Get a Real Job!

Over my many years writing about people who depend on gratuities aggrieved people, usually skinflints, have written in to tell me that if tipped workers don’t like the money they’re making they should endeavor to make alternate employment arrangements. But what really struck me as odd was a comment made by a reader concerning a snippet I wrote about residential doorman and holiday tipping. “YOU ARE A DOORMAN,” he wrote. “IF YOU WANT TO MAKE MONEY GET A REAL JOB.”

Being a doorman isn’t a real job? Gee. In New York they have a union and everything! Benefits too. And I seriously doubt the boob who left this comment would repeat that clichéd comeback to a doorman’s face. The odds are good he’d find himself French kissing the sidewalk.

But that brings up an interesting question. What is a real job? Could you tell me? I really don’t know. Does a real job mean making over 100k a year? Having a secretary and a corner office? Can you work at home? Does a real job mean making tangible things or buying and selling financial instruments? Does a real job mean you’re a super model banging, high-end Mercedes driving super corporate type? After listening to some of these Masters of the Universe describing what they do as “providing leverage and focus on innovative solutions for new and improved, next generation, cost effective, world class, high performance, and hard dollar value added outcomes” I have to ask – do they have a real job? Sound like bullshit to me.

Is working at McDonalds a real job? How about a waiter, nanny or garbage man? How about being a cop? The starting salary for NYPD patrolmen is $44, 744 a year so I guess they’re out of the supermodel squiring market. Oddly enough that’s roughly what Manhattan doormen make without tips! Want to tell some rookie he or she doesn’t have a real job? I dare you. Pepper spray stings like a motherfucker.

So what’s a real job? What does a person with a real job do? What should it pay? What hours and working conditions should it entail? Do you get vacation and sick time? Do you have to have a college degree? (Bill Gates did okay without one.) Can manual labor be involved? Do you work by the hour or get a salary? Are you your own boss or work for other people?

Personally I think all honest labor is noble and valid employment. But there are some assholes out there that think otherwise. So please, let all you “experts” fill me in on that a “real job” is.

I’m dying to know so I can go out and get one.

143 thoughts on “Get a Real Job!”

  1. Kara says:

    As a photographer I hear this one all the time – usually in the context of “Oh you’re so lucky that you get to be a photographer and don’t have to have a real job!”

    Uh huh. ‘Cause the 70+ hours a week I put in on shooting, editing, accounting, marketing, sales, and general office work doesn’t constitute a “real job”?

    I, too, would like to know what a “real job” is. Obviously what I have isn’t it!

  2. Kate says:

    I’d have to turn in my feminist badge if I didn’t point out that the stuff you’ve pointed out as qualifying for a “real job” are all describing power men. As if only men have “real jobs.”

    That said, I consider all work a real job, whether you’re paid for it or not. A stay at home mom has a real job, and Mark Zuckerberg (believe it or not) has a real job. I say this as someone who has worked as a farm hand, mail room paper folder, secretary, McDonald’s cashier, secretary, assistant, and more recently a manager with a desk job. I consider all of those to be real jobs. Oddly enough, folding paper for a mail house pays better than McDonald’s, which involved thinking and math.

  3. Jessica Seuss says:

    Well fucking put!

  4. Donna says:

    I would think a “real job” would be anything you could do to support yourself or your family or just by being the unpaid support system that deserves more compensation than many high paid executives.

    At my company we have had engineers who sneer at the folks turning the screwdrivers and getting dirty. “I didn’t get a degree to turn screws” has been heard quite a few times. Well, I have a degree and am happy to be working and not eating up someone elses overhead. I think I’d call it degree snobbery!

  5. Conflicted says:

    Unfortunately, some were taught to feel that one must have a structured 9-5 steady job which includes a professional degree such as lawyer, doctor, engineer, etc. to be considered having a “real” job. Sad to admit I fall into that category and have struggled my entire adult life trying to accept the fact that my personality is less rigid and does not conform to this standard. I feel that a real job is one that is legal, does not harm others and is able to support one’s lifestyle — any type of work that falls into this category is honorable and perfectly acceptable. My motto is the old adage “live and let live”. Now if I could just get over my guilt of not fulfilling my parent’s ideologies.

  6. Brant says:

    A “real job” is anythign that puts food on the table.

    The problem I have is that the person in your post’s expect’s a tip. I alweays thought a tip was for something over and above your job duty’s and shoul dnever be expected. Maybe it’s his attitude that he is getting lower tips.

    In college I worked jobs that recieved tips. I busted my butt weather the person was a dick or super nice. I never expected anything from anyone. If I got a tip great. if not, well I still had my job and I made my money there.

    It’s the culture of the USA now. If you work a service job they expect to get something. And it better be enough your you’ll get spit in your food the next time. What happened to pride in yourself and your efforts? Some of these people have entitlement issues just like the snobby rich people.

    And btw, every job serves another in some way shape or form.

    1. Jordan says:

      It would be nice if, when you went to college, you spent more time focusing on how to use English properly and actually learning something instead of working for tips(an obvious waste of life experience) that you’ve plainly stated that for some reason you shouldn’t have earned despite the wage system being modified to pay them less than half the minimum wage to compensate for. Why don’t you go and get on your, no doubt, alarmingly mediocre high-horse back to your real job. I have worked as a server for a big Italian family for ten years. At the same time- always working two or three at a time- I have worked as a manager, a paralegal, a retail employee, a sales director, a marketing vice president and a consultant- all of which are much less sustainable low paying contract time-death stints than this wonderful serving job where I have made 600-2400 dollars a week for 10 yrs. That, my very naïve friend, is just about as real as it gets.

  7. Scott Lewis says:

    I think you took a bunch of recent comments, and threw them all into the “get a real job bucket”, when many of the comments on your recent posts were a bit more intelligent. That said, my recent comment had to do specifically with a doorman withholding service to people who didn’t tip. To which we can add this quote, from today’s post:

    “Is working at McDonalds a real job? How about a waiter, nanny or garbage man? How about being a cop? The starting salary for NYPD patrolmen is $44, 744 a year so I guess they’re out of the supermodel squiring market. Oddly enough that’s roughly what Manhattan doormen make without tips! Want to tell some rookie he or she doesn’t have a real job? I dare you. Pepper spray stings like a motherfucker.”

    I guess the difference is, a rookie cop WOULDN’T pepper spray you for making a crack like that, nor would they withhold services in lieu of tips. Doormen in Manhattan provide a very valuable service. That said, it pales in comparison to the similarly paid NYPD rookies. That some officers of convenience in NYC apartment buildings would give preferential treatment to those who line their pockets is a shame. You know what we do to cops who get caught with their hand in the cookie jar.

    You accidentally made my point by saying that cops-not-seeking-tips make the same out of the academy as doormen, who face less danger (and had to undergo less academy training).

    I tip doormen. For good service. There is NO obligation.

  8. epilonious says:

    As an aside: I’m sure I could say three words and get the author and a lot of other people all pissed off (“Certainly not Blogging” or “Certainly not writing”)… which leads me to think the very nature of what “constitutes a real job” is dubious at best… prone to unintentionally class-ist comments and nasty reactions as people struggle to justify their place in their workplace.

    To wit: It must be Christmas, that time of season where we feed the trolls.

  9. Leo says:

    It seems like anything in the customer service industry isn’t viewed as a “real job.” Waiting tables is certainly viewed in this way, as you well know. In Corporate America, being self-employed has perversely also somehow come to be viewed in this way.

    I’d call a real job anything you make a career out of, or at least a lifetime out of. It’s not a temporary stop on the way to something else — it’s where you are going to be for the bulk of your working life. Maybe you change employers, but that one particular kind of work is what you’ll be doing wherever you go.

    If you’re at McDonalds to make ends meet while you’re in high school or college, that’s not a real job. If you’re at McDonalds working your way up the management chain as a career, that is a real job. At my local grocery store, they had checkers who had been in that job for twenty years and I would say that’s a real job, even though grocery store checker would be a job most people view as temporary.

    It’s what you answer when someone asks you, “What do you do?” and you say, “I do X,” or “I am X,” for some value of X.

    So doormen, police officers, photographers, clergy, physicians, waiters, grocery store checkers, engineers, crossing guards, teachers, and everything else people do to make a buck: if that job is “what you do,” and not “what you’re doing until you can get into what you really want”, then it’s a real job.

  10. rappy says:

    I think the problem is that many people forget that we can’t all be middle- to upper-class professionals. Someone has to deliver your pizzas, cut your hair, fix your water heater, serve you a burger, and yes, open the door and help you with your parcels, or do any number of skills or unskilled jobs so that those who are educated and in “professional” positions can lead the lives of relative luxury that they lead.

    Another thing that many people who sit in front of a computer in a “proper” office from 9-5 forget is that they don’t work hard, they work smart, mostly because they’ve been given opportunities that not everyone is fortunate to have had. They mistakenly label pushing paper from one spot to the other as hard, completely discounting the fact that many people on this planet work in incredibly demanding physical jobs to create the things that make it possible to push their papers.

    I was, until recently, one of those people who forgot, and I really regret all the asinine comments I made while living in the bubble of self-centredness.

  11. Q says:

    writer for sure isn’t a real job Steve 😉

  12. frymaster says:

    If a doorman makes the same as a policeman, why does a doorman need tips?

  13. merkin4 says:

    The doorman needs tips because the the $44K is probably a top doorman salary, not a starting salary like it is for the officer.

    I’d say a “real” job is one where there is a chance for increased income that isn’t dependant on minimum wage laws. I used to wash dishes for $3.35 an hour. Great “work” for a college student. Same when I was working as a therapist in a group home. No matter how long I worked in either position, I wasn’t going to get a raise that wasn’t manadated by an act of Congress. But, once I got into a position where busting my butt meant the potential for a raise, then it became a real job. No matter how well I washed dishes, no matter how many burgers I flipped, I wasn’t going to get a raise unless I was moved into a different position.

    “Work” means you can be replaced with a thirty-minute training video and a new strip of plastic in the name tag. “Job” implies a level of professionalism and dedication is needed to get anywhere else.

  14. Kris says:

    Some fail to realize that it is the government who has determined that many tipped professions can be paid under the federal minimum wage and that tips must make up the difference. Is it right? The argument can go either way. However, the law is what it is, and if everyone who didn’t agree with it fled the profession, many of you would be rioting at your local Chili’s, demanding Baby Back Ribs from the lone server. Hell, half of you would probably be demanding free shit due to the moderately slow service. Such is life. Does the government’s method of compensation make a service job any less real that the exact same job in Australia, where more employees are paid a liveable wage? No. Not on your life.

