Restaurant servers detail the harassment they put up with to earn tips

Illustration for article titled Restaurant servers detail the harassment they put up with to earn tips
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It’s no surprise to anyone who’s waited tables: Customers can be rude, and often you have to put up with it if you want them to tip well. But a recent feature in The New York Times examines how customer behavior can often cross the line from impolite to aggressive—leaving servers to decide whether to speak up for themselves and risk losing tip money.


The strength of the NYT piece is that it allows the servers to speak in their own words, encouraging readers to imagine what they’d do in the same scenario. Following invasive questions and groping, employees outline the difficult mental calculations that go into deciding whether to push back and lose out on much-needed gratuities.

The article also offers important context. For example, in 12 states and the District of Columbia, it’s legal for restaurants to pay servers less than minimum wage, forcing a heavy reliance on tips. And many hospitality industry workers aren’t part of a union or organization, leaving them at times unclear of what their workplace rights are.

“Do I think if tips didn’t exist people might behave a little bit better? I think so. Because they don’t have control,” Los Angeles-based server Dana Angelo tells the NYT. “It can’t be, ‘Well I can give you $10 or I can give you $100 depending on what you do for me.’”

Read about why servers are divided on no-tipping policies, what role high-profile chef scandals have played in public understanding of harassment, and more in the full New York Times piece.

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.


Fake Socks™

It shouldn’t be on the servers to police asshole customers. Any harassment should be reported to the manager, and if the manager is any kind of worthwhile human being, they should immediately eject the offending customer(s) from the establishment.