Counter Culture

Candacy A. Taylor

Taylor became fascinated with waitresses and diner culture when waiting tables to pay for her graduate school education. Her thesis, this book, focused on the “lifer” waitress – women who have waited tables for decades. With a combination of research and interviews, Taylor soon dispels the notion that waitresses or poor, uneducated and down-trodden.  While many of the youngest wait-staff look at their position as demeaning and a short stop-gap until they get their “real” career, the lifers love their jobs and would never leave it.  Many wait tables in to their late 70s and 80s. Once at the top of the waitressing food chain, a lifer can make excellent money from regulars, take their pick of shifts and command adoration from customers and respect from the younger staff.  The women interviewed here run from those who started waitressing out of desperation for money, or because it was much easier than cotton-picking, to woman with professional degrees who just can’t hack sitting in an office. Many have nice homes, put their children through private schools and college, have healthy retirement accounts and travel.  In addition, many are incredibly healthy and strong, thanks to their daily regimen of walking and lifting. The interviews and photos, both past and present, add a great deal of authenticity.