Getting pranked while you’re at work isn’t fun. Now, imagine how much worse it is for service industry workers, who are expected to smile or keep a straight face on the job, when they get pranked by customers. Sadly, not everyone gives servers the courtesy of letting them do their job in peace. Case in point is Alex Gonzaga who’s receiving flak for smearing icing on an unsuspecting waiter’s face.
In a now-deleted video uploaded by Dani Barretto on her Instagram Story, we can see Gonzaga happily blowing her candle then smearing icing on the forehead of the waiter holding her cake during her 35th birthday celebration. The video went viral as netizens criticized Gonzaga for “lacking manners” and then also sympathized with the waiter who didn’t seem all too happy with the joke.
WATCH: Alex Gonzaga goes viral on social media after this video of her smearing icing on a waiter’s face during her 35th birthday celebration circulated.
Apart from getting called out for smearing the waiter, Gonzaga is facing a reckoning with several individuals coming forward with their own alleged personal (horror) stories while working with the actress and claiming that she has a pattern of disrespectful behavior towards low-ranking workers. Some netizens even brought up the rumored beef Gonzaga had with veteran actress Dina Bonnevie.
A practical joker would call cake smearing or smashing a harmless joke, maybe even telling those offended by it “Di ka naman mabiro.” But it isn’t cute or funny, especially if you do it to laugh at the expense of strangers, no matter what online videos or “Wow Mali” will have you believe. It’s mean.
Ayn Bernos tweeted, “Paalala na ‘yung mga jokes dapat nakakatuwa for all parties involved,” in case people needed reminding.
Paalala na yung mga jokes dapat nakakatuwa for all parties involved
Cake smearing, like any prank involving food being put on you, leaves the person to clean up their face, hair, and possibly an expensive piece of clothing they bought for the occasion or, in the case of servers, uniform. It also wastes and disrespects food. But worst of all is how it can inflict emotional distress.
The culture of disrespect that foodservice workers face isn’t a secret. The Dave Barry quote that goes “A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person” wouldn’t be as popular otherwise. As Janina Vela points out, there’s a power imbalance at play when you’re pranking a person serving you.
“Siguro mas acceptable ito kung ka-close mo ‘yung tao, pero dahil sa ‘power dynamics’ dito—Kuya as the server and Ms. Alex as the served—hindi niya magagawa ‘yun,” said Vela. “Service workers are our equals. It’s their job to serve, but it’s our job to give them the respect they deserve.”
Siguro mas-acceptable ito kung ka-close mo yung tao, pero dahil sa “power dynamics” dito —Kuya as the server and Ms. Alex as the served— hindi niya magagawa yun ☹️
Service workers are our equals. It’s their job to serve, but it’s our job to give them the respect they deserve. https://t.co/6i7wZHDLcQ
Making a server feel small when they can’t defend themself because they’re expected to put up with it is mistreatment. Just because servers are trained to make customers feel good doesn’t give anyone the right to make them feel any less important.
Food writer Jaclyn Clemente-Koppe said in an interview with waiters for F&B Report, “Oftentimes, people treat the waitstaff indifferently, when in fact, they’re the ones they should befriend to guarantee an eating experience like no other. More than the tip, it’s respect that we need to pay the hardworking waiters—the same respect they give customers the moment they enter the restaurant doors.”
Be grateful to servers and just eat the dang cake.