Saturday, December 09, 2017

Order Up

I am happy to be a salaried employee, and as such I feel that I need to work a little on the edges to justify what would be the hourly rate that mathematics would suggest that I am paid. School teachers live on this weird island where the perception of what we do and for how long is often a little skewed. There is an old joke that overs around the teaching profession that our three favorite things about our job is June, July and August. In the interest of full transparency, it should be noted that I am paid for ten months, but I take advantage of my district's willingness to spread that money out over twelve months. This is so I don't have to calculate and save up each month's portion of a check that would be my July and August salary. Just to be clear: during those summer months I am not hanging out poolside at my beach house sipping daiquiris trying to imagine new and fantastic ways to spend the money I am making.
But that's not exactly why I brought you here. That last paragraph was to say this: I am happy that I have a salary that can finally be categorized as a living wage, and I don't have to depend on tips to make ends meet. There are those who don't fully reckon on how this works. Mister Pink, for example. He believes that tipping automatically is "for the birds." Now, it seems that he may have company in this assertion. The Department of Labor is suggesting a change to the way employers deal with tips. Specifically this: as long as the employee is being paid at least minimum wage, the employer can keep their tips. The plan is that then the tips can be dispersed about to those "back room" employees who aren't available to the world of tipping.
Or the employers could simply keep the tips. That doesn't seem likely, does it?
As a recovering dishwasher in a Mexican restaurant, I can say with moderate pride that the place where I worked, there was a code of honor associated with tipping. If a wait person had a particularly good night, it was up to that person to kick a little back to the cooks, the bus boy, the bartender, and yes, even the dishwasher. It is understood in most of the service industry that it is a team game. If you want your orders up in a timely fashion, it's a good idea to grease those wheels. And if you want to have dishes on which to put those greased wheels, the trickle had better be of the down variety. All kinds of Tyler-Durden-ish behavior lives just outside the view of any restaurant. You probably don't know the truth behind the lobster bisque. And probably you don't want to.
So, I'm suggesting to Mister Orange and his cronies over at the Department of Labor that unless they want to find out what happens before your order lands in front of you, consider how many hands have touched that - how many hands have passed by that sign that says "Employees Must Wash Hands." Fifteen percent doesn't seem like a lot to pay for peace of mind.

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