As a single mother trying to raise two small kids on server’s salary, we survived by the kindness of strangers (my customers) and the grace of God. My husband time and time again defaulted on his child support payments, how we survived I do not know. Even with food stamps, free health care, it was all I could do to keep a roof over our heads. The fact that this occurred 20 yrs ago, my kids are now in their 20s, and the pay is still the same is an absolute disgrace. Please keep at it everyone, I am so very proud of you all. Hang In There! I’m praying for you all. Merry Christmas and God Bless You all.
Working in the restaurant industry has been a very interesting experience. First off, it is a highly variable experience, some restaurants are great, well-paid and have clear expectations, other restaurants are low-paid, highly exploitive, or simply corrupt and engaging in shady practices like stealing tips from wait-staff. Over the years I have seen it all and I have been on the receiving end of exploitation, as well as an advocate for my fellow exploited restaurant workers. Currently I am living off tips because my husband is a restaurant worker and I am staying home because we have a 3 month old infant. Living off tips is challenging to say the least. My husband recently started working at a rather well-paid restaurant (average tab 100.00) and in the beginning the tips were really great. Unfortunately over the last 3 months the tips have been steadily diminishing and we don’t know why. My husband is too afraid to ask for fear of having his shifts scaled back. Needless to say, we worry about our finances: 2/3 of our income goes to rent, and I use WIC to supplement our caloric intake, but I am considering applying for food stamps. We are definately the working poor because we simply can’t save any money and we have to decide which bill we won’t pay every month. Living off tips is: unpredictable.
I’ve been working in the restaurant industry for about three years, albeit most of that time was as a cook. I decided to leave the kitchen and I am in the middle of figuring out my next move, but to pay the bills in the meantime, I am working as a server. And I’m a damn good server if I do say so myself. And I’ll be the first to admit that in the particular restaurant I am working in, and the area the restaurant is located, I actually do quite well as far as pay. However, this statement only holds true if certain circumstances never change. Number one, the restaurant stays busy, which is by no means a guarantee, which is especially true in the restaurant industry. Number two, my life doesn’t significantly change either. As of right now, I am living with my long-time girlfriend and we are doing ok financially. She pays most of the household bills and I chip in as much as I can. The reason for this is because I am overloaded with debt, much of it being over $130,000 in student loans (of which I DO have a degree to show for). Every month, much of my income has to go to paying off this debt and I am left with little else at the end of the month on average. Right now, the amount I make is too unpredictable and too temporary for me to contribute anymore to the household expenses, let alone set money aside for the things I wish to do in the future, such as start a family.
If my tipped wage was higher than $2.13 an hour and I didn’t have to depend on my customers following social customs when it comes to tipping, I could at least set a fixed and predictable budget every month. I could even begin to make plans for saving some money for those aforementioned plans, or perhaps for simply a rainy day. And believe me when I tell you that rainy days do happen. Right now, I am in the midst of paying a car insurance deductible of $500 because of a minor accident I got into. Do you think $500 is easy to come by in my line of work? The answer is most definitely no and it’s beyond frustrating when life slaps you in the face sometimes and then you are forced to worry if this extra cost is going to cause you to default on your student loans because you don’t know if this month is going to be a good month for the restaurant or not. #LivingOffTips is like living without a safety net.
I used to serve in Utah where I know companies like Olive Garden (for whom I worked for) pay only $2.13 an hour to their tipped employees. It is a joke, even with tips on slower shifts it is impossible to support even one person, let alone a family. Raising the minimum wage would provide employees with a sense of security in their life rather than living from day to day wondering if they will have money for food and rent. Please raise the minimum wage for tipped employees so that everyone can have an equal shot at survival. #LivingOffTips is Unfair and Slavery.
As a former full time waitress who waited mainly on celebrities, I was lucky if I was able to pay my rent in a studio apartment an hour’s drive each way from the café I worked at. If one of my shifts happened to fall on a day where there was a natural disaster (a regular occurrence) like a fire nearby that kept everyone away, it would mean I couldn’t eat and pay my rent that month, not to mention what it cost me in gas to get there and home. Health insurance was never a possibility during the 14 years I worked on and off in the restaurant industry because I couldn’t afford it and the restaurant didn’t provide it. Waiters and waitresses are frequently run off of their feet and treated inferior by patrons who don’t tip. People don’t realize that in addition to making an unlivable wage, waiters and waitresses pay tax on their total sales for the day. This means that when people don’t tip, it actually costs the waiter or waitress money to have waited on them. I thank God every day that I was able to free myself from what I know is the hardest and most underpaid job I’ve ever had. We must raise pay for waiters and waitresses so they can afford to care for themselves and their families. Living Off Tips Is degrading.
I love what I do! I enjoy satisfying every customer I meet and take care of, going out of my way of to make sure that they enjoyed themselves, and the food! What is instilled in me is to give my best all the time and I do it successfully everyday. I am the daughter of Banquet Server/College Student. My mother has been in the food industry for over 24 years. She did not want this life for me or my sister, to work in the same industry she had to struggle so much for. My mother worked countless hours to take care of us, feed us, and give us as many of the necessities that all parents want to give their children. Living off of tips for us was an everyday gamble growing up, and a part of my childhood I do not wish to remember. But I am here today sharing with you how living off of tips has affected my childhood, and to this day affects my life. Growing up my sister and I have our birthdays right next to each other, and Christmas three days later. One Christmas my mother sat me and my sister down and told us we weren’t having Christmas. We did not believe her, it was just so unreal to our ears until our eyes saw and empty room Christmas morning with just lights decorating the room. At the moment the rent was more important than gifts. Our home was on a scale that Christmas year, and our one bedroom apartment housing three people was all we had that Christmas. This is no where near the sacrifices my mother made for us. It was like we had to grow up a lot faster than we should have because we had to understand what was more important when it came to our mothers income as a tipped server. And as I have come into this same environment that she did not want for me or my sister, I have to chose what is important when I never know what I am going to bring home in tips. Sometimes I have to decide do I eat or pay my cell phone bill, do I pay for my transportation or get new shoes for work. I support the tipped minimum wage because no one can suffer like this, no one should ever go through this life. To miss out on things in life you will never get back is heartbreaking. What the world needs to know about the shoes I walk in, is that I put so much into what I enjoy doing. And I need your support, we all need your support, because we all have a voice that should not be silenced. I would appreciate it, my future children and your future children would appreciate it too. Thank you!