Though Sioux Falls is home to thousands of college students, the city’s businesses are, apparently, still not immune to ageism.
This past weekend, a few friends and I stopped by a local restaurant late in the evening to support a friend who was performing there. After being seated, we ordered drinks and asked if we could see the dessert menu. Our server quickly told us what our dessert options were, but instead of taking our order, she snatched up our menus and walked to where the hostess stood, gesturing angrily toward us as they conversed.
She never came back to our table.
After 15 minutes of confused waiting, I finally asked the hostess if someone could please take our order since, by that point, we had been in the restaurant for over half an hour. A different server took our orders, but the original server delivered our food, all smiles now that she realized we were, in fact, paying customers.
Apparently, our table was not alone in receiving sub-par service that evening. Several fellow students mentioned to me afterward that they had been denied a table earlier in the evening when the restaurant was clearly not full.
While I understand the reluctance to serve college students (the stereotype is that we’re all broke), businesses should not be so quick to assume that we’re all inconsiderate ne’er-do-wells. I, for one, would not have entered the premises if I didn’t have adequate resources to make the waiter’s time worthwhile.
Many of us students are waiters ourselves—we understand that tips are integral parts of salaries in the restaurant business. Sometimes, we’re even inclined to tip our peers especially well, but to be prompted to do so, we need to be treated like the other customers.
Of course, greater injustices exist in the world than college-aged students being slightly snubbed at a restaurant, but if we simply brush off these smaller issues, we risk subjecting ourselves to further unsolicited disdain.
There will always be the few delinquents who ruin dining out for the rest of us by making messes or not tipping properly, but it needs to be acknowledged by local businesses that most students are mature individuals who deserve at least the average level of respect.
September Symens is a junior English and journalism major from Omaha, Neb.