaks, you have to try to shovel in food between customers. And these restaurant owners want the same respect, and hard working go get em attitude, as if they are actually paying you.
I know this isn't really a "vegan" issue, but I was listening to some debates on the unfair wage gap, and they only went as low as minimum wage, so I had to throw my two cents in, and mention that in some really behind places, the wage is lower, and I don't know how anyone who has children, or debt could possibly do it.
Thank you for reading this rant about low, low pay. I needed to vent!

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