July 7, 2014 by readlisaread
Here comes a convoluted story. If the title “To Dream the Impossible Dream” wasn’t already taken, I might have used that instead for this post, but let’s see how we get on.
And yes, it’s still about the BC Teacher’s Conflict. But it’s also about being an undercover waitress, and the struggle to understand how we can all make this work. Shall we?
Over the past couple of days, I’ve had a few people ask me to explain the situation to them. Usually it’s phrased like this: “OK, so if it’s not about wages, WHAT do you want?” And believe it or not, here is where it gets tricky. Some people will be instantly on board, some people will obviously think about what I said, but they are unsure, and then there is the “Oh yes, I agree….but…..” people, and it’s usually the same old chestnut about how they knew a crappy teacher, and everyone knew they were crappy, but no one would ever do anything about the crappy teacher, and the union just protected the crappy teacher, and it’s hard for people who are single parents working at Tim Hortons to support me making more money. Sigh. But after this weekend, I can at least say I have an idea of what it’s like to work in the “real world”.
This incident occurred at an interesting time–just as news of a motion was filed in Supreme Court by the BC Business Coalition to be granted “Intervenor” status comes to light. So now I have to do some thinking. I have a goodly number of teacher friends, sure, but I also know a lot of artists and actors and people who own their own businesses like restaurants and vineyards and bars. If I start railing against a business consortium, what does that say about my loyalty to my friends?
I think the problem is, is that we have been encouraged to believe (notice I didn’t say “misled”) that in order to more appropriately fund Education, Taxes are going to have to be raised, personal and corporate. I humbly suggest that what is really needed is a government to be more thoughtful in how they spend the money they’ve got.
And so it was that all of this was on my mind when I went to work as a waitress the other day. Now, it was only for a day, to help out my good friend who owns the cafe, and it was as a favour, not for money. I’ve helped her out in the past at little events, and I actually really like it, because for a change I don’t have to make all the decisions, somebody tells me what to do. Believe me, that is refreshing.
Never having worked in service before, I was excited to give it a whirl. Considering the fact that my whole career is, actually, As a Public Servant, I was curious to see how comparable or contrasting my day would be.
Lesson #1: As soon as you put on an apron, the public sees you as their bitch.
Lesson #2: No matter how kind they are about it, the public seems to think that a almost-50 waitress is *obviously* a little…uh…. well…..not so smart.
Lesson #3: The public is eager to point out that the error you made is FINE, absolutely FINE, please don’t worry about it. (the worst mistake I made was having a customer have to ask for a water refill, and I apologised for not having noticed her glass was almost empty, and that’s when the assurances began.)
Lesson #4: Even if the customer thinks you were great, and quietly but enthusiastically builds you up to your “boss” they will still be ever-so-condescending in thanking you for your service (see lesson #1, I think)
And so while I didn’t walk a mile in my students’ shoes, I went far enough to see what one of the problems is: we are not on opposite sides. Improvements to Public Education are not going to damage the economy. Business, big and small, need to work with us, not against us. So I am not going to post “Do not support these businesses!” posts on social media nor sign boycott petitions. But I am going to give a couple of shout outs. Because they deserve it, and because I want to remember that Businesses are People, too, just as we teachers are also tax payers, and parents, and…. former waitresses.
In my little town of Duncan, these businesses have done some remarkable works of charity and put real dollars behind their words of support for teachers and families as well.
….and I will add more shout outs as and when… Can I bring you anything else for right now?
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