Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Thank You, Michelle

It is 3:23 a.m. and I am finally home after a long workday - the 16-hour double between the university and the casino, where I am a beverage server on weekend evenings and holidays. College degree + state government job = 1-2 other jobs necessary to supplement state income ... or just plan to live with no future plans that require money.

Many people could never imagine how physically, mentally and emotionally grueling beverage serving is. It's harder than waitressing. A full drink tray (approximately 18 drinks) weighs about 20 pounds, and a server will walk anywhere from six to seven miles around the casino in patent leather pumps each night with this liquid burden. Furthermore, many guests do not tip for their free drinks because they assume the casino pays us well above minimum wage or I am guessing that they think we already make a lot of money in tips. Neither are true ... well, the latter is somewhat true if you look at it from an ignorant perspective.

Here is what we, the beverage servers, know: In general, we make decent money each night, but it is a small amount compared to the volume of work we do. We carry approximately 18 drinks on a tray, and it takes about three trays to complete a 30-minute section (plus special orders for cappuccino, hot chocolate or other drinks we don't normally carry with us), which equals almost 60 drinks every half hour. We often come out of a section with no more than $5 = Five dollars for 60 drinks. That's Western North Carolina for ya. You could argue that at least $10 in tips per hour plus our hourly wage of $5.95 average out around $15 an hour, but you also have to factor in the fact that some sections (i.e. players in the penny and nickel slots) often do not tip at all. And again, until you do the work, you really don't understand how hard and underappreciated beverage servering is. After just a Friday and Saturday night, my back, arms, wrists and feet usually ache until Monday evening. For that reason alone, I have the utmost respest for the full-time servers.

The highlight of my night at the casino came early in the evening when a guest named Michelle scolded a man for not tipping me for the drink I gave him. "She gives you a drink, you give her a dollar," Michelle said. To which the man replied, "What if you're broke?" Michelle retorted, "Then you take your ass up to the bar and get your own drink." I wish Michelle could have followed me to every section of the casino I worked tonight.

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