  15. Holly says:

    Sorry rappy, but I don’t buy the “people who sit in front of a computer 9-5 were probably given opportunities that others were not as fortunate to have”. There are plenty of programs to help less fortunate people. My parents were on welfare the first 3 years of my life, then my mom got a job as a cashier and my step-father as a farm hand. We never had much money, and so I qualified for government student loans to go to university. My parents never had to contribute a dime to my education, because I applied for all the government programs that I could. Now I have a “cushy” 9-5 job and I support my parents.

    The opportunities are there, you just have to look for them.

  16. Rita Sporrer says:

    I think that it used to be, maybe still is true, that waiters were apprenticed, as plumbers, electrician, etc. are today. I believe this was a European thing, but again, I am not sure, it is something someone told me years ago. His Austrian grandfather was a waiter in NYC decades ago.

    Would a “real job” be one of those Wall Street or bank jobs where people prey on the working class?

  17. Kahomono says:

    I’m not sure it has to be legal to be real. You don’t think retail drug dealers work hard for a living? Or prostitutes?

    You have a real job if you take it seriously, if it’s your way of keeping your nose above water in the world. So now why do you give a f* what someone else thinks of your job?

    You all need to read (or re-read) the book Working by Studs Terkel.

  18. Aubree says:

    I want to second the commenter who said, “If a doorman makes the same as a policeman, why does a doorman need tips?”

    I want to add here that I do not live in NYC, I live on the West Coast, so I may not be entirely in line here… but I have a really hard time understanding why a doorman who makes 40k a year with union benefits is appalled that people aren’t leaving him $600 tips at Christmas.

    I realize fully that while 40k is pretty good in most states, it isn’t very much in NYC. But the man has benefits, something that most cooks making much less than 40k even in NYC don’t have. Cooks don’t get tips either. It seems to me that the doorman should be making tips all year around from the customers who require extra services. To be expected to drop hundreds of dollars at Christmas on one building employee whether you have him do extra for you or not is a little intense.

    A little closer to home for me… If I have a regular hairdresser that I go to every six weeks, I’m going to tip him/her well every time I visit. This is much easier to swallow than dropping a $50 on a tip just because it’s December. Should I then tip the baggage person who bags the groceries I purchase for Christmas dinner? We have to draw a line somewhere when it comes to “being required to tip” or everyone is going to be broke poor tipping any employee they come into contact with, especially during the month of December.

  19. Bethany says:

    My first job in the ‘real world’ after graduating from college was as a waitress. My parents and siblings used to give me such a hard time, saying that I should do more with my degree. Now I am the Director of Purchasing at a hotel in Los Angeles and never use my degree. My dad finally realized that without waitressing, I never would have gotten this amazing job.

  20. The IT Guy says:

    I guess i have a real job. I’d prefer to have Steve’s job though! more important than “what is a real job” is the question “who was that dickhead to judge” … no one i say, no one!

  21. rhiannon says:

    when i tell people that i’m an art teacher (grades k-8) i usually get the following reactions:
    thing 1: “aww, how cute”
    or the even more patronizing
    thing 2: “oh how fun you get to play all day with glitter and markers and kids”.
    me: yeah. that’s what i do. all. day. 0_o (insert sarcasm here. sure, 1st graders don’t get sarcasm, but gee, some adults don’t either)

  22. rhiannon says:

    btw, i forgot to add…great blog, (and book!) i’ve been reading you for a long time but never posted for some reason. till now.
    hi! ^_^

  23. Amanda Sowards says:

    I was told constantly when I was a stay-at-home mom that I was so lucky I didn’t have to go to work. I was always insulted by that statement, but back when I was doing it, raising a child and running a home were not considered “jobs”. I guess this was because I never made any money at it. It sure felt like a job. And unlike the other “real jobs” I’d held prior, there was no quitting time. It was 24/freakin’ 7.

    Years later, long after I’d returned to work, some shee-shee-poo-poo University study priced out what stay-at-home moms do and determined that if you were to pay a fair wage for each of the tasks that moms who don’t work outside the house do (laundry, house-cleaning, personal management, child care, transportation, dog-walking, etc.), you’d be shelling out about $275K a year.

    That’s ballpark to what a freshly minted MBA makes his first year bundling fake derivatives and selling them to unsuspecting investors as if they were a real thing.

    Soooo… who’s got the “real job?”


  24. Joan of Argghh! says:

    I think at times people mean something more along the lines of “if you don’t like your job, get a better one, but don’t expect me to subsidize your career choice.”

    Crappy jobs are work, and they serve a valid purpose: to teach us that we want a better job. Folks who stay at an entry-level ability should not expect a living wage or demand that an employer look after their every need.

    I know waiters who take home some sweet, untaxed income that would make my son, a chef, able to afford health care. Do you know what my response is when he crabs about the lousy pay? I tell him that he has a degree in business and if he wants more money at the end of his bills, he can do something about it.

    But he loves his craft, even though no restaurant patron feels obliged to subsidize his career choice.

    Someone wants to be a doorman? Then he takes the good with the bad, like everyone else does.

    Gah. The whining!

  25. Chris P says:

    These comments make me angry. I am female and work in th public sector. I work about 10 hours a day, and nights and weekends, too. Regardless, whether for Democrats or Republicans, because I work in the public sector, I am worthless. Seriously folks, I am no better than the person who picks up my refuse, than my investment advisor, than the person who delivers my pizza, than the person I hire to shovel my walk. We all work. I am not better than anyone who works for me, who works with me, or who I work for-I do what I need to do in order to meet my obligations.

    Occasionally, I work a second job-just to get to a goal-a piece of art or an electronic thing I want. Sometimes-just to get out and meet folks-some good and some bad. I expect the good, laugh at the bad, and get to where I want to be.

    I did the bar and restaurant bit for so many years. It taught me to respect people who respect and take care of me. I love waiters-love to meet them. I understand a bad day. I have them, too.

  26. A says:

    I was in NYC last year on a holiday and jumped on one of those “hop on/hop off” buses. The tour guide was a really funny old guy who had clearly had his fair share of janga back in the day. His line of work is obviously such that he also relies on tips from his patrons. What struck me interesting was he made a comment about when we may need to use a public toilet when wandering around NYC and he recommended that we use the toilets in the hotels. In saying this, he mentioned that if the concierge in the hotels refuse to let us use the hotel, we should turn to them and say “you work for tips, go to college, get a degree, and get a real job rather than trying to show me authority”.

    Clearly to this guy, a real job was a piece of paper that told a person they can be an accountant, lawyer, engineer etc…

    My point is Steve, where do you draw the line when you have your own bagging out their peers?

    In my view, someone has to do that job – someone has to serve the customers at McDonalds, someone has to scan your bread at the supermarket etc. There’s no such thing as a “real job” – what there is, unfortunately, is such thing as losers that patronise others because they do have the $100k+ salary, or are a douches married to a douche earning the big bucks. Sadly I don’t see that mentality changing for a very long time.

  27. &rw says:

    Wasn’t there a study which kind of job is worth what to society?

    Ah yes, here it is:
    “Cleaners ‘worth more to society’ than bankers – study”

  28. Brian says:

    First off I believe that anything that brings money into your pocket is a “real job”. Weather it’s something you enjoy doing or weather it’s a job for the moment, (especially in these economic times), money is money.
    Second, everyone is good at something different. Yes people might not look at some stuff as a real job or because of what you do they think it’s all fun and games. (Think flight attendants, tour guides, waiters, etc..) You know what though, they pity people that have the 9-5 jobs and work in a cubicle. Look at someone like Wolfgang Puck. Started as a busser in New York and worked his way all the way up and now runs what, 8 or 9 restaurants around the country? (Yet when you have to fill out an application or fill out something online regarding
    employment, “restaurants” or similar service type jobs don’t seem to have a spot on their list of jobs, but that’s a whole other rant)
    Lastly, it’s your life, not theirs. And while they might not look at you as having a “real job”, I would love to put some of my guests in my shoes and see how they do for a day. You know those people, the one’s that look at you like, “how hard is your job”? Now I think that would be an interesting TV reality show.

  29. Amo Neco Uzer says:

    Speaking of tips, this one doorman got a Honda as a christmas tip.

    Happy Holidays!

  30. andrea says:

    I’ve got a real job and I don’t even get paid for it. I am a stay at home mother! Someone’s got to do it! I hope that when my kids leave school they have a job that they feel passionate about; a hobby with pay! (Unlikely, but desirable!) I hope that whatever they choose will be a real job to them.

  31. Fenn says:

    I think a real job is one that can’t be filled the next day by a 15-year-old replacement.

  32. LilBit6_2 says:

    To me a “real job” is anything that does not include working the system to earn money; i.e. people who make their living through welfare, unemployment benefits or professional students who constantly receive tuition grants as their only income but never seem to graduate.

    To me, a person who does any form of actual work what-so-ever to provide income has a real job. This does NOT include pan-handlers. LOL

  33. Aïda says:

    What a stupid comment to make that one “to get a real job”. And you are so right! What is a REAL job? Who knows!? Every job is a job even if you do not get paid at all for it. I have a job that I get paid for and I also have an unpaid job volunteering.
    Anyway, thanks for posting that link to to Today Show. Since we can not watch the show here in the Netherlands I was happy to watch it online.

  34. taiyyaba says:

    a real job is one you love!

  35. Stephan says:

    I would say anything that allows you to support yourself and not go on welfare is a real job.
    However, the caveat to that would be you really should produce something: a product, service, etc. I’m not entirely sure that qualifies most of the people on Wall Street.

  36. Patrick Maguire says:

    Anyone who does not know what is inherently wrong with uttering, “Get a real job” needs to get a real life. A major part of the ‘entitlemania’ epidemic is that the condescending, elitist perpetrators are in denial. Until they are confronted with a cathartic wake-up call(Tiger Woods), they will continue to be boorish douchebags.

  37. Jan says:

    A real job is one where you can get by without depending on the generosity of customers. A doorman makes as much as a policeman, so why would I tip him when I don’t tip a policeman who does something much more valuable.

    1. Jordan says:

      I’m not sure that what police do is very valuable….they kill more people a year than shark attacks…I think that they are far overvalued…now a doorman…you aren’t getting in without him.

  38. Unhindered by Talent says:

    Every once in a while, a couple of my favorite blogs collide. Kevin Smith (Director: Clerks, Mallrats, more) just made a great post about doing what you love. He sums up my opinion about “real jobs” with this line:

    “…doesn’t matter whether someone thinks you’re good at it or not; opinions pay imaginary rents, kids. You get paid to do it, you’re a pro.”

  39. mur says:

    I had a ‘real job’ as a scientist in a large company for 15 years. The corporate structure ate up people and spit them out for sport. Believe me, it was plenty real. I quit the job, got a second mid-life degree, and now work with children with disabilities in a non-profit agency. Though it has been 10+ years, many of my former colleagues thought I failed. Oh, the corporation that I used to work for went belly up – those former colleagues now see my early escape as genius.

