The Challenges of Being a Waiter or Waitress

If you’re considering a career in the restaurant industry, particularly as a waiter or waitress, it’s important to be aware of the difficulties that come with the job. The challenges range from dealing with impatient and disrespectful customers to the physical strain of being on your feet all day.

One of the biggest issues faced by servers is the low pay. In the United States, restaurant owners are allowed to pay their employees less than the federal minimum wage because they are expected to receive tips. In fact, in 21 states, servers are only paid $2.13 an hour before tips. This low wage contributes to the high poverty rate among waiters and waitresses, with nearly 15% of them living below the poverty line compared to about 7% of all workers. These workers are also less likely to receive benefits like paid sick leave or health insurance.

Unfortunately, not all customers understand the importance of tipping. Rude customers sometimes decide to either leave a tip below the standard 15% or not leave a tip at all. One such incident caught attention when a waitress, Taylar Cordova, received no tip on a bill totaling $187.43. This lack of tip amounted to a loss of $28.11 for Cordova. Outraged by this disrespect, she decided to share the bill online to raise awareness about how poorly these workers are treated. Her post quickly went viral, spreading the message to thousands of people.

Cordova’s caption eloquently expressed the hardships faced by servers:

“This. This is the reason I work so much. This is why I cry in the shower. I STRUGGLE to put clothes on my daughter’s back and food in our bellies because of THIS. You, are the lowest of the low. Whenever you feel like it’s probably fine to not tip your server, that’s one more bill stacking up because they’re short on money. This is food for the week that our families will go without because you didn’t think it was necessary, even after asking for everything under the sun and receiving it free of charge, mind you. This is one less basic necessity my daughter needs because even TWO more dollars is too much for you.”

It’s important to understand that servers rely heavily on tips to make ends meet. Their base pay ranges from $2-5 per hour, depending on the employer. So, the next time you consider skipping a tip, regardless of the service quality, think about how difficult it would be to feed and support your family on such a limited income. A 10% tip alone is a significant blow, but receiving no tip at all can truly devastate a server. If you can’t afford to leave a tip, perhaps it’s best to reconsider dining out altogether.

But there is hope for the future. Several states, including New York, have already increased or completely eliminated the lower tipped minimum wage. Additionally, seven more states are in the process of making similar changes. This shift is necessary considering that by the end of this year, an estimated 12.9 million people will be working in the restaurant industry, accounting for 10% of the U.S. workforce.

It’s crucial to share this information with your family and friends to raise awareness about the challenges faced by servers and the importance of tipping. Together, we can help create a fairer and more supportive environment for those working tirelessly in the restaurant industry.


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