The service industry is a hard one to be in. No matter your skill set, your income is in the hands of those who sit at your tables.
Living in a small town like Waco and working in a restaurant with medium range prices, it becomes apparent that those who come to eat are not always willing to pay for the service that comes with their food.
Being a server is like a heightened game of judging a book by its cover. The initial greeting of your table often reveals who is going to demand more attention from you and if they are likely to leave a tip.
The only issue with feeling tables out is that you don’t get to choose who you serve. You may clearly see that the table that requires three alternate dressings for their salad is also doing their best to pay as little as possible for their meal, but it is still your job to supply what they need to enjoy their meal.
There are special occasions like Valentine’s that set service industries up for a huge increase in guests. Likewise, servers tend to expect an increase in sales and tips.
At my place of employment, the amounts made off of Valentine’s ranged $60 to $200 in tips per shift.
The sad reality of being a server is that you should never expect the expected. Date nights mean nice tips, nice tips mean paying for college, college means one day not having to depend on tips. However, the majority of people who eat out don’t fully understand the way servers are paid.
Federal government requires those who receive tips to be paid $2.13 an hour. Depending on the place of employment, it is also the responsibility of the server to pay the bartender for making drinks and the busser for cleaning tables. In addition to this, there is a tax on the federal wages of those who sell alcohol, leaving most paychecks at a $0 to $0.19 amount. With all this taken into account, a 20 percent tip is actually received as closer to a 10 to 15 percent tip.
Those who serve are well aware of the challenges they face and continue to stay in the scary world of dependency. Personally, I have held close to six jobs and have found that I thoroughly enjoy serving in comparison to any other means of employment. When the getting is good, it is definitely better than any minimum wage job. With that comes the nights of upsettingly low pay, but those are typically fewer in number.
Severs are constantly exercising the hyper-multitasking skills needed to juggle the every need of about 10 to 15 people at a time, and this creates a cycle of chaos that ends only when the final check is dropped. As a person who is terrible at being bored, there is a strange sense of joy in the never-ending job of a server.
This joy would be more tangible if people were to better understand the necessity of tipping. Remember that those who serve you also need to be paid in order to fully pay for a meal, regardless of the fact that you’re trying to impress your Valentine’s date or just fill up after a long day of work. Those who serve may enjoy doing it, but being paid for sprinting around a kitchen makes it much more enjoyable.
Liesje Powers is a freshman journalism major from Hewitt. She is a staff writer for the Lariat.