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11/26/2013 by syrbal-labrys

1min wageOnce upon a time when I was far younger, some of my first jobs were as a waitress. My very first job away from home, was an eight hour waitress shift which paid $5 per SHIFT. In other words, I earned $25 per week, or $30 if I picked up a sixth day. Now, this wasn’t actually clear back into dinosaur times. My rent on a tiny basement apartment was $30 per month. Gas was varying between 39 cents a gallon and 67 cents per gallon. I could live on $5 in groceries if I bought no fruit, and there was never a question of chips, sodas, and such. It was a huge splurge to buy a carton of ice cream once per month.

Now, you say, you surely got tipped. Oh, yeah. I got tipped and I got one free meal per shift, too. The average tip was a nickle. Yep, a Thomas Jefferson face. Sometimes I got a quarter on a meal that cost $3 or so. And once in a blue moon—ok, maybe once a week, some out-of-towner stopping at the only cafe open till ten at night and buying the $7 steak dinner would tip me a whole DOLLAR.

But yes, the least thing derailed me. Need an oil change? Go without meals except at work for about four days. A doctor visit or prescription? Holy catcrap, just park the car entirely and walk to work for two weeks AND skip meals except at work. So yeah, fuck tipping and just pay a goddamned livable wage, ok? Because the truth is, jobs that paid 65 cents an hour in 1971 now pay barely over $2 per hour. And taxes? Most wait-staff are income-taxed on a PRESUMED income of that wage PLUS 10% of the receipted income on the tables they waited. Whether or not they get that much money. And we are not talking minimum wage as only live at home teens — as Digby shows you.

So yes, the rule of THIS house is that if we cannot afford to tip 15 – 20% when eating out, we simply do not eat out. We very rarely do fast food (shitty wages aside, the food is made of CRAP), nor do we do the warmed-up-plastic bagged places (Appleby’s anyone?). But yes, I’d like to see real wages paid for real work. Because NOT everyone has ever worked on their feet for 8 to 10 hours to take home less than legal minimum wage.

And P.S. to Men:
The pretty waitress you asked out on a date? The one who thought about it and said ‘yes’? She probably didn’t really like you. But she knew a meal out was one less out of her impossibly tight budget. And it might mean she could get that toy her kid wanted for a birthday on the horizon.


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The name of this blog, and my Dreamwidth blog, Herlander Refugee, is taken from a 1915 feminist novel "Herland". It makes my heart sing that modern women are experimenting with creation of a new "Herland"! Yes, comments are closed. Anyone who just MUST reach me can do so at syrbal6 at gmail dot com.

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