The Attitude of Entitlement in the Service Industry

So I’m about to say something that is probably going to piss off a lot of people. At the same time, there will probably be a lot of other people nodding in agreement but won’t say anything because they don’t want to piss off a lot of people.

I have worked in the service industry. I have worked tipped jobs and I have worked jobs where my hourly wage actually made real world cents (also, sense, if you want to avoid the punny). My tipped jobs have left me with – apparently – a completely different view of the situation from everyone else who has ever worked a tipped job ever.

Let’s start here… I just read this other blog where the author expounded on the “art” of tipping and what you may or may not know about the subject. I knew pretty much everything in that article including the part where, despite President Clinton’s efforts to make life better for everyone, Herman Cain succeeded in convincing Congress to lock the federal tipped minimum wage at $2.13 “forever,” forcing the general public to pay the wages of the majority of service industry workers.

This is where my rant begins. First of all, in more than half of the states in the US, this is no longer the case. Seven states have no tipped minimum wage, meaning all workers, regardless of their industry, make at least minimum wage. Granted, that’s still not a living wage but it’s not the dismal figures that most service industry workers lament. In at least half of the remaining states, employers are required – by law – to make up the difference. That means if your state’s minimum wage is $10 per hour and you don’t make at least $7.87 per hour (or whatever it has to be to bridge the gap) in tips, your hourly wage has to be increased to make up the difference. Again, I understand that this isn’t a big improvement to the situation but it still isn’t slave labor.

Second, as the first paragraph of the above blogger’s post sarcastically decries, tipping IS IN FACT, about generosity and gratitude for good service. I remain firm in my belief that not every server automatically deserves 15% just because they only technically make $2.13 per hour and sometimes take home paychecks that have a big fat goose egg in the amount box, after income taxes. You start out with a clean slate, 15% because you haven’t done anything spectacular but you didn’t screw anything up yet. 15% is for C average service, the equivalent of 3 out of 5 stars. There are a few things you can do to raise that amount and a few things you can do to tank it.

Do keep my drink filled. There is a restaurant here with a line marked on their glasses that says refill. They’re 20 ounce glasses (without ice) so that line is probably somewhere around the 8 ounce level, when there’s approximately 1/3 of the drink remaining. I consider this to be the “you’re pushing it” zone. I, personally, see no reason (unless you are like a few people I know who guzzle five glasses of whatever before the appetizer is served….then you as a customer are setting ridiculously high standards and should tip according to your ability to be a pain in the server‘s arse) for the drink to dip much lower than the halfway point. The only exception might be coffee – for some people that coffee to sugar to cream ratio is a very sophisticated chemical formula and adding more coffee to it before they’re ready has disastrous results.

Don’t hover. If you are in a slow section or it’s a slow time in the day, hang out somewhere you can see me but I have to want to see you. Wait until I close and lay down my menu before coming back to ask if I’m ready to order for the fourteenth time in fifteen minutes. Wait until I’ve taken more than two sips off my drink before returning to refill it. Allow me to enjoy my meal and my company in peace. I didn’t come to this restaurant to hang out with the staff (unless I did). Being TOO helpful is a good way to lower your tip.

Do make sure I have everything I need. I understand that sometimes someone else might have to deliver my order. I’d much rather that than have it sit under the heat lamp for ten minutes and get rubbery or soggy until you can get to it. But if that happens, get back to me as soon as humanly possible to make sure I have everything I might need. It’s not your co-worker’s responsibility to bring me ketchup or refill my drink.

Don’t disappear. See above.

Do be prompt. I don’t time you but I will notice if I sit at an empty table for 10-15 minutes after you took the last plate away before you bring the check. Even worse is if after that 10 minutes you come back – without the check – to ask if I want dessert. I’m (probably) not in a hurry but you don’t know that and if you vanish, I will leave without the check (not without paying, I’ll leave something close to what I owe, within $2-3, but you might have to make up the difference).

Don’t rush me. I’ve had servers bring the food then, literally in the time it took to walk back to the POS to print it, bring the check back. I’ve had servers bring the appetizer and meal on the same tray. I don’t care what your intentions were when this happened, you best work your ass off for the rest of the meal if you have any hope of getting a tip.

