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Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:32 PM

Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right - A 54-Year Old Waitress Speaks Out On The Applebees Debacle

Not only have I been working in the restaurant/service industry for almost 40 years, I'm also an active union member.

I saw many of the same comments a while back when the book "Nickeled and Dimed" came out. I held my tongue then. When there are already a couple hundred comments on a thread, I don't see much point in adding my $.02. Also, too many people see every little point as a pissing contest, thread gets hijacked off topic, yada yada. This is why I've only racked up a tad over 300 posts in 9 years here. However, I just can't get this off my mind, so here goes.

Sure, the pastor was a douche. The holier-than-thou stance pressed a lot of buttons, especially those of atheists, agnostics, or other-than-mainstream belief holders, like myself. But you know what? You'll have this, and much, much worse, in the service industry. If you live and die by every table or customer like that, you are going hurt your health. I've seen it too often: ulcers, heart attacks, alcoholism are rampant in the biz. Not only that, you'll hurt your income, because that bitter attitude carries over, whether you realize it or not.
In my opinion, it was right that the server was fired for putting the customer's identity up on the internet. That's just wrong. Breach someone's privacy over what? 18% of $28 is like 5 bucks and change. Yes, it means a lot to those of us who make less than minimum wage, but it really does even out in the long run if you don't let it get to you.

As far as doing away with tips, raising the wages of tipped employees, or getting unions to take up the cause, I say "No. Please don't. Butt out." It ain't broke, don't go trying to fix it. Boycott Applebees? I already do - because it is rubber, assembly-line reheated, pre-made garbage, not because they fired some young girl who put a customer's private info online. If all restaurants were forced to pay servers $8/hour and do away with tips, cool diners and wonderful Mom and Pop places would not be able to afford it. We'd be left with nothing BUT Applebees and their ilk. Obamacare is for places that employ 50 or more workers for the same reason.

Waiting tables and tending bar are among the few jobs left where you can make a decent living without a college education, and the subsequent crippling school loan payments. It's all true about long hours on your feet with no breaks - starving with food all around you! It's true that some people make assumptions about your intellect and your value as a member of society based on your occupation. I laugh at those people all the way to the bank, after which I go home without a briefcase full of paperwork.
It's also true that the amount of physical labor you do in the restaurant business is inverse to how much money you make. Servers in chain restaurants or truck stop diners wait on 20 tables for 5 bucks each to make a hundred dollars. "Fine dining" places are the opposite: I'll wait on 4 or 5 tables to make $20-$25 on each, sometimes even more. Thing is, I had to start out working in the former in order to gain knowledge and experience to get hired at the latter.

Sure felt good to get that off my chest.

33 replies, 2577 views

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Arrow 33 replies Author Time Post
Reply Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right - A 54-Year Old Waitress Speaks Out On The Applebees Debacle (Original post)
Pat Riot Feb 2013 OP
Robb Feb 2013 #1
RobertEarl Feb 2013 #4
DollarBillHines Feb 2013 #2
dsc Feb 2013 #3
Pat Riot Feb 2013 #5
dsc Feb 2013 #6
Pat Riot Feb 2013 #10
dsc Feb 2013 #12
Sekhmets Daughter Feb 2013 #9
dsc Feb 2013 #11
SidDithers Feb 2013 #13
Sekhmets Daughter Feb 2013 #14
dsc Feb 2013 #16
Sekhmets Daughter Feb 2013 #18
dsc Feb 2013 #27
tosh Feb 2013 #7
OriginalGeek Feb 2013 #8
DirkGently Feb 2013 #15
Pat Riot Feb 2013 #17
Daemonaquila Feb 2013 #19
baldguy Feb 2013 #20
FrodosPet Feb 2013 #31
sendero Feb 2013 #21
EastKYLiberal Feb 2013 #22
Sadiedog Feb 2013 #23
trixicopper Feb 2013 #24
anneboleyn Feb 2013 #30
RetroLounge Feb 2013 #25
Historic NY Feb 2013 #26
patrice Feb 2013 #28
Warpy Feb 2013 #29
Hekate Feb 2013 #32
Sirveri Feb 2013 #33

Response to Pat Riot (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:39 PM

1. Get *what* off your chest?

Something something I'm superior something something bootstraps something something I'm not a troll.

