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Your unreasonable demands are killing your server

A new study confirms what servers already knew — it's a stressful job.

A new study confirms what servers already knew — it's a stressful job.

If you’re one of those people, the ones whose behavior causes your friends or your date to secretly apologize to the server, you’re not only an asshole, you have blood on your hands. A new study says that it’s more stressful to be a server than it is to be a neurosurgeon. And that stress can lead to real health consequences.

The data, compiled by scientists at Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, showed that servers have a 22 percent higher risk of stroke on average than those with low-stress jobs; the number jumps to 33 percent for women. Think about that the next time you’re about to throw a hissy fit over the fact that your salad arrived with the dressing on top instead of on the side. Or before you send that martini back because it’s too dirty – only to complain that the replacement isn’t dirty enough.

While waiting tables is hard work, and certainly trying at times (toddlers on the loose!), it isn’t like bad service is going to kill someone. So how does it beat out occupations that actually are life-or-death on the stress-o-meter? Turns out it boils down to having a job where you feel respected and in control. And having customers snap their fingers to get attention certainly doesn’t foster a sense of being in control.

The study designated four categories based on an individual’s level of control and the psychological demands of the work. Low demand and low control jobs such as manual labor were labeled passive; occupations with high control like architects and scientists were low stress; and those with both high demand and high control (like that neurosurgeon) were active. The fourth category, jobs identified as high stress, were those that are demanding, with low levels of control — including restaurant servers.

In all fairness, it’s not totally your fault. The study noted that other issues associated with restaurant work affect the well-being of servers. Lifestyle factors like working erratic shifts, drinking, and smoking are also hard on a person.

We know that you work hard all week and just want someone to cater to your every whim when you go out. Bear in mind that the server you’re treating like your personal minion has been on her feet for eight hours, dealing with gems like you, all for minimum wage plus the tip you leave. If you can’t be polite, at least be generous so your server can buy a bottle of wine before stroking out.