As someone who worked retail jobs to put herself through college, I would describe this class in one phrase: “soul-crushing.” Between inane policies meant to prevent any sort of benefits or cushion and unreasonable expectations that defy possibility, in light of rigid work hours and a culture of abuse and denigration from both middle management and customers, those in the serving class deal with crap that’s so specific to this experience, one really doesn’t know until they work such a job themselves. And indeed, most of my coworkers were women and/or people of color. Meanwhile, I regularly heard from customers how unimportant, disposable, and stupid they thought I was. I’m glad to be out and in a job that involves basic respect for me as a human, but I am now much more privileged than I was. Corporations won’t change their mindset toward these workers but you can: treat the serving class as human. Because they are.

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Writer by day, circus artist by night. I write about art, media, culture, health, science, and where they all meet. Join my list:

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