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Response to Robb (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:54 PM

4. Gosh, She made you feel inferior?

And you just had to throw in that you are not a troll? Bwahahaha!

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Response to Pat Riot (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:43 PM

2. Well put, Pat Riot

I enjoy all manner of indie restaurants, from diners to Fine Dining.

I love to throw down large tips at the lower rungs. Those people are working their asses off. Sometimes, I would like to think, a few large tips just might encourage some real talent to hang in there and move up the ladder.

"almost forty years"

Wow...

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Response to Pat Riot (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:45 PM

3. The thing is Applebees apparently had no problem releasing

the names and signatures of customers who praise Applebees on their own facebook.

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Response to dsc (Reply #3)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 07:16 PM

5. really?

Without their consent, or if people "like" Applebees on facebook?

Not being snarky. If so, that is pretty hypocritical.

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Response to Pat Riot (Reply #5)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 07:25 PM

6. yeah really

http://rlstollar.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/applebees-overnight-social-media-meltdown-a-photo-essay/



They have since taken it down. But they absolutely did put up a note including a signature on facebook.

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Response to dsc (Reply #6)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 07:48 PM

10. Thanks

I saw that somewhere but forgot. The fact that it's one location and not Applebees HQ or whatever, and that they've since taken it down, sounds like you're right.

I'm not defending Applebees, and I'm not glad the kid lost her job. I was almost fired myself once, for something less blatant. Live and learn. I hope she gets a better job soon.

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Response to Pat Riot (Reply #10)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 07:51 PM

12. If that employee wasn't fired

this one shouldn't have been either.

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Response to dsc (Reply #3)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 07:43 PM

9. They probably ask for permission to do so. n/t

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Response to Sekhmets Daughter (Reply #9)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 07:49 PM

11. I doubt it

if they did they would have said so, instead of taking it down after having it pointed out. They did exactly and precisely what they fired that waitress for. It is plain hypocrisy.

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Response to dsc (Reply #11)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 07:55 PM

13. Yup. Glad you posted that...

I was going to if it wasn't already in the thread.



Sid

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Response to dsc (Reply #11)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 07:55 PM

14. Those cards you fill out,

"Tell Us how We Did", ask for consent to use your name in testimonials.

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Response to Sekhmets Daughter (Reply #14)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 07:59 PM

16. this was not a card

and the issue is the signature, not the comment. They fired the waitress, or so they said, for posting the SIGNATURE of a customer. A SIGNATURE they consider private and not to be shared.

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Response to dsc (Reply #16)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:10 PM

18. That is not proof they didn't get authorization to use it.

I don't patronize Applebee's for a variety of reasons, but there is a difference between posting a comment from a satisfied customer, and holding up a customer to public ridicule. Applebee's turned a public relations mistake, (the waitress's post) into a nightmare by firing her. Stupidity is its own punishment.

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Response to Sekhmets Daughter (Reply #18)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 09:13 PM

27. They harped repeatedly on the SIGNATURE in their statement

I would bet the farm that they didn't have permission to post a SIGNATURE.

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Response to Pat Riot (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 07:34 PM

7. Hats off to you, Pat.

I, for one, truly appreciate a good server no matter the price range of the menu.

I share your views on Applebees and their ilk and am ever grateful that the indies maintain a strong presence in my area.

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Response to Pat Riot (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 07:38 PM

8. I'm not glad a kid lost her job

and I understand her wanting to embarrass the asshole that didn't tip her but I agree that she shouldn't have put identifiable info on the web. She could have just as easily blurred out the actual name and other identifying info. Maybe that would have been less satisfying but it would have probably saved her job.

