A strong brew of resentment and righteous indignation marks this collection of stories, interviews, cartoons and personal essays by service workers. As one waitress declares, "if I died and went to Dante's hell, I would spend eternity as a waitress serving white men in business suits." Ryan, Punk Planet fiction editor and a former kitchen worker, draws readers' attention to the largely overlooked professional lives of service sector employees by encouraging cab drivers, coffee jockeys and even strippers to share the highs and lows of their careers. In doing so, many rail against the industry-wide expectation of unobtrusive conduct and polite deference. While the customers they serve are often the source of the job's indignities and challenges, service workers reserve a particularly vehement hatred for the ambiguously defined but decidedly evil 'management', the self-important authority figures who, they say, force busboys to struggle through long shifts while faint with hunger and take advantage of job-hungry employees by paying them appallingly insufficient wages.
But some of these creative and charismatic people who share their service industry experiences enjoy their jobs and even perceive a noble purpose in the service they provide, such as a coffee shop manager who believes independently owned coffee houses like his are a 'neutral zone' where "people can be real." Whether those who reveal their experiences in this candid and insightful collection find their jobs unbearable or gratifying, Ryan seems to hope that readers will glean wisdom from -- and feel empathy for -- these voices from behind the scenes.
Leah Ryan, got her first job at age 15, she is a fiction editor for Punk Planet Magazine. Author resides in New York.