Most people who attend catered parties and fundraisers give little thought to the waitstaff that serves them.
The social hierarchy at these events is established at hello. Servers, car valets and coat check clerks wear name tags that seldom include their last names. As a result, guests feel free to call them by their first names, even as these workers address them as “ma’am” or “sir.”
In my 10 years as a columnist, I’ve interviewed hundreds of servers who work for caterers and party centers. Overwhelmingly, they are women, and most are single mothers. Almost to a person, male or female, they describe having to endure, silently and with good humor, customers’ boorish behavior. Their employers make clear that they must put up with this as part of their job.
They learn how to dodge the drunkards’ paws. They apologize profusely in the face of public dress-downs by bullies who get their jollies belittling hourly wage earners because they can. They pretend not to hear the disparaging comments by those who act as if the people who minutes earlier took their drink orders suddenly have no ears.
And so it was that at a May fundraiser at the home of a wealthy private-equity investor in Boca Raton, Fla., Mitt Romney let loose on a population of Americans that includes the human beings who tended to him and his wealthy guests in that room.
From a now-viral video of his speech at that fundraiser:
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it — that that’s an entitlement and the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. … These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. And he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
If you watch the YouTube video, posted by Mother Jones magazine, you’ll notice the server who passes back and forth in front of the camera. You may note the clinking of glasses and cutlery in the background as the hired help does its job.
Much already has been said and written about Romney’s heartless depiction of those Americans who do not pay income taxes. He disparaged a lot of hardworking Americans, including retired senior citizens, members of our military and hourly wage earners.