Am I prejudiced about friends working in service jobs?
May 6, 2008 5:36 PM Subscribe
How do I get over the feeling of awkwardness/guilt/prejudice when I encounter my friends working in service positions?
posted by divabat to Human Relations (41 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I grew up in an upper-middle-class environment - my dad had a high-profile job, which meant a higher status amongst the local community, perks and privileges (such as a chauffeur and regular maids), and frequent events with the Who's Who of his industry. My mum always told me to "be part of society" and "remember, you are the MD's daughter".
I rebelled against the whole idea of "high society" (I didn't care much about class) but I didn't realize just how ingrained the whole thing was until I followed my family to dinner at a formal Chinese restaurant some years ago. One of the waitresses for our table happened to be an ex-classmate. I said Hi and she was pretty friendly back, but somehow I felt really embarrassed that she was serving me. Then I realized that the idea of her "serving" me seems rather embarrassing in itself.
I don't feel nearly as awkward when I meet a relative stranger working in service - as a cashier, waiter(ess), customer service, etc. I have also done some service work before (info booth, usher, etc) and generally enjoyed it. Yet when I see a friend behind the counter, I get really awkward and guilty, and the whole issue of class/social status/"omg they are SERVING me" gets muddled in my head. (I felt ultra awkward when I went to a local theatre to watch a show and had to buy tickets from my tutor!)
Often my first instinct is to go "oh, no, let me do it myself" - though in many cases this is not possible, such as when I'm trying to buy something. I first feel embarrassed for them, then embarrassed at myself for thinking that their job is embarrassing. I feel guilty that I have to use my friends to get what I'm after. I don't want to be served!
I know it's ultimately just a job, and my "serving me" complex is just me being silly. But how do I get over this awkward feeling? How do I not feel like my friends are working for me, that I am somehow better than them, when I know this is definitely not the case? How do I clear myself of this ingrained prejudice?