When Your Rent Depends On Someone’s Mood – the Hot Waitress Effect

I recently made the decision not to eat at my usual place after I had a couple of …less than pleasant…  encounters with another patron there.  The man didn’t say anything to me, he just stared at me while I ate, and even moved to a table to sit so he could see me but I couldn’t see him because his friend was in the way after I used every conceivable body language technique to indicate to him that I felt he was being intrusive and should stop, including clutching my cane and motioning to get up – which is why he moved I believe.

He is part of a regular crowd, and I think I have seen him a few times.  Now, I understand that it is a small town and I am a pretty girl with a public profile, and should expect to get looks while out in public, even if I don’t want them.

I asked the waitress later about him, and she said he comes in all the time and makes her uncomfortable; that a lot of older men do this and it can end up effecting their tips, because if they’re being gawked at and stared at it can be irritating to the point that they mess up orders or drop things.  I doubt these guys tip for their ogling time.

One of the waitresses is a girl I went to school with briefly who dropped out for awhile to work on her country music career.  She’s very pretty and vivacious and I’m sure that she probably gets a lot of tips, but it must be exhausting.  I know that I could never in a million years do her job and have to put up with the eyeballing for hours.

Its funny, a lot of times you don’t even think about the effect you have on people’s lives; maybe he’s just a creepy dude and doesn’t know he’s actually making the waitresses lose tips sometimes.  Maybe he would care, and maybe he wouldn’t.  I told a few of my friends about it and they were like me, sort of taken aback by this discovery.  One of the reasons that I promote the living wage is because of jobs like waitressing that rely on tips, and because of my work with trafficking I’m very aware that in a turbulent economy, women are very vulnerable financially to the whims of others.

I left her $20 for my $7 sandwich because I admire her.  There is a phenomenon known as the “hot waitress effect” which basically says that because of economic fragility, more attractive women are driven to seek work in waitressing, since its essentially a job no one puts in their life plans and can generally be done without experience and the turn over rate is high.

Not long ago I wrote a letter to Tina Fey regarding her stance on women, which I perceive to be full of internal misogyny. I realize she doesn’t use social media, so I sent her it by mail.  Somehow I doubt that she will read it, but it was to address the fact that she essentially said that women who have tattoos and are named Jamiee who work at the truck stop are automatically whores.  They are working at the truck stop because they can’t manage a better job maybe, but they are working a legitimate job and are just people.  And because they work in a lower economic status job, they are subject to more abuse and less financial recompense, and their rent depends on the moods of the people they are serving.

Several nights or weeks – depending on what your income before tips is – of bad tips could mean the difference between having a place to live or not.

I would love to discuss this with her, but again, I doubt she will respond.


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