Viewpoint: What service industry workers deserve  



By Ellen Nolan 

As we quickly approach the middle of July, and the tourist season is in full swing, the demand on workers is much greater, especially in the service industry. With the increase in seasonal businesses on the rise in the great state of Maine, the workforce for the industry can’t keep up. (Hallelujah to our fabulous foreign workers! Imagine where we would be without them!) 

Working in the service industry is hard, thankless work – long days, generally hot conditions, as well as working nights and holidays, and all while trying to make someone else’s experience great. In addition to the strenuous work environment is the daily stress of being on the verge of a recession, astronomically high fuel prices, and the cost of food and housing being at an all-time high everywhere, especially in a popular tourist destination. 

Another norm in years past that has always been customary in the state of Maine and here on Mount Desert Island and surrounding areas is tipping your servers. With price increases for everyone (fees for parking, entering Acadia, and even launching a kayak for the day are now the norm) and people trying to cut corners where they can, it seems to be servers who are being affected. You can’t drive off at the pump or leave the grocery store or a restaurant without paying your bill, but you can walk out without tipping your restaurant servers. Servers put up with a lot – fighting spouses, crying babies, misbehaving children, complaints about prices and portions, and every different personality that comes through the door. As crazy as it is, your servers still try to get through it day after day so they can make a living. 

Here in Maine, servers are not paid minimum wage. They are paid half that and rely on tips to make a living. It’s a gamble every day when they go to work. Will their customers do the right thing and tip them accordingly? All of us have had bad experiences in a restaurant before but pricing, portions, seating, and whether or not you like what you ordered are not the fault of the server. The server’s job is to serve, be pleasant, answer questions and make your dining experience as pleasurable as possible. 

With the continuous demand on the industry, finding good, honest, reliable servers is becoming increasingly more difficult year after year. Not tipping your server is a sure way to find yourself back in a long takeout line waiting for your number to be called and no ketchup in the bag. 

 

Ellen Nolan lives in Bar Harbor 

 

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