Do be understanding. Sometimes people forget to ask for no onions on their salad. Sometimes people expect a bowl of lettuce and don’t know what to do with a real salad. Sometimes the menu doesn’t list every last ingredient and the meal comes out with something someone didn’t expect. If I send something back, it’s with good reason. If I ask for extra of something and send you back for more extra, it’s with good reason. Chances are it’s not your fault that my order isn’t what I expected but you’re the middle man so you get to listen to my complaint. I will be as cordial about complaining as you are about listening to me so if you give me attitude because I don’t want my “medium” steak cold and bleeding, I’m going to give you attitude in the form of a smaller tip.

I understand that working in the service industry sucks. I understand some people just don’t tip, regardless of the quality of service and that sucks. I understand that in some situations some people don’t know what to do (buffet restaurants, for example) so they don’t do anything and that sucks. I understand that Herman Cain and the restaurant owners whatever association he was in charge of at the time are assholes who don’t want to pay their employees and that sucks. I understand that, as a service worker, it is not my customer’s responsibility to pay my bills and that tips are a reward not a right and that’s life. I get so frustrated with the attitude of entitlement that service workers have, all because some bureaucrat decided they weren’t worth more and would never have a chance of being worth more (thank the gods state level bureaucrats didn’t agree, right?). Don’t get pissy with me (or post my receipt on the internet with all manner of disparaging comments) if you act like a jerk and I tip you accordingly. If you genuinely believe you busted your butt and I stiffed you or undertipped, suck it up, accept that some people suck and do the same quality job for the next person. Unfortunately, it doesn’t balance straight across but there will come a day when someone will give you a 50-100% tip and it will make up for at least a few of the creeps who didn’t give you anything.

Aspire, Seek, Attain

To fill my days with satisfying activity.
To find dominant beauty in art, literature, nature, and friendships.
To know the peace and serenity in a divine faith.
To love life and joyously live each day to its ultimate good.
This is my creed in Alpha Sigma Alpha.
-Wilma Wilson Sharp, President Emireta

It has been a long time since I really shared anything about my sorority. I can, without a doubt, say I have joined hands with my sisters and repeated those words at least 125 times. Some days, they meant the world to me, other days, admittedly, it was just another chore I had to complete to get through to the next chore. It wasn’t always easy. It wasn’t always fun. We fought. We bickered. We branched off into cliques and tried to pit our sisters against one another. We laughed. We cried. We held one another’s hands and we mourned together when one of us lost a loved one.

I still remember that day as clear as a bell.

And what does all of that make us, if not just like any other family around? Except that unlike most families, we chose each other. We chose to be a family. We chose to make a commitment to one another and to the values we all believed in and stacked against anything that tried to tear us down. I hear that it’s not like that anymore. That my beloved Zeta Pi chapter has fallen into disrepair and the current actives don’t have the leadership I had when I was in their position. It hurts my heart that I can’t do anything to help them. I don’t know any of them but they are still my family and I want all of them to succeed. As Alpha Sigs and as strong women. I want them to look at their letter badges and their ever-increasing collection of ladybugs and at a chain link on their keys and know in their hearts that those things represent hundreds of women who support them and love them, even though they’ve never met.

I miss my sisters each and every day. Each and every day I address challenges and triumphs in my life that I want more than anything to share with my sisters who are so far away. I’m getting ready to graduate from cosmetology school in a few weeks and I’m torn between a desire to take my shiny new career and strike out for big city lights and a desire to return to the place my heart feels most at home, which is where my sisters are close.

“The purpose of Alpha Sigma Alpha is to foster close friendships between members and to develop women of poise and purpose.”

But more than that, more than how much I cherish what they are to me today, I think a lot about what I gained from the sorority. Some of the truest friends ever, sure, but personally I learned diplomacy. I learned how to discipline a close friend without damaging that friendship. I learned teamwork. I learned deadlines. I learned how to be completely and 100% myself around people I’d never met because I knew they were part of a special, elite group who understood what kind of person I was.

I learned charity. I think that is the biggest lesson I learned through my experience. I learned to always look for ways to help others. Even now, with weeks to go before I can think about putting anything into motion, I am thinking of ways I can donate my newfound career skills to help people. I love the idea of Look Better, Feel Better, but I want to reach a broader community than just cancer patients and survivors. I want to help victims of domestic violence look better to feel better, car accident survivors and burn victims, sex trade survivors…anyone who could benefit from a fresh new page in their book. I don’t know if that drive to give back would be as strong if not for my time in Alpha Sigma Alpha.

