Servers: speak out and stand up!

At various points in my life (and currently) I have waited tables.  Trust me when I say, there is never a dull moment – and there is never a shortage of trash that happens into your section from time to time (ex. I was once tipped 77 cents on a bill totaling $40.23 – how nice, right? I was never a whiz at math, but I think that’s just enough to get me a single piece of Double Bubble gum and a chance at the Wal-Mart claw machine!)

Outside of my family and friends (and co-workers), I never “air my dirty laundry” to the public, but a recent article has inspired this post.  I am a server.  I show up for every scheduled shift to serve people.  I am a person.  As such, I expect to be treated like a person! Servers are not your personal servants, rather, they are sales representatives hired to up-sell you food and drinks; and to be pleasant faces for the restaurant industry!

Bad Tip CommentaryWhat was in the article (in case you haven’t explored the hyperlink already)?  It’s a story of a waitress who was left $0 on a bill totaling $93.55.  I repeat, $93.55! No tip? Why? Because “I’m sorry, I cannot tip because I don’t agree with your lifestyle & how you live your life.” Seriously? This is an instance where I would have been fired on the spot – because sometimes, standing up for your principles may cost you your job, but I assure you, the principles are more important!

We servers do not work in search of the public’s approval of our lifestyles.  We could care less what you think of us. This made me think of the two times I’ve stood strongly for what I believe in (and trust me, I will never be censored!):

The first of which was during my time as a service trainer at Krieger’s Sports Grill (around St. Louis, MO).  One of our servers was openly gay.  One night, his boyfriend came to visit him (and sit in his section on the patio).  Next to that table was a family group (two adults, three children).  In this server’s down time, he visited with his significant other and everything seemed to be ok – until the following afternoon, when we received a phone call.

As a trainer, I was authorized to field the call.  The woman on the other end complained about her server being gay and that’s “not something I want my family to see.”  She demanded a refund!

My response went a little something like this:  “Oh. Ma’am, I’m sorry for your concern, but we do not discriminate based on sexual orientation during our hiring process.  If this is something you do not wish for your family to see, perhaps you should stay home and cook.  As for your refund, there won’t be one because the product you paid for and consumed has already been flushed down your toilet.” (click).

In that moment, I was angry – this was one of my co-workers and friends. How dare her make such a bold call and demand.  I wouldn’t (and didn’t) stand for it.

The second moment that comes to mind happened within the last three years.  There was a group of four people making fun of an usher they’d encountered while seeing a show at The Muny in St. Louis. His fault?  He was gay. This appalled me – and boggled my mind.  How could art-faring people be so close-minded?  I still don’t get it.  Regardless, I wasn’t having any of that either.  They were obnoxiously loud in their conversation and during their dining experience, I became increasingly agitated.

Later, just before they left, the girl my age asked for my phone number.  I declined with a serious face, I’m sure. The mother mockingly said, “He probably thinks we deserve a time-out.” I responded (without hesitation), “No, not a time out, but I am pretty sure you deserve some electroshock therapy and water-boarding, combined.” And I walked away.

The moral of this story (post) is that we are people and we do not lose our right to feel, to react, or to speak out and stand up for ourselves or our morals just because we walked through the door and clocked in.  Each of my responses were calculated and impulsive (witty) and they were appropriate for the close-mindedness on display.  I know what I said didn’t change their mind, but each time, I feel like I did what I could to take a stand and send them a message that their kind of hatred is not okay – and it’s not welcomed.

If you can’t afford to tip – don’t go out to eat.  If you can’t be accepting (or at least cordial) – don’t go out to eat.  And if you are a server, and should happen to encounter this situation, please remember:  You and your morals are worth more than that job!