|I waited and I waited for help but all the rich people just stared at me and kept eating.
Last edited Sat Dec 8, 2012, 07:44 PM USA/ET - Edit history (2)
There is a class war going on in this country and it has been for a long, long time.
The idle rich no longer act as if they are part of the regular population. They look down upon the worker from such a high perch, that they cannot even bring themselves to help a more lowly person in a time of need. You see that coldness that Mitt Romney practically exuded. Starving to death? Borrow from your parents-but don't ask me for help.
I've seen it plenty in my life but there is one time that keeps popping up in my mind. I keep remembering it as I try to understand the wealthy.
I was fresh out of college and had moved down to LA. I took a job waiting tables at a country club in the Valley. Encino, was like, so bitchin! It was a fancy place up on a hill, looking out over millions of sparkling lights at night. Sweeping green lawns of the golf course and lots of sparkly blue pool water. The people at this Country Club were rich and elite. Stars and some big money backers of the entertainment industry. You never knew who you would be serving drinks to at one of their functions. I remember one weekend were I served Cybil Shepperd lunch, Barbara Billingsly (Beaver Cleaver's mom) a drink and Richie Cunningham's father a dinner. It was pretty crazy!
We were required to wear a wool tuxedo, patent leather soles (that became amazingly slippery after walking through the kitchen a few times) and be clean and tidy at all times. You had to wear that tuxedo even if you had pool duty. 100 degrees out and there you'd be standing in the sun, wool tuxedo, holding a tray, waiting for someone to flick their well-manicured hand at their fourth empty wine glass.
We were required to memorize the names of every member at every table we were serving. We would be told "Mr and Mrs Ringsley will be having steaks this evening with their guests, Mr and Mrs Waldport". We had to greet them all by name when we met them to seat them, "Good Evening Mr and Mrs Ringsley, Good Evening Mr and Mrs Waldport. This way please" Very often the host would have already have spoken to them about their orders so
we would bring them their food without even speaking to them very much. Of course some tables were fun and regulars. They were kind and friendly but for the most part there was a coldness towards the staff. Sadly, the management had a similar coldness--the management was always schmoozing the guests--butt kissing, keeping the rich people happy, emulating them as much as possible. The members looked down on them though and they knew it so they'd take it out on the waitstaff. It was a weird place to be sometimes.
The members would hold all of their parties at the club so in many cases you would serve them dinner on Monday, A small lunch party on Wednesday, tea after golf on Thursday, serve them dinner on Friday night when they are out with their friends, basically babysit their kids at the pool all day Saturday and then on Sunday you are head waiter at their oldest daughter's wedding in the grand party room.
And there was no cash involved. They just signed and a bill was sent at the end of the month. A tip was built in. Not a great tip. It was basically a Red Lobster tip, and the hostess/managers all got a portion of it, so it was an OK tip for Red Lobster it was NOT an OK tip for the head waiter for the guy who has been running your entire wedding from hanging out at the pool all day, to lunch to bridal party to vows in room A to a cocktail party in room B while we tore apart room A (in our tuxedos) and set up dining tables for 400, and then shuttled them back into room A for dinner "Mrs Rinsgley, your table for dinner is ready. Would you care to come with me?" And then they'd eat in A while you tore down the cocktail party and put up the dancefloor (still in your tuxedo) and set up the party where the guests would be dancing until 3 in the morning. "We want to dance another half an hour, put it on my bill". Our tip for all of that would be 12% of the food served--hourly minimum wage for all the moving of tables and chairs and dance floors, and all at a runners pace. It was a very hard job. I never once remember getting a cash tip from a member. Not on Christmas or Easter or Mother's day or at their daughter's wedding. Never a cash tip. Maybe to the management but this wasn't a case of trickle down tip economics. It didn't trickle, whatever it was. These people never thought to give the guy who'd taken care of them all year, a tip on Christmas day, as you serve dinner to 20 of their family members.
And there were a lot of drycleaning costs involved in this job. I was an athlete back then, built with arms and legs of steel. 19" arms (the tuxedos had to be tailored because of my stupid arms and chest) and I can tell you that this job was a workout. Dancefloors!! OMG... those mothers are monsters!! It took all your strength to move those huge slabs of metal and wood.
So, my point is, you really got to know the members. You served them on Christmas and Easter and Sunday and Mother's Day... you watched their kids at the pool, you knew everybody's name, they had requested you repeatedly for all of their lunches and functions and meals. So you knew them and you would think they would aid you in a time of need.
But that isn't the case.
