Serfs work, don't chat, and double-time it from one table to another

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"I mumble thanks for the advice, feeling like I've just been stripped naked by the crazed enforcer of some ancient sumptuary law: No chatting for you, girl." (pg. 35, Nickel and Dimed)


At some point or another, most everyone's walked into a restaurant, sat down, and looked up at a harried waiter/waitress who looks as if they're barely standing on the feet, even with the 15 cups of coffee that they've probably already had. They take your order and go haring off to the kitchen with it and then proceed to flit from designated table to designated table. Manners are a nice essential to life, but not always beneficial or helpful in a life where time is money (or food). People want to be fed and its almost always immediately. Barbara Ehrenreich most likely never noticed the enormous strain that servers are put under in order to do their job and be quick about it. Being nice is great, but in this world at least, it seems to hinder the necessary work pace. Then again, Ehrenreich was quite bowled over by the pace as well. Perhaps no one can truly realize the responsibilities of a particular vocation until one has experienced it for themselves?


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6 Comments

Greta Carroll said:

No one can understand the strains put on a person by an individual job unless they have had that job that is for sure. Even the simplest jobs are always harder than they seem. Ehrenreich really helped me to appreciate the jobs that anyone and everyone does. It is easy for us to brush aside someone, saying their job is much easier than ours but we really have no way of knowing that unless we have had their job before. However, I think that it is important for waitresses and waiters to be polite, if they are not I don’t get mad or anything. But I mean, I am always polite to them, so I feel like they should be in return. But Ehrenreich does put an interesting perspective on things. She is highlighting the fact that if they are too friendly or nice, they get yelled at! I would have never thought of such a thing.

Angela Palumbo said:

I feel so bad for waiters and waitresses. First of all, you have to have an excellent memory and listen intently because you know if a lady asks for two creamers and you only give her one, he/she is coing to catch hell. I've seen people be so mean to waiters/waitresses and it bothers me. They, in my opinion, have one of the hardest jobs. I have never been one myself and I plan on not ever becoming one. I have not started to stack dishes for them because it makes their job just a little bit easier and they appriciate it!

Angela Palumbo said:

I feel so bad for waiters and waitresses. First of all, you have to have an excellent memory and listen intently because you know if a lady asks for two creamers and you only give her one, he/she is going to catch hell. I've seen people be so mean to waiters/waitresses and it bothers me. They, in my opinion, have one of the hardest jobs. I have never been one myself and I plan on not ever becoming one. I have not started to stack dishes for them because it makes their job just a little bit easier and they appriciate it!

I have a feeling this is going to show twice because I got the movable type error thing but I'm not going to take the chance.

Angela, if you get that error, click "Preview" before reposting your comment. You'll probably see it already there on the site.

Ally Hall said:

I had a teacher in high school who told us one day toward the end of senior year that everyone needs to experience waiting tables and working in retail. So I definitely agree with you when you say that everyone needs to experience it. While I haven't waited tables (yet), I've been a cashier at Target for over a year now and I know that's an extremely annoying job. I do have a few friends who have waited tables though and have told me horror stories of customers, food, knives, and crappy tips. I always make sure I tip well, just because I know how difficult dealing with an unruly public can be.

Katie Vann said:

Maddie, you made a great point. I remember my discussion group for this book keep talking about all the "horrible" summer jobs everyone had. Some mentioned where they had worked, and then someone else jumped in with another job and made it sound even worse than the first person's. A job I might find miserable may not appear so bad to someone else. It all depends on the person who is working and their own past experiences.

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This page contains a single entry by MadelynGillespie published on March 1, 2008 11:56 PM.

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