Over at Recomposition: Notes for a New Workerism an anarchist hospitality worker in New Zealand shares their story of life on the job. Having been a food service employee myself, I can relate to the profound alienation of that particular industry. Hospitality work is something I hope to never be reduced to again.
It’s not that preparing and serving food is inherently degrading work; in fact, I love that aspect of the job. The co-workers in restaurants frequently develop close bonds working in a fast-paced environment and doing a job well is rewarding in itself. As the author at Recomposition rightly points out, some tasks like chopping vegetables are even pleasantly relaxing.
However, the downsides that inevitably plague food service are the boss, the management, and the culture of entitlement from customers (which are brilliantly summarized in the pamphlet “Abolish Restaurants“). Minor indignities are par for the course when you’re a wage slave at a restaurant. It’s an entry-level job (for the most part), and in an economy full of competition for employment the boss can use your precarious position as leverage to pressure you into otherwise unacceptable situations. I remember being scheduled for a shift at a pizza restaurant an hour before the shift was supposed to start (which ruined my day and wasn’t an isolated incident). I’ve had a boss forge my signature on official documents. I worked a temporary part-time position for five months (I was working two other temporary part-time food service jobs simultaneously) where I was expected to show up for work at the lunch rush every day and was dismissed whenever there was a lull. The minimum wage I reserved for these two hours of work a day barely covered my expense paying for lunch myself, not to mention my commute. I’ve even worn a work uniform with a cartoon caricature of my boss embroidered on the chest. At times working at a restaurant feels like a humiliating parody of life.