A server explains why she loves her occupation—even though people like GQ's Alan Richman might love to hate it
I like talking to people and I take pride in what I do. If my customers are nice or my hair looks particularly cute, they might ask me a question about myself. Most often the question is, "So what do you do, other than, you know, waitressing?"
I want my customers to enjoy themselves. But I understand that the moment you step on the floor to ask someone what they would like to drink or whether they have questions about the menu, you become their servant. It's an adopted role and you are, in fact, serving someone and getting paid to do it. Perhaps some of my hipper colleagues feel bad about themselves. It's not as if society hails waiters and waitresses—trust me, I just spent a week at the beach with my white-shoed grandfather and never disclosed the profession that I actually really enjoy.
GQ's Alan Richman recently opened a discussion on declining service standards at popular New York City restaurants, and his article, in the September issue, made me think about how servers' attitudes and levels of professionalism can vary depending on where they are. New York City, where I live and work and where Richman had an unpleasant experience that set off his piece, is of course a metropolis of haves and have-nots—and your waiter is probably a not. However much you love David Chang's pork buns, the people ensuring that they arrive hot probably don't get health care. They probably don't have a contract, their shifts might be cut at any time, they might be sent home early, and the amount of money they make daily might depend on a complex calculation of the number of bottles of wine sold divided by the number of busboys on the floor.