Being a server is hard. Being a female server, in pretty much any kind of restaurant, is harder. While the job description may technically be the same as our male counterparts, the obstacles we face at the job are totally different. Eighty percent of female servers report having experienced some kind of harassment on the job – often at the hands of customers – and studies show that tipping culture only worsens this problem. Women are also more likely to be in these jobs, as we represent the majority of minimum-wage workers, and most of our gains in employment over recent years have been in these service-sector industries.
Overall, it’s just a bad situation. And while every server wishes they could be a little more honest with their average customer, a lot of the truth bombs that need to be dropped are unique to women, and the issues that only they deal with in the industry. Here, the X things that your waitress is probably dying to say to your face.
“No, I don’t want to date you.”
Here’s the truth: There is a 90 percent chance that your server is not at all interested in you (or outright repulsed by you), and the other 10 percent is “even if I do like you, I do not want to get fired for being inappropriate on the job.” So please do not attempt to hit on her while she is trapped in a situation where she has to be nice, and please don’t awkwardly try to pick her up while she is still working for her tip. (And please, please do not be encouraged by dumb posts like this
. They will not work.)
“I’m a server, not a nanny.”
It’s bad enough that you think you should bring your poorly behaved, not-restaurant-ready child to a restaurant. But looking up at your server while little Colton or Maggie is throwing around sugar packets and screaming, with that look like “You get it. Kids, amirite?” is the worst insult on that injury. A lot of female servers don’t have (or even like) kids, and their job is not to distract your little ones while they are hurling spaghetti at each other. Female servers are not magically more gifted with your gross children. If you want a nanny, you pay for one at home. The tip does not include that.
“My name is not ‘baby,’ ‘sweetie,’ ‘darlin,’ or ‘young lady.’”
It’s her name. That’s why she says it at the beginning of your meal. Crazy, I know.
“I am pretending not to be totally grossed out by your inappropriate touches, but only because I need the money and don’t want to get in trouble.”
Touching your server during your meal — little touches on the elbow, the forearm, or anywhere else — is so beyond inappropriate. It actually, in many cases, counts as harassment
. (And I’ve seen way worse than a little arm-tapping. Guys drunk at bars will grab a server by the waist as she’s walking to one of her tables. They basically treat them as a hybrid girlfriend-maid for the time that they’re in her section.) If you are considering touching an employee of a place your patronizing in any way, it’s probably better to not. Just on the safe side.
“Your bad tip affects me more than my male coworkers.”
Even among the already-volatile compensation of food industry workers, women earn (on average) 68 percent
less than their male counterparts in the industry. A lot of this stems from the fact that they are typically in lower-paid positions (only 19 percent
of chefs are women, for example), but some of it comes from the fact that, statistically, their tips are worse. And this is only compounded by the lack of health coverage which — you guessed it — disproportionately affects
the women (who have to, you know, have the babies in life). So, in conclusion, don’t stiff your waitress. She has it bad enough already.
“No, I can’t get you little extras.”
Women are not magically more your friend, or more lenient about their jobs, than men are. We may be perceived as “nicer,” but extras still have to come out of our own paychecks most of the time. So no, don’t ask a server for a bunch of ridiculous upgrades and freebies just because you think she won’t say no. You’re putting her in a terrible position when you do.
“I can’t have a drink with you.”
Even if she wanted to, she cannot just have a drink with you on the job. And waiting around her restaurant until she gets done with her shift is not only ineffective, but incredibly creepy. Why would you be that guy? Every female server — no exceptions — has seen and hated the guy who waited around to hit on one of the girls, and kept creepily saying hello to her as she walked by with a tray. If she has to leave out the kitchen in the back and walk around the long way to her car that night, you will be why. Congratulations.
“Please don’t bring my manager into this, he’s enough of an asshole already.”
Despite all of these very harsh realities and depressing statistics, the chances that a manager is going to magically side with a server over the customer — even when he is being gross and hitting on her — are very slim. Their job is to make money, and unfortunately, in the food industry, sometimes that money comes with a lot of harassment. So if you are getting mad at your server because she won’t give you freebies, flirt back, tame your children, give you her number, or anything else totally inappropriate, the least you can do is not drag her manager over. Because if there’s anything worse than being hit on on the job by a weirdo, it’s having to get scolded for it afterwards.