On the other hand, I agree also about Applebees "food" so I have to think losing that job wasn't a life killer.

And I don't go out to restaurants unless I know I can tip my server well. My pizza delivery guy knows me and we take good care of each other. Even the Chinese take-out place I stop and pick up from (because they don't deliver) knows I appreciate them and they do right by me. They get a couple extra bucks in the jar and I get lots of duck and soy sauce and plump bag of the new crunchy noodles. Not that old crap that's been sitting around. That's for non-tippers.



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Response to Pat Riot (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 07:58 PM

15. No one posted the pastor's identity. She outed herself.


And I think we gain something when someone's private assholery is made public, particularly when in it's the nature of needlessly punching someone in no position to fight back. Snubbing a server is one thing -- writing a nasty, ignorant note about it is another.

The pastor's nastiness was made in public. She, and anyone else so inclined, should expect to be exposed.

One wrong here. One right.

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Response to DirkGently (Reply #15)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:06 PM

17. The "team member" who posted the pastor's signature

has said she did so because she thought it was illegible. It wasn't too bad for some facebook detectives to figure out.

IMO if she'd blurred the signature, no problem.

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Response to Pat Riot (Reply #17)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:24 PM

19. If you go signing your name to a card that's an "up yours" to a server...

I'd say that's license enough for me for her to post it. If you're so proud of being an bigoted, cheap, judgmental god-tickler that you're going to have a freaking signed card bragging about it, then don't expect your pride to be kept someone's little secret. She deserves the support she is getting, and should not have been fired.

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Response to Pat Riot (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:29 PM

20. The "pastor" is a public figure. When he exhibits behaviour which most would consider "unChristian"

His expectation of privacy is - and should be - much lower.

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Response to baldguy (Reply #20)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:10 PM

31. In the interest of accuracy

It was a female pastor.But you make a good point.

Unfortunately, at least from my long experience in service jobs, there are certain groups where tipping is much less frequent (for example, certain H1B guest workers will usually NOT tip, but they will ask for blank receipts so they can submit fraudulent expense claims, and cuss you out if you refuse). Not sure what a culturally sensitive way of educating them would be - does anyone have any advice?

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Response to Pat Riot (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:30 PM

21. An intelligent rant..

... I agree with a lot of it but not all.

Here's a dirty little secret about minimum wage jobs. They are a dime a dozen. If you are working for squat you can find another working for squat job in a heartbeat.

There are advantages to this. The level of real crap you have to put up with is somewhat lower than what you would with a job that pays enough that finding another job at that pay would be dicey.

So, I still applaud the the person who outed that small, small diner, and I'm betting she will not have that much trouble finding a comparable job.

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Response to Pat Riot (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:33 PM

22. I'm glad we have things like the Internet to publicly shame people for acting like assholes...

 

Maybe if people fear their life being turned upside down, they will correct their behavior and act in a more acceptable fashion.

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Response to Pat Riot (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:36 PM

23. I agree with most of what you said here except

I really think they could have handled it better. Maybe probation or something? I don`t buy that the Pastors privacy was invaded as she was only too happy to write that snarky remark for the server to see, she was just upset that more people saw what she wrote than she had intended. You are right though, about not letting the nasty customers get you down. It is one of the many reasons I no longer do work like that!

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Response to Pat Riot (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:38 PM

24. I only have 37 years in the business

I'm sorry that the young server lost her job. But I have to agree that putting someones identifying info on line would not be something I would do. When you work with the public for any length of time, you realize that while the vast majority of people are actually pretty nice. There are of course those members of the public,who let's face it, shouldn't be allowed out in public. You have to learn to let things go in one ear and out the other. The customer was an asshat. It happens.

I totally agree with the OP about not eliminating tips. There isn't a restaurant around that would/could pay their servers what I average an hour. And if their was, most people couldn't afford to eat there. I may never be wealthy, but I have also been able to make a decent living working about 26 hours/4 nights a week.

