Any conversation with a server by a non-server about their job will quickly have you informed about all the things that you just don’t understand about how hard their job actually is. To speak ill of servers is to bite the hand that feeds, so I preface this article by first extending a hand of compassion towards my server brothers and sisters. I too have experienced the horrors of dealing with an apocalyptic hangover and the strict dietary restrictions of the Real House Wives of Edmonton. I too have entertained entitled assclowns who long ago traded their sense of human decency for the remote possibility of a free lava cake. In these regards, I hurt with you.
But there is a noticeable abundance of defensive conversations and whiny Facebook statuses penned by servers in the hospitality industry that needs to be addressed. While the annoying rants driveling from disgruntled waiters and waitresses are bad enough, what really causes my brain to bleed while I weep for our over entitled generation is the popularity and subsequent reposting of unlettered articles complaining about “poor tippers”.
So I’ll make this brief: Please shut up.
There is some merit to this argument. The minimum wage of Alberta is $10.20, but it dips down to $9.20 for servers who serve alcohol. This is quite low, but the vast majority of minimum wager’s in Alberta do not get the luxury of being in an industry that has made tipping the norm. Servers often make over $30 an hour for remembering food orders. We are paid exceptionally well considering the simplicity of our core job requirements. We take orders, we stay polite, we deal with people and we bring their food. Any conversation with a server will detail how difficult and stressful the job really is, because of course there are some problems. There are difficulties and stress involved in every job. That’s what a job is.
Simplicity aside, the job does have its perils. It can be difficult to memorize the soup of the day and weekly drink specials. Hell, just remembering to smile at a customer you would rather see choke than enjoy their food is exhausting. Perhaps worst of all, despite your immaculate service and charming personality, some customers leave shitty tips. But let’s be honest with ourselves, how often does that really happen? How many days do we actually only make that $9.20 an hour?
Not very often.
Compare with me, if you will, the financial alternative to serving which will allow you to make equivalent sums of money while attending school (i.e., while you have no education). Say farewell to your summers. Trade in your uniform for a safety vest and your sneakers for steel-toed work boots because you’re going up north! It’s time to roll up your sleeves, piss in a cup, and do some manual labour. You thought having a manager watch you serve and checking for mistakes while you are annoyed from working a split shift was bad, but does it really compare to looking up and seeing watchtowers full of marksman guarding the perimeter of your work site with rifles making sure that fucking bears don’t eat you?
I admit that our job does consist of trials and tribulations. It is hard sometimes and we are often underappreciated, but this server attitude is making us sound like pansies.
As Albertans, our economy did not get hit nearly as bad as the rest of North America during the recession. We were lucky as a province, not just as servers, to see a vast majority of Albertans retaining enough money to go out with their friends and family and enjoy a meal and drinks. And luckily for us, they continue to do just that. With that in mind, our tips are arguably the highest on the continent.
Please consider yourselves lucky to make as much as you do while doing such a simple job. If you are any good at serving, your tips will, on average, even out to around 15%-20% of your total sales. However, if they do not, it’s probably not because of a society of poor tippers.
It’s probably because you are an unpleasant person who sucks at their job.
Banner photograph by Wanderer Online Photography Editor Antony Ta