Slave Labor Day



I’ve been extremely aggravated since I saw next week’s schedule yesterday. The service manager asked me if I would work on Monday, as it’s a holiday and he feels the need to have more servers on the schedule. I agreed. I am an idiot who absolutely should have known better.

When I walked in to work the usual overstaffed Thursday lunch (I made a whopping $37 yesterday, which actually shattered what I had made last week by $20, so I guess I shouldn’t complain), my coworker pointed out that there are eight of us scheduled to work Monday lunch. Eight. They don’t schedule eight people on a Saturday or a Sunday lunch, EVER. They don’t schedule eight servers on most weeknights. When I agreed to work, I figured maybe there would be one or two extra servers. I wanted to throw something at the service manager’s head when I realized that there were eight of us on. Being a semi-reasonable person, I resisted the urge. It was difficult. I feel certain that I should have been given a sticker of some kind or, at the very least, a lollipop as a reward for my good behavior. I wasn’t.

I am getting so tired of this nonsense. I believe in being properly staffed. I hate being “in the weeds”. I hate giving bad service. I actually consider myself a professional. I actually act in a professional manner. So, why can’t I be treated like one? Why? Because we are slave labor. The company pays us a whopping hourly rate of $2.13. None of which a server ever sees. It all goes to taxes and whatnot.

We make our money in tips. In order to make a decent hourly wage, we need tables. I need to sell at least $125-$150/hour to make a decent hourly wage. Lunch checks average about $9/person. That means I need to wait on approximately 14 guests/hour to reach my goal. There is no way one-hundred and twelve customers are walking through the door on Labor Day every hour. No way. Even if I set up cones on the highway and detoured tour buses into the parking lot. Even if a molasses truck were to serendipitiously overturn and the only way to insure not being mired in its detritus was to go right past our front door. It still wouldn’t happen. NOT EVER!

We also need the attendant support staff. Enough folks busing our tables. Enough bartenders to make our drinks. Enough cooks to make our food. A dishwasher to wash the dishes. (The dishwasher thing NEVER happens; our company does not believe in scheduling dishwashers at lunch. The philosophy is that the managers or other kitchen staff will do that job. They don’t. It’s always a disaster. ALWAYS). I checked the kitchen schedule for Monday. There is one extra cook and, no surprise, no dishwasher. I asked how many managers would be gracing us with their presence and was told one. One manager who will undoubtedly be in the prep area doing whatever it is they supposedly do back there. I suspect it’s crack because we never have enough product prepared. EVER. Oh, and one extra host/busser and one bartender. For eight servers. Eight. So, we will, very likely, be cleaning our own tables and making our own drinks. Great! I’m really looking forward to it.

The irony that the holiday we are celebrating on Monday is Labor Day is not lost on me. Labor Day was created to celebrate the “social and economic achievements of the American worker”. I can guarantee you that I won’t be celebrating any economic achievements on Monday. If I’m lucky there will be someone on the schedule that I like to socialize with. (But I wouldn’t bet on it.) I’ve decided that, as a form of protest I’m going to, uncharacteristically, do $2.13 worth of work per hour.

No one may have noticed how I resisted throwing something at the service manager’s head, but they will definitely notice when I don’t do the work of three people. Definitely.

16 thoughts on “Slave Labor Day

  1. You are such a class act, Jacqueline. The bright, savvy and intelligent woman you are deserves so much better than this. It’s been a year now, and still the same? You know what, girl – is there a (don’t take this the wrong way) another and better place for you to work that is more deserving of your extraordinary…..YOU?

    And really – $2.00 and some change? That should be outlawed! You are right, Mr. and Mrs. Public (like me!) don’t realize these wages. Disgraceful. You work your little you-know-what off all day and deserve so much more than that!

    From a friend who truly cares about you…

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    • javaj240 says:

      Thanks, Cathy! I’ll be fine… possibly because NOTHING could compare to the horror of last night — NOTHING… so, no matter what does (or doesn’t) happen today, at least I’ll be grateful that it isn’t last night. LOL!

      If servers were to make more money, people would just tip less… so, I guess that’s a compromise I’m willing to make. I’m so used to it, really, that I hardly ever think about it.

      In terms of going somewhere else, I’m not willing to do that — I have vowed that this will be my last serving/bartending job EVER. So, for better or for worse, I’ll be here 🙂

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  2. kaiyasworld says:

    So crazy that they can still pay you $2 an hour. I think most people have no clue that waiters do not make an hourly rate. I remember 1 year I was a full time student (paying full tuition) and made around $15,000 for the year. I ended up owing $800 in taxes. How screwed up is our system? Crazy!

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    • javaj240 says:

      That has happened to a few of my coworkers. It is crazy!

      And, yeah, most people have no idea what we make an hour. Nor do the understand that we have to tip out a certain percentage of the tip that they leave us and that the government “assumes” a certain percentage of our cash tips and taxes s on that assumption, even when we do not make it.

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  3. javaj240 says:

    Yeah, we’ll, I have no time or energy for occupying my bed, LOL!

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  4. olivesmeltz says:

    I’m sorry but $2.13 an hour is disgraceful. What is this? India or something? Honestly, that puts this who 1/99 thing into perspective.

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  5. I’ve worked in the food industry and have never heard of no dishwasher during lunch. Are they out of their minds? Well even with these things against you including the feeling of slavery especially at those hourly wages, California I got the min. wage at least, at any rate think positive and picture your tips will come in. I’ve noticed in my years of earning tips that no matter what it felt like at the end of them month it came out to the same numbers. Though with the recession it did dip, but once I figured my new number at the end of the month there it was, the downing of tips usually came when my attitude sucked in such a way that thought I behaved profession which was highly important ot me, that negativity came out. Good luck and wish you and pray you will be successful. Love your blogs.

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  6. peachyteachy says:

    I welcome Christie, any other “reform” advocate, or any teacher from an affluent suburban school (whose teaching prowess is judged by test scores just like mine is) to try to teach my class for a week. I know that I am a good teacher, I am especially strong at connecting with at-risk kids, I implement every “best practice of the week” whether my expertise supports it or not, because teachers have less and less input as to what works with actual children in actual classrooms, and we will lose our jobs if instruction doesn’t look a very specific way —which, again, changes with the weather. Most people making educational policy have either never been in the classroom day in and day out, or it has been so long that they have no connection whatsoever. Sorry. This is why I write humor most of the time.

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  7. javaj240 says:

    The restaurant industry could use some unionization, I think. Though, I’m sure the company would still find a way to screw us. I saw it happen over and over again when I worked in a supermarket. The teacher’s unions are one of here last really strong unions in existence today, but I see it eroding, as well., especially here in NJ.

    I work with a guy who is a teacher. He voted for Christie, then lost his job due to an RIF that was a direct result of Christie’s education reform plan. I told my coworker it served him right. Idiot.

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  8. peachyteachy says:

    Stinks. I am indignant on your behalf. But the image of the manager prepping and doing crack is so good.
    Labor Day is about as diluted as your average Monday holiday. “Social and economic achievements of the American worker.” Isn’t that nice? The crap that went down before the American worker organized was unthinkable. I’m not fully impressed with my own union, but I know the importance of its existence.

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  9. Love it! You never fail to disappoint! Or maybe the restaurant never fails to disappoint? Anyway, love the stories it produces!!

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