Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Don't Forget to Tip Your Waitress!

When I came in to interview for a server position at Exotic Sushi and Tapas, the owner, Cathy, looked over my resume and seemed surprised to see that I had graduated from Yale. When she e-mailed me to offer me the job, she wrote that she was worried I was overqualified and would be "bored" working as a server. Similarly, my boyfriend's family is baffled by my decision to wait tables. Wouldn't I prefer an office job, something more suited to my Ivy League skill set?

The answer is no.

I'm living in Boston to go to grad school and get my MFA. I need a job to pay my bills and while yes, I almost certainly could work part-time in some administrative capacity and take advantage of my knowledge of Excel spreadsheets, I am choosing not to. For several reasons:

1. I need a job that does not tax me mentally because I need my brain for class and for out-of-class writing. If I spent all day in front of a computer, I would not want to come home and sit in front of another computer to write papers or stories.

2. I don't need any kind of benefits because I get benefits as part of my tuition.

3. I find being a waitress to be rewarding -- I'm on my feet, being friendly, and multi-tasking. I'm good at it and I make good tips.

Having spent five years in New York, where I'd estimate 90% of the servers and bartenders are aspiring actors, musicians, artists, directors, photographers, writers etc, I am often surprised when customers treat me with condescension, presumably because I'm "just a waitress." Very few people are "just" anything. I don't expect special treatment because of my Yale degree but I also don't deserve scorn because I choose to wait tables to pay my way through school.

I'll conclude with this footage from the musical "Working." This number, performed here by Rita Moreno, is called "It's an Art" and I'm sure you can guess what it's about. This is exactly how I feel about being a waitress!


Jonathan Lehman said...

There are some people that are "just" something. All I am is just a housewife, nothing special, nothing great. What I do is unimportant, how I feel is out of date!

mickey said...

What a strange thing that I would happen on to your blog on this post. Many years ago, I cooked a couple of nights a week for your family in your home at #15 Squires Ln in St Louis. I shared duties with chef Greg and Chef Robert. You have grown into a lovely young lady and you write some amusing tales-keep at it. I was just crazy about your mom and dad, They were as food and wine obsessed as I am-please extend to them my regards if you have the chance. Best wishes.