Counter Culture Waitress Blog


Counter Culture: The American Coffee Shop Waitress

Counter Culture: The American Coffee Shop Waitress

Counter Culture: The American Coffee Shop Waitress will be in bookstores on September 1st. I will be on book tour from September 3rd through November 18th. The tour starts in San Francisco at Modern Times – 888 Valencia St on September 3rd at 7pm.

See website for more details and tour info:

Hope to see you there!


Taylor Made Workshop

George J's — Glasgow, Kentucky

George J's — Glasgow, Kentucky


1-Day Workshop – August 22 10am – 5pm

Don’t let the economy derail your dreams!
For the first time in decades, stories about race, gender and class are daily topics in the news. Learn how to access this ready-made audience and to create innovative projects that sell.

This one-day workshop is designed to teach visual artists, filmmakers, writers and photographers how to:

• incorporate new media in your work
• develop a basic marketing strategy to sell your work
• identify your audience and learn how to access them
• partner with organizations to market your project
• develop better organizing and digital workflow techniques
• create the best presentation of your work

Participants will receive:
• Example of a winning grant proposal
• Consent/Release Form
• Fieldwork Checklist
• Partnering Letter

Students are invited to bring a project, at any stage, to discuss how to move their work forward.

Register Early! $125 before August 17th
$150 after the 17th

2 sliding scale spots available before the 17th

Place: California College of the Arts
1111 Eighth Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 – Room 101


I’m in the New Yorker!!!


The New Yorker published a slide show of the waitress project. I’ve attached the text portion below, follow the link to see the pictures.
July 14, 2009
Counter Culture: A Photo Essay

“Counter Culture: The American Coffee Shop Waitress” is a book by Candacy A. Taylor about “lifers”—career diner waitresses. The author, who worked for close to a decade as a waitress herself, interviewed fifty-nine waitresses in forty-three cities across the country. All of the waitresses were fifty and older (many of them were in their seventies) and all of them had worked in diners for at least twenty years.
Many of the waitresses Taylor interviewed grew up working on farms or doing physical labor from an early age. This gave them a strong work ethic, and an interest in a job that requires constant activity, as opposed to sitting in a desk chair. Several of the waitresses interviewed turned down careers in the business or professional world because they made more money waiting tables, or because they liked having the freedom to set their own schedule, or enjoyed the kinds of interaction they could have with their customers in a restaurant setting.
The first American diners were horse-drawn lunch wagons that would set up across from factories. Now they are places where form follows function. Condiment holders are designed to be ridge-less so they are easier to clean. Formica tables are curved at the corners to avoid injuries. Some older diners have mirrors on the ceiling above the counter, so the waitress can check for drink refills and empty plates just by looking up, rather than walking back and forth.

Taylor writes that in many case the seniority status of older waitresses “earned them a higher hourly wage and respect from their coworkers and managers. Ironically, the physical and mental exercise kept them healthy instead of wearing them down, and most important, their regular customers made the job more enjoyable and profitable—they left better tips than strangers who were just passing through.”
Key-lime cake at the Busy Bee Café in Atlanta, where everything is made from scratch.
Taylor writes that the seven years she spent working on this book helped her “to redefine my perspective on life, work, and happiness,” and advises that the next time you see an older waitress wiping down tables in a diner, you should not feel sorry for her. “More likely than not, she’s content right where she is.”
(Images from “Counter Culture: The American Coffee Shop Waitress.” Copyright 2009 by Cornell University Press & Taylor Made Culture.)


Candacy A. Taylor;
Counter Culture: The American Coffee Shop Waitress;
photography books
Posted by Andrea Walker

Ode to Mom…
May 22, 2009, 2:48 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

This project would not have been possible without the lifelong support of my mother, Carol Burford. Although we didn’t have very much money growing up, she never wavered in her support for my choice to be an artist. After I would get a series of rejections and feel deflated, I would call her and say that it was time for me to step away from the waitress project and get a “real” job. Every time, Mom would say, “Don’t stop what you’re doing. You will make it.” One day I said, “You really believe that don’t you?” She said, “Without a doubt.”

Mom at home

Mom at home

Mom was also my assistant on my travels to interview the waitresses. She helped me set up the equipment, she scanned all of the vintage photos and newspaper clippings supplied by the waitresses, she made sure the waitresses signed the consent forms and most importantly, she made everyone feel comfortable. Since she’s so comfortable with herself, it just feels good to be around her. I am grateful to have such a fantastic mother, I know in the art world it is rare to have this level of unconditional support.