The Racial Thing That Happened to Me Recently at a Madrona Restaurant

Comments

2
that's not a purse, it's a European Carryall!
3
I like Polonius.
4
Apparently he didn't read the name on the card either. Mudede looks African, not European. Not a wordly one, that waiter.
5
As a former server, i've placed the credit card in front of the wrong person many, many times. There was literally ZERO THOUGHT that went into the decision. Your cries of racism are unfounded this time. The waiter just didn't give a shit.
6
Maybe he just think that men who carry around purses don't have any money?
7
If he was going to assume, it was the right assumption to make. But he should have known better than to assume. That said, Charles, you're totally right that an argument about assumptions and sensitivity would be easier, and more meaningless, than talking about the economic inequality behind the assumption.
8
As a woman this happens to me all the time.
9
While I admire the fact that you have a purse, I think you could find a better looking one- perhaps your son could knit you one?
11
@10: That is seriously the depth of your thinking on this topic? You realize that boils down to, "White people have more money because white people have always had more money," don't you?
12
@ 10, you are a mysterious one. At times insightful and knowledgeable, at others a stereotyping dingleberry.
13
What @8 said... Waiters are all racist AND sexist!
14
@10 White people benefit the economy because they only educate their white children to keep it that way.
15
This is the stupidest thing of the day. It happens all the time to couples when women pays the bill as pointed out @8. Taking this example as a racist situation says a lot about minorities mindset.
16
I was at a restaurant with a friend (both of us are white). I paid but the server returned the card to my friend. Do you think this was racism, like they mistook me for a black person? Or maybe it was about hair color or height or something?

Or, maybe, could a busy server not remember who (or where on the table) they picked up a card?

Nah. Everything is racism, no matter how small the sample size. A bird poops on my head, it's bad luck. A bird poops on Mudede's head, it's racism.

17
I think unless a guest hands the bill directly to the wait staff, the wait staff at all times should place it on the table, somewhere in the middle.

Your experience and #8's show how sexist and racist this society is.
18
@5, @8, @13: How does this in any way invalidate Charles' post? Frankly, it reinforces it. Statistically speaking, white men have more money than both white women and nonwhite men. As a result, the unthinking assumption of most people will be that the white guy is paying.

The waiter's action is not necessarily in and of itself racist, just as it wouldn't necessarily have been sexist had Charles been a woman. It isn't that the waiter looked at Charles and deliberately thought "Obviously not the [insert racial identifier]'s card." The issue is that it was done without deliberate thought. The issue is that the waiter just unconsciously assumed that the white guy would be paying. "White guy has money" is a background assumption, like gravity, or the colour of the sky.
19
Not @ Charles, just a general observation: Part of social grace is anticipating potentially awkward situations and trying to forestall them. When arriving for a restaurant meal where I intend to pay the bill, I will (if I remember) unobtrusively move my credit card to jacket or shirt pocket so that as soon as the server arrives with the check, I pull it out without having to fumble for wallet (or purse) and send him/her right back to the register while saying something like "Let me get this. I'm so happy to see you; it's been too long." Server automatically knows who signs (though in Charles's story he asked for the check, so the server should have assumed it was his card anyway).

This also avoids a sometimes ridiculously prolonged wait after the check is delivered, before the server returns to collect payment.

You can also, during the meal and on the pretense of a restroom visit or phone call, catch the server and request that the check be handed directly to you.

That said, perpetual and ostentatious check-grabbers can be obnoxious in their own right. Those who do so in a charming and low-key manner, especially with poor friends (and I've been there too), and acquiesce graciously roughly 50% of the time when they know their companions are financially capable (not necessarily equal), are a cherished breed.
20
@15, @16 I realize you're too busy being aggrieved white persons to read for comprehension, but you might try reading that headline again: "The RACIAL Thing That Happened to Me Recently at a Madrona Restaurant" (empasis mine).

