Big tip: Raise server’s wages


by Chloe Peck, Staff Reporter

Every hour that I am running around filling drinks, taking orders, delivering food, bussing tables, sweeping, wrapping silverware, cleaning the pop machine and refilling the ice bucket – I make $4.25. 

I walk away from an eight-hour shift with only a guaranteed $34.00. 

Most companies and customers “justify” a server’s reality by making the comment, “They get tips, though!” 

Except the party of 10 I served for over two hours only left me $8.00, and the couple on their date night gave me $4.00, which I guess is better than the couple who left me $2.50. But then there’s the table that stiffed me because their steak wasn’t cooked right or the table that only got dessert, so they didn’t feel the need to give me anything. 

Bartender flips off the worst tip of the night.
(Photo by Chloe Peck)

The reality is servers are dependent upon the generosity of others in order to make a living. We paint on our smiles and tune into our sweetest voices, hoping that each table is in a good enough mood to help us pay this month’s bills.

Not only do we depend on customers for tips, but our own staff also depends on us servers for tips as well. It varies from place to place, but typically we are expected to tip out bussers, bartenders and hosts – leaving us with even less money to take home for the night. 

The CEO of the company I work for makes $10,838,013 a year, which doesn’t even include the multiple bonuses he gets based on OUR sales. (That’s right, the more I get a customer to buy, the more this guy makes).

My last paycheck, where I clocked 60 hours, got me roughly $230.00 after taxes, meaning it would take 2,550,120.71 hours to reach Mr. CEO (there are 8,760 hours in a year – you do the math.)

Many people have told me to “just get a new job,” but it’s not that simple. Training for a new job takes time, and most places offer even lower wages during training, which is money some can’t afford to lose. 

It’s not just me. 

The pandemic alone proved how deeply our society needs service workers. Did you see the insane protests when favorite restaurants and bars were shut down? 

So why should servers be forced out of their jobs when these multi-billion dollar companies have the money to pay us and we have the customers to prove how vital we are? 

We cannot convince the whole country to tip better. We need to raise wages, and we need to get serious about it. 

I have worked with college drop-outs, single moms, recovering addicts, high school students, immigrants, and even my own mother, who picked up a second job just to make ends meet.

I have seen every single one of these people break down because of a customer’s shitty tip and the way we get treated in this industry.

I have seen every single one of these people ask themselves:

“Why wasn’t I good enough?” 

“What did I do wrong?”

“How am I going to pay my bills?”

“What more do I have to do?” 

If you haven’t lived it, then you don’t know the lows of it. 

Mr. CEO should not be paying us below Iowa’s minimum wage ($7.25) AND forcing us to tip out our own coworkers, all while profiting off our hard work. 

Sure, there are other jobs out there, but not every job fits into the lives of all these different types of people. If serving is someone’s only option, and we have the power to make it their best option, then why wouldn’t we?

You enjoy going out to eat, don’t you?