    A real job is whatever you make it. Other people’s judgment is their problem.

  40. sales girl says:

    I think a real job supports your life/family.

    I think there is a lot of “classism”, but it goes both ways. I have gotten the same slack from men who work with their hands, like construction, about how working in the corporate world wasn’t “real” since we didn’t sweat or risk our lives.

    As long as you actively, and hopefully substantially, contribute to your and your families personal bottom line (salary or house work) it is REAL work.

  41. Rebecca Y says:

    “The starting salary for NYPD patrolmen is $44, 744 a year so I guess they’re out of the supermodel squiring market. Oddly enough that’s roughly what Manhattan doormen make without tips!”

    Don’t you see that this is EXACTLY the argument people who don’t like tips are making? Cops make less money than those jobs, their job is MORE dangerous, MORE annoying, and they get 10x more shit than waiters or tipped staff. And yet, they DON’T get tips. And they’re fine with that. There’s lots of people making less than tipped people, but they don’t get tips. And here comes a doorman who’s complaining that he doesn’t get the extra $10,000 (that’s a LOT OF MONEY!!) for doing what? His job.

    By the way, why should I tip extra during “christmas” if that holiday means nothing to me? It’s as arbitrary a time of year for me as…the 3rd of April.

  42. Deni D. says:

    I used to hear that ALL THE TIME when I waited tables. Especially when I got into my 30s. “When are you going to get a REAL job?” I was once asked this by some regulars and I replied, “You want to strap this apron on and see how real this job becomes for YOU?” Ugh.

  43. calbear says:

    I presume the aspects of what some people call a “real job” include: normal hours, a regular salary, upward mobility (e.g., income), opportunities for growth, concrete requirements for employment (e.g., a degree), and not being something the rest of us do on off hours. So it’s a “real job” as opposed to a “dead-end job,” a “fun job,” or “self-employment.” Of course, Bill Gates not only lacks a degree, he got where he got being self employed, he likely saw it as “fun,” and he never got a promotion. So it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

    I don’t think it’s a matter of the work itself being easy, though, as much as the aforementioned aspects. But recipients of the “real job” cut often take it that way, because, of course, they are really working. Then again, so is Sisyphus.

  44. Waiterrant Fan says:

    I think maybe you were having a bit of a tough time when you wrote this post because it shows some antagonism towards your readers which is not normally present – even when they are obnoxious.
    I don’t think any poster who says tipped workers of any variety ‘ought to get a real job’ actually means either that they do not presently have a real job or that the job they have is unworthy. What I think it generally means is that the commenter thinks the demands for tips has probably gone too far and if people don’t like being reliant on the financial goodwill of others they ought to change jobs.
    I don’t think that position is particularly unreasonable.
    Have a Wonderful Christmas!

  45. calbear says:

    Oh, and others view a “real job” as one where you have to deal directly with a for-profit business on a regular basis. By that judgment, social worker, a U.S. Senator, and a stay-at-home parent are not real jobs, whereas a waiter and a doorman are about as real as it gets. That standard, however, is most often applied to politicians, e.g., “Most of the Kennedys never had real jobs.” Unless your doorman is running for the city council, I doubt that applies, but it’s yet another interesting criterion. I wonder how many Americans have jobs that are “real” by every criterion….

  46. Kris says:

    “Jan wrote on 12/21/10 at 12:26 pm :

    A real job is one where you can get by without depending on the generosity of customers. A doorman makes as much as a policeman, so why would I tip him when I don’t tip a policeman who does something much more valuable.”

    Jan, I don’t know about doormen, but servers and bartenders are legally paid below minimum wage because the GOVERNMENT expects customers to make up the difference with tips. In the state of Iowa, I was legally paid $3.29/hour to wait tables and $5/hr to bartend. Sure, I made above minimum, but that’s why minimum exists. The GOVERNMENT assumes that a customer will pay the difference, because they made the policy. Any tip at or below whatever increases server wage to minimum wage is not “generosity” to the government, its part of the cost of dining out.

  47. Ceetar says:

    A “real job” is a job that if you do it successfully every day, you’ll be able to afford a house, kids, and retirement without having to ever look for another one.

  48. Bob Dobbs says:

    Let’s be frank: by the rules of our society, a “real” job is one that makes you a lot of money so that you don’t rely on anyone else for anything. The people who say “get a real job” are really saying, you’re sponging off me or off my taxes; you’re nothing unless you pay your own way, make yourself with no help, like I did.

    Only mainly, they didn’t. Ask a 50-year-old accountant how much he paid for college, versus what the kids pay now. So many of the big successes in high tech, the guys who built companies from nothing, had parents who were millionaires. That include Bill Gates, a Harvard boy.

    Ask the businessmen where he’d be if civil servantd didn’t maintain the roads, if teachers didn’t train his workers, if universities didn’t exist to do research in the technology he needs — unless, oh right, he’s decided he’s going to offshore. Too bad! Make something of yourself! While I’m pulling the rug out from under you.

    It’s the blind arrogance, backed by underlying fear, that everybody should be self-sufficient, that we made ourselves and owe nothing to nobody so you can do anything you want. And it’s taking this country off a cliff.

  49. Waiting says:

    I wait tables and sometimes when I vent about people who are rude or fail to tip me people will respond that I should get a “real job.” A lot of the time the people saying it make less money than me and work more hours. They think their job is “real” because they feel that they are making a noticeable or measurable contribution to society. I make my contributions in other ways, using the spare time that waiting tables allows me to have.

    I give to charity.
    I volunteer.
    I raise my child without using babysitters or daycare workers.

    At the end of the day these contributions will pay off a lot more than putting in 80 hours a week as an investment banker. In the end, that’s all that matters.

  50. Turner says:

    Two points, then I’m done.

    First, you can never win the “cops make less than doormen and have more dangerous jobs” argument. There’s always another job to one-up with. An Army SSgt (6+ years of service) makes between 30-45K. An elementary school teacher in Georgia makes about 40K, and that includes at Title 1 schools. They’re both extremely hard jobs, and neither gets tips.

    Second, I think the point of the original article wasn’t about tips and the service industry. It’s generally good practice to tip those in the service industry who provide you with personal good service. I think the point of the article was just an interesting story about some cheapos who’ll remodel their kitchen from one hand, then not tip their trusted doorman with the other. Don’t be that guy.

    “It’s not tipping I believe it, it’s overtipping.” – Vinnie Antonelli (My Blue Heaven)

  51. Margot says:

    I think a lot of people don’t think jobs that people work because they like them are “real jobs”. If you love your job and going to work then it can’t be a real job, like photographer or designer or artist or teacher. A “real job” has to be something you dislike or complain about. And as nobody supposedly wants to be a server or a doorman, it can’t be a real job. At least that’s the vibe I’m getting from a lot of these comments.

    I’m about 3/4 done getting my design degree, and I joke at work (coffee shop) that in the next six months or so I’ll be looking for a “real job”. I always use air quotes when I say that and speak with a lot of sarcasm, but I do feel weird saying it around my coworkers that support kids with this job, ’cause to them it’s “real”. The pay is real and the labour is real and the needs the job fulfills are real.

  52. JFS in IL says:

    Wasn’t it Mark Twain who said work was whatever a body did not want to do?

    Hence if you need to be paid to do something – it is a job and you are working.


  53. Jimmy Rogers says:

    I can tell you that I certainly DON’T have a real job…I’m a GRAD STUDENT!!!! In fact, people in my field generally don’t get their first “real” job until they’re 35 or so (so even post-doctoral fellowships, 40K/year don’t count)!

  54. Susan Schwartz says:

    I’ve found lots of other people’s jobs look easy — until you try to do them. There’s nothing like spending a day wrestling with replacing a burst water line – it looked so easy to replace when I read the do-it-yourself book – to make you appreciate a real plumber.

    As a reporter, I’ve job shadowed mail carriers, teachers, police officers, farmers and mall Santas, and every one of those jobs turned out to have problems I never would have anticipated – and tricks to the trade I wouldn’t have thought of.

    To me, a real job is any work that lets you support yourself without government help – they’re all harder than outsiders think, and there’s a reason someone pays others to do them.

    And yes, being a stay-at-home spouse counts – you’re earning part of the other person’s pay by giving your spouse the time he/she needs to devote to his/her career.

  55. Jessica says:

    If no one has forward this to you yet, I hope you get a laugh.

  56. DomainDiva says:

    In my world of aviation a real job is where you have a real airline or leasing company to work for. I have not had a real job since 1995. I make about 90K a year and I have my office at the house and spend about 1/3 of the year on the road…mostly in foreign countries. I do aircraft records for lease returns, pre-buys, and pre-leases. I am happy where I am. I have no vacation time, I am on call for clients 24/7/365 and even carry my clients info (external hard drive) with me when I do go off for awhile. I also do not have health insurance and rely on the investment account that is set up for that purpose.

    The ‘real job’ is a joke amongst people like me.

  57. Thomas Drew says:

    What is a real job?

    Real jobs in my narrow primary definition are those in which workers take something out of the ground or grow a crop or make something tangible and useful or edible out of those raw materials that were mined or grown.

    A secondary-level definition would include workers who provide services that create conditions so the primary workers can do their jobs. That might include financiers, managers, or even leisure time service jobs like those in restaurants, which real workers use for refreshment and restoration (the etymology of “restaurant,” is it not?) To the extent doormen do this, they have real jobs, in my book.

    I’ve spent nearly forty years now in a civil service/social service agency, offering services to disabled people, ostensibly to help them get jobs. Of course this often involves paying for people to go to college. Rarely does it produce the result the public thinks it is getting. One of my superiors, with more time in this business than I have, defined it perfectly, albeit backhandedly, when she said “This is not the Department of Entertainment for People Who Have No Life.”

    Over time, I have a harder and harder time thinking of what I do as a “real job.” In more candid moments, I think I am just a second-level parasite upon primary-level parasites, collecting a modest salary for promoting a public fantasy of doing good.

    We needn’t go into the meaning of “disabled” here, but suffice it to say it has changed over the decades, from bad backs, heart disease and spinal cord injuries to depression, personality disorders and learning disabilities. Just about anybody who wants to claim a disability will not be turned away. (Remember, agencies like mine live on numbers, and auditors need it to stay afloat just as rats need ships not to sink. Keep this in mind when reading census data on the subject.)

    Having said that, it’s not the job title or the level of education that makes a job real—not always, anyway. One day, one of those auditors might take it into his head to be a real auditor. Until he does, he’s just scratching along like many others, afraid his cravenness and incompetence may be discovered before his deferred compensation adds up to where he can live on it. I suspect more people are in that boat than we realize.

    Most people are not heroes, and those are probably the ones who cover their worries by saying to others, Why don’t YOU get a real job.

