In the past two weeks, we have seen two stories about servers that have gone viral because of the awful things that their customers said to them instead of leaving tips. In Fairburn, Georgia, a waitress was stiffed and told to kill herself and another waitress in Des Moines, Iowa was stiffed and told that tips were only for normal looking people. Is it any wonder that I created a blog called The Bitchy Waiter? In our profession, it seems that some customers have no problem demeaning and degrading us and I question what other job lets customers get away with that kind of behavior. Would someone write a disparaging note on the bottom of a deposit slip for their bank teller? Or would anyone say something like that to a nurse, a doctor or a teacher? Maybe it happens, but certainly not with the frequency it does for those of us in the food service industry.
I recently took a poll on my Facebook page asking “What are some of the most negative or sexist things that customers have said to you while you’re working?” I got over 1,200 responses, proving that the two servers who made the news last week aren’t the only ones who put up with misogyny, sexual harassment and demeaning comments while they are just trying to do their job of waiting tables.
Let’s first deal with the harassment since it seems to be the most prevalent. So many women told me that they constantly put up with leering men who want to order them for dessert or ask them to sit on their lap or give them a kiss if they want a good tip. What ever happened to tipping your waitress because she’s damn good at her job?
Then there are the customers who think that being a server is something to be ashamed of and question what our “real job” is or wonder what else we are planning to do with our lives. Attention, customers: just because you think that the job is beneath you doesn’t mean it is. If you need to push someone down in order to make yourself feel better, you’re an asshole.
And female restaurant workers get a big slap in the face of misogyny when so many people assume that women can’t possibly be smart enough to be the manager or run the restaurant. What fucking year are we living in where people can’t accept that a woman can do anything a man can do? (Well, except scratch their balls.)
And like Hillary Clinton, who was recently told she should smile more, waitresses hear it all the time. As if smiling is going to make the food come out faster or the service be more efficient.
Of course plenty of customers don’t think twice about insulting the physical appearance of someone who is serving their food. After all, servers cannot possibly have any feelings, can they? Aren’t we basically robots with no emotions?
And just so male servers don’t feel left out, they too are told things that would be considered pretty insulting. It may happen more often to women, but it happens plenty of times to us too.
Maybe it’s time that people who eat in restaurants understand that those of us who work in restaurants are not beneath them, but equal to them. We are all people who are trying to get through our lives and just because we wear an apron or clean up after other people does not mean we are any less important than anyone else. Servers, please do not let one of your customers ever bring you down because of their insensitivity. Anyone who would say these types of comments are not nice people and not worth your emotions. Simply serve their food in a professional manner and when they are out of your section take a moment to be grateful that they are also out of your life.