A Comment on Comments, the Sick Days Edition

A Comment on Comments

A Comment on Comments

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a photo on the Bitchy Waiter Facebook page about how many servers do not get sick days at their job. The photo said, “Hi, my name is Sally and I’ll be your server tonight. I’ll also be giving you my cold because I don’t have sick days and have to come to work sick if I want to pay my rent.” It was a simple little image that I thought would have nothing but positive response and glowing reviews. Was I wrong! Although it was shared by over 1,800 people and more than three times that many people “liked” the photo, plenty of folks had something negative to say about it. All I was trying to say was that it is unfortunate that so many in the service industry don’t have the option to call in sick and still get paid for it, at least a few days a year. Sure, we can try to get someone to cover our shift for us, but that means we are losing the money we would have made that day which means a lot of people would rather go to work sick than lose a day’s pay. To some of the people who disagreed with the photo, I would like to respond in this Comment on Comments blog post.

Mike says: Big problem is all employees use it as a excuse to take a day off, hangovers are NOT sick days. Every Rest. I have managed, real clear understanding right up front. If you are to sick to come to work, then bring me in the doctors note and yes I call and confirm. Sometimes a sick day is just a, I am lazy excuse. Still have a business to run.

Here is the big problem with your statement, Mike. You use the word “all” and assume that every single server in the world is a lazy fuck who spends each night drinking and will only use a sick day when they’re hungover. You sure have a high opinion of your employees and you must be a real joy to work for. And to make everyone who is too (not “to”) sick to come to work produce a doctor’s note is another pile of shit. People don’t go to the doctor for a cold, especially ones who don’t have any fucking health insurance.

Elizabeth says: I’ve had to work with whooping cough, the flu, and a sprained ankle because I couldn’t find coverage.

Just two weeks ago, I caught a summer cold and was coughing up phlegm for six days. I knew it was only a cold and would go away in a week, so I didn’t go to the doctor. What I did do is go to work and every time I went into my manager’s office, I coughed all over the fucking place so hopefully some of my sick ass cold spores floated right into his coffee cup. Would have been nice to find someone to work for me, but I couldn’t.

Linz says: The sad thing is, it’s the nature of the business. Choose a different profession & elevate.

Linz, thanks for the great advice. Maybe I can just elevate myself right on up to CEO of Microsoft and maybe you can elevate your head high enough to get it out of your own ass.

Mike has more to say: If you call in sick, no doctors note.. you loose that day.. but depending on there history or when the employees start talking about what they did that night and how drunk they all got.. you start loosing other days and other income.. again.. you still have a business to run…

Mike, I think you need to learn how to hire better employees, that’s what I think. If all of your staff is constantly calling in sick because they went out drinking the night before, maybe you shouldn’t be hiring 22-year old college kids who are majoring in beer bongs. There are plenty of responsible servers in the world who want to work and will only call in sick if they absolutely have to. And again, no one goes to the fucking doctor these days unless they have lost an appendage or are coughing up blood. To expect someone to produce a doctor’s note for being sick is a joke. Sometimes it takes days to even get a fucking appointment. Also, it’s “lose,” “their” and “losing.”

Lauren says: I had the same kinds of problems when I worked in restaurants — I’m not a heavy drinker and would never call in if I was just hung over. But I have had PINKEYE before and called in and my managers threatened to fire me if I couldn’t come in or at least find someone to cover my shift. Um, okay, I’ll come give all the customers my pinkeye. Sounds awesome. Let’s just break all the health codes.

Yes, this is the world restaurant workers live in. If we can’t make it to work, it is our responsibility to find someone to work for us. I understand if I want the day off to go to a concert that it should be my issue to get the shift covered, but if I am busy sitting on the toilet with explosive diarrhea, it might be nice for the manger to make a few fucking phone calls for me.

Lea says: No sympathy. It is part of the job, take it or leave it.

Yes, Lea, we do take it. And I have no sympathy for you when you take a stick up your ass, you uncaring clot.

Matthew says: Stop relying on the government to take care of your sniffles. Pussies.

I’m not relying on the government to take care of my sniffles, asshole. All I am asking for is two or three fucking days a year where I can get paid minimum fucking wage if I am too fucking sick to cart around trays of Ranch dressing and fajitas. I don’t think that is asking too much.

Shadrach says: Go pound sand. Tough crap you go to work sick or your rent fails gimme a break sounds like you need a crash course in budgeting maybe you spend too much maybe you should save in case of those sick days ever thought of that? Nope we are all supposed to read your stupid post feel sorry for you get the government to force restaurants to pay you more and give you sick days all so we can pay 40 bucks a steak to make your ass happy ? Get a clue. Socialist.

