Fired Applebee's Server Speaks Out

Former Applebee's server Chelsea Welch
Chelsea Welch
In a well-written, heartfelt article posted to The Guardian, former Applebee's server Chelsea Welch told her side of the story and segued into a commentary on tipping in American culture. Says Welch:
In light of the situation, I would like to make a statement on behalf of wait staff everywhere: We make $3.50 an hour. Most of my paychecks are less than pocket change because I have to pay taxes on the tips I make.
After sharing my tips with hosts, bussers, and bartenders, I make less than $9 an hour on average, before taxes. I am expected to skip bathroom breaks if we are busy. I go hungry all day if I have several busy tables to work. I am expected to work until 1:30am and then come in again at 10:30am to open the restaurant.
I have worked 12-hour double shifts without a chance to even sit down. I am expected to portray a canned personality that has been found to be least offensive to the greatest amount of people. And I am expected to do all of this, every day, and receive change, or even nothing, in return. After all that, I can be fired for "embarrassing" someone, who directly insults his or her server on religious grounds.

After telling her story and the reasoning behind her anger, Welch moved on to speak about an important issue I've been harping on since this story first broke:
In this economy, $3.50 an hour doesn't cut it. I can't pay half my bills. Like many, I would love to see a reasonable, non-tip-dependent wage system for service workers like they have in other countries. But the system being flawed is not an excuse for not paying for services rendered.
I need tips to pay my bills. All waiters do. We spend an hour or more of our time befriending you, making you laugh, getting to know you, and making your dining experience the best it can be. We work hard. We care. We deserve to be paid for that. [snip]
I have no agenda here. I seek no revenge against the note writer. I have no interest in exposing their identity, and, at this point, I'm not even sure I want my job back. I was just trying to make a joke, but I came home unemployed. 

I've been waiting tables to save up some money so I could finally go to college, so I could get an education that would qualify me for a job that doesn't force me to sell my personality for pocket change. 

While this story has garnered immense media attention, my story is not uncommon. Bad tips and harsh notes are all part of the job. People get fired to keep customers happy every day. 

As this story has gotten popular, I've received inquiries as to where people can send money to support me. As a broke kid trying to get into college, it's certainly appealing, but I'd really rather you make a difference to your next server. I'd rather you keep that money and that generosity for the next time you eat out. 
If you haven't done so already, head over to the story at The Guardian and leave her a nice comment. She's potentially the catalyst for a movement to reform the American tipping system - especially in light of the outrage (still) being expressed throughout the internet.  

Other Stories at Peacock Panache about the Applebee's fiasco:

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