Counter Culture Waitress Blog


Ketchup in Her Veins
May 18, 2009, 2:33 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,
Olesia at the Copper Cart in Seligman, Arizona in the 60s

Olesia at the Copper Cart in Seligman, Arizona in the 60s

Part of the intent of this project is to dismantle the assumption that waitressing offers a hard, unrewarding life. Despite the social stigma attached to being a “lifer” I found hard working women who felt successful in their professions and more importantly, they did not feel like servants. I was surprised that practically every career waitress I interviewed said they “love” their job. Even after giving them every opportunity to complain about the obvious disadvantages of serving a public that can often ignore and devalue their work, Olesia, a 33-year veteran, assured me that, “there is good and bad in any profession.”  Other waitresses said that they “wouldn’t do anything else,” (if given the opportunity). Jean Joseph in San Francisco said, “Just like an actress, this is what I was born to do.”

The women I interviewed work in coffee shops found along interstates, inside casinos, and in cities and small rural towns throughout the US. Some belong to the union and have great health and retirement benefits making over 8$ an hour + tips while others make only $2.12 an hour + tips. They drive new SUV’s and own nice homes (Wilma Mobb’s home was valued at over $750,000.00) while others live in double-wide trailers, and drive classic Caddy’s.
The other assumption about waitressing is that the labor wears them down, physically. But these women assured me that waitressing has helped them to age well. Many who had arthritis said that if they didn’t work, and sat at home, they would really be crippled. They believe waitressing keeps their joints healthy and working in diners with a large regular clientele keeps them engaged with a rich social life. Some waitresses joked and said, “I’ll be here until I can’t walk anymore.”

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