It bears repeating until you hear it: One of the greatest privileges of being white, is thinking that the only kind of racism that matters is the n-word spewing kind.
22
@21
good comment. but don't get hung up on it, it'll be forgotten by everybody by tomorrow, if not in a few hours.
23
@ 21, and you chose a post about a real example of racism to make this point? What does that say about you? (Let's remember that racism comes in different forms, and we're not going to assume the waiter is some kind of Archie Bunker type. Well meaning white people are unconsciously racist is dozens if different ways.)
24
@23
Matt from Denver, you comment a hell of a lot on Slog. Are you as bored as me with life?
25
@21 It's sort of funny, but the difference between "some" and "many" seems to be the difference between "insightful" and "inciteful".

So sorry about your bigotry.
26
@21 You never see the good in people. Especially people of color.
27
Sigh... 50% chance of being competent or being a racist. Tough gig being a busy waiter.
28
Did your feelings get hurt Charles? Stop being such a fucking baby.
29
Who was given a doggie bag with handles, and who wasn't?
30
@27: If you are not sure whose card it is - i.e. if you were not directly handed the card by a person at the table - just put it down in the middle of the table or offer it out for someone to reach for. Don't hand it to anyone. Don't assume. Just make it available for the owner to pick up.

100% chance of being both competent and not racist. But I can see why you aren't interested in achieving those things.
32
Couldn't it be as simple as your friend happened to look up and make eye contact with the waiter at that particular moment, so the waiter made an incorrect assumption?
33
Perhaps he knew who you were and was just giving you something to write about?
34
Did any of you read the post? Charles is not accusing anyone of racism. He even says this in his post. Everyone is getting butt hurt for no reason. Mudede is just making one of his sometimes weird observations.
35
I'd spit in Chuckles drink if I was his server. I imagine most of Seattle would.

Enjoy your next evening out.
36
On the topic of bills and isms... But not race.

I date a lot. I'm a guy. I prefer to date women who are progressive, and very often self-proclaimed feminists. (I am too). At least 80% of the time when the check comes, my date just leaves the check there until I pay. About 25% of the time, I don't even get a "thanks for the meal" out of the deal. These are otherwise thoughtful, empowered, and delightful women. What the fuck is going on?
37
It's a little silly of everyone to freak out about Charles playing the race card given this statement: "What is needed, then, is not more sensitivity from white servers (the Seattle solution), but real and hard change in the structure of an economic system that disproportionately benefits white people."

The post starts off a lot like an earlier post about a waiter making an insensitive remark to a group of Asian-American writers (which a lot of people complained about being oversensitive, over PC)...but then he specifically calls out that he isn't upset at the waiter, and that the solution isn't to freak out about political correctness.

This is the most reasonable Mudede post in many moons.
38
"I date a lot. I'm a guy. I prefer to date women who are progressive, and very often self-proclaimed feminists. (I am too). At least 80% of the time when the check comes, my date just leaves the check there until I pay. About 25% of the time, I don't even get a "thanks for the meal" out of the deal. These are otherwise thoughtful, empowered, and delightful women. What the fuck is going on?"

Did you get a blow job at least?
39
Since the most of the comments (commentators) here seem to have forgotten the last (also know as the "concluding") sentence of Charles mini-essay above, let's just recap, okay?

What is needed, then, is not more sensitivity from white servers (the Seattle solution), but real and hard change in the structure of an economic system that disproportionately benefits white people.
(Emphasis mine)
40
@39, sure.. what does Charles propose as a real and hard change to the economic system that's a viable change ?
41
Polonius.... do handbags resemble their owners like dogs do?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polonius
(Polonius) is described as a windbag by some and a rambler of wisdom by others. It has also been suggested that he only acts like a "foolish prating knave" in order to keep his position and popularity safe and to keep anyone from discovering his plots for social advancement. It is important to note that throughout the play, Polonius is characterized as a typical Renaissance "new man", who pays much attention to appearances and ceremonious behaviour.
43
At least they didn't send it back via drone ...
44
In general, how hard is it to put a bill in the center of the table and then return the card likewise if you aren't sure whose it is? I see waitstaff do this quite often.

