I had a conversation last night with some former servers about the “serving lifestyle.” They fondly recalled sleeping until noon and closing down the late night bars. Those are some of the more glamorous parts of being a server. The part people don’t often fondly recall is being uninsured and any injury being catastrophic. If you cannot work, you don’t get paid. A trip to the doctor can cost you weeks’ worth of tips while time off work drains what little savings you have. After 16 years in this business, I have learned that rule number one of the serving lifestyle is “don’t get hurt.”
I have put away my skateboard and think twice about climbing tall trees. A broken arm or ankle would mark financial catastrophe. There is one more area that I do not take risks in. I am very careful about what I put on my feet. A good pair of non-slip shoes can be your best insurance policy against winding up in the Emergency Room from slipping on a restaurant floor. This is why I recently wrote about how much I love my new non-slip shoes. After reading the review, the nice people over at SR Max sent me an email thanking me for my kind words. This lead to a discussion of shoes, statistics, and worker’s compensation that turned up some information I think all servers should know.
Slips and falls are the number one cause of workplace injuries in restaurants. They account for 17% of all disabling injuries. 24% of all slips and falls can be attributed solely to improper footwear. Slip resistant shoes have been shown to reduce slips and falls by 50%. Let me break that down. The way you are most likely to get hurt at work as a server is by slipping and falling. You have a greater risk of slipping and falling than a cook does of injuring themselves with a knife. The most effective way you have to prevent this from happening is to wear a quality slip resistant shoe.
I also learned that not all slip resistant shoes are created equal. Slip resistant shoes are rated by a measure called “coefficient of friction” or “CoF” for short. A coefficient of friction of 1.0 is the equivalent of a rubber sole on a carpeted surface. Government guidelines require that all flooring have a CoF of 0.6 or higher. This means that in order to have a 1.0 CoF your slip resistant shoes must be rated higher than 0.4 under wet/oily conditions. Unfortunately many of the shoes that are sold in discount and big box retail stores score as low as 0.2-0.25.
All SR Max brand shoes have a CoF of at least .54 and some as high as .76 under wet and oily conditions. Baseball players wear cleats on the field and basketball players wear rubber soles on the court. Both shoes are ideal for the surface they are designed for, but would provide lousy traction on the other surface. Servers need to wear the shoe designed to give optimal performance on their wet and oily surfaces they work on. SR Max builds shoes to give you the traction you need in a restaurant.
I know someone out there is thinking that a good slip and fall would be like paid time off. How long do you think you could live on your hourly wage without any tips? When they draw your blood in the Emergency Room, are they going to find anything you wouldn’t want them to that could lead to you being fired and stuck with the ER bill? Remember that part of the employee handbook where they told you that slip resistant shoes are part of your uniform? Injured, unemployed, and talking to the billing department at the hospital is not a situation you want to find yourself in.
I think I have made a compelling case why top quality slip resistant shoes are an investment you need to make. The great news is that the investment is minimal. SR Max shoes don’t cost more than the ones you see in the big box retail stores, they just work better and last longer. These are high quality shoes sold without the overhead found in a shoe store. They give you better traction without emptying your bank account. They also sell other name brands like Skechers, Keen, Dr Martens, and Crocs. Whether you want a name brand or just a well designed shoe, they can give you the best option at the best price.
I’m not trying to sell you shoes. I am telling you that you need to understand the “server lifestyle” goes beyond sleeping in and flirting with co-workers. Most servers live in a financially precarious situation where unexpected time off and hospital bills can cause disaster. Unless you are the exception to the rule, you should do what you can to minimize your risks. Since your biggest risk is slipping and falling, you owe it to yourself to invest in a top quality pair of slip resistant shoes. I am just trying to make you aware of a way to do that without parting with too many of your hard earned tips in the process.
Note: As an added bonus the folks at SR Max have offered my readers a special discount for a limited time only. Use coupon code “SRMTWEET” to receive a special discount. Take advantage of the chance to save some money on some great shoes.
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