A Tip for Women in the Workplace

It seems that these days I wake up, slap on my makeup, and then go about my daily adventure of fighting for my place in the world.

Since I am still looking for myself in the vast ocean I call life, I find myself waiting tables to stay financially afloat. This is not my dream job, but it gets me by. On a daily basis, I run and hide in the kitchen and yell “DAMN, HELL, FUCK, WHY IS THIS PERSON HERE?!” — in reference to the various men who have left their numbers, made snide comments, or in one extreme case, began following me. I am constantly being degraded by men, and challenged by their wives, all while wearing a smile because apparently to make tips, you have to suffer through what anyone says or does to you.

I stay at this job a few days a week because I know that come summer I will be hanging up my apron, throwing up my hands and saying “I AM GOING BACK TO WHERE I BELONG AT A JOB THAT RESPECTS THAT I AM A WOMAN AND IDENTIFIES WITH THE LGBTQA COMMUNITY. WHERE I DO NOT HAVE TO CHOKE DOWN MISTREATMENT FOR A $3 TIP.” This wonderful workplace would be Early Bird Cookery, operational six months out of the year in Callicoon center and the other six months in Eldred, both in the Catskill Mountains in NY.

Early Bird Cookery is a catering company that also offers meal delivery. They specialize in local and organic dishes, using only what is available that season, and supporting many local farmers and other businesses for all of their needs. Early Bird Cookery hosts Farm to Table supper clubs once a month from May to November, utilizing local goods and hosting the suppers right in our quaint town of Callicoon Center at The Hills. People come from near and far to taste Amy’s local, and organic, delicacies. The owner, manager, and head chef of this operation is the beautiful Amy Miller.

Amy Miller takes great pride in her work and has many respectable clients. Amy runs a tight ship but is open-minded, kind-hearted, and best of all, a wonderful friend. Amy’s staff happens to be composed of all women. Amy is the head chef, followed by Dayna, who is the sous chef, then we have Eva, Beverly and myself as the chef’s assistants. Amy’s wait staff is also only women, on board she has Cat, Ela, Lisa, and Emily.

I stumbled upon this dream by confiding in Dayna that although I had gone to school for Women’s Studies and Psychology, that my real passion was cooking. Dayna had recently gone through culinary school and graduated top of her class. She was immediately interested in helping me flourish; she brought me to her job right after that for a test day, it has been a match made in heaven ever since. It is more than enough to enjoy what I do, but my life feels complete with also enjoying my work environment, and being comfortable with those I work with. In a short time, we have become a family. Amy and Dayna serve as my pseudo parents, always pointing me in the right direction and giving me the self-esteem boost that I need to reach my goals. We are close at work, and out of work; we attend trivia together,   have dinner together, and there is even a clothing swap in the works!  We are a close-knit group of women that care about the well-being of one another.

Erin Birch, Dayna Halprin

There is something extremely comforting about seeing women succeed in the work place, especially knowing that the entire business is fueled by women. I am not saying this is the first time that a business run by women has succeeded, but seeing women come together to promote one another and lift one another’s spirits is a great relief.  It offers a respite from the harsh reality that women tear other women down to advance in the work place. At my unruly job I have been confronted by women because of the neckline of my shirt, or the way it fits my body. One woman even went so far as to say that I should wear a baggier shirt because her husband has diabetes and I will send him into shock.

When I get dressed, I always attempt to look professional yet stylish for the occasion. I have never once been told by Amy or any of my peers that my outfit was unacceptable, only that I looked nice, and good luck on serving.

This article is not about my jobs, and really, is not about me, it is about women. Women should always stick together, create a wall similar to that of the “red rover” wall in the classic school yard game. Anyone that runs at you that you do not wish to interact with because they are rude should be thrown to the ground by the arms of you and your fellow women. Bonds should be formed like those of my Early Bird co-workers and I, very real, true, family-esque bonds. We should be banning together to help one another.

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