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America's worst paying jobs
Posted May 15, 2009

Going out to dinner is always an enjoyable experience for me. There is nothing quite like sitting in a booth joking with friends, being catered to and enjoying a thick juicy steak burger with seasoned fries and an ice cold root beer.

Not until recently did it sink in that this enjoyable experience is made possible thanks to people holding the top four worst-paying jobs in America.

This week the U.S. government released the latest Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, which revealed that food preparers and servers make on average a salary of $17,400 annually. The person who makes sure that my steak burger is cooked well-done and served without onions gets to say he has one of the worst-paying jobs in America. That is sad.

After memorizing detailed orders, juggling multiple hot plates, satisfying petty customer requests and running back and forth between tables, a server deserves a little more than minimum wage.

Another essential element to my dining experience is the actual cooking of my steak burger. The people standing by a stove all day in a hot kitchen make up the number two spot for the worst-paying job, specifically those working in fast food. Props to them for remembering which order was to be cooked without cheese and bless them for later adding the cheese they were first told to leave it out after being yelled at.

It must be a drag satisfying customers behind the scenes and not getting tipped for it. But we need you faithful cooks and you are very important to us all.

Upon inhaling that delicious steak burger, it is remarkable how the plate it was served on is quickly transformed into a bloody dish of carnage, and meat scattered around slimy ketchup stains. I would hate to be the person in charge of cleaning that mess up.

Coming in at a degrading number three for the worst-paying job is the dish washing gig. It is bad enough having to look at the mess peoples’ mouths have created and having to touch it seems like a heroic effort. The task of washing hundreds of dishes, pots and pans, glasses and utensils every day must be a different experience from washing dishes at home. Going home everyday with moist skin and smelling like vomit deserves more credit. Thank you to all the dishwashers who bravely grab that sponge every day.

Among those trailing close behind at number four for the worst-paying job are the bus boys. They may not have to wash dishes but they have to clean the tables people make messes out of, not to mention carry around a bucket of dirty dishes all day. Although it is a plus getting in on the tips, splitting them with servers can not be very pleasant. I would like to give a shout out to all the bus boys who clear tables for the next customers, especially if they happen to be schoolmates. Ouch.

While one can argue that any job is a blessing in today’s economy, the nature of such work and the reward for it should be taken into consideration. These people may be working to put themselves through school or to put food on the table for their families. Either way they deserve respect and better treatment for the work they do. So the next time you enjoy a great dinning experience at your favorite restaurant, do not hesitate to leave a generous tip behind to the person who made it all possible.

Mark Vidal, a junior communications major, is arts editor of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at mark.vidal@laverne.edu.