Servers are people, not robots: Yelp can ruin lives

Servers are people, not robots: Yelp can ruin lives

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By Robert Tucker, Copy Editor

Like many students, I choose to serve tables and bar-tend at a restaurant downtown. It is not a glamorous job, there is a lot of unseen work and it is hard, but it has its perks.

Quick cash in hand is a bonus. Work from 4 p.m. to 11 and you are bound to walk away with something. Then after work there is time to read a chapter, or brush and tune the paper that’s due in the morning.

Unfortunately, weekends are sacrificed if fully independent and solely rely on the income for bills and rent. Friday through Sunday are the money shifts for me, and they can be exhausting. By the end of the day you’d rather binge on Netflix than open that book or jump on D2L.

Lately, controversy about the hourly wage of servers has been swirling around the media. I make a measly $2.13 per hour, which is fine because I work hard to get good tips, but I wish it covered the taxes. Paychecks just say VOID, and then at the end of the year you have to dish out a couple grand to the federal government.

In addition to that, laws and restrictions have been implemented so that establishments are not allowed to put automatic gratuity on large parties. Typically in the past a table of six or more could have 18 percent gratuity added. Generally it was up to the server and was a gamble if you opted not to add the tip.

Now, serving big parties is much like gambling in a casino.

I have pranced around complimenting and entertaining while feeding for about four years. I have developed efficient techniques for prompt professional service, while having the ability to transform a grumpy guest into a happy friend. Of course raising their blood sugar with food and drinks assists me.

Not all people want to be happy, and some just want to have a bad experience so they can go on Yelp to complain about minor details that could have been avoided if he or she knew how to communicate, or considered for a moment that the person bringing them food and constantly refilling their soft-drink is actually human too.

Of course society has made it so we have a robotic criteria to make us appear human, “good afternoon my name is such n such, what would you like to drink while you are browsing the menu.” This is made to show the guest that servers are people, but some don’t catch on.

I am reminded of a great friend who earned her PhD in English, she teaches at a high school here in Savannah.

She is also a member of Mensa International. In order to become a member he or she has to attain a score within the upper two percent of the general population on an approved intelligence test. Needless to say, this girl is relatively sharp. Of the seven years I have known her she has always taught during the day and served tables at night. She is really good too.

She loyally worked at the Crystal Beer Parlor for five years, until she was Yelped.

Apparently a rather cranky individual didn’t have a great experience and posted on Yelp.
He did not like the way his food was prepared, or their lack of draft beer options, because thirty taps aren’t enough. He did not like the loud atmosphere, nor was he keen of the tone our scholarly server used, who most likely has an IQ double this gem of a human.

The owner of the busy establishment found she was the server to blame and fired her because of the Yelp post.

Of course she has a full time job and just serves tables to satisfy her elegant taste for the finer things in life, so it was not the end of the world.

But what if she was a single mom struggling to make ends meet?

What if that was me, the guy who does it to pay bills and rent?

I would have been devastated, I value my job even though my college career is designed to eliminate the whole serving thing. But for right now, I need it.

Everybody has bad days, everybody says things before they think, and these Yelp crazed individuals don’t grasp the affect these reviews can have on the people involved.

It reminds me of a couple essential childhood rules.

Treat others the way you want to be treated, and, if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say it.