When you have a soapbox like The New York Times opinion page, you can be forgiven for thinking the world may want to hear your every thought. When it’s David Brooks, though, we’re all ears! Watch out, folks, this take is hot!
Waiters are 87% friendlier as they hand me the bill and I’m about to decide the tip amount than they are at any other point in the meal.— David Brooks (@nytdavidbrooks) July 26, 2019
You read that right! In a stunning display of clear-minded and fearless acuity, the longtime Times columnist eviscerated that pampered class of restaurant workers. He really showed them.
This scorching insight, which filets servers’ desire to earn a living wage when their employees refuse to provide one, is even more complex than it first appears.
Let’s unpack: In addition to raking this privileged vocation over the coals for wanting to leave with a good impression before Brooks does his signature number-crunching on the bill – note that he provides his exact-science friendliness percentage to Twitter followers– he indicates that waiters may not always be falling over themselves to seem companionable.
There’s another layer here, too. Brooks, ever one to root his incisive social critique in his own experience, makes no mistake in applying this as a rule beyond himself. But who would not be friendly to David Brooks – the man who so keenly observed that his friend with “only a high school degree” was intimidated by Italian words at a sandwich shop – while he is dining?
Sadly, it turns out not everyone appreciates Brooks’s comment.
Oh, David. Every dining experience is a series of interactions. Rather than publicly mocking people who work hard for a living wage, might our energy be better spent scrutinizing our own behavior?— Connie Schultz (@ConnieSchultz) July 26, 2019
this is a sad-ass statement from a man who a) talks about morals and ethics like the thinks he knows something, b) who makes god knows how much money, and c) rails against “elites.” But do go on.— Jodi Jacobson (@jljacobson) July 26, 2019
thank you for your bravery in taking on this important issue, sir. the waiters of the world have had it too good for too long— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) July 26, 2019
And at what point of the meal did you start treating your waiter like a human being— Julia Salazar (@JuliaCarmel__) July 26, 2019
Servers, take note: If you see Mr. Brooks at your table, please be kind. He’ll notice if you’re not.
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture fellow. He can be reached at Grisar@Forward.com.