Tips for the Tippers

There are many irksome things about working in food service. The pay can be rather lousy, the hours are odd and almost always involve weekends, and finding the perfect staffing balance is apparently impossible, because there are either so many people that you can't get enough hours or so few people that you do nothing but work. There are benefits too, of course. When I get home from work, most of work stays there. There is scheduling flexibility, for those who are in college or simultaneously investing in a real career. As with most things, it's a mixed bag.

But here's the thing that will probably never happen to you in an office job: you'll never feel vulnerable telling someone where you work, because chances are pretty damn good that they're not just going to casually show up there (because what are they going to say? "Oh, you know, I needed to start an office supply account for my...mom."). And, to add to that, you're not going to have some random creep off the street walk in and start asking you personal questions with very obvious interest and equally obvious lack of concern for the finer points of human decency, e.g. that following you home is completely unacceptable. Even the "sweet old guy" version of this gets obnoxious pretty quickly. Newsflash: the human is not on the menu. 

It's a frustration that I've felt in less scary ways too. You want to be friendly, so you strike up a bit of a conversation, but you also have a job to get done, whether it's a task or helping the next person in line. The customer, however, is so totally oblivious to the fact that the two of you are not chatting over drinks, and they think that monopolizing your time is what they paid their $2.50 for. Sometimes there is room to say, "Hey, that's great, but I need to get something done." But if you don't know the person, then you're stuck trying to balance tact and grace with the demands of your job.

It just makes me feel trapped. Here I am, out in the open, in a position where I have to serve you unless one of my coworkers covers for me. They often will, because it's family code, but they're not always around. I can't hide. I don't want to refuse to serve you, because I do care about my employers too. And ultimately, I wish this struggle weren't necessary, because it feels like I'm having to sweet-talk someone who is, by contrast, being utterly disrespectful. Why would you even want to have this kind of interaction anyway?? Don't you want to be around someone who isn't being paid to stand there and talk to you? Not that I haven't had work-transcending friendships with customers, but those are pretty rare. 

So no, she doesn't want you to bring her flowers--she already has a boyfriend. And no, she doesn't want to tell you where she works, because she doesn't know what your interest in knowing that is, and she'd rather not see you there, thanks. And she definitely doesn't want you to message her on Facebook telling her how various parts of her anatomy make you feel, because that's common-fucking-sense.

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