The fast food industry should stop behaving like Mr. Pink from ‘Reservoir Dogs’

Fast food workers began protesting outside a McDonald’s in midtown Manhattan on Thursday as part of an ongoing fight for higher wages and better benefits. Since McDonald’s itself actually ended up proving that it’s pretty much impossible to live on their salary, maybe they should listen.

The issue these days is that the demographic of people working in the fast food industry is skewing older. In the past most people working at these places were kids just looking for some walk-around money. These days the employees are older and actually trying to support themselves, possibly families. These people would much appreciate it if the fast food industry stopped behaving like Steve Buscemi’s Mr. Pink from “Reservoir Dogs.”

Now, I know a lot of people love Pink’s anti-tipping speech, but I find it necessary to point out that his argument, much like the decision to not pay workers enough money, makes no sense. It’s incredibly selfish and lacks any trace of what normal humans know as empathy.

Let’s take a look at what the man has to say.

Pink’s first defense, when it’s brought to his attention that waitresses don’t make a whole lot of money, is to posit that if someone isn’t making enough they should quit. This makes literally zero sense. By my calculations, if one quits their job, that puts their income at roughly zero. I’m going to assume this is not an improvement over the current situation. I suppose he meant “quit and find a better paying job,” but this still isn’t really a good solution. That argument uses the same logic as someone complaining that a homeless person should just get a job. Funny thing. Homeless people tend not to have up-to-date resumes or clean clothes. It’s hard to find a job without those things. Similarly, waitstaff and fast food employees tend to not necessarily be qualified for higher paying jobs. Could they find another job at a different fast food establishment, or perhaps at Walmart? Sure, but they’d still be getting paid the same amount, so nothing’s really been solved here.

Next: “I don’t tip because society says I have to.” This is a pretty bad excuse for a lot of things. If there’s some great social injustice happening that society condones and you want to fight against it, go ahead. Mr. Pink is not exactly fighting for civil rights here, though. He’s being a cheap asshole. Like it or not, we live in a society and we’ve all pretty much agreed upon some basic rules that make dealing with each other just a little more bearable. Simple things like wearing clothes in public, not shitting on the sidewalk unless you really really have to, and tipping people who would not be able to afford food and clothing if you didn’t. A situation somewhat reminiscent of what’s going on in the fast food industry at this very moment. Perhaps it wouldn’t be the worst thing if salaries went up so that workers could continue living. Even if it meant raising the prices of food ever so slightly, Papa John.

Now we come to the best part. The moment the argument truly falls apart. Mr. Pink casually points out “These ladies aren’t starving. They make minimum wage.” Fun fact: No. They don’t. Employers are legally allowed to count tips (provided the employee works in a position where tipping is constant and expected) as salary. As a result, waiters and waitresses can legally be paid less than minimum wage. But even if that weren’t the case, and they did make minimum wage, so what? Clearly, that doesn’t really cut it. Otherwise, McDonald’s wouldn’t have had to try to explain how it’s totally possible to get by earning minimum wage.

Pink eventually brings up fast food restaurants, asking why we don’t tip the people working there. What’s the difference between them and wait staff? Well, since we don’t tip those people, they actually do make minimum wage. So if we suddenly started tipping the good people at Wendy’s and McDonald’s they would actually end up getting an even smaller paycheck because their employers would be allowed to lower their salary below minimum wage, just like waiters and waitresses. Pink doesn’t seem to know, this and instead blames it on society again. It turns out, he’s just not very smart.

Mr. Pink eventually starts talking about how he agrees that it’s unfair that tips are taxed and that if it were up to him that wouldn’t be the case, but he also makes it very clear that since he can’t do anything about he’s not just gonna play along (because of society, I guess). Well good for him, taking a stand. He’s so brave and noble. I personally find it extremely refreshing to see someone stick to their beliefs when it in now way negatively effects them and only serves to fuck other people over.

So remember kids, tip your servers. They actually do need it. And remember large multinational fast food corporations, pay your workers a livable wage, because…sorry, do I really have to explain why a human being should be paid something called a “livable” wage? It seems self explanatory. Do it.

source: LA Times/image via q13Fox