Monday, August 04, 2008

Speaking of dehumanizing work....

Demeaning treatment – an addiction to fast money at the beginning, only to be followed by severe burnout – 20% of the customer base described as "psychopaths". An expose of the harsh realities of stripping or prostitution? No, try the harsh realities of waiting tables.

The blog (and upcoming book) which lays this on the line is called Waiter Rant, which I hadn't heard of before today. There's a good interview with the author on a recent Leonard Lopate Show, and another public radio interview here. I'd always been aware that waiters were not always happy with their work, but put up with it because the money is sometimes good (my mom used to be a waitress when I was a kid), but I wasn't really aware of the extent of it, or other behind-the-scenes stuff, until coming across this. Obviously there isn't 100% analogy with sex work, which, of course, requires a level of customer interaction that's in another league, but its certainly the case that a lot of the issues that sex work gets called on are actually issues that are as much about service-industry work in general than sex work in particular.

For all of its anger, Waiter Rant is actually more or less a "dining-positive" critique. There actually is a radical "abolitionist" version of this in the form of the anarchist tract Abolish Restaurants. If you haven't heard of that one, you're probably not alone. You'd think the folks in the Ultimate Radical camp of the feminist blogosphere might mention it more often, considering it sounds pretty much up their ally – then again, if it isn't about teh sexay its probably not on their radar.