I don’t know if I’ve sufficiently conveyed everything I set out to say. I don’t know if I ever could. I just want to say, to all my sisters, near and far, those whose hands I’ve held and those whom I have never met, ALAM and Mizpah.

Age vs. Maturity vs. Personality

In my time as a cosmetology student (and undoubtedly in the years to come) the single most frustrating thing I encounter is an idea that age should dictate our aesthetic decisions. This is hard for me because I don’t believe in age. I mean, obviously age is a real thing that advances every 365 days, but I don’t believe it should have any bearing on who you want to be in your life. Age is only important if one is a wine or a cheese and I have yet to meet an entire animate person made of cheese (cheesy people but not people made of cheese). This whole “you’re too old for that,” “why can’t you grow up and act your age” mentality is ridiculous to me. I just don’t understand it.

So when people compliment me on my hair then tell me, “I’d love to do something like that, but I’m too old,” I don’t know how to respond. I usually just shrug, give them a little chuckle, and say no, you’re not too old. I don’t want to dive headlong into a philosophical debate regarding age vs. maturity vs. personality with the cashier at the grocery store. Ain’t nobody got time fo’ that. But the truth is I feel like it’s all an attitude thing.

A new crop of students just started at the ol’ beauty school last week and one of these students has her long blonde hair colored to look like a tub of Baskin Robbins cotton candy ice cream…

icecream

all pastel blue and pink and purple swirls. And it could look amazing. Except it’s faded and splotchy which bugs the crap out of me anyway but also she wears delicate, pretty make up and while we can’t do a lot to express our personalities through our solid black wardrobe, her clothes so far have been very conservative and almost frumpy. This makes her hair look that much more out of place. This is where attitude and personality trumps age. She doesn’t exude the attitude or personality to pull off the cotton candy swirled hair regardless of being 18-19-20ish whatever years old.

It really does come down to confidence, presentation, attitude and personality. Some of these 40-year-old plus women who are “too old” for purple streaks in their hair, probably are. Not too old, technically, but because they have talked themselves into that mindset, they probably don’t have the chutzpah needed to make it work. It would look out of place, not because they are middle aged but because they are too timid, too reserved to rock it they way it should be rocked.

I am getting ready to make over my aunt, my mom’s older sister, and I’m not looking at pixie cuts or fire engine red highlights. I’m looking at ideas that she’ll rock. Ideas that will suit her personality and her lifestyle, because that’s what is more important than if it suits her age. We’re probably going to end up with a fairly sedate and subtle change but it will fit her. She will look good and hopefully feel good rather than awkward, self conscious and made up when we’re finished. I’m not leaning toward conservative because of her age, I’m leaning toward conservative because that’s what’s (hopefully) going to make her walk out of the salon looking and feeling awesome.

So, I guess that’s that. I just don’t get this whole philosophy that you can be too old for bold hair colors or that you are too old for neon green skinny jeans. It’s all about your personality, your attitude, your presence to decide what you can and should wear. Age ain’t nothing but a number.

In which I discuss literary tastes – my own and those of those around me

When I was a kid, I used to be a highly prolific reader. I would make four and five trips to the library every week and check out four or five books each time. And not “kids’” books, either. I kind of skipped those. I started on the Baby-Sitters Club when I was 8 or 9 and never looked back. I would occasionally check out a Dr. Seuss book for fun but for the most part, I never read children’s books. I don’t know exactly what it was, some sort of motion sickness, if I were to hazard a guess, but I recall a couple of instances of reading until I was literally sick of it. Not anything drastic but definitely a queasy stomach and headache.

Which, I accept, sounds like a bad thing. No one wants to feel crummy and if reading makes you feel crummy, why do it? But it didn’t slow me down.

Sadly, what did slow me down was life. Like most kids, the majority of my pleasure reading was done in the summers between grades and when those summers began to include things like work and cheerleading camp, I suddenly had less time for pleasure reading and would cut back to five or ten books in the three months of summer. And that was a huge thing for me. But nothing like what it would become. College meant full-time summer job to build up my savings from the year before and course work reading during the year (as an English major, it was still a lot of “pleasure” reading – literature and poetry – but not a lot of what I got to choose for myself).