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Response to trixicopper (Reply #24)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:59 PM

30. Really? I also worked in "food service" (server) and the public was not "nice"

I worked in a restaurant that attracted upper-middle class and upper-class customers on the west coast. I would not characterize the public in general as "nice" to servers, nor did anyone make a "decent living" as a minimum-wage plus some tips worker. Vast majority of the servers had no health insurance, barely were able to pay for their bills, car repairs, rent, etc. -- not to mention children and/or a family.

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Response to Pat Riot (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:41 PM

25. Huh?

Do you expect a tip for serving this word salad?



RL

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Response to Pat Riot (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 09:11 PM

26. My experience with tipping is to make waitress's or waiters remember me....

TIP to insure prompt service, is still valid today especially if your a regular. I don't throw hundreds out, I make sure they know I appreciate their attention. That little extra says something....sometimes I'm a little short and I get them the next time.

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Response to Pat Riot (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 09:20 PM

28. There were a few alternative responses for each person each step of the way. It was poorly handled.

I understand everything that you are saying and agree to some extent, but one thing I find really concerning about the mis-handling is a pastor, a person who places THEMSELVES on a public pedestal, did something to someone that she did not want other people to know about. That kind of hypocrisy in those who assume emotional and psychological "power" or at least influence over others is not something that we should just turn a blind eye to. If pastors can't "take the heat, they should get out of the kitchen". So I'm glad the waitress did what she did and I'm concerned that Applebees found it sooooooo important to demonstrate vindictiveness for religion? for a customer? because I just don't think that was entirely necessary. They could have sought alternative solutions with all concerned parties that would have been better for everyone involved. They chose to demonstrate their power and lack of compassion for someone who may have been a better employee if they had respected her enough to try to approach it that way.

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Response to Pat Riot (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:49 PM

29. In this culture, we hold Reverends to a higher standard

Oh, we don't complain much if they smoke or drink wine or like to play golf rather than spending all their time at the hospital, but when it comes to un Christian behavior like stiffing a waitress, one of "the least of these," people tend to get upset at the extremely poor example a supposed representative of Christ is showing.

God doesn't need a dime of that 10% and in any case, biblical tithing was what you were supposed to give to the poor, not to a church or its pastor. However, that waitress needed to eat and put a roof over her head and worked hard for that tip.

I have no patience with people who are rude to wait staff or anyone else in the business of dealing with the general public. I've been there and done that and know how hard the jobs are.

That preacher needed to go home and read what's in that book she waves at her congregation. I think she'd be very surprised by what is in it and what is not. Instead of calling the restaurant and throwing her weight around, she owed that waitress an apology.

And the tip.

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Response to Pat Riot (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:11 PM

32. Thanks Pat for your informed post

What I found most interesting about the unfolding events was the righteous mob mentality online. I read a bunch of stuff -- some of which I agreed with, but much of which I found to be the rantings of a mob, which is a sad and scary thing to see.

My ex husband was a bartender at a major hotel for over 10 years. He was in the union. Except for him ultimately becoming an alcoholic, the job wasn't bad. The wages were low, but decent. The tips made a big, big difference. The union benefits made the most difference of all, because we had medical benefits and he had a pension plan.

I am pro-union all the way (salary, benefits, protections, the works), but in a service industry the customer is king and that is all there is to it. They are the only reason your job exists.

That's all from me. Thanks for your input.

Hekate

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Response to Pat Riot (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 05:44 AM

33. All restaurants in CA are forced to pay 8$/hr, we still have small eateries.

http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/tipped.htm

Washington is 9.19/hr
Oregon is 8.95/hr
CA is 8.00/hr
NV is 8.25/hr if no health insurance 7.25/hr with health insurance

We also still tip, or at least I do. Don't make excuses not to fight for social justice. Wages for all those working the lower rungs of the ladder need to be raised, because it will benefit all of us to do so.

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