In The Weeds: Danskos vs. Stilettos
I originally posted this column in April of 2009. This is my first rerun, and the office job is to blame. I am in week six or so of the job that I am not writing about, and it’s going swimmingly. But I’m salaried and I have a fancy title that has the word “director” in it and I worked last night (in stiletto boots) until after 10 p.m. I have to be out the door this morning at 7:00. I’m pretty sure I still agree with what I wrote almost a year ago, especially when I think about the tears I was holding back last night as my feet throbbed after hours of mingling at a work thing. I apologize for not having the time or foresight or lack of procrastination to write something fresh, but this column seemed fitting and it still has that “new column smell.”
Original title: Neck Tie vs. Bow Tie
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 grocery store sheet 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, eat all the warm bread and butter I can hold, and still look good.
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.