@36 You don't include enough information for it to mean anything. Whoever initiates the date pays for the date. But the initiator also plans the date, and thus chooses things within an acceptable price range. Dating should generally roughly alternate between who plans and pays for the date, although it does not have to be a strict alternation. If you've been the initiator for two dates in a row with someone and they do not ask you out on a date, I'd seriously recommend considering not asking them again.

On a side note, this isn't progressive. It's actually traditional for the cost of dating to be split. What's progressive is for women to be allowed to use money directly to do it (such as inviting a man out to a restaurant) as opposed to being expected to invite the man over for dinner, which they cook. Although women were allowed to "happen into" concert tickets or other event tickets through unexplained means to invite a date to. These days, both men and women should be seen as acceptably able to either invite someone over to a restaurant or invite someone to their home for a home-cooked meal or other similar ways of dating. Which is preferable does, after all, vary dramatically based on one's ability and dis/like of cooking.
45
maybe chuck should call the cops! HATE CRIME!

LMFAO....send this fool back out of the country.
46
@21,
I would agree and also say that many white people use racism, both real and imagined, as an excuse not to work at improving their lives.
47
We need to march on Washington stat!
48
@ 34, he did call it a "racial thing." Perhaps in recognition of the fact that many Americans, including many Slog readers, tend to think of racism as coming from conscious animosity, and forgetting or not understanding that many subtle, unconscious and/or presumptuous acts also are racist, even if the person truly harbors no ill feelings for persons of color. Such was what Charles experienced, and yes, it's sexist when it happens to women. It's deep rooted in our culture and it's one of the subtle ways by which stereotypes are reinforced.

Charles chose to focus on the system that created the context for these stereotypes, which is his prerogative. And he's right that it needs to change (easier said than done, which may be why he doesn't offer any action toward that end.) But a bit of sensitivity would certainly help end these stereotypes as well.
49
Of course Charles doesn't want to raise up black folk, he wants to knock down white folk. That's Marxist equality for you.

Why doesn't Charles mention that Asian households are the highest earning households in the US? How does he plan on dealing with that? There's only so many Swisher Sweets you can steal from them.
50
I'll add another "It happens to me all the time when I pay for my husband." And you don't even have to guess based on "ethnic sounding last name" for that one.
51
That's not necessarily racial. When I'm out with my fiance, more often than not they hand him the card and bill, even if it's my card with my obvious female name on it.
52
@49 That is classy as fuck

At least you actually read the article, though - most people in this thread don't seem to have made it the last paragraph

Mudede baits illiterates deliberately, of course, but I'm not sure there's another sane way to communicate with an audience like this
53
After reading the ignorant comments, I'll expand mine.
I have pretty solid empirical evidence that many waitstaff DO make, probably unconscious, assumptions about who has the money and leadership role in our society.
More often than not, I pay when I go out to eat with my husband and waiters are always handing the check to him.
So it's pretty obvious to me that they do make assumptions that reflect larger societal stereotypes.
And I say to Charles- welcome to 2nd class citizenship!
54
@5: Shame you weren't trying to educate yourself while a server. Might have helped to learn how to read without skimming.
55
Maybe he's just a huge Peanuts fan and has associated the name Charlie with round-headed white guys. Out of curiosity, is your white friend a bald, round-headed guy?
56
At the risk of derailing - am I the only one who gave pause at the two-sentence explanation of why he tipped that has nothing to do with the food-service? As it was discussing waiters' racial stereotypes, I was almost bracing for "I tipped because waiters expect white people to tip". Is the underlying assumption here that normally a thoughtless faux pas regarding the check would warrant being stiffed?

