Eat & DrinkWorkers Rights

Waiting Tables is a Real Job

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Every single person who has waited tables has, at some point, had someone tell them their job isn’t “real.” When a server hears those words, their blood begins to boil, quickly becoming hotter than the inside of a fried cheese stick that just came out of the deep fryer. There is no better way to enrage a server than to tell them that what they do for forty hours a week in order to pay their bills and put food on the table isn’t a real job.

Maybe the assumption is that a “real job” is one that requires a degree or years of schooling, like a teacher. After all, no one one would ever go to their child’s PTA meeting and accuse the teacher of having a fake job, but what about the person who drives their kid to school? Does a school bus driver have a real job? Most would venture to say yes, because that job comes with responsibility and duty, but to be a school bus driver one only needs a high school diploma and a commercial driver’s license so it’s not about a certain level of education that makes a job real. Perhaps a real job is one the makes a lot of money and that’s why people think waiting tables doesn’t count, but it is possible for a server to make just as much money as a social worker who makes an average of $53K a year or an ichthyologist (one who studies fish) who might make only $39K a year and everyone would consider those jobs more “real” than waiting tables. So what is it?

It must come down to the fact that waiting tables is a job of servitude and too many people see that as “less than” any other occupation. The truth is waiting tables is very much a real job. Waiters and waitresses punch in to real time clocks and get paid real money and pay real taxes and real bills, all of which sounds like a real job and it’s one that’s being performed by over 2.5 million people in this country. It’s an occupation where a person who dropped out of high school can work right along side someone who has two college degrees and they’re each going to work equally hard and make the same amount of money. A real job is any job that pays the bills. A real job is any job that lets someone have a flexible enough schedule to be home when their kids get home from school and still make enough money to cover their cost of living. A real job is any job that someone takes pride in and does well while being paid for it. Waiting tables is honest, hard work and most people in the industry who have been doing it for longer than a few years do it because they like taking care of people. Shouldn’t that be reason enough for it to be considered a real job?

These days, food service workers are freaking heroes. So many states are limited to outdoor dining in the middle of the summer and servers are the ones who are putting on black polyester shirts and pants and then adding another layer of black polyester called an apron and donning a mask in 90+° weather just so customers can have a brief sense of normalcy. A lot of places in our country right now don’t have museums, movie theaters, bowling alleys, sports venues, or shopping malls, but they do have restaurants and each one of those restaurants is filled with staff who are doing their best to give customers a “real” experience of dining out. It would be nice if those customer could in turn recognize the service that is being provided to them is coming from people who are working a very real job.

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Bitchy Waiter

Bitchy Waiter

Darron Cardosa is a writer, actor, singer, and waiter. He lives and and works in New York City and enjoys "The Brady Bunch," "The Facts of Life" and cocktails almost as much as he hates your baby.