    The best job I ever had was mowing hay, my first semester in college, where work on the school’s cattle ranch was required. The only class requirement was Public Speaking. It took place once a week before the whole community, and when your turn came up, you’d better have something to say. Good school.

    Since then I never had to sweat in the hot sun and get alfalfa down my shirt to make a living, but there’s many a day when I’ve longed for it.

  58. BillyName99 says:

    @ Kate; Let’s re-read, shall we?

    “Does a real job mean you’re a super model banging, high-end Mercedes driving super corporate type?”

    Perhaps you should turn in your feminist card, because no part of that statement does it refer to “man” or “woman”.

    How do you know that the High powered corporate exec is a Man? How do you know it isn’t a smart, tough, **woman** who rules with an iron fist?
    The Supermodel that’s getting banged might be an underwear model for International Male for all you know.

    Oh, and in case you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of Women police officers, and the last time I checked, Mercedes Benz doesn’t have a ‘Men Only’ policy at the dealership.

    So, that said, Any honest work that pays the bills is a “real” job.

    I’ve been a Security guard, a Janitor, a busser, a Cook, and Mover. My wife has waited tables, ran a convenience store, delivered sandwiches, and cleaned houses.

    None of these became a career, but each of them was a “real” job.

  59. Jim Carver says:

    I would classify a ‘real job’ as one where one does not have to rely on tips or gratuities in order to survive.

  60. Timbo says:

    I’m with BillyName99, Kate is perhaps being a touch Millle Tant. No mention of gender – it’s all in our interpretation.

    It is interesting that many of us do still perceive the proper jobs as being male roles. A real job – when you earn your money – what ever way that may be.

    I guess it removes the trust funded, inherited wealth, gamblers, thieve and…the deliberately work shy and lazy.

    You know them, often young men, who just don’t seem to get the idea that you need to actually work to get something and that means carrying, writing, cleaning, welding, cooking etc. That it isn’t always fun and yes people will be rude, harsh and arrogant but this is not infringing your human rights. It’s part of life – part of a job is to do your best and get paid.

  61. frankD says:


    i think the discussion should rather be “DO YOU DO A REAL JOB ?”

    i know of very important jobs being done by very skilled and experienced workers who unfortunately don’t get paid much and for the most part go unheralded and under-appreciated

    and i also know of many “stars” and specifically one very highly paid professional baseball player who compiles impressive statistics during the season, when they really don’t matter, and who will never be a championship performer because he chokes in every post season game he has ever played in



  62. TL says:

    Any idea how much to tip the guys who give you your paper in the morning?

    I get the metro in the morning everday for the train ride downtown and these guys are out there in the hot and cold all year – not sure what to give them

  63. last one home says:

    As an earlier commenter stated, a real job IS anything that puts food on the table. I have worked in hospitality my whole life, started at the bottom, reached the absolute heights, and since being the victim of one man’s poor decision I have spent the past year walking in a bizarre and confusing working wilderness. I still wouldnt trade my working life for anything.

    I was taking home $50,000/yr when I was twenty-one years old. I have an MBA, but stayed in restaurants after graduation because I was making more money and had more autonomy and authority there than I would have had for years in the world of finance.

    Our industry is the very epitome of a proving ground–constant stress, constant demand to perform, and almost no ability to rest on laurels or previous accomplishments. As the economy turned, I had the opportunity to hire physicians, bankers, stockbrokers, real estate agents, retail managers, and accountants who were returning to the industry of their youth out of desperation–some flourished and some failed, but all developed an immediate respect for the daily demands of what we do.

  64. Mike says:

    This is a stupid straw argument. If you don’t like what you’re earning as a waiter/doorman/whatever, get a DIFFERENT job. If a different job requires more training or skills, get the training or develop those skills. If you’re unable to get the training or develop the skills, then too bad, that’s why you’re stuck being a waiter.

    You can focus on the few people who say to get a REAL job if you want to have a spiffy comeback. But that’s not really the point.

  65. Reader says:

    A real job is any legal profession or occupation, whether it pays or not. I can guarantee you that the many people who volunteer their services, or work low-paying jobs for non-profits, are also working real jobs.

    What gets me is a doorman makes $45k and expects tips. Plenty of people make $45k as their annual salary and DO NOT make tips. We’re ALL working “real jobs” – why do some of us get tips and others don’t? Because your book says so?

    I work for a civil engineering firm. Do you enjoy flushing your toilet? Driving on the streets? Using electricity? Great – where’s my tip? Hey, if you can’t afford to tip me, maybe you can’t afford to flush that toilet. Right?


    I think that is the genesis of the “Get a real job” outburst.

    Tips are for people who are paid below the legal minimum wage, who rely on the tipping protocol to make their actual salary. If you are making $45k a year on a regular paycheck signed by your employer, you’re not a minimum wage employee – you indeed have “a real job.” If you want a Christmas bonus, see the person who signs your checks like the rest of us who don’t – for whatever arbitrary and subjective reason – expect to be tipped as part of their regular job.

    If people wish to give you something extra to be NICE, or as a THANK YOU, then you should GRATEFULLY ACCEPT. But do not EXPECT it, and for heaven’s sake, do not refer to them as “cheap motherfuckers” because they have not given you what you feel you’re entitled to receive.

  66. Andrew says:

    @ #4-Donna

    On behalf of the engineering profession, I apologize for those uppity, superficial people claiming to be “real engineers” just because they have a degree. In my opinion, the most important part of being a good engineer is the willingness to get dirty and break a sweat trying to figure out what’s going on with the particular system your working on. Whether this be a piece of software, a piece of earthmoving equipment, or an industrial process, you should be willing (and eager!) to get involved and learn what makes it tick, what is involved in making it, and how the people who interact with it on a daily basis think of it.

    I’m starting a job soon at a place where the union actually prohibits the engineers from “getting their hands dirty”, so to speak. A union worker must be brought in just about any time even a single small screw is too be turned. Personally, I wish I could be getting right in on the machinery to truly understand what the best solution would be, which I know from experience is not always the most elegantly engineered solution.

  67. Actress says:

    I always tease my voice teacher that she doesn’t have a “real job” but both of us work at least 1.5 times as much as a standard office worker every week… And earn less…

  68. Dave says:

    It’s sour grapes. Most of us have jobs we need rather than like. Many of us have jobs that are not only not exciting, but difficult as well.

    So when we hear about someone who works because they want to (maybe not because they have to), doing something the like, and/or something that we perceive as not all that difficult, we don’t consider that to be a “real job.”

  69. James says:


    Real job is the kind job that doesn’t require shameless whoring for tips.

    Minimum wage should be enough for a waiting job. Remember Reservoir Dogs? I’m 100% with Mr. Pink: learn to fucking type!

  70. Marsha says:

    As a self-employed editor, whose work hours range from hardly any to 80 a week, depending on deadlines, I know that a real job isn’t reflected by its earnings. But I do think it is related to making an agreement in advance with someone who is willing to pay you for your time; when you are self-employed, you decide to charge what the market will bear that is commensurate with your skill level. The “get a real job” jab is related to the chancy nature of jobs that don’t have that inherent agreement – if you are willing to gamble whether or not you will be adequately paid for your work, it is thought that you don’t have a “real” job. Either you can afford to work for less than is fair, or you are paid more than is fair often enough to balance out the times when you are paid less; either way, it is not an above-board arrangement, and it winds up (however unfairly) being reminiscent of begging. Unless you’re an adrenaline junkie who enjoys the rush of being surprised by every tip, I can’t see the appeal of a job that relies on tips to make the rent; it seems demeaning. Workers should be paid what they are worth to their employers, and not have to fret about it – most of us are.

  71. The Chef's Not Italian says:


    I’d love to say something like go fuck yourself. So… go fuck yourself.

  72. Tom H says:

    Err, hang on a second. If a doorman makes the same as a copper, exactly why does he need tips?

  73. Susan says:

    I love people who say that all restaurant employees should be paid enough to compensate for tipped income. Do you realize that most restaurants have about a 10 – 15% profit margin? How would you really like paying $15 for a hamburger? Remember, no tipping required on that one! How would you like it if customer service in an average restaurant was on par with European standards? I can guarantee you would miss the chirpy, smiley server you are currently getting!! I know there are many, many servers, etc that provide excellent service due to an outstanding work ethic, pride in a job well done, etc. And then there’s everyone else. Without the possibility of a profit incentive, many customers would be appalled that their rudeness (exemplified by the previous post) would be returned tit for tat. Oh, by the way, I do not consider myself to be a whore. I am a restaurant professional that takes pride in my industry, in an honest service and in an honest dollar honestly labored for. I certainly cannot say I have the same opinion of desk jobs. How may whores are working in the financial industry, the advertising industry, the political industry, the military – war industry? So, my “real job” is the one that allows me to make a living and still have some ind of moral standard (oh and not steal money out of people’s retiemnet accounts!!)

  74. tkjoffs says:

    I have never been to your site before in my life and I just happened to stumble upon this post through a facebook share. I must say, I have never found a single blog post more pointed and stabbing as this one – and it is fantastic! I personally have one of those semi-real jobs in IT but I have worked in Taco Bell, Construction, waiter, IT, Grocery stocker, sales, etc. Trust me when I say every job is a real job and I certainly hope that the person that sent you the comment that spurred this post gets a copy of this and all the comments in his mailbox a few thousand times. Great job!

  75. Steely Dan says:

    Real Job : something which requires at the least a semblance of qualification.

    A Doorman : WTF ?

    A Waiter : Ditto

    These are for high school students – a chance to make some money.

    Get some qualifications and stop being so demanding. Be grateful that you are being paid AND being tipped.
    If you’ve got Real qualifications and yet prefer to be a Waiter, then it is a career choice and you have bear with all the shortcomings.

    Sheesh – WHAT a crappy blog this has gradually turned into !

  76. nunya says:

    Ah yes, the mythical magical “real job.” I got the impression that that was only possible once the people I grew up with got their bachelor’s degree.

    I was offended.

    I’ve worked some jobs that were hot, dirty, soaked me in soapy water, made me learn how to think on my feet, deal with irate customers face to face and I could go on.

    If that ain’t real I dunno what is.

    Life in a cubicle just is not for me. If that’s “real” they can have it, I’m claustrophobic, and cubicles feel surreal to me.

  77. nunya says:

    And I forgot being a mother. If being a mother was considered a real job maybe there wouldn’t be so many flaming a$$holes out there.

  78. Steph says:

    As long as you work hard and take pride in your work, and have integrity- that’s real work. Status based on career success is superficial.

