As I continue wiping the counter tops I overhear tidbits of counter-productive passionately distraught conversation. Similar thoughts about humanity have crossed my mind as well.

In the 1988 Action-Comedy Midnight Run, one of my favorites, Jonathan Mardukas exclaims and rebukes Jack Walsh for leaving a measly 13% tip- pointing out that he should at least leave 15%, as servers live off of tips. Now at the time of the release of this movie I wasn’t even born. It has been a few decades since, and as I server I’d like to formally state nowadays we audaciously expect a staggering 20% to 25%.

But the function of this article isn’t to get people to tip their servers; I actually think the people of Occupy already do that. The purpose is to shed light on how misanthropy thrives in this specific 12% of Americans (4,438,100) that work in food and beverage related serving jobs.* bureau of labor statistics

It is very easy to hate people when your income depends on the goodwill of strangers. Although many servers are part-time workers, many of them dedicate the other part of their time to their children or education- not because they are lazy but because they keep an eye on their future and present responsibilities. Even though working a double on a Saturday may allow a server to walk out with 100-200$ in cash, the average server still only makes an 8.84$ an hour after factoring in all the other days of the week when they made less than 50$ after working 9 hours.*bureau of labor statistics

Like fast food workers, the average age of people who are in the food industry is increasing. A lot of them are single parents or parents paying child support in addition to rising transportation costs, food costs, rent, and insurance. Although, certain Republicans would have you believe the majority of people working odd jobs are college students and sixteen year olds working for their new Abercrombie T’s; and maybe they are in their neighborhoods. They have statistics and pie charts to back up their claim of course. However in any basic sociology course we know of the limitations of statistics. So let us hope the Bureau of Labor isn’t sugar/splenda/stevia/extra-coating when they estimate 280,000 college graduates are working minimum wage jobs. That student loan is an outstanding appendage to your apron I must say.

Let us not beat around the bus-tubs, a 2.13$/hr job makes us servers a little if not a lot apprehensive when around the end of the month. If I kept a tally of how many times I have overheard I ‘fucking hate people’ I would have lost half the tips I made that day. It is definitely difficult to want to stand up for the collective good when ‘guests’ not ‘customers’ (or vice versa depending on your restaurant etiquette) do not budget with tips in mind as they come out to eat. We do a lot more than just take your order and bring out your food.

As if keeping people in constant racial divergence, using media, bipartisan discrimination, using media, and alienated, using media, isn’t enough, keeping poor people at poor people’s throats is always a bonus: which is why nothing has been done about this for decades.

Elements of racism are apparent when waiting tables, not because servers are racist- as we ourselves are of many different races (poverty does not discriminate) but because servers have faced the brunt of not being taken care of by different races at different times. I myself am South Asian, and when I go out to eat I proactively try to disprove my stereotype, maybe I overcompensate. I can afford to do so of course, because my South Asian family’s diet is primarily composed of home-cooked meals- so we rarely go out to eat.

Advocating higher wages on average, (Obama’s recent 10.10 proposals will be neglected because I refuse placation from his valueless rhetoric) should not effect business’s ability to hire or sustain full time workers. Most restaurants responsible for employment are big chains with Wall Street investors. Obviously, in retaliation to the slightest suggestion of a wage raise, Corporate-head’s will relegate many full-time workers to part-time (as seen earlier last year as an effect of Obamacare). However, with more money in more American’s hands demand for fully equipped restaurants with adequate staff will and should increase. Suggesting the 1% not profit by a huge margin in the short time is not as sinful as it is made out to be.

Mom & Pops restaurants, who usually do hire friends, relatives, and acquaintances, on the other hand may be ‘forced’ to further exploit ‘illegals’ on top of that. Maybe if we, as a country, stopped treating people who live and work here as if they do not have rights, they will be treated fairly even by desperate small business owners.

What if culturally we support this ‘mixing bowl’ country we boast of, by trying and creating a market for cuisine made in small non-trademarked diners with exotic soups of the day and ethnically diverse cookery? If we had the money to spend, I’m sure many new markets will emerge in many aspects of the economy.

What if socially we were aware of the plight of servers and fast food workers and we tipped accordingly? What if culturally AND economically, we could afford to do so even after the fact?

Thanks to people like Kshama Sawant and her efforts in Seattle this expectation may be on its way to becoming a reality. Culture cannot change overnight. Bad habits cannot be fixed with smiley-er smiles. But it is important to keep thinking it will happen. I am both proud and ashamed to say that I have been surprised by people’s generosity despite having been hurt by their lack-there-of. The pleasant surprises make it possible for a lot of us to survive, economically and spiritually. So always surprise and expect to be surprised – a tip for tips so to speak

– en

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