Work and Dignity

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Work and Dignity

Rev. Julia Hamilton

My first job out of college was waiting tables at the Red Lobster in Beverly Hills. I had to wear this hideous shirt, covered with a tropical fish print that would make your eyes swim if you stared at it too long. I think they devised the pattern to hide any cocktail sauce or liquid butter that inevitably got spilled on you during your shift. I worked the lunch shift, Monday through Friday, for a year, coming home reeking of garlic butter and fried food. When I could, I would cover weekend shifts for co-workers to pick up some extra cash, because the lunch crowd did not spend much. I was making minimum wage plus tips. On some days, I was lucky to walk out of my shift with $20 bucks in my pocket. But at least in California I had to be paid the state minimum wage, which was at that time $5.75 an hour. My friends in New York City were working for $2.75 an hour, the minimum for tipped employees there.

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