Like @8, almost any time a woman is picking up the check, they return the card to me (even though I certainly don't LOOK like a "Susan"). I am pretty sure no one's ever chosen not to tip for the meal because of it.

Don't get me wrong - this is a real issue, and everyone's suggestions that if someone doesn't remember who paid, they ought to place it neutrally on the table (though that probably hinders the "be extra friendly to the payee for the last second before they decide what to tip you" moment). But I'm not sure if there is an indirect/passive solution to this. I'm not a waiter, but the ones I know have implied that stiffing a server is most often seen as a reflection on you than them, and not really a "teaching moment" (especially when the "lesson" is unclear and the restaurant is busy)

In the cases when it's happened to me, my friends tend to hold up a finger and say, in a hopefully helpful tone, some variation of "that's mine". That's probably as good an option as there is, without, ironically, validating the "black people don't tip" stereotype.
57
@21: "I also think that many black Americans use racism, both real and imagined, as an excuse not to work at improving their lives." Really? I'll bet you do. And it's an incredibly repulsive comment from a person who likely has never been invited to a meal at the home of an African American. But I must admit it gives me a thrill every time I see your putrid trolling to know that you will never, ever again wield any significant power.
58
A lot of servers seem to go on auto pilot with the bill and just direct it toward the statistically-most-likely-to-have-paid person at the table. When Boy and I go out to eat, I usually pay (I work full time, he's a student, so I pay a greater share of our combined expenses). Even though he is pretty obviously not a Laura, about half the time, the server hands him my card/receipt, and the remainder of the time, it gets placed in the center between us. I can't actually think of an occasion where the bill has been returned to me directly, excepting occasions where there are multiple cards/parties involved and they ask for people by name.

*shrug*
59
There's a bit of a correction to be made in the statistics quoted.

I was intrigued/shocked by the stats cited, and clicked through to find that a main point of the Atlantic article you linked to was decrying the fact that the study was being widely misquoted in exactly the way that it is quoted here. Specifically: "the median wealth for single black women is only $5" is factually incorrect. The actual statistic is for all women of color, regardless of specific race or partnered status. From the Atlantic article linked from this post, bolding mine:

This is alarming. But it's also inaccurate. From the study:

" [snip] while white women in the prime working years of ages 36-49 have a median wealth of $42,600 (still only 61% of their white male counterparts), the median wealth for women of color is only $5."

This is still really alarming. But obviously, conclusions about women of color--all nonwhite women and Latinas of all races, according to the study-- of a certain age, are very different than conclusions about black women in particular. Professor Chang was kind enough to talk to me this evening and verified that $5 dollar stat applied to women of color as a whole, and not just black women.

Given that the main point of the article that you linked to was that people are making the very error made here, I hope you'll correct the honest mistake and quote the actual study.
60
I hope that is part of your meal per diem
61
Yes this happens. As a white male, I am likely to get the check/Bill handed to me if I am with a woman or non-white person.
62
@40, the onus is not on the theorist to to provide an engineering solution to the problem and it's stupid to expect such a thing. Maybe this is too aggressive, but your attitude is akin the hypothetical idiot demanding and Mendel come up with the double helix (ie. fuck off).
63
@40, the onus is not on the theorist to to provide an engineering solution to the problem and it's stupid to expect such a thing. Maybe this is too aggressive, but your attitude is akin the hypothetical idiot demanding that Mendel come up with the double helix (ie. fuck off).
64
I was recently in Illinois. I went out to lunch with my Mexican-American sister-in-law and her Mexican-American niece. We went to a Mexican place (El Faro, Elgin, IL), run by Mexicans. My sister-in-law ordered in her native Spanish, a torta for her, hamburger and fries (which I was surprised they even made) for her niece. My Spanish is...well, not so good anymore. I ordered in English, a torta with avocado. When the server came to the table, not the same person as the order taker, she handed me (the very clearly not-Mexican person at the table) the hamburger and fries without a second thought.

