By: Alanna Dovidio
A typical night at work for Sarah Yapjoco consists of a crowd full of hungry diners and a busy dinner rush. Yapjoco has been a server for 20 years. She is a mother of four boys and says that the service industry has allowed her to prioritize her family.
According to restaurant.org, 12.5 million Americans work in the restaurant industry. Service industry workers deal with a unique set of struggles such as angry customers and fast paced work environments. Workers like Yapjoco say that they choose this industry because of flexibility in scheduling and good money. Despite this, restaurant staff often feel that there is a bias against them for their careers.
Yapjoco is one of them. Although she says her job is not viewed as “traditional” serving is what best fits her and her family’s needs. Since she and her husband worked opposite hours, she was able to stay home with her kids instead of paying for them to go to daycare.
“To most people serving isn’t considered a real career. But at 38 it was for me,” Yapjoco said.
Serving allows her the flexibility of being able to make full time pay while only working part time. She explains how this has helped support her goals of being with her family as much as possible while also financially contributing.
Yapjoco says the service industry is demanding and takes a toll on workers both mentally and physically. Servers and bartenders work on their feet and are constantly carry heavy trays of food. The hours are long and dealing with angry customers is a challenge.
“I hate to say this, but my view of people and society has been tainted. Don’t get me wrong I have served some wonderful people but the ones that are just completely awful occur more than you would think. The way we are treated and talked to would surprise you,” she said.
“My body hurts and I’m always physically exhausted. I won’t be able to do this job until retirement age I already know it. It’s a lot,”. Yapjoco said.
Weekends and holidays are a must when working in the service industry. However, Yapjoco explains, she has made a family of her own at work.
“I work with great people who are like another family to me. Since we all go through it it really bonds us. You have to be in this industry to really understand the experiences and stories we share as restaurant workers. You won’t truly get it unless you’ve been there,” she said.
Despite the bias of serving not being a real career. Yapjoco has truly made it one.
“I have no regrets. I have four young boys who I support and due to my job, I am able to make their dreams come true. In the end that is my ultimate goal,”. Yapjoco said.