The County has closed outdoor dining at restaurants and Mayor Eric Garcetti said he would give restaurant workers a one-time payment of $800. Of course, this means that workers have to go on the SERVE website (starting December 7), fill out an application and – there’s only enough money for 4,000 people.
I can tell Garcetti has never worked as a waiter/waitress or as a busboy.
I am advocating that before anyone runs for elected office, they have to work in a restaurant for a year—and pay the bills from that salary.
Too many of our politicians have never had to work menial jobs—they grew up rich; they had trust funds or help from mom and dad/relatives. They have no idea about how common people pay bills or live.
I waitressed in New York City for about five years. I paid my rent and utilities, and paid off a sizable student loan from tips.
Forty years ago, if I didn’t make $125 on a night at the restaurant, I didn’t consider it a good night. I worked four nights a week and occasionally was able to pick up other shifts.
Today, at popular restaurants I would guess that a waiter or waitress or bartender could make at least $200 or more a night in Los Angeles? So $800 might be the equivalent of one week’s income.
Additionally, working in a service industry, I learned how to deal with demanding people—you know, the kind who proclaim on Nextdoor about a restaurant’s “poor” customer service because someone didn’t wait on them immediately.
Or after an eight-hour shift, constantly on my feet, when a customer demanded to see a smile, it came out. I smiled not because I enjoyed waiting on people who treated workers like “special servants,” but because I knew if I didn’t, I wouldn’t get the extra few dollars of tips and I might get reported to the boss.
This brings us to Garcetti offering $800 to waiters. Exactly how much rent can a waiter pay with that money?
There should be a special place for Garcetti, L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and Governor Gavin Newsom and it is not in public office. They should be required to work in a restaurant or a kitchen for a year—try to support a family, try to pay rent.
But no, they never will, they are used to six-figure salaries, pensions, well-funded health care and family money. These politicians are representing people they have nothing in common with—and even with the best of intentions, these politicians should not be dictating.
Samuel Johnson in 1775, when commenting on the “unhappy failure of pious resolves,” is reported repeating the proverb: “Sir, hell is paved with good intentions.”
Closing outdoor dining when there is no data to support it, and then offering a pittance to people, assuming that $800 for the month of December will cover bills in Los Angeles, may be well intended, but the end result is a financial disaster.