Yesterday I saw a documentary called Blackfish, about the treatment of killer whales in captivity back in the 90s. I enjoyed the film, definitely understand why it’s critically acclaimed. It’s the kind of thing that really gets your stomach in a knot knowing what’s going on with those animals out there. Creatures like Harambe or the whales in Blackfish are raised in captivity, not being allowed to experience true freedom like they’re meant to. It’s not natural for us to hold animals in tanks and cages and stare at them for our pleasure. I am ashamed to say that I have been to zoo’s and aquariums, recently even, and perpetuate the normality of seeing wild animals tamed and confined within walls. It terrifies me to even think about being in their position, to be captured as an infant and raised among strangers, then being fed only after performing tricks to please an audience several times a day. It’s inhumane. The whales in Blackfish were volatile and rightfully so. Animals live by their primal instincts, we can’t talk to or completely understand them. As much as we like to argue otherwise, they’re unpredictable. We like to believe that we can communicate with animals, that we understand their wants and needs and form a bond with them. In some ways we can, with domesticated creatures like dogs and cats. But for wild animals like killer whales and gorillas, mankind hasn’t progressed enough for us to know what these beasts are thinking (and to be honest, we don’t deserve to). They are highly intelligent and have incredible emotional capabilities, but they still can kill us at the snap of a finger whether they are provoked or not. We need to stop hunting elephants for their tusks, that ivory doesn’t belong to us. Stop hunting seals for sport, stop killing lions to show off to your rich friends, stop separating baby whales from their mothers. Stop bleeding the world dry to make a profit.
There was a period of time when I worked as a waitress in a quaint little breakfast place down deep in Scarborough. My overall experience there was pretty good, I had a great boss, the food was fantastic (who doesn’t love breakfast food) and the customer’s were great people. What really drives me nuts though is the fact that some people don’t think that servers should be tipped. Because of my time as a server, I make sure to always tip generously when I eat out. I have several friends who are currently or have been servers at one point in their lives, they probably understand what I’m saying here. Being a server is stressful. You deal with being on your feet for your entire shift carrying heavy plates back and forth. We carry drinks on trays praying that we don’t slip and cause a major accident. We deal with customers who think they’re high and mighty, and customers who are just generally mean people. There’s literally blood, sweat, and tears that goes into this kind of job. The entire industry is built upon sub-minimum wage and tiresome physical labor.
Being a server means being a master in multi-tasking. You’re constantly making sure that things are up to the standards of the customers. Everything has to be spotless and clean, the food has to be presented perfectly, drinks have to be served immediately, tables have to get their orders at the same time. You have to please the customers, laugh at their jokes and marvel at how great the weather is today. We are essentially the faces of the establishment we’re working at. Customers see us and they have to understand what it is that the restaurant is about. We’re family-oriented, we’re fun, we’re energized, we always have a big smile on our face! You can imagine how tiring that would get after just a few hours. Sometimes it’s actually fun to talk to customers, you get to meet some awesome people from different walks of life. With that being said, there are still those days where you just aren’t “on” all the time. Some days are worse than others, when it gets really busy and you’re not able to deliver as well as you are capable. The feeling of being so stressed out that you want to cry in the middle of your shift is not a fun feeling. It’s happened to me, it’s happened to my friends, it’s happened to nearly every server out there. We all have our horror stories.
A vast majority of servers don’t get paid the same amount as the most basic office job. Full-time employees in the service industry rely on tips to get by because minimum wage isn’t paying the rent. I myself was pulling two jobs at the time because the wages just weren’t enough to make my student loan payments. You don’t know which of your servers is trying to pay their way through school with their tips. You don’t know who’s there doing their best to feed their kids. You don’t know who is out of school and doesn’t have the education to get a better job.You don’t know who really needs the money, or who is just trying it out for the experience. Tipping is a standard practice and if you’re one of those people who don’t tip at the end of your meal, then please rethink your decision and understand that if the situation were reversed, your server would definitely tip you. I’m not ignoring the fact that sometimes the service isn’t up to par, and believe me when I say that no one is more sorry and embarrassed by it than your server. It frustrates me when people don’t think that servers deserve to be tipped, don’t demand a service and then belittle the people who provide it for you. That’s exactly what it feels like when we don’t get tipped. It feels pretty damn shitty.