  79. Birdofsong says:

    Okay — I have a thought for the Stay-At-Home-Moms that posted on here that they are doing a “real job.” I stayed home with my kids for 8 years. What a glorious gift they have to have the opportunity to stay home with their children without the pressure of having to work a real job (yes, I said it – and I can because I’ve been there). Is it tough raising children and taking care of the home? Sure, but guess what — those of us who have no choice but to go out and earn a salary in order to keep that home still have all of the same responsibilities you do, and we don’t get to take naps, watch television, have playdates or go out shopping and to a leisurly lunch with our friends.

    When I get home from working 8 1/2 hours a day, I still have to cook, clean and take care of my kids, who require just as much attention as yours.

    Sorry to burst your bubble.

  80. Old Sarge says:

    I have worked as a bean picker, a soda jerk, a waiter, a DPW laborer, a soldier, a computer (Univac II) programmer, an advertising copywriter and finally, thank God, a freelance writer since 1989. My wife tells me, “You can’t retire; you’ve never worked!” If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. I have been singularly blessed.

  81. Bill says:

    I made the comment in question. To clarify, what I meant by a “real job” is that anyone can be a doorman, it really takes no special skills. I am sick of everyone with their hand out all the time in jobs that take no special skills at all. The fact that this doorman is talking shit about the “cheap” people in his building is laughable. He is a doorman, anyone off the street can do his job, he should not expect huge tips for doing his extremely simple job. There are a lot of people who work harder for less money who don’t expect people to give them money for simply doing their job. If 99% of the people on this planet could do your job, stop looking for a tip, just be happy you have a job. I am will reinstate: YOU ARE A DOORMAN, ANYONE CAN DO YOUR JOB, JUST BE HAPPY YOU HAVE ONE. It’s not like he had his choice between doorman and surgeon. I have been told; don’t let the help forget that they are help.

  82. Lakshmi says:

    Very nicely put, Steve.


  83. xixita says:

    #68 Dave: the comment i was looking for! totally agree!

  84. krs says:

    when i was a bartender i’d hear people say “i can’t wait to get a real job.” i’d think well what is this? don’t they make real money here? money that they can exchange for goods and services? it always bothered me. you can make anything a real job. BUT you have to take the good with the bad. if you’re a doorman be thankful that you’re making a 40k+ salary and getting some tips. you could be a waiter getting a crap salary and having to rely on tips. there are bad things with each and every job. even the supermodel has rough days. imagine having to turn down pizza because you have a shoot the next day? now that’s a shitty day at the office.

  85. just a girl in the world says:

    geez… this doorman sucks. glad i don’t have to greet him every morning.

  86. bloomin onion guy says:

    To Steve, and the people who think like him,

    First of all waiters do NOT make minimum wage. The federal minimum wage for a waiter is $2.65/hour. YOU pay our salary, if you choose to use our services. “learn to fucking type”? how about you learn to fucking cook? then you might not need to go out to eat. or eat at mcdonalds. I don’t “whore” for tips. I do my job, I make your dining experience as pleasant and stress-free as possible and I honestly care that you have a good time and a good meal. (I’m not one of those super-friendly waiters who’s gonna ask you about your day or what brings you to my restaurant, thats just not me)
    One thing many people dont seem to understand is we are not as calm and collected as we seem when we are standing at your table. maybe some day you can take a look in the kitchen and see the chaos we work in. most of us are required to not only take care of our own tables, but also run food for our co-workers, assist anyone who asks for another soft drink or extra dressing, and do all this with a smile and a good attitude.
    to anyone who thinks waiting tables does not require any skill; you have no idea what you are talking about. true, one does not need a degree to do what we do, but you need tremendous patience, a good memory, multitasking skills, be physically fit, and have enough intelligence to navigate the computerized menu quickly and accurately. It’s really not a job anyone can do. In fact, I’m only doing it now because i needed to find a job where i could attend school full-time during the day, and make enough in 25-30 hours a week to help support my family. I have been in the restaurant business for 16 years (11 years as a cook, 1 as a dishwasher, and 4 as a waiter), so i also had the experience needed.
    I also want people to remember we are salespeople. Yes we want you to spend money, so we suggest-sell alcohol, appetizers, and desserts. That’s our job. You are not required to order them, and we will not push further if you decline, but we often receive special bonuses for selling items, and a bigger bill also means a bigger tip. Most servers suggest things they honestly like, not just high-ticket things.
    in conclusion, I would like to ask everyone who reads this, next time you go to a sit-down restaurant, to remember that while you have the right to be sullen and cheerless because you had a rough day at the office, remember that your waiter may have had a worse one, and he or she is still “at the office” your waiter may seem happy and enthusiastic, but in all likelihood he’s also stressed out about the guy at the next table eyeballing him because he wants another loaf of bread.

  87. Vincent Eagan says:

    I’m a preacher. I can’t tell you how many people think I “only work one day a week”. It’s annoying. I would like to take every one who has ever suggested that and force them to do what I do for one week.

  88. dee says:

    haa! look at all the cheapskates up in arms, protesting the doorman tip! what kind, family values people, you are! Steve’s 100% right, of course! Don’t like tipping the doorman? You probably can’t afford to live in a building with one anyhow, so GET A LIFE!

  89. patty v says:

    a real job is whatever someone wants to turn into their career. so many people thing restaurant jobs or other tipped jobs are not “real” jobs because of the lack of benefits, stability (both in money earned, and if there will be a job tomorrow), and the fact that the majority of people employed in tipped positions want something else with their life. the actor or photographer waiting tables and not making a dime in their “chosen profession” will never consider the serving job a real job. for me its different. my restaurant job is a real job in my eyes. i have a bachelors degree in restaurant management, and it is the career of my choice. if you can get a bachelors degree in something, then it must make the job a little legit. for else im out a college education.

  90. patty v says:

    oh and for everyone that thinks being a doormen takes no special skill you are full of shit. it takes just as much skill to smile and say yes sir to a yuppie asshole that is treating you like the bottom of their shoe while smiling the entire time as it does to sit in your cubicle all day. they are working their entire shift non stop from teh time they start till the time they are done with no breaks. must be nice for all you desk jockeys to sit for 8 hours to accomplish 15 minutes of real work, and spending the rest of the day on Facebook, and timing when your next coffee break is. i dont know how you do it, i would kill myself and co workers if i had to sit at a desk. ever think the door man is a door man because he/she wants to be outside enjoying the city rather then being jammed in a cubicle all day for half the pay.

  91. Bill says:

    Patty V-

    Yeah I really believe a doorman works that job because he/she wants to “enjoy the city”. It takes no real skill or education to be a doorman, that is why they are paid so poorly. They should be happy to have a job, not have their hand out all the time looking for tips for simply doing their (very simple) job. My point is many people do more challenging jobs without expecting people to tip them for it. I concede that these people are paid better for their jobs, but seriously, you think someone should be tipped for such a simple job?

  92. Feelie says:

    The expected/standard holiday tip is $100. Philo was excited by the $600 he got from a very generous tenant, but was disappointed by the $20 or $30 received by some of the other tenants. He did not expect $600 from every tenant. It was just really nice of that tenant. I’d be excited by that little lump of cash too! But you argue that a doorman’s job is not a real job, it is simple at best. Now, let’s look at the simple job. Simply put, the doorman opens the door for you when you leave and when you come back. But in addition, he hails you a cab, receives your packages, helps you load your car, alerts you to the arrival of guests, and keeps the unwanted ones away. Standing there in the elements, rain, snow or shine, it’s all part of his job. He gets a salary, you like that, he likes that. Simple enough. But what you’re missing is that added element of service. And not just service, Personal Service. Day in and day out. He says, “Hello, Mr Bill” every morning to you and tips his hat. While opening the door for you, he asks how you are, how your kids are. He does all that with a smile knowing you’ll never invite him over to watch a game on your giant 78″ plasma TV, or go golfing with him, or have cup of coffee together. He does not begrudge you of this either. He’s a professional and he knows what is expected of the relationship and so should you as a tenant. So do we have to PAY for someone to be nice to us? No, there’s no invoice, but it’s just customary to acknowledge someone for their year of service with a token of thanks. If you’re doing well enough to live in a doorman building, giving the standard tip shouldn’t break your bank and would brighten someone’s Christmas. It’s saying, “Hey man, I know you do all this crap for me all year long, and I never do anything for you, but here’s a little something for you and your family that I know nothing. Merry Christmas.” But here’s the kicker: do you know what $100 a year actually comes out to be? Just over 27 cents a day! Damn! Give him a standard tip at Christmas—not to subsidize his simple job of leisure, but to thank him for making YOUR life easier every day—and you’re free and clear of those grubby little hands all year.

  93. Kim says:

    I have a PhD & spent 2 years teaching @ a research 1 university. Was always asked by family when I was going to get a real job & my own dad thought that I was laying around eating bon-bons other than the 9-10 hours/week I was in the classroom. I worked 70-80 hours/week those two years & left to work for the fed govt. Now I work 40 hours/week, enjoy my work & am making a difference.
    All the negative comments about tipping are by people who have NEVER worked in the service industry. In particular, waited tables. Stay home.

  94. nan says:

    I’ve been reading this crap for years. What really constitutes a real job? I worked for 15 years as a bartender. I made great money…was never home past midnight,and was generally a happy person. I also met some cool people, had great conversations. I now work in a 9-5 job. I can’t say that I hate it but I make less money,the office politics are worse (yes, worse than any hotel or restaurant that I have worked for) and although my brain gets a regular work out,I still think I would be far happier in a hotel or a restaurant.
    People seem to be more impressed with my office job,but I still think a real job is something you do well and are happy to go to everyday. I dread Mondays. That didn’t happen in my old restaurant jobs

  95. RJ says:

    I give tips around this time of year to my babysitters ( no doormen in my building) and I can’t afford too much, but I try to give what will make them happy. But if I knew that someone I gave a tip to thought I should give more then a) I wouldn’t give anything and b
    ) they clearly don’t understand that a tip is extra and given according to my sense of what I can afford and how much the other person helped me that year. I live in a condo, haven’t bothered the workers too much and won’t be tipping them. There is a limit to what I can give as tips, especially when I already pay as part of my rent a very large condo fee. If I gave tips to everyone in my building whom I came into contact with, and more than $30, that would be $150 plus my babysitter’s tips.. and maybe the cleaning lady at my office, or the receptionist… If you have an extra $500 lying around, let me know. By the way, doormen have real jobs, but so do insurance analysts – why don’t you give me a tip when you buy a policy from my company?
    What, I get paid already for that?

  96. Restaurant Gal says:

    A friend and restaurant manager placed an ad for servers. He interviewed far too many people who showed up with little or no hospitality experience. When he politely explained that he was hiring only those with recent experience, more than one got angry and said, “Oh come on, I mean how hard can it be to work in a restaurant? Anyone can do it.” In this case, the server job was the “real” job, and the former “real” job holders didn’t land it. Happy New Year to you!

