Let Them Eat Pancakes

What Women Really Think
July 14 2009 8:46 AM

Let Them Eat Pancakes

/blogs/xx_factor/2009/07/14/infuriating_new_york_times_magazine_essay_by_genyer_about_her_failures_as_an_ihop_waitress/jcr:content/body/slate_image

Susannah Jacob meant to write a humorous account of her failures as an IHOP waitress. Instead, she offered yet more fodder for our "entitled generation" conversation , and revealed herself, intentionally or not, as being unable-or unwilling-to succeed at one of today’s most elusive goals: an actual, if unglamorous, job.

Advertisement

Jacobs lives in an affluent Dallas suburb. She’s heading to college in the fall. She doesn’t, by her own admission, "need the paycheck." And it’s clear that she thinks it’s funny that someone like her can’t succeed at a job that her trainer, Suzanne, an immigrant ex-con, a former drug addict, and a multiple divorcee, is not only good at, but takes pride in. This young scion of the upper middle class just can’t do it. "Waiting on tables, it seemed, violated my very constitution."

If you’re not wincing enough already, the rest of the essay-intended as a send-up of her failures (putting powdered sugar on hamburgers, breaking things, and splashing hot coffee)-stands out mostly for the throw-away descriptions of those she’s condescending to work with and wait on. A tattooed family "even manage[s] somehow to smell British," a baby unlucky enough to have a family who eats at a major chain "slouch[es] on his mother’s lap."

There’s no dramatic turn-around; no Shop Class as Soulcraft realization that Suzanne the self-professed "damn good waitress" has a valuable, un-outsource-able skill set , no admission that any job worth doing is worth doing well. Instead, drinks are spilled, pancakes are ruined, and the writer ... quits. And however relieved she thinks her mid-shift departure made her manager, it left this reader, a parent and a veteran of plenty of service jobs, fuming.

Photograph by Getty Images.

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Uh-Oh. The World’s Oceans Have Broken Their All-Time Heat Record.

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

The NFL Should Lose Its Tax-Exempt Status, Which It Never Should Have Had Anyway

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 18 2014 6:52 PM Ground Zero for the Fight Over Female Voters  Colorado Democrats and Republicans are testing theories for reaching women that will resonate far beyond the Rocky Mountains.  
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
  Life
Outward
Sept. 18 2014 4:15 PM Reactions to a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Reveal Transmisogyny
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 3:30 PM How Crisis Pregnancy Centers Trick Women
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.