Remember to Tip Your Waiter

We almost decided to quit Thailand and move back to Australia last month, but then Hock found out what a Head Chef can expect to get paid in Australia. It hasn't changed much since we left and with the cost of living high and housing affordability at an all time low, we decided to stay in Asia and keep on saving our pennies.

Although to some degree salary levels for chefs in Australia are low because profits are spread more equally in the kitchen between all workers, unlike in Thailand where bigger pay disparities exist, that doesn't mean that Australian workers are necessarily any better off than their Thai counterparts, relatively speaking. The cost of living in Thailand is comparatively low compared with Australia. However on a relative standard all workers in hospitality generally get paid shit. This is because people don't want to spend a lot of money on food.

So far the issue of ethical consumerism has so far only arisen in the retail supermarket arena where big supermarkets operate on economies of scale, selling large volumes at an average of 1% profit margin and thereby squeezing all those further down the supply chain to deliver you everyday savings....the magnanimous concerns of ethical consumerism are only now turning thier attention to those poor bastards (like secret here) who spend night after night serving rude diners and "dying a little inside".

So this month Time asks Are Restaurants the New Sweatshops?"

"Eating out has become as American as apple pie, but for those manning the kitchen, restaurant work is anything but an American dream. Dishwashers, waiters and delivery people are increasingly served up unfair pay, discrimination and dangerous working conditions."


    ha, i guess anyone who's worked in a restaurant knows that 'dying a little inside' feeling... for me it usually came from management/owners, not customers (customers can be dealt with, ridiculed or passified under any circumstances). But it also came from pure, suffocating boredom. Even OK pay, intelligent/funny/insane co-workers, decent customers with whom you can banter on a regular basis, a loud stereo system controlled completely by you, ice cream dessert pizza made especially for you by the pizza chef, or cocktails while still on the clock can't always make up for incredibly monotonous, menial work. At least, not all of the time...
    And I didn't even have to mop at the end of shift. (Though I did put in a lot of time washing dishes professionally as a teenager).

    I found being a server completely bearable when it was not for more than 5 hours at a stretch and not more than 11-16 hours total per week. Not very realistic to support a family!! But I was also a deejaying student. There were other demands on my otherwise bottomless patience.

    The worst was waiting at an Irish bar in Tokyo for two weeks. The boss was a charming french alcoholic, I could drink as much as we liked and was supposed to chat with customers, the customers were eccentric english-teaching expats who played darts and ate nachos, but what made it awful was definitely the horribly low wages.
    ....and the boredom.


    "my otherwise bottomless patience" this is an attempt at sarcasm. I'm learning how to be more cynical from a friend here called Gerd.


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