AND HIS MORTAL ENEMY:
My buddy Steve worked on this study, and yeah, the research is airtight.
@ahduth: I don't know if you've never had a job, but mostly they all suck at certain times, to a certain extent. Certainly, customer service jobs carry with them an inevitable degree of suckage. And when you agree to do one of those jobs, yeah, you're promising to put up with some of that.
Sorry that sounds so awful to you! But frankly, it's kind of insulting to those of us who have spent many years putting up with customers' bullshit without publicly embarrassing our employers, to suggest that it's such a terrible burden to ask anyone to carry.
@barnhouse: Yeah, I sympathize -- I always want everything to turn out nice for everybody -- but I feel like the stakes and context are such that firing was a perfectly appropriate method of teaching in this case. I'm all for second chances, but I don't think its incumbent upon a food truck owner to do a full Coach Taylor with an intelligent, legal adult over an issue where Brendan clearly had a good sense he was acting inappropriately.
Also, as the comment above points out, it sounds like the boss was pretty good, as far as the firing goes!
@barnhouse: I feel like if you polled a high school class about this scenario, plenty of the kids would be like, "No, he should have known that wasn't okay." More to the point, "I could have made it a subtweet" suggests that even he knew it wasn't okay. More more to the point, if only someone on the internet had ever written something before now about how indiscreet use of social media could have a deleterious effect on one's professional life.
I dunno, this is great clickbait and fun discussion fodder, but at the end of the day: A guy with a low-investment job made a stupid but deliberate decision with predictable consequences and lost the low-investment job. There is no oppression here; there is barely a teachable moment. And frankly, it gets barfy when we get into "having 'the courage of your convictions,' or whatever." The sheer entitlement of that line radiated outward and sent a shiver of joy down Joel Stein's spine. Conviction is doing your job well even when it sucks -- so long, of course, as the suckage is not of the extraordinary or abusive variety. Getting stiffed on a big order while working at a food cart is a crappy afternoon, not an atrocity.
@RDM: Thanks, I wasn't sure how that worked. That said, I stand by my extreme skepticism that 100 percent of the increased sales would make it to the staff. And yes, the underreporting makes a material difference.
@jfruh: Different places have different systems for reporting tip income to the IRS, but in my experience, it's pretty much that you report either a certain percentage of your sales (8-12 percent, if I recall correctly) or your credit card tips, whichever is higher (since the credit card tips are actually trackable by the feds). In either case, you generally pay less in taxes than you would if the same amount of income were presented in the form of a paycheck. This is a TERRIBLE THING, if you believe that servers, bartenders, and busboys not giving more of their money to the government is What Is Keeping This Great Country Down.
Also, I'm not sure I answered your original question so much as penned a paean to the romance of waiting tables, so: Yeah, I actually I think it's kind of awesome that not everyone's salary is determined the same way. I think diversity in any ecosystem, metaphorical or otherwise, is healthy.
"You've earned your keep *this time*. Keep up the good work if you want to see more of President Lincoln."
What I'm trying to say is: This sentiment does not jibe with anything I ever felt or experienced while waiting tables anywhere. I'm not even sure who's saying it.
@holycalamityscreaminsanity: I guess I don't think that is so much "degrading" as "how a job works." And I think there's something advantageous to being beholden to dozens of different bosses per shift, rather than your economic fate being decided by one. Anyway, I am very sympathetic to a total restructuring of our capitalist system, but in the meantime, yeah, you do kinda have to earn your keep, and honestly? Carrying food and drinks to people is simultaneously awesomely challenging at times and just not that hard for many people to do competently.
I have not spent enough time in places where tipping isn't the norm to get a good sense of the overall quality of service. I hear many reports that it isn't as good as in the U.S., but every time I've been in Europe, I've been too busy being in Europe to notice how long it takes to be asked if I want another drink.
I dunno, I feel like you are coming from a pretty abstract-argument place, and that doesn't mean those arguments don't have merit; but in all my years waiting tables I never noticed the intense class warfare or oppression that so many of the no-tipping advocates seem to want to save us from. I think we had a better time than the suckers in retail.
@j.a.b.: Yeah, but I don't think it's that simple. First off, I believe you have to raise prices by more than 20 percent, because if the restaurant takes in that money as income, it's going to have to pay taxes on it. So it's not just like you bump up the food prices and magically transfer the money over scot-free.
Second, even just 20 percent is a huge hike! This is what I mean when I say that while such a bump may improve things for low-income people working at Denny's, it definitely makes them worse for the ostensibly larger number of low-income people who eat at Denny's.
Third, I feel like it's just basic common sense that if the employer becomes the conduit for that money, the laborer is going to see less of it. Decades of history back me up on this. It correspondingly also reduces the customer's ability to reward or penalize servers for quality of service. On a macro level, customers may not be good at evaluating service, as holycalamityscreaminsanity says -- but there are also many, many micro level incidents where it is fairly clear whether someone is doing a good job or not.
Fourth, I have generally not encountered this problem I hear about where people are lazy or drunk and leave bad tips. It happens, but if it happens a lot to a particular server, I think it's worth exploring whether the problem is really the customers.