By Emmy Liederman
When I applied for a part-time job as a waitress at a local restaurant, I had no idea how involved my position would be. I like talking to people, have a solid memory and am always on my feet, so I was eager to start. Working in the restaurant business has taught me a much more valuable lesson in terms of treating people well in the service industry — people who work for less don’t necessarily work less hard and that should be recognized by the people they serve.
This summer, a couple from California stopped at the restaurant for dinner and asked me for recommendations on the best places to visit in New York City. I wrote them a list of my favorite spots and was candid about my menu recommendations. I was always honest with customers. I told them when I didn’t care for a dish or if it was my favorite option on the menu. After bringing the couple their dessert and closing the bill, they left me a generous tip and told my boss to keep me around. That kind gesture made a huge difference in how I viewed myself as an employee.
As cheesy as it sounds, the smallest gestures really do have the biggest impacts. If the burger you ordered at a restaurant is the best you’ve ever had, tell the chef. If you are impressed with the speediness of a store clerk, let her know. In the real world, when you do something well, your boss probably isn’t going to reward you with a gold sticker and a pat on the back. This is why it is crucially important for us, the consumers, to bring to light those small things that typically go unnoticed.
A lot of work that goes on behind those “Employees Only” doors goes unrecognized. My co-workers are some of the most intelligent people I have ever met. They have to keep up with the pace of a busy Saturday and know how to deal with anything that can and will go wrong. From clocking in at the beginning of a shift to locking the doors at the end of the night, there is never a dull moment. There is always a drink to be made, an order to be placed and a table to be cleaned. I am convinced that the employees at my restaurant work just as hard as people holding some of the highest paying jobs in the U.S.
Unfortunately, maximum work often means minimum wage.
Even as a college student who has received generous scholarships and doesn’t carry the stress of paying monthly bills, minimum wage is admittedly frustrating. Working a minimum wage job while trying to support a family is unimaginable to me. Since the hard work of these employees is often not recognized in their bank accounts, people should try to acknowledge their efforts like the couple in the restaurant did for me. It really will make a difference.