Now that I am a bonafide adult, out of school and working for a living (or not, on both accounts, technically), I feel like I am lucky to get five books read in a year. I still love to read and when I get a chance to just sit and enjoy a book, and find a good, riveting story, I will completely lose track of everything and keep myself up until 2 or 3 in the morning. And the closer I get to the end of a story, the worse it becomes.

But this really isn’t about that. What brought me here is my taste in reading material. I find myself, more often than not, completely disinterested and disengaged by the material that is so highly recommended to me by avid reading peers who share my obsession with stories and words and pages. One that stands out to me at the moment is The Fault in Our Stars. I have not spoken with anyone who did not love this book. I, however, trudged and plodded through six chapters of what I felt was a medically sterile narrative crafted by an author trying – and, subsequently, failing – to write outside his own gender before giving up completely. Perhaps if it were written in the third-person point of view it would have been more pleasant for me. I don’t know but as it stands, I don’t know if I will ever go back to it.

And I think that’s terrible. I’ve heard so many great things about it that I feel like I should give it a chance. But I have waded through far too many epically disappointing tomes in my life to volunteer for yet another. At the same time, it makes me wonder, why can’t I love the same things that everyone else does, literarily speaking? House of Leaves is another. Most people either love it or give up before they have suffered through enough to really understand what it means to hate it. I finished it. I finished it out of pure stubborn need to say it did not better me. But I have never wanted to throw a book more in my life. I wanted to heave it into a river…and possibly push the author in after it.

That is not to say I didn’t understand it. I did. I think. I just hated it.

I don’t feel like it goes the other way. I don’t feel like I love books that the majority of people hate. I mean, I get that not everyone is going to love everything but for the most part it seems like when I recommend a book to someone, they enjoy it. But when someone recommends one to me, it’s pretty unpredictably hit and miss whether I will come away having had an enriching experience. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. And I hate the “sometimes, nos.” The “sometimes, nos” leave me wondering what I missed. This was supposed to be amazing and I kind of just want to rewind to before I ever started and just…not start.

I’m not really sure what you, as readers, are supposed to glean from all of this. I’m not even sure what I was supposed to get out of it, but it’s something that crosses my mind every time someone gets adamant about recommending a book I hated.

Why? Why did I hate this when so many others loved it? What am I missing?

Self-esteem and self-doubt

Self-esteem and self-doubt are fickle things. They can come and go without warning. Without warning, you can go from feeling on top of the world, best you can be at whatever you want to be to hating life and feeling like a complete failure.

This is not autobiographical. Not entirely. I have days where I experience both. I feel like everything is going exactly as planned and nothing can stop me then, without warning, I question every decision I’ve ever made, doubt every word of praise or encouragement as lip service.

I accept as fact that I know what I’m doing. I accept as fact that I have exceptional grammar and know how to construct sentences and paragraphs. I accept as fact that I know red and green are complementary colors and that cutting hair makes it shorter. What I don’t accept as fact, what I have to remind myself on occasion is that I am capable of constructing sentences people want to read, that I “get” how to mix shades of red to make someone’s hair not only look less green but look how they were hoping it would look, or better.

It doesn’t help that to everyone but a small handful of faithful friends, I am just another face in the crowd. I am just one more girl with a blog. I am just one more music lover with a need to share my opinions, solicited or otherwise. I am just one more joker with a camera who thinks photos of the patio furniture is real photographic art. I am just one more student trying to learn from experience. I am nothing special to most people and I haven’t learned, in 33 years on this green Earth, how to make them think I am special or make them want to know who I am and what I can do.

I’m not much of a scientific or mathematical mind but I can see single digit numbers and statistics and I know that I am getting mediocre blog views; that I haven’t sold a single photo print or handmade necklace to anyone, ever; that I am still and, despite my desire and efforts not to, will most likely graduate as a level 1 stylist. And all of that, no matter how good I think I am, no matter how good I want to become, how hard I work at improving my crafts, doesn’t quell the moments of self-doubt that make me want to give up on everything.

I just don’t know how to shine brighter than all of the other stars I’m competing against.

WARNING!!!!!! Fact-based, logic-fueled political rant to follow

Occasionally we find ourselves in situations where arguing politics with people who are clearly uneducated is both inappropriate and futile so instead, I will share my rebuttal here.

In response to things I’ve heard lately:

I’m not getting Obamacare, I’m sticking with my private insurance.