It was a Friday night and I was weaving through the packed dining room with four steak dinners and a whole mess of lobsters on a tray up above my head and I realize that my patent leather shoe with the slippery soles had become entangled on a purse strap. Mrs. Ringsley had put her purse on the floor and wrapped the shoulder strap around the chair leg (probably so no thieving waiters could steal it) and now this strap is wrapped around my foot and, OH CRAP, my slippery soled other shoe is starting to slide, and so it happens. I'm a dude, with junk, and 230 lbs of muscleand bones and I slam down into the floor, in Chinese splits, in a tuxedo, in front of 120+ people, with a tray of steaks and lobsters balance up above my head. And the pain is excruciating
And I can't move. My leg is tied up behind me. The diners are all around me so I can't roll out of it. All I can do is sit there, on my recently smashed junk, trembling and gasping with my eyes closed while I tried to (OH MY GOD THIS HURTS) breath. I'm sunburned from pool duty but I can feel my face turn even redder--I wouldn't be surprised if I was purple by that point. My eyes water. I may have squeaked or yelped.
And every eye in room is on me. Just staring. And the lady in front of me picks up her for and takes a bite and starts to slowly chew.
Not a single person moved to help me. Mrs Ringley, with her gin and tonic is perched on the chair that is pinning down my leg, and she just drinks her drink and looks at me over her shoulder. She certainly could hear the dishes clinking above me as my arm trembled and my guts were churning. (I mentioned the smashed junk, didn't I?)
I don't know how long. It felt like an hour. The woman directly in front of me took two slow bites of dinner and chewed them politely while I teetered there. Two tables over was the cardiac dr who I served breakfast every Sunday for the past year. He just sat there and looked me in a sort of disinterested way.
This dinner tray must not fall. It would come out of my paycheck and, believe me, this dinner cost more than I was going to make for maybe the whole weekend. I the lobsters must not fall!
I took in a deep breath with my mouth in a tight puckered "o". It made a whistle sound you could hear in the completely quiet dining room. And I willed myself not to move. I sat there and sat there and nobody came to help. Not one of them. I didn't call out for help. It didn't occur to me to call out because, well, um, wasn't it kind of obvious that I needed help? And then it seemed we waited another hour, and finally the door to the kitchen swung open and out came a co-waiter (My Hero!!) who saw my predicament and, quietly and quickly weaved his way through the tables over to me (PLEASE, Dear God, Hurry!!) and took the tray out of my shaking hand.
"Table fourteen, medium steak is position A," I gasped weakly as I rolled over onto my side. Lightning shot through my hamstring and groin. My front leg was screaming in agony. My junk was screaming in agony, I wanted to scream in agony.
But I sucked it up, I comically slipped on the rug a few times, my feet scissoring around like I was on ice, and was able to stand up and weave my way out of the dining room, still all eyes on me as I made it to the door to the kitchen. Someone clapped a few little soft claps, and there was a murmur and some chuckling. I had to take a few minutes flopped across a lounge chair out by the pool in the dark. I was limping when I came back to the dining room. And my junk was aching like someone had dropped 150 lbs on it. As I served my tables some of the members made cute little comments to me. Teased me. Laughed like we were all part of this funny joke.
But it disturbed me. I made light of it and smiled and was oh so pleasant and nice. But I was really bothered. It was really hurtful in many ways that these people just sat there when someone had been so kind to them for so long, needed their help. I did not understand it then, wasn't old enough to have had the experience to understand all the layers of human behavior that were exhibited that day. But it was clear to me that these people all shared a general feeling towards the classes below them. Disdain. Disinterest. Dismissal.
Not long after that I saw a bumpersticker that said "Eat the Rich". It suddenly sunk in that I saw the "Rich" as something bad I didn't like. I left the job soon after. I was tired of sweating to death wrapped in wool and patent leather. I was tired of the managers skimming off the tips. I was tired of those same managers saying on a Wednesday. "I saw these new shoes at the store. I want everyone to be wearing them by Friday." And so you'd be wearing new patent leather shoes that were tearing your feet apart and were more slippery than ever, for 14 hours on Saturday. I'd been able to take all that but the straw that broke this camels back were the members. They varied from cold to friendly but most just ignored us. But none of them, even the nice Dr, came to my help when I needed it.
Not a one of them.
And I decided I did not care to be around people like that.
And therein lies the class war. The upper class is, for a large part, kind of disgusting and unlikeable and they don't have our backs and so we don't like them. And they are always trying to take our stuff. If they want us to like them, they should try being nice and sharing. If you have a billion dollars, lower your prices or raise your wages. Jeez, c'mon, give back a little.
This has been my little opus on class warfare. I hope you have a lovely day and thank you for reading.
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