  97. Kacie says:

    One day my dentist, who was a friend of the family was complaining about his early morning commute. I remarked how much I liked not having to work those hours, or have a long commute. He replied that I would have them someday, when I had a real job!

    At the time I was an operations manager of a dinner theater that wined, dined and entertained up to 10,000 a month. I worked 50-90 hours a week, but they just happened to mostly be afternoon and evening hours. I also had a 5 minute commute. Because I didn’t have to be up at the crack of dawn, and drive an hour to work, he didn’t think I had a real job!

    I’m happiest when I don’t have to wake up at 6 am, and I’ve designed my life to suit that. Nothing unreal about it. I think some people just get jealous.

  98. Fenn says:

    @Pattty V

    Wow, shows how useless US degrees are. Restaurant management? Are you serious? That’s not worth a tertiary-level qualification.

  99. Margaret Dunn says:

    A real job? Hey, I was raised by parents who went through the depression and I respect anyone who is willing and able to work at whatever they can find or (luckily) find satisfying. Anyway, I loved your book (Waiter Rant)and it will remain one of my all time favorites with so many nuggets of wisdom bracketed by me.
    The few times I have seen doormen in my life I have admired them for their dignity and handsome look in uniform. smile. Now I bet someone from their ranks could write a best-seller. Lots of stories there, for sure. I bet they know lots of secrets. Hmmmmmmm.
    This whole cultural view of a “real Job” is something that I think got started when the trend birthed that said a college education was the way to go. Now everyone thinks they have to have one and since the system has sold us out so well with all the outsourcing and lack of product made ashore, we now have a large percentage of college grads who find that the paper means huge disappointment plus enormous student debt. I often wonder why the 20 and 30 somethings are not protesting. I think there are so many sucked onto the campuses and pumped full of crazy dreams that our country can no longer support. At least not in some of the fields they are enamored of. I think that every high school senior should see the documentary “Maxed Out” as well as read the book along with parents: “Strapped; why America’s 20 and 30 somethings can’t get ahead” by Tamara Draut. Published in 2005 it was well before the 2007 start of the meltdown and it was ahead of its’ time.
    Since the dawn of time humans have figured out that in order to keep body and soul together, one needs to be willing to work and do their best. Honest work never hurt anybody. It doesn’t matter what you do, you just do it. Bills have to be paid. Obligations met. Hopefully most of the time the work is agreeable or at least tolerable to the spirit. And yes, we all know the corporate types who quit in order to regain sanity and better health. So what does that tell you? Life is all relative and a series of trade-offs. If a change is needed then admit that and work toward the change somehow or if not able to make a change at least try to muster some energy to develop some stress relievers until a change can be made.
    This whole “real job” thing is sort of an elitist slant because I think it implies a level of expected income that can be unrealistic. Unrealistic, I won’t get started. So much seems so out of whack. I loved your line about the 4 girls in an apartment spending all their money on fancy meals out and clothes and forever checking their available credit balance. I roared. How true and how sad. So materialistic and sooooo sucked in. What a waste of spirit and sense. Or lack of sense, common sense.
    Anyway, I agree that any type of work is a real job whether stay at home mom or out there bringing in the bucks. It’s just that the bucks pay the bills and for the vast majority of folks bills have to be paid. A fact of life and not to be resented.
    The biggest mistake some folks make is allowing themselves to get sucked in on something that drains their resources wrongly. This causes resentment and that resentment can get weirdly self-destructive if not recognized.
    But I am off the topic. I appreciate being able to communicate here. Thanks Steve.

  100. Wooly Fundrip says:

    I round up illegal Canadiums and deport them to Australia. Darned Canadiums, down here stealing our jobs, speaking French…

  101. john says:

    a real job is anything legal that puts food on the table and clothes your children’s backs. Doesnt have to be glamorous, and you shouldnt complain about your work (because this country is rife with people who wanted better and got better for themselves), but ANYBODY who works hard and honest has a real job, and deserves your respect until they prove themselves unworthy as an idividual. A guy digging ditches may not seem like much, but if he raises law-abiding children and doesnt hurt others, then he has a real job and anybody looking down on him is just pathetic.

  102. frankD says:


    as i mentioned when this was originally discussed, it is the building BOARD that should address this matter

    when i served on a co-op BOARD, we would solicit annonymous donations from all tenants, during november, and participating tenants could also submit their preferences on their desired disbursement distribution of the total

    these funds were seperate and appart from all other operating and reserve funds and all receipts were disbursed in total directly to various building workers

    the discrepancy in our NYC building was many elderly living on fixed incomes were protected by law in their rent-controlled units could not afford the year end gratuities that many newly enriched insider-purchasing wall street tycoons-to-be could afford

    the idea was to give as generously as one could afford from all tenants in total, without creating bad feelings among both workers and tenants, in the spirit of and for the the good of its intended purpose


  103. Sam says:

    lol I get this all the time. “When are you getting a real job?” I usually respond with “When waitressing stops being a real job” What’s really ridiculous are that the people usually ask me that are college students that haven’t figured out yet that there aren’t any “real jobs” the shitty economy killed them all.

  104. Christa says:

    I am one of the few out of my extended circle of friends/family who does not have a degree. Hell, some of my friends have multiple degrees. So I get crap from them about how my job (retail management) is not important and not a “real job”. I am salary, get benefits, vacation time, personal days, and get to make my own work schedule. But they see my line of work as being beneath them. Even the ones who are unemployed(ranging 4 months – 2 years)refuse to take a job lesser than their degree inorder to pay the bills. I don’t get it.

  105. rolfen says:

    I am guessing a “real job” would be one where you depend on your employer to survive, and not on tips. I can understand people get a bit annoyed by the whole tipping thing. Coming from one of your old posts where you call low tippers “cheap bastards” and other names – and tell them to eat TGI Friday’s if they have low income… well I earn peanuts and still like to eat at a nice restaurant from time to time. When I tip I do so assuming that my tip is appreciated. If it’s not – especially if it gets me called names, I’ll just stay at home, I can cook great food for the quarter of the price, and nobody would be giving me the look of death if I don’t act like Santa Claus when the bill comes.
    The real job thing might just be an indirect way of telling you “hey man, that tip… well it’s a GIFT”.
    I’m pretty sure being a waiter is a real job, and I know from experience how difficult customer service jobs can be. Frankly… after all, I don’t know what that real job thing is about. Maybe they mean one that would be annoying as hell.

  106. John says:

    Usually when somebody gets ugly with me and talks about how i dont have a real job i just respond with “I’ll tell my wife and daughter the job putting food on the table isnt worth the trouble…thanks for helping me see how worthless I am to them.” Usually shuts them up real quick. Even better, I’m single and childless…HAHA

  107. Catherine says:

    If you have a union, benefit and a salary, I’m sorry you don’t *need* tips. Not unless you’ve gone totally and completely out of your way to do something remarkable and completely not a part of your job description. If the IRS says that your wage can be less than the legal minimum because of the expectation of tips, then you get tips. So, postal workers=no tips, building doormen (In NYC at least)=no tips. Waiters and other waitstaff would get tips. Otherwise, if want to make more money you need to make different life choices so that your earnings match your expecatations and your lifestyle choices. For example, don’t live in NYC. What I earn wouldn’t support me in NYC but I like what I do, find it mentally and emotionally rewarding and so I do what I like but I have made the necessary choices to do it in a location where I can afford to live.

    I am not entitled to do whatever work I want to do, live wherever I want to live and expect to earn enough to live upon regardless of the market forces that drive my salary, wage or other forms of remunerations or cost of living. If the pay is wrong than folks shouldn’t do the job. Let’s face it, we make our own choices so don’t slam me if I don’t choose to subsidize your choices. That doesn’t make your choices wrong or mine right it just means that the choice is what it is and that the consequences naturally follow.

  108. Catherine says:

    Oh, I meant to say that a real job is one that provides a benefit to society. So waiter, mother, father, teacher, volunteer, engineer, garbage collector, writer, artist, farmer etc. pretty much all fall into that category. It’s a pretty broad definition and clearly what those jobs pay is, in large measure, based upon how any peraticular society values that job. Can societies’ valuation be out of whack, sure teachers, mothers and cops ought to make WAAAAY more than they do.

  109. KW says:

    I really love the comments that say that a job like waiting or being a doorman isn’t real because it requires no specials skills, or it’s for high school kids, or it’s easily replaceable, ect. Telling someone their job is not real because it requires no college education, or they should just go find a different job if they don’t like the one they have, is incredibly classist. Some people can’t afford to go to college (yes, even with government help. The government doesn’t pay for everything, not everyone can work to support themselves while also going to school). Some people do manage to get a college education, but they can’t get a job in the field they studied, so they get whatever job they can get, even if they hate it. Some people do have jobs that require special skills and education, and they get laid off, so they take whatever they can get to support themselves and their family. These are the real lives of real people, who may or may not be educated, who may or may not have kids to support, who may not be as fantastically privileged as some of these charming commenters. The next time you see someone in their thirties waiting tables, try checking your privilege before you tell yourself they don’t have a real job.

  110. Fenn says:


    That’s entirely the point. If they can’t find a job in their tertiary-educated industry then a job waiting tables instead isn’t a real job.

    I live in a country where the cost of university is negligible, as an interest-free loan that is government-subsidised. You can also receive government benefits for studying. If somebody can find absolutely no way to pursue study then something is very wrong with your system. Do you not have part time or night opportunities? Are they just lazy? I’m sorry, but waiting tables because you can’t be bothered to work hard for a degree is not a real job.

  111. Helen from Canada says:

    Have you ever not been friends with someone because you thought/knew there was something wrong with them? When you work as a waiter in a restaurant, you don’t choose to interact with these types of people, they are your customers and you have to serve them. These are Steve’s 20%. So frankly, doing what you can to get your tip from these otherwise ‘social outcasts’ is okay with me. They come to the restaurants because they are social outcasts and they know they have to get servive.

    I don’t see it as too different from the situation with the doorman. The couple renovating couldn’t afford to give him a year end tip? I don’t believe it.

    If you don’t get called on your poor behaviour, you won’t change it.

  112. lawrie taylor says:

    Yes, I agree with you. Being a doorman or waiter/waitress or holding any position you depend on for tips is certainly a “real” job. The distinction could be made between having a job that gets you by, enables you to pay rent or the mortgage, your bills, put food on the table, support your family, OR having the job of your dreams, one that fulfills your soul and your aspirations and not simply your pocket. I believe that work can certainly be fulfilling and noble but, sadly, most people do not have a job they really love.

  113. Yakzoo says:

    If only there were machines that could sense an approaching pedestrian and mechanically open a door for us…then we could truly say “a doorman’s job is a waste of time”. :/

    I think the jist of the offending post was: if you want to make a better living, rather than begging for funds while you work, do something that requires a skill, and is not readily replaceable by a non-human mechanism.

