The Waitressing Life: The Honor of a Second-Class Profession

My name is Katie. I went to Dartmouth, and I am a waitress.

I like talking to people and I take pride in what I do. If my customers are nice or my hair looks particularly cute, they might ask me a question about myself. Most often the question is, “So what do you do, other than, you know, waitressing?”

I want my customers to enjoy themselves. But I understand that the moment you step on the floor to ask someone what they would like to drink or whether they have questions about the menu, you become their servant. It’s an adopted role and you are, in fact, serving someone and getting paid to do it. Perhaps some of my hipper colleagues feel bad about themselves. It’s not as if society hails waiters and waitresses—trust me, I just spent a week at the beach with my white-shoed grandfather and never disclosed the profession that I actually really enjoy.

GQ’s Alan Richman recently opened a discussion on declining service standards at popular New York City restaurants, and his article, in the September issue, made me think about how servers’ attitudes and levels of professionalism can vary depending on where they are.

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