Like it or not, agree with it or not, as an American citizen, you have “Obamacare.” What people are not understanding is that “Obamacare” is not insurance. This goes all the way back to the ability of politicians to vilify something based on the American public’s blatant refusal to educate themselves. “Obamacare” is a 900+ page piece of legislation (yeah, okay, I get it, 900 pages of anything is an endeavor, nevermind legalese, but it is available as part of the public record for anyone who wants to read it) titled “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (referred to from this point forward as the ACA). The ACA is (much needed) healthcare reform. There are aspects of the ACA that are a little off-putting and other aspects that are going to take time to iron themselves out but if Americans were encouraged to gather facts for themselves, I think a lot more people would see the benefit of the ACA.*

But now I’m off topic… or at the very least drifting into another topic. The point is, the ACA is a law, making it the opposite of an option. You are full within your rights, under the ACA, to keep your private insurance but you get to keep “Obamacare” as well.

I should say you are full within your rights, under the ACA, to keep your private insurance as long as your private insurance follows the ACA…which brings me to the next flawed and misinformed argument…

Obama canceled my insurance.

Nope. There are really only two reasons your insurance company, not the President, not the government, your insurance company would have canceled a policy based on the ACA. And neither of them are really pleasant. First, your insurance company has been abusing their customers and when the ACA took full effect, they chose to cancel policies rather than comply with new laws that would actually help their customers (and probably hurt them because why else would they be mistreating their customers if not for financial gain?).

Second, …. No, really that probably is the reason. I mean, there are other variations of the story but they all come down to the same thing. You have been paying for things that you are no longer required to pay for under the ACA and your insurance company would rather kick you to the curb than take a loss for your pre-existing condition. Which, if you think about it, doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s most likely why your insurance policy was canceled, not because the President is a socialist pig.

Obama raised my insurance rates.

Really, just see above.

Obamacare is forcing us to be chipped and tracked like wildlife.

I … Honestly, this is one of my favorites** because it is SO FREAKING LUDICROUS. 900+ pages of legislation and not only does it not contain any mention of RFID chips but “radio” and “chip” appear ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE. Not once in the whole document. Identification and frequency do a couple of times but not in any context that would imply RFID chip implantation.

Obamacare ruins small businesses by forcing them to provide insurance to their employees.

Exactly the opposite, actually. First, any business with fewer than 50 employees is not, READ NOT, required to provide group insurance policies (businesses with more should already be offering reduced rate insurance. That is both part of the ACA and my personal opinion…one reason for choosing to work for a large company over a small company is the benefits packages, right?). BUT even more than that, small businesses (fewer than 50 employees) can get a tax break of up to 50% of their employees’ premiums.

If you have any interest in gaining further knowledge about what you’re really being spoon-fed by the media, go here: http://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-myths.php

*The real fact is that when asked how they feel about Obamacare, people are hesitant or disapproving but when given separate aspects of the bill on which to form an opinion, without being told where it came from, they approve of it in much higher numbers. Thank you, Conservative wingnuts, for making this a battle of wits with often unarmed and unsuspecting opponents.

**The word “favorite” here means “makes me want to burn things.”

I am the friend…

Disclaimer: Any use of the word “you” in the following text both is and is not intended for one specific person. If you wonder if it applies to you, it might. I don’t mean to offend anyone or hurt feelings; I don’t know why I would, but there is always that chance. Just know it is not my intention. I’m simply trying to sort out some feelings.

I am the friend who always has to invite themselves to the party.

I am the friend who gets left behind if I take too long gathering my things.

I am the friend who wishes I was the friend you turned to first when things happen, both good and bad.

I am the friend who wants nothing more than for you to ask me a hundred questions, trying to get to know me better, but I am also the friend who might be afraid to answer your questions because others have used those answers against me.

I am the friend who can sometimes feel completely alone in a crowded room.

I am the friend who misses your company and wishes it was possible to spend more time together.

I am the friend who doesn’t know how to tell you to open up to me and who doesn’t know if you want me to open up to you.

I am the friend who wants you to want to know what I’m doing, how I’m doing.

I am the friend who gets interrupted halfway through a story.

I am the friend who stays quiet because no one is listening anyway.

I am the friend who always wonders if I am a good enough friend and worries that I am probably not.

Either live or die

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