    Many of a doorman’s duties are readily replaceable by other mechanisms, from calling cabs to opening doors. If we believe the doorman does more than these two things (like security and building management), than his job title should change.

  114. Jennifer says:

    I think most people who say “Get a real job” mean something like this; a 8-5 gig where they’re paid a salary, not hourly, have benefits like 401k and paid vacation, and have health insurance. I dont think it necessarily means having a degree.

    I think they say this usually in response to someone who is complaining about an aspect of their job, like not getting paid time off, a regular pay day, or health insurance.

    When people who have ‘real’ jobs complain about an aspect of their job, they’re usually told to get a different job or ask for a raise.

    I think people who complain about their job a lot solicit this kind of response because their audience is tired of hearing them whine about it and bottom line just want them to either do something about it or shut up.

  115. proud server says:

    The real job thing is something I have heard over and over again in the past twenty years in the restaurant business. It makes me laugh. I used to be a restaurant manager, then I decided I wanted to go back to school, so I started bartending and waiting tables. It’s so funny how we are treated, sometimes, like we are dumb fools who couldn’t possibly succeed in the “real world”. I am forty, and the way some women who are housewives (I work in a fairly affluent area) treat me with such a condescending attitude makes me angry sometimes, yet I quickly remember that I probably make more money than their husbands that they never see, because they are such miserable bitches!

    My husband is also in the business. We own our own home, both have new cars, nice clothes, and aren’t suffering with the horrible economy. Thank God. Just like any other industry, you have to hustle, and strive to be valuable. Many of these people who look down upon us in the service business have the same shitty attitude at work. No wonder they don’t have a pot to piss in.

  116. Lynne Von says:

    There is only one situation in which I would tell someone to ‘get a real job’ – a TELEMARKETER making unsolicited sales calls (although my number is on the ‘no call list’, so this is technically not a legal job) and the so called FUNDRAISERS who jump into your path and harassing you when you’re walking down the street just minding your own business. Of course, if someone is politely handing out flyers or says something like ‘do you have a minute’ I politely say ‘no, thank you’ and that’s it. Same thing with phone calls, I simply say ‘This number is on the no call list and you’re breaking the law by calling me. Please don’t call again’. But the more obnoxious telemarketers/on-the-street fundraisers are, the more I want to tell them to ‘GET A REAL JOB!’ With some people, politeness just doesn’t work.

  117. Chuck says:

    What is a real job?

    Good question. And there sure are plenty of people giving their own version of an answer here. Sadly, none of the people who would say “get a real job”(or their apologists) have yet to define what exactly that is.

    For all the ‘Mr. Pinks’ out there(not specifically James, but him and those like him), I have a question: What do you do for a living? I’m guessing, by the tone of some of these posts that you don’t work for tips. Or do you?

    Maybe you work in an office, with a fixed salary, and don’t have to worry about not making the same money tomorrow as you did yesterday.
    Of course that means you also don’t get raises, bonuses, company cell phones and vehicles, stock options or other such perks either, right?

    Oh, you mean you DO get at least one of those? Well, skippy, that’s a TIP. It’s a ‘little somethin’ extra’ for a job well done. Try not to spend it all at once.

    Here’s the thing. These “get a real job” types never can define what a real job is because they don’t know what it means. They just like the feeling of superiority it gives them to say that kind of crap.

    In the minds of people like this, it’s OK to talk down to a waiter, doorman, or other “service” employee, because they view these positions as beneath them. With this unearned, overinflated sense of self-importance, these people see themselves as some sort of aristocratic class with a God-given right to talk down to “the help”.

    They know that the people who work these jobs rely on the principal that their hard work will be rewarded proportionately, and they get a power trip from denying them such rewards.

    Having said that, these same people then go bust their asses at their own jobs and cry like little babies if they are denied raises, bonuses, promotions, etc.

    Now James, as for “shamelessly whoring” for tips – I am sure you have never worked harder, longer hours, and tolerated your boss’s crap with a fake smile on your face in the hopes of getting a raise, right? Of course you have, as have most people. If you have ever worked a day in your life, you have put on your “game face” in order to get what you wanted out of your job. Working for tips is the exact same thing, but in smaller, more immediate, increments. So enjoy your raise, you tip-whore…

  118. rose says:

    Doormen make ~$45K a year, and have benefits and a union? Whether or not it’s a “real” job seems to be beside the point. I think the debatable part is whether they are truly “dependent” on tips!

  119. charity says:

    I’m a professional pet stylist (dog groomer) and I can’t tell you how irritating it gets to start explaining my passion for the skill and technique of my career, only to hear “aww, I wish I could just play with dogs all day!” Yeah, me too, douchebag.

    In vegas I made about $100-$200 a week in tips. I moved to New Mexico last year and now I make about $20-$30 a week, if I’m lucky. Different states have different opinions on tipping… I can’t tell you how many people freak out when I leave a 20% tip here!

    A real job is anything you’re good at, a career is something you’re proud of.

  120. Lil Pumpkin says:

    This is a late comment, but I read this and enjoyed it – and have revisited to share with/link to others. It’s been several weeks and I see there was an ongoing saga of comments. Very thought provoking, and I wanted to throw in my 2cents. Of all, I agree with Patrick Maguire – when did the statement devolve from “Get a job” to “Get a real job”? Desire to feel superior to others. The way we choose to define or value our ‘job’ doesn’t amount to squat on a global level (unless, maybe, we are the President or Prime Minister, etc). Try explaining your ‘real job’ description to a starving child in Africa or a dying mother of two in Russia or (the list goes on) anyone who has nothing but despair, pain, or poverty to face. OR, God forbid your area of the world gets hit by a natural disaster that (if you or your family are not killed by it) leaves you homeless and/or jobless, needing to relocate.

    Get ‘a’ job. Last time I checked, that was the statement. Work is work – and very often that means hard work or under-appreciated work or UNPAID work. All over the world, whether you live in a megalopolis or a tiny village, there is work to be done and all of it is real. When we die, people don’t speak of our ‘job’. They might mention the ‘work’ we did or what we may have accomplished, but mostly people remember the kind of person we were. The bottom line is there is no reason to mock people for what they do or how much or little they make, ever. (See Mother Teresa).

    Also, I understand the unfairness of wait staff wages and tipping. My husband makes good money as a waiter and bartender and cook. He also accepts the hazards of the business – sometimes people just don’t tip or don’t tip well. He just moves on to the next table – that’s life.

  121. Marion says:

    To me, a real job is one which, if you’re not there to do it one day, those around you would have to say, “well, what are we going to do without So-and-So here today? Let’s put our heads together and figure this out!”

    And the importance of your job to the operational success of the enterprise is measured by the number of days that those around you could get by without adjusting their workload to accomodate your absence, without that absence sooner or later screwing everything up. If you could be out for a whole week on unscheduled leave, and none of your supervisors or peers would miss a beat in their usual routine, you may have a “real” job, but not a very important one. On the other hand, even if you slop hogs or shovel sh*t for a living, if you call out sick for one day, and you know that your supervisors and peers are starting to feel queasy about facing the day ahead without you, then your particular job is still a very important one to that operation.

  122. Mares says:

    I say “real job” is a job where you don’t depend on someone’s tipping to make a decent living. A tip should be something extra, a bonus, not a part of your basic wage.
    If you can’t pay your monthly rent without getting a bunch of tips every day, then sorry, you don’t really have a “real job” and your employer is screwing you royally.

    You tip-dependant guys should be angry at your employer not paying you enough, not at people not tipping. 😛

  123. Anonymous says:

    Do you work 2,000 hours a year? You have a real job
    pay tax on that money? you have a real job
    pay into the Social Security System? You bet you have a real job!

    Do you work from home, from your laptop? Does it pay the bills? Does the IRS know about that money? You have a real job

    Do you deal crack on a street corner, hide your assets cheat on taxes….. sorry, you don’t have a job.

    I would have to say that any activity that earns honest and legal money is a real job.

  124. Tard says:

    Well, a real job is code for ‘if you hate your job, don’t spend your entire life in in, bitching about it endlessly’.

    That’s why I quit working for tips.

  125. Zenta says:

    If you can explain to your Mom what you do all day, it’s a “real” job. Now that I am an intensive care nurse after finally getting my university degree at forty-one, she can wrap her head around what I do. Previously, when I was a visual effects producer and post-production supervisor in Hollywood after having learned everything on-the-job, not for love or money could I get her understand what I did for a living. Therefore, it was not a “real” job.

  126. Ashley says:

    I am a college graduate (from a “real”, accredited 4-year university -Clemson, SCL 3.5 GPA) with two degrees and graduated with years of work experience in environmental toxicology, wildlife research and chemistry. I got through college working part-time as a researcher and part-time as a server. Reading this blog made me sick -mostly from the people who can somehow end up at this website and still make some of the close-minded comments above.

    While I do not agree that someone making $44K a year in hourly wages should always expect a holiday tip, I can understand why an individual in a service field would be inclined to take better care of those who return the favor. It is no different in any other business. It is not efficient to waste energy on an endeavor that is going to offer no benefits, when other efforts certainly will. That is just common sense. Time is money and the people with ‘real’ jobs should understand that more than anyone else. By the way, I have a friend who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales every year. He sells salad dressing and lives on commission. In case you haven’t figured it out, tips are just like commission the restaurant isn’t willing to pay themselves.

    In addition -and relating to comments about waitresses- servers are not ‘sponging’ off people’s tips, they are being paid by people for the services they provide. At my last two serving jobs I received $2.13 per hour in wages from the restaurant. To make matters worse, at most restaurants a server is forced to give a PERCENT of their SALES as a tip-out to other restaurant employees. If you stiff your server it is possible that he or she might actually lose money on the time they spent serving you. That said, the system is not always fair, but like in any other organization -it is what it is and the server should not have to suffer because both you and the upper-management are feeling stingy. If you do not want to tip your server, you should not go out to eat or you should go to McDonalds. If you refuse these alternatives and receive sub-par service, do not complain. I have always tipped well because it is the right thing to do -it is not ridiculous to me to round up to the next dollar or two above 20% to give positive feedback to someone who waits on me while I enjoy my meal.

    That said, my biggest issue from the years I have served were with condescending customers, the underlying concept of all that is being argued. If you -as a customer- are going to profile servers as uneducated and unambitious, you cannot complain when they profile you in the same way as the ‘guy/woman that doesn’t tip’ …and then treat you like s***. You could have easily been someone else that would have tipped well. It’s opportunity cost. I wouldn’t want to waste my time serving a person that doesn’t respect me enough to provide fair compensation for the work I do for them -I’d rather get them in-and-out and focus my energy on someone else.