Of course this woman meant no ill-will, this certainly was not a personal affront. This was just a silly misunderstanding, but damn if it didn't reinforce that we are all making tiny little judgments and assumptions without even thinking. We ALL do it. Most of us do this without *meaning* anything, not trying to push some agenda or intentionally trying to keep someone down. But...

As a white person I have no fucking idea what it's like to feel oppressed, snap-judged in a way that could keep me from things I want or deserve. Translate my silly torta story into a thousand different scenarios - like not getting my card handed back to me at a fancy restaurant, maybe because I am black. All of this has got me thinking: If this shit happened everyday how in the hell would I handle it? Would I get pissed? Keep my head down and fly under the radar? Because really, it sounds pretty goddamned exhausting to have to wake up every morning and arm yourself for what the day is going to bring. Which fights get fought, which teachable moments get my time?

As a woman, I have been judged. I used to have really big breasts. A virgin, in my late teens, these breasts came out of nowhere, and God, did stupid dudes stare. This staring paralyzed me for a time. In college they had nicknames for me, sexualized me in ways I could not understand. Assumed I gave it up really easy because of these breasts of mine. I fought against these things in my own ways: I wore fatigues and bandannas and big blazers, became a Women Studies student, confronted the ogglers, the name callers, loudly, publicly (when I was feeling particularly empowered) and shamed them for trying to shame me, my body. But, the fighting wore me out. And man was I depressed. Ultimately, the best thing for me to do was get rid of them. The boobs. How did I get here? And why am I talking about my boobs?

I don't know. Accidentally assuming the white person gets the hamburger is no big deal. Accidentally assuming the white man paid the bill, that's kind of a bigger deal (when the bill payer is a person of color or a woman). Assuming a person's body shape or color tells the whole (singular, stereotypical) story is the biggest of deals. Getting inside the operating system to tweak the assumptions, what's the game plan?
66
@63, big plus, I like what you wrote.
67
@62 and 63,

Good, suggest radical change without proposing anything is the job of a theorist. Like Goodspaceguy's platform to colonize space, I wish I had a form of public transit that picked me up wherever I'm at and delivered me at my destination with fewer than a half dozen possible transfer points in between. And it should be emissions free. Wow, being a theorist is fun.
68
@67, I guess I was taking Charles's general history as background. This post jibes with what I take to be his larger view on things and not a list of grievances like you've provided. But really, there is a derogatory notion of 'theory' that I suspect you're buying into that is radically different from what Charles (or ta-nehisis coates http://www.theatlantic.com/features/arch…) is going after
69

It would be interesting to compare the net worth of the waiter with that of Mr. Mudede.

70
This is why eye witnesses to crime are so unreliable. I bet if you asked that waiter to describe you guys an hour later, he'd describe the white friend asking for the bill. I'll bet if you led him a little, he'd remember seeing him sign the check.
71
Is this like when you said the shitty stuff about the Beacon Hill Library Charles? I believe you called it a "slave ship." Shame on you. I've seen you on more than one occasion use that library, which, by the way, is a very cool and mellow place with folks of all different races hanging out together and having a sense of community. Thanks for the undeserved slap in the face - thanks for that you hypocritical race baiter.
72
racists love writing stupid shit. that's for sure.
73
@29, for the win!
75
My man and I eat out A LOT, and the bill 99% of the time is handed to him, it is never directly handed to me. We have even had someone say "are you going to make her pay for that?" O_o

I think this is maybe a generation thing? Sexist thing? I don't think this is a race thing, as my boyfriend is not white.
76
Charles, your solution is long-term, comprehensive, and doesn't take knee-jerk offense to your situation although such a reaction would be understandable given the way we currently respond to this kind of stuff.

