Re: Rana Zaman’s June 23 opinion piece, “A serving of white privilege.” The writer makes a lot of assumptions about what was going through the mind of the server who told her she could only get takeout at 8:38 p.m. because the restaurant was closing at 9, and who then allowed a white couple to order a sit-down meal at 8:55. Interestingly, Ms. Zaman makes no assumptions about what might have been going on behind the scenes. I used to work in a restaurant, so I can make a few guesses based on how it would have played out in the establishment where I worked.
Customer comes in roughly 20 minutes before closing. Server is dead on her feet, having worked a double shift. She wants to go home and rest before going back to her minimum-wage job the next day, so she offers only takeout. She tells the cook, who prepares the spring rolls and says, “Let her eat in — we close at 9, and not a minute before. If anyone else comes in, you seat them, and tell them they can order anything except the steak.”
Then a couple comes in at 8:55 and is seated. The server gives them menus, and makes eye contact with earlier customer and shakes her head, which the latter interprets as, “Can you believe these people?” — although it could just as easily mean, “I’m sorry about this.” The server later asks permission to sit with the earlier customer and apologizes, offering her the opportunity to order something else.
Instead of accepting or politely declining, the customer launches into a lecture on white privilege and discrimination. The server, whose feet are killing her and who has just been told by the cook that she’s going to have to suck it up for a bit longer, tears up and apologizes even more profusely. The customer, who claims to feel humiliated, rejects the offer of a comped meal and ignores the fact the server apparently feels equally humiliated, continuing to berate the server who continues to apologize through her tears.
Finally, the customer offers an opinion piece to a local newspaper outlining how ill-treated she was. In this piece, she does not offer an explanation as to why she did not ask to speak to the owner, the manager or the cook. In the mini-bio at the end of the piece, she is credited with being the president of the Caring Human Association. I do not care what Ms. Zaman’s ethnicity or religion is — from my perspective, she is not a “caring human.” She is a bully with a chip on her shoulder. I sincerely hope her next offering to The Chronicle Herald will be in the form of an apology to the server she chose to browbeat.
Wendy Wishart, Sydney