    After graduating with great grades and years of experience I could not find a job in my field and was forced to stop waitressing part-time and start waitressing full-time to pay my bills and student loans. I was well-educated, experienced and always ambitious, but I was waitressing to survive. I was always amazed at the way people treated me like an idiot and often assumed that if I was working as a waitress, I must not have tried getting a ‘real’ job. People would say things like “Oh have you tried looking with the EPA or USFS?” … “Have you looked at the USDA or Smithsonian?” I wanted to smack them. Do I look like an idiot? …because I’m pretty sure you just named four of the top ten most obvious places for me to look for jobs in my field and somehow assumed that I couldn’t come up with those same answers, when I should probably know more about where to get my ‘real’ job than you.

    Even while I was in school, I was doing what I had to do to survive. To me, waitressing seemed pretty ‘real’. It wasn’t my career, but it paid the bills when my ambition and intelligence weren’t enough to start my career. People need to remember how to use some tact -you never know who you are talking to, what their story may be. We all have reasons we do the things we do, by choice or otherwise. I will never pretend that I can look at people and understand their situation -I know people never understood mine. The person you tip may go spend it on booze …or they may spend it on books for school …or they may spend it on rent. You never know, so if you have the money to eat out, just do the right thing.

  127. Mishie says:

    Very well said ashley. My family has always worked hard for what we have regardless of whether it was considered a “real job” or not. I am 26 years old and manage a restaurant. I believe that it is extremely closed minded for people to look down on others because they believe that a job is beneath them and that whoever does take a certain job is automatically an imbecile who can’t get any other job. The ones who do believe that are the imbeciles. I’ve worked since I was 11, cleaning houses, mowing lawns with my brother, hospitality aide at a nursing home, gas station, then back to the nursing first as a cook then as a nurses aide ( that is a highly underpaid job for the work they do), receptionist, and now thankfully restaurants. In a few months me and my husband will be opening our own place and it is because of these called “not real jobs” in my past that I have been able to save the money to do this.

    Servers put up with an impressive amount of crap from customers and deserve the tips they receive. If I give you a service that is attentive and by most standards exceptional, then I deserve a little compensation for the extra time spent to make things enjoyable for you. Do I expect tips from everyone? By all means no I do not. What a lot of people don’t understand though is that a lot of the time servers are not only servers. I work for a family owned restaurant and we all work 70+ hours a week. Our servers (including me) must learn everything on menu by memory, what they are, and how to cook them. My cooks get a break from three to four and that leaves us to trade off cooking duty during that time and we also bus all of our tables. So when you go into a place to eat keep in mind that unless you have been in that position yourself, you really have no idea what their job description consists of and whether it is as simple as you are led to believe. If you happen to wander into this restaurant or mine and you proceed to put down my servers and belittle them, you will be told to get the hell out and not come back. The “real jobbers” don’t realize that the little people is what makes the world work. But to those who are like me and work for your tips, you also need to take a look and not be greedy. If a family wants to gout and have dinner but don’t have alot of money you may get a dollar or sometimes nothing at all. You can’t get angry by any amount because it’s more than u had starting out that morning. When they leave nothing? Just brush it off because like people not knowing our situation it’s the same the other way around.

    I am in college and my husband has an associates in animation and a bachelors in graphic design but chooses to run a restaurant with me and freelance on the side because so love our work. I hate office work and 8-5 hours and will never be there again if I can help it.

    Pretty much, the whole point of my little tangent is that no one knows what another person has gone through or done in their life to keep food on their table and a roof over their head. No matter if they are servers, doormen, or even janitors any work you do that keeps you fed and housed, whether you are working two or three at a time, is a “real job” and you should take pride in whatever position you hold. For all of us who deal in customer service and rely on tips to pay our bills should ignore the morons who dare say we either do not deserve or are just too cheap to tip and just smile in their face because there will always be people out there that will understand and know what it’s like to serve others.

  128. Emily says:

    I started waiting tables for the first time in my early thirties after burning out in 100K career, which was ridiculously unstable. You can only put in 70 hours a week and travel so much and avoid yet another layoff until your spirit withers up and dies – ESPECIALLY as a woman who wants a family. Those types of jobs are men’s jobs for a REASON. You cannot even date. Like hell I was going to turn 40 being single, so I lit a match and burned that career to the ground. I’m glad I am seeing this now – there is so much wisdom in humility and I feel like I’v missed out on seeing this side of life. I notice how effortlessly some of the waitresses are with their lives, when I still am trying to “unprogram” all the crap I’ve been taught about life being hard and unfair and all about money and status… its like these waitresses were doing what we were meant to do in life: work with people, not computers, and exist in community. So many things about them are more polished and poised than many of the people I saw in the corporate world…

  129. Joyce says:

    Just ran across your blog by looking through a list of 100 top food bloggers. (I wonder if blogging is considered a real job)? I’ve spent most of my entire adult life being a mom. I didn’t make one red cent from it. It is without a doubt, the hardest work I’ve done (and yep, even waited tables). Unfortunately, my occupation as a mother- hard-working, devoted, committed, no days off, no sick days etc. . . is also very undervalued. I feel for the doorman.

  130. John says:

    Well this has been up for a while but this needs to be said. Any job that you get paid for, whether that pay comes from your employer or an appreciative public is a real job. In this country it is the custom that some positions receive a gratuity each time a service is performed, i.e. hairdresser, bellman, waiter. For other positions the custom is to show appreciation for service at the end of the year, around “the holidays,” this would be your postman, doorman, and newspaper carrier. If you can afford to live in a doorman building you can afford to tip your doorman. If you don’t like this custom you are free to live in a building that doesn’t have a doorman. If you resent appreciating the service you are offered in a restaurant monetarily, and voluntarily you are free to move to a country where this is not the custom.
    Do not however expect me to be happy to serve you when I end up subsidising your income when you eat in my restaurant. The assumtion here in America is that a customer will leave an appropriate gratuity. I am taxed on the amount I sell not the amount I am tipped. Is it fair? No. It is the custom though and until the system is changed I suggest you pony up. I will not spit in your food, that’s so wrong. There really will be no consequences for you if you don’t tip. True moral integrity is shown when we behave in a morally correct manner even when we will never be caught. If you enjoy eating out, and enjoy good service by profesionals who take their jobs very seriously and make you look good when you bring your big-shot friends in with their “real” jobs, do what is customary where you live and don’t expect me to subsidize your lazy-ass lifestyle.

  131. Jennifer says:

    Being a Doorman and any other service position is a REAL JOB! You get paid and provide a needed service. Let’s be honest here, many people out there can’t do what we service people do. Let’s face it, some of us are meant to be in a cubicle pencil-pushing and they know it. I’m a Bartender and have been since I was 18yrs old. Now, I’m 32 married w/ a 7old son and I still do it part-time. I am not ashamed to say it to people I meet ever! In fact I’m proud to say I’m an Bartender. My patrons at the Bar love my drinks and my company. In fact, after leaving ,my last job (because my boss likes the look of silicon better) people were looking for me b/c no one made the drinks like me and the silicon valleys he hired was as interesting as watching paint dry.
    I’m proud of what I do and so should everyone else in this BIZZ! It can be rough at time but there are also very rewarding moments too. So POO-POO to the guy who says, Get a Real Job! This is a real job & You can’t do my job because it takes personality and lots of it. xoxoxox- ME-

  132. OvertaxedWorker says:

    Tips for building staff are for exceptional service and should generally be rendered on the spot by residents rather than as some sort of end-of-year tax. The implicit contract is that $45K/year covers signing for packages and preventing folks from getting into the building if they don’t have business there. I think that’s great pay for that kind of work when unemployment is at 8.9%.

    If you want additional pay, you need to provide exceptional service. Getting the door for residents, helping them carry packages up to their rooms, doing other favors like letting in furniture delivery- that all is worthy of a tip- ideally payable immediately.

    If doormen think there is some sort of other implicit contract, then that needs to be a discussion between them and the building. Perhaps the best way to resolve this is to have them work waiting tables for a few months or working as a police officer for a few months. When they come back, they can get the same implicit contract that’s always happened- salary ($45K/year) for doing their basic responsibilities and tips when they exceed them.

    The high-and-mighty entitlement attitude taken by the author isn’t really constructive here. I’d never talk that way to my customers- why would you talk that way to building residents? If you don’t like the implicit contract, you can always leave; good luck finding a job that pays more in this economy.

  133. Aria says:

    Interesting question! *ponders* I think it’s easier to define what isn’t a real job, than what is…

    My personal list of Things That are Not a Real Job

    1) Anything criminal. (ie, financial scammer, identify thief, drug dealer, hit man)

    2) Anything that involves outright begging. (ie, that ‘washroom attendant’ in your second book who offered nothing, begging on facebook)

    3) Until you’ve been published at least once, in a legitimate publication, writing is not a real job. (ie, my sister’s loser boyfriend caught odd jobs, lost them and had been writing a screenplay for years. Yeah, sure you are)

    Uh… that’s about it. To me, anything else is a real job.

  134. Kimc says:

    I only read the first 56 of these replies, but many people said it’s a “real Job” if it supports you and you don’t take other help — but, as America becomes another third world country because our Unions are disappearing, there are now lots of “real jobs” that include lots of hard work, that don’t make a living wage.
    What a job pays has nothing to do with how valuable it is to society, it has to do with the relative bargaining ability of the workers and the bosses. If we paid according to value created, garbage collectors would make more than bankers. If we paid according to how onerous a job is, janitors would make top wages and CEOs would be unable to support their families.

    1. JewLord says:

      Unions are cancer that destroy cities. Look at Detroit. It’s cool though, keep eating up that Trotsky dogshit

  135. John Doe says:

    And to think people say working in radio isn’t a real job… it’s communication skills in a different way. is the linkback.

  136. TipForService says:

    You pretend not to understand what the implications of “get a real job” are…and so do your respondants, when the truth is, we all know exactly what the implication is.

    “Working in the service sector at jobs that require no training, schooling, or particularly rare skill set is not a ‘real job'”.

    Now, I figure any time you do something for someone else that you would not do if you were not getting paid, you are doing a “real job”. But come on, you know what they mean.

  137. StuStifler says:

    I think what is meant here is not actually a “real job”, but a career.

    If you are over 25 or even 30, and still working as a waiter,pizza deliverer, cashier, bartender etc. and you haven’t made an attempt to better yourself. Then I’ll call your a loser.

  138. Peter Hall Salgado says:

    I think you all need to get a real job!

  139. JewLord says:

    A “Real Job” is any job that pays minimum wage or more. If you are working for less than minimum wage, you are an idiot living off the welfare of other people. Leave the waiter jobs for the kids…unless you find one that pays above minimum wage.

  140. Meow says:

    I could not care less about what is your job and all the responsibilities that comes along with it. What matter most is that at the end of the year your happy to see whats in your bank account. This is my own personal view and I don’t imposed it to anyone.

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