Hey Shadrach, why don’t you go pound Meshach and Abednego, okay? Some states, like New York, have just implemented mandatory sick leave and I don’t think we are living in a socialist society. I don’t know how this new law affects restaurant workers yet, but it’s only fair that if someone who works in an office gets paid sick leave, then someone who works in a restaurant should too. No one is asking you to pay $40 for a steak to make my ass happy. If you are looking for a way to make my ass happy, it does not involve a steak, thank you.

Thank you for all the comments and I hope that some day restaurant workers will have the same rights given to those who work in other environments. Until then, take some Nyquil, pop a Ricola in your mouth and keep taking those orders.


What's a sick day?

What’s a sick day?


27 thoughts on “A Comment on Comments, the Sick Days Edition

  1. Izzy

    How the f..k can an employer expect an employee to provide a doctor’s note, when coverage is not provided?!
    Here is my story…
    I was suffering from excruciating back pain, when i decided to visit the e.r… turned out I had a broken sacrum, which I felt break earlier that day.. I was to be at work in less than 2 hours. I called to tell my boss that I was unable to make it to my shift. She got upset with me and told me that I needed to get my shift covered. Knowing my rights as a human, I was objective to her suggestion, after all, I had a serious injury. I returned back to work 2 weeks later, only to find that my boss had cut my schedule down to 1 day, despite the fact that I had a doctor’s note, to and fro. My boss stated that she could only schedule me a single shift because she struggled to cover the shifts I had missed. FYI… I had NEVER called in sick prior to this unfortunate event.
    My sacrum remains broken and the doctors found a mass next to the break, with indications of a tumor. I struggle to survive on a single day of work, so I continue to beg other employees for their shifts. I manage to obtain atleast a few shifts a week and I work my ass off… broken back and all. I remain in excruciating pain. My doctor suggested I get on disability, but due to the fact that i only work a few hours a week, and my boss only claims 15% of my sales, disability wouldn’t pay for more than food for my child.. if that!
    I am a hard working single mother with a waitressing job, because it’s the only job that allows me to work for a few hours a night, when my child is soon to be in bed with a sitter. Needless to say… some bosses are inconsiderate pieces of s..t and have no respect or compassion for the hard workers who come and bust their asses. I do not accept welfare or free housing. I work hard for my son.
    I AM A WAITRESS/ COLLEGE STUDENT/ SINGLE MOTHER!.. Broken back and all! I get no respect from my employer or the rude demanding guests that I encounter on a daily basis!

  2. That manager guy

    Here’s the thing.
    At my restaurant, I am the “favorite” manager.
    Not because I am a pushover.
    But, because I understand life in a restaurant.
    I cut breaks, but I also cut throats. People get sick. People also lie, constantly.
    I’m loved because I am real. Not jaded or stubbornly hateful.
    But before I was a manger I never called out. If i was sick i was working.
    The issue with call-outs is you have to assume everyone is lying to you.
    It took me a while to learn this. If you dont assume everyone is lying, you open yourself up to being manipulated. As managers we are also leaders (supposed to be). If sir johnny drinksalot knows how to manipulate you then you have become the weak link in a chain that should be unbreakable.
    The real kicker is there are huge redflags.
    Consistently, people try to call out an hour before the shift starts. Thats not sick, thats bullsh*t.
    Granted, human beings are not immortal and are, in turn, open to sickness.
    If your policy is find someone to work for you, that is because the restaurant should never be at the mercy of its employees.
    If you are sick and need the day, you need a dr.s note and you need to do the legwork to cover your own ass.
    It is not my job to get you to work on time. It is my job to tell you when to be there. If you fail me I will indeed take it upon myself to fill your position, but until that worst case scenario occurs…it is your problem, not the managers.
    Usually if you have someone working, or picking up for you…i could care less. As long as I have the staff.

  3. Zack

    Out of all the retorts I have read throughout all of the service industry blog sites having to do with sick days, the most common theme seems to be when someone is telling us to tough it out or to stop whining or the idiot who called you a socialist is that is a “one way street” type of view. These people have not worked in the biz or if they have it was for a little while in college (although to hear them tell it they were a seasoned professional server at 19) and want to tell us to “man up” and deal with it. This from people that get sick, personal and vacation days for a job where they are not on their feet for 10 hours a day dealing with people like themselves. I would pay $1 million to see their face if for one day they had to work under the same rules and they tried to call in sick and their boss said “If you dont find someone to do your work while you are home you will not have a job.”. Maaaaaaaaaaaan, just think of that. Then one of the desk jockeys gets told they need a doctors note to keep their job, but they dont have health care and dont have the $100 bucks to spare to get a note and they would burst into tears…. the problem is 1) I dont have a million bucks 2) These “one way street”ers will never know what it is like to work in that kind of profession.