This is why it is such a great solution.
77
@64 Nice post. Thank you.
78
I saw the title and knew it had to be Mudede. Dude, everything that occurs is not racist. And really, "The Racial Thing That Happened..." what kind of title is that? Charles, it's like you're a cartoon of exaggerated slights. Everything is offensive?! Well, I find your constant offense offensive. Lighten up, would you? Everyone is not your enemy. Most of us could not care less what color you are. And let's not kid ourselves about racism. It exists in every culture, including non-caucasian cultures. Frankly, I think you were just short on ideas for things to write about.
79
It seems more probable that the waiter thought the gentlemen was paying for the meal.
80
A great post. As a server, I witnessed profiling firsthand, indeed, engaged in it myself. Black people usually ordered certain things. Old white people ordered certain things. Asians would order certain things. Young broke folks ordered certain things. Before y'all come after me it can be said that occasionally folks broke the mold. But the kernel of wisdom in Charles's post is spot-on. The Seattle solution would be to make the server undergo sensitivity training. The problem is much deeper and lies with the origin and continuation of the USA. And it's unlikely to be resolved in our lifetime
81
I will note that the best service is by a server who is observant enough to notice who asks for the bill (if one asks), and hands the bill to the person who has asked for it, or (if no one has asked) sets the bill in the center of the table.
82
Just as another poster stated, as a woman this happens to me everytime I'm out with my guys frie unless we split the check. And I mean EVERYTIME.
83
Too much speculation man. You have no clue what the waiter was thinking or if he/she was thinking at all. You just jumped to the worst conclusion your imagination could come up with.

When you habitually search for perceived slights you will find them.

I'm not saying the world isn't racist and fucked towards minorities. I'm just saying Mr. Mudede, you're a bit like a hypochondriac with the whole the world is against me cause I'm black thing.

Did the restaurant remind you of a slave ship also?
84
@ 83 for the comprehension fail of the week.
85
@75 The fact that someone's sexism tends to be stronger than their racism doesn't mean that there isn't a racist element to their general behavior. This is why studies control for factors. If you want to test for racism and you're a woman, you want to eat out with another woman where one is white and one is a woman of color (and ideally do multiple runs and with multiple minorities to check for exactly what forms of racism exist). As numerous women have commented in these comments, servers tend to hand the check to a man if one is present and ignore the woman. This is sexist behavior. But the same servers who treat you and your man in a sexist manner might well treat your man in a racist manner if he ate out with a white man. Maybe you should ask him about what happens when he does go out to eat with just one white male friend.
86
this wasn't because you are black. it's because you are a woman. that happens all the time to me.
87
I'm white. Been poor my whole life. Been the minority in my schools as well. Just sayin. WHITE. BLACK. Words help to keep us apart. Good day.
88
White households: $113, 149; black households: $5,677.

Please tell me this is a typo! It can't be 111,000 to 5,000.
That has to be 55,k or 50K, not five!!!
89
As a Black male, I'll say it; This should have been a I, Anonymous.

I do not understand the younger people, and their ideas of racism. having been denigrated because of my skin color, I think I understand blatant racism, having not been served, or even waited on, I think I understand subtle racism.

Judging others, based on your bias is blatant racism.

Lighten up Charlie, you'll enjoy life more.
90
@88, not sure.... the number certainly looks bad, but stats of marriage rates (55% to 31%) would also indicate a lot fewer black households are dual-income.
http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/08/2…

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/201…
91
@88 and @90 - this is wealth and not income, so includes things like property owned and savings. Many things account for this, including inheritance chain, and barriers to property ownership.

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2011/07/2…
92
" It can't be 111,000 to 5,000. That has to be 55,k or 50K, not five!!!"

The rims are at least $2K.
93
I love how racist troll swarm to any black writers and editorials.

On the subject though- At what point will you expect Seattle 'not to be' racist man? The hard truth is Seattle is a racist town if you are black, native or hispanic. And youll notice how racist it is if you fit into a demographic in that order; black, native and hispanic.

And thats just the shit people will do and say to your FACE. If you dont think your average seattlite is racist, ask your white friends what they notice their friends saying and doing when a black/native/hispanic person ISNT around.