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In the Weeds: Neck Tie vs. Bow Tie

April 28, 2009
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If given the choice between a white collar, nine-to-fiver or a job as a server, nine people out of 10 are going to choose the office job.  Despite the annoyances of having to ALT+TAB out of Facebook when your boss pops in or gather in a cramped break room to sing a pathetic happy birthday song over an equally pathetic Hy-Vee birthday cake, even the lowliest of corporate America think they have something over on servers.  Today, I give you the top five reasons your job sucks compared to mine.  I’ve been in a cube, a corner office, and tableside.  So trust me.

1. You work every day except for those 10 days of annual vacation.

I work when I feel like it. If I drink too much the night before, have friends arriving from out of town, or feel like watching a marathon of “America’s Next Top Model,” I don’t work.  I simply send a group text to my 25 fellow servers saying I want to give up a shift and somebody will take it.  As long as the set number of servers show up, management doesn’t care or even notice who is there.  You have to call in sick and fake that terrible food poisoning voice,  which you know they know is a fake, if you just can’t face the music that day.  It’s degrading.  I maintain valued employee status even if I don’t show for a week.  If I get all my shifts covered, that just makes me seen as all the more resourceful.

2. If you need more money, you have to hold a garage sale, donate plasma, or get all illegal.

Conversely to #1, if I want the latest bag or need to replace my furnace, I just pick up a few shifts from servers giving them up. Granted, this is easier for those of us working in fine dining, but I could work a few extra nights and buy a 42″ flat screen without feeling it in my budget.  But no matter how hard you work or how hard you slack, your every-two-week paycheck is still showing the same number.  The winds of hopelessness are heard when you feed that check into the ATM before hitting the happy hour cocktails.

3. You are forced to deal with the same horrible clients and annoying co-workers every day for years on end.

When I hate a guest, at least I know they’ll be gone within a few hours and I’ll probably never see them again. And because I have no office, cube or set work space, I can work for months without interacting with servers I find intolerable. My world consists of the three tables I’m serving and I can be a different person at each.  Some guests want a quiet professional while others are looking for the sassy comedian or understanding counselor.  You are who your business card says you are.

4. You sit for 8 hours and get fat.

I walk for 6 hours and look hot.  Enough said.

5. You have to wait until five o’clock to find a happy hour and start drinking.

I drink for free.  I start drinking with management approval at the beginning of my work day at the 4:45 pre-shift meeting where we sample wines.  The drinking usually continues with help from our lovely bar staff (vodka in a styrofoam cup with ice and lemon looks just like water).  And a few of my destined-for-sainthood guests insist I pour myself a glass of their ridiculously marked up bottles of amarone and cabernet.  And then they tip me on those prices.  Saints I tell you.

So the next time you sit down for lunch with your office mates and feel very superior to your server, remember that she is probably happy, tan from her recent vacation, skinny, rich, and drunk.



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2 Responses to “ In the Weeds: Neck Tie vs. Bow Tie ”

  1. Cubeguy on June 2, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Allow me – a trollish cube-slave – to respond.

    1. I’m a cube-dweller but I work for a non-profit that actually respects it’s employees. I get somewhere between 40 and 43 paid days off per year (not including weekends). If I want to take the day off, I don’t text 25 people, I call one person, and tell them I won’t be at work.

    2. True, I don’t have the instant gratification of money in my pocket shortly after I work, but then, my paycheck is for more than zero dollars, so I don’t really mind. Whether I solve a complicated problem in SharePoint or sit here reading blogs, I get paid, and I don’t have to worry about a five-top leaving 5%.

    3. Also true to an extent, but when you work for a college non-profit and most of your co-workers are co-eds just coming out of college themselves, its not so bad.

    4. I am not hot, and am fat. On the plus side, I don’t smell like old cheese and stale beer when I get off work.

    5. If one in 20 servers were happy, tan from their vacations, skinny, rich and drunk, the service industry wouldn’t lead all of industry in turn-over rate.

  2. chefinNapa on June 13, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    you work for a non profit-enough said.

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