    Anyway, another long ass rant…

  4. Meg

    I’m not a server, but I am a hairstylist, and as I don’t work in a large corporate salon, I don’t get paid sick days or paid vacation either. I also work strictly on commission, so if there isn’t a client in my chair, I don’t get paid. Thankfully, I have a boss who would rather call all of my clients and reschedule their appointments than have me come in sick, but that doesn’t make it any more affordable for me to call in. I often find myself only calling in sick on the first, worst day, then taking as many OTC drugs as needed to get me through the rest of my week. I may not be handling food, but I am physically touching every single customer I have. I don’t know how a paid sick day arrangement would work in my circumstances, but I still wish it existed.

  5. Elyse

    I’m glad you brought up the point about managers asking for a doctor’s note, and the fact that no one goes to the doctor for a cold anyway. I had that happen to me once, and I just looked at the manager like she was crazy (she was)! Although these days restaurant workers can get free or nearly free health care, thanks to Obama, unless they’re making well over 25K.

    1. Tazzy

      This reminds me of an old skit from “You Can’t Do That on Television.”

      The scene opens on a student apologizing to a teacher for being out sick.

      Teacher: Ugh, you’re such a faker. Do you have any proof you were sick?

      Student: I sure do! (sets bucket on teacher’s desk) I knew you wouldn’t believe me, so here’s all my puke from the last couple days.

      Teacher (disgusted): Actually, I just meant like a note from your parents or something.

      Student: Oh yeah, I have a note too. (Digs around in bucket). It’s in here somewhere.

      *End Scene*

      If employers want proof of illness for things that don’t warrant a doctor visit…now we know what to do.

  6. Denise

    While I realize nurses do get paid time off and servers don’t, I am allowed 2 sick day call ins per year or risk termination. So nurses also work sick through flu, colds, everything. If you’re immunocompromised I will wear a mask (about 10% effective) but I expose every patient to every illness I have when forced to work sick, we all do.
    The hospital gives lip service to the opposite of the situation they insist on enforcing to the general public.

    I’m taking this opportunity to out all the hospitals out there for their mealy mouthed hypocrisy. Yes, your nurses are actively endangering patient health and safety on a daily basis across this country and you all damn well know it.

  7. kaity

    Restaurants can be so tough with sick days! I got “let go” (or rather told not to come back) because I was in the hospital the night before with a kidney infection. I worked at that particular TGI Fridays (ill say their name because that location shut down about a month ago) for about a year and only called in sick twice before that, and both times I was genuinely sick and gave notice / tried to get it covered! I almost couldn’t believe it! Besides they had a 10 man floor that night (way over staffed), they would have been fine with me gone for ONE night. Worst company I’ve ever worked for.

  8. I'm staying home!

    I have worked in restaurants that have ridiculous policies about sick days. I had one manager who insisted I need to cover my own shift, even with a doctor note excusing me. I couldn’t, and let him write me up for not coming in. I didn’t sign the write up (counts as admitting fault!) But I did submit it to the health department. Apparently, they actually do care very much about punishing employees who try to follow health code. That restaurant found out too. And now I no longer take their empty threats seriously.

    Just be sure to document your illness if you do choose to snub your boss. That normally means visiting a doctor, but minute clinics or pharmacists may be able to work. It only takes one visit to change a truly unlawful policy.

    1. BT

      I’ve worked through many illnesses, most of the time management does not care how you feel, and they do not care about the customers possibly getting sick. They only care about covering their own asses. If there aren’t enough servers and the restaurant gets slammed they will either have to put people on a wait with empty tables, or perhaps the service will just go to shit. On one hand, the restaurant loses money, or they end up getting bad reviews online and having to comp food. In either case they look like a shitty manager to their boss. This possible scenario is all they care about. GO TEAM!

      1. Anonymous

        I came down with a bad case of heat exhaustion once during a patio shift (Texas sucks) and my managers wanted me to close but I refused. I had to get picked up from work because I was too dizzy and sick to drive home. And then when I went to the doctor the next day, he told me that if I had closed, I would probably have had to be hospitalized for heat stroke…

  9. Michelle

    I love you Bitchy, and it’s not often you get caught at your own game. But I believe it’s “manager”, not “manger”, although mangers will be a popular topic very soon. I’ve been in the industry for over 25 years, worked with a dislocated shoulder (just tend bar with one arm and hope you don’t get busy), a torn muscle in my calf (volunteer for server’s bartender and don’t have to do much moving), and fevers of over 100 (everyone thought I was drunk). Honestly, for minimum wage you would think a few sick days would just be fair. I’m still losing 2/3 with no tips, but even wages help. Nothing worse than a sick server carrying your food.

