Working for (fewer and fewer) Peanuts!


peanutsI wrote yesterday about the Minecraft video game. I told you how it’s a game designed to teach children strategy and time management, among, I suppose, other things. I began to think about how these skills are integral to life in general and, how, specifically, they relate to my life — particularly my work life.

Sadly, most days, as a result of working in a corporate restaurant environment — and, I would imagine working in any corporate atmosphere may engender these same feelings — I feel like a pawn — like I’m being moved around the game board to suit someone else’s larger plan. The cards always seem to be stacked against me.

All games, ask the player to employ certain strategies — successful strategists come out on top. In corporate America, the only successful strategists are the game developers. They not only make the rules, but change them to suit themselves whenever the spirit moves them to do so.

The latest example of this is that as of January 1, 2014, our company has seen fit to remove the automatic gratuity (18% added to parties of 8 or more). They claim that this is being done as a result of changes to the tax laws — that automatic gratuities must be taxed at a higher rate than regular gratuities. I don’t believe this malarkey for a minute.

It’s not like they have an abacus in the back office and a guy with a green visor scratching out figures on parchment with quill and ink. They have computers. They employ programmers. I would think it would be easy enough to separate out the amount a server received in the form of an automatic gratuity from the amount of assumed gratuity the company claims based on a server’s sales.

I’m convinced that if the “powers that be” were suddenly subject to some new tax mayhem, they’d figure out tout de suite how to provide the folks over in Accounting with whatever was necessary so that their executive paychecks would not be tampered with. I’m very sure of this!

No. Forces far more sinister are at work here, folks. Far more sinister.

Plain and simple, this is being done because customers don’t like it. The company that I work for, more than any other company I have ever worked for, is far more interested in pleasing our cheap ass clientele than protecting its employees. I see this mindset every single day, so I know it’s true. It’s pathetic.

The minute word gets around to the cheapskate community — I’m sure they have a newsletter, a website, or, at the very least, an email list — we will be inundated with large parties who will make us run our asses off for peanuts. I don’t need a crystal ball to know this is coming down the pike. No. I do not.

It’s difficult enough to get a measly 15% out of a party of two, let alone 18% on a party of ten. At least smaller parties come and go more quickly. Yeah, you’re probably just switching out one cheapie for another, but at least you’ve got a chance at more volume. A server who has twelve available seats in his or her section on, say, a Saturday night can turn their tables over at a much faster rate if those tables contain three parties of four at a time than when they contain one party of twelve. That’s just the way it is.

Further, once a party of twelve is placed in your section, these same tables will be used for large parties all night long. That’s just how it works. (It’s just basic time-space management.)

So, essentially, if you’re the unlucky server who falls into the large party abyss, you’re screwed. You may be able to turn those tables over five times with smaller parties — and even if they are skinflints, which they probably are, you will make your money based on the sheer volume of asses in seats. You’ll be lucky to get two parties of twelve during the same time period. Thus, your income will be at the mercy of only two parties. To put it bluntly, that sucks.

Our clientele will never willingly, of their own volition, leave $54 on a $300 check — even if we flashed our boobs at them. No matter how good the service is, no matter how satisfied they are with the experience, it will almost never happen.

And, so, once again, we, the pawns, find ourselves in the unenviable, but not uncommon, position of doing more for less. And, nobody cares. And, that, my friends, is the way this unwinnable game will continue to be played — over and over and over again, until the end of time.

photo credit:
peanuts


Here’s a song that reminds me of peanuts — due to its “circus” references. There’s even a little circus music in it! The line “They underpay and overwork us” feels appropriate today! Enjoy “You and Me Against the World”.

9 thoughts on “Working for (fewer and fewer) Peanuts!

  1. Well, that just sucks! I am surprised to hear that people are so thrifty. I always leave that 15% or so tip. I thought just about everyone did.

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  2. javaj240 says:

    While that may help, it’s not a case of poor math skills. It’s that our clientele just looks for reasons not to tip to begin with.

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  3. Awful. I always overtip, unless the service is just terrible. Then I still leave 18%.

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  4. Great service should be rewarded. restaurant owners should appreciate their professional wait staff and treat them accordingly. It’s absolutely true, though, about the change in tax. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/09/05/219290573/irs-to-count-automatic-gratuities-as-wages-not-tips
    Carol
    http://www.carolcassara.com

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    • javaj240 says:

      I’m not doubting the veracity of the tax change —- but other restaurants are just going ahead and changing the way they tax their staff. Ours, of course, has just decided to let our asses hang in the wind.

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  5. Tough job, I agree it’s not fair. How about leaving a little note with the bill, “suggested tip would be….” just in case they can’t add?

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