An awkward story about waiters


I’m think I’m getting old because I went to see a musical at the cinema last night and I enjoyed it. It was called “In The Heights” – written and directed by the same guy who did the musical called Hamilton.

In “In The Heights” there is a story of a young hispanic woman who is a student at Stanford. She is invited to a donor event and arrives in a black cocktail dress.

While at the event, one of the donors hands her an empty plate – assuming the young lady is a waitress rather than an attendee.

This situation is – at best – awkward. In societies where the job of waiter is associated with people of a certain appearance or accent, the additional aspect of race or class is introduced.

Taking this a level further, it is interesting to me why society finds this situation awkward or insulting. I think the answer is that society sees waiters as lowly, whereas society sees event attendees as more respectable.

So, it is insulting to give an empty plate to someone who is not a waiter, but, the fact society finds this insulting is a reflection on what we think of waiters. Ouch. Seems awkward.

My recommendation on all of this is simply to be respectful and friendly to waiters whoever they are (without being over the top). I have not worked as a waiter, but there must be a lot of annoying people to deal with.

Less clear is my recommendation on how – at an event – to tell if someone is a waiter. One approach would be to ask a random person if they know where to put empty plates. This is more innocuous than forcing a plate into someone’s hands, but may still risk causing insult.

Another approach is to try and bring the empty plate back oneself. My implementation of this would be to wander around searching for a table and looking like such a tool/fool that eventually I’m spotted by a waiter who politely asks if they can help.

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