  10. Russ

    I sell Real Estate full time and serve part time (my wife got laid off at the IRS so I had to pick up my old serving job to pay bills). If my wife is sick at the IRS, she is encouraged to call off & still gets paid her regular wage. The government does not want sick ppl to spread the illness throughoutut the building. If I am throwing up with a fever I am still expected to work my shift at the restaurant. If I do not come in I am punished with a shit station for the next 2 weeks. Unless the government or health department make some changes, we will continue being forced to work sick and spreading our illness throughout the city. It is an industry wide problem that does need attention. And for the asshole mgr who said we just don’t want to work because we are lazy or hungover, he needs to take a class on “Hiring competence”. If all his employees do that on a regular basis, that is his own damn fault. Don’t punish everyone because you hired 3 or 4 ppl working for beer money. Most of us have a mortgage and kids. Think before you speak….

  11. Ashley elmore

    I absolutely love this! Damn right we should get sick days! Some of us are Very hard working people! Also, I’m almost positive most of the people with negative comments have never worked in restaurant a day in their life!

  12. Kris

    I worked several restaurants as a waitress and not a single one had any sick days. I later worked at a circuit board manufacturing plant and had not worked there long enough to get my sick days so I came in sick with a temp over 100 and when I walked in the manager told me he would pay me to go home. Still to this day that blows my mind.

  13. Laurie

    Is it a coincidence that most of those negative commentators can’t even use proper grammar and spelling? Just a thought.

  14. Suburbanrockdoll

    They all say that if you’re sick, stay home, but that’s not what they want you to do either.

    I also don’t understand why they make you go to the doctor when they know that you can’t afford to do that either (unless you are lucky to have insurance).

  15. Kat

    I’ve gone to work with pink eye before. The managers didn’t give a shit. Luckily I was also hosting and only taking names so I didn’t touch much. Also my grandfather was dying at the same time. That was a great shift.

    1. Meg

      I think he may have been commiserating with them, not arguing. He doesn’t always respond to only the comments that he disagrees with. His responses were definitely sympathetic.

  16. Chrissy

    There are a few things wrong about working in the industry sick. When I’m sick, with a cold for instance, I’m worried about how it looks when my nose is dripping while I’m taking an order. That’s pretty nasty. Also, I’m worried that I’m going to get my co-workers sick (the customers I’m not on top of most of the time). As far as co-workers go, unfortunately, where I work there are only 6 of us total. And they all have other shit going on like other jobs and kids. And my boss has talked about hiring another server, but that means taking away at least a shift from each of us.
    We are pretty much screwed without sick days.

  17. colleen

    People are such morons. Do they really think that servers ALL make SO much money that they can put a bunch aside for emergencies? Most servers, like most people in America, are living paycheck to paycheck (or in many servers cases who dont get real paychecks..tip to tip). After bills are paid and food is bought, etc…there IS no money to put away for many people.
    I am ALL for restaurant workers getting paid sick leave if for no other reason that I dont want Syphilis Joe coughing all over my pizza.
    If you work a low level office job, you likely get paid sick days…and you arent endangering the public by coming to work sick. So why would anyone be against people who handle your FOOD being able to afford to stay home while they are coughing up a lung worth of germs?


  18. Samantha

    I love that none of these people are noticing that they don’t want sick people touching their food. They completely missed the point. Servers will go to work sick- and restaurants will not send them home- that IS the issue. All health codes say sick people shouldn’t be handling food, but we do it anyway- some because they feel they can’t afford to take off and some because many restaurants have a zero tolerance policy on calling off- not if you have a highly contagious illness, not if your mom died, zero tolerance. And so we come to work. We’re already sick when we come in so the danger is to the customer. You shouldn’t want us to handle your food when ill. Clearly, their sense of self-preservation is very low.

    1. April

      I was JUST going to point that out. I don’t serve anymore, but I have a lot of sympathy for those who do. and I know that I would rather pay a dollar more for my burger and have a healthy server, than a server who is sick and miserable.

      And why is there such animosity towards servers? If all the servers in the world “elevated” themselves, how the fuck are you going to eat out?

    2. Kimberly

      Well said. Back when I worked in institutional food service, I had a manager who once was ticked at me for spraining a shoulder. When I gave him my doctor’s note he acted like I was a piece of machinery that broke down.

  19. Sophia

    I bet all the nasty commenters are rich fucks who all get paid sick days AND paid vacation days and are terrified if they start treating servers like human beings that they will have to pay a nickel more on their ranch-covered… whatever.


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