Anyone who knows me knows that I appreciate good food. And when I go out to eat, I like to take in the whole experience: the atmosphere of the restaurant, the savory food, and the service. I also pride myself on being a good tipper, provided it was good service and the server was kind and helpful. After reading a recent Forbes article by Sharon Johnson, it came to my attention how unstable of a career serving is because of the fluctuating tips. I was shocked to find out that the minimum wage for servers has been the same for the past 21 years and is, like, a fraction of what the rest of the country’s is. Apparently servers in California have it pretty good, because they have the same minimum wage as other jobs. But not for the rest of the country. Read on:
“A waitress in a family-style restaurant in Detroit says it’s a struggle to make ends meet. Most servers are women and they are subject to a sub-minimum wage that hasn’t been raised since 1991. Family members often provide a crucial safety net.
The greatest challenge of Zhanneta Dunder’s work as a server in a family-style restaurant in Detroit is not carrying heavy trays of food, but stretching her earnings of $300 a week to support herself and her 11-year-old daughter.
“It is a struggle to pay the rent, let alone gasoline, car insurance and my daughter’s school supplies,” said the 41-year-old waitress. “But I’m grateful for the job because I like the people I work with and the customers are nice.”
In 1995, Dunder, her then-husband and her oldest daughter moved to Michigan from Moldavia in Eastern Europe. “I didn’t speak much English, so most fields were closed to me. Fortunately, I landed a job bussing tables in a restaurant where I learned the basics of the industry and improved my English skills.”
Dunder, who is now divorced, has completed a training program at another restaurant and is proud of the attention she gives her customers. “If the first customer is in a rush, I get the coffee in record time. If the second customer needs extra napkins, I make sure she has them.”
Like many tipped workers, Dunder has trouble making ends meet because of an obscure federal provision called the tip credit, which has established a sub-minimum wage for tipped workers at $2.15 per hour, or $4,333 a year for a full-time worker. Forty-five states have established slightly higher sub-minimum wages. For example, Michigan pays $2.65 an hour.”
To read the rest of the interview and find out more about the financial struggle of many servers, click here.
And this, guys, is where I make my humble request to leave decent tips when you go out to eat. Obviously, if the service is way off or you get a bad attitude from a server, I think it’s a good idea to speak up about it to a manager or someone. Even if the service is slow, as long as the server does a good job, keeps you updated, apologizes for the wait and so forth, tip good. It could be a backed up kitchen for all you know, or one of the chef’s errors slowing things down. I’ve got a soft spot for servers, having worked in the food industry myself long ago, and I am a big fan of paying it forward. Even if you don’t believe in karma, it is still a nice, gentlemanly thing to do.