MPIPersona Project
J.D.S/Shutterstock.com

Kira

Portrait of Kira
Age
27
Race
South Asian
Hometown
Dallas, Texas
Now lives
St. Louis, Missouri
Job Title
Casino Server
Income
$50,000
Education
BA (Art)
Group
Routine Traded
Occupation
Food Prep & Serving
Industry
Hospitality & Tourism
Artifact: Necklace

Artifact: Necklace

I know this might be tacky, but I bought this matching coke spoon and roach clip. I made it into a necklace because I thought it was funny to show up to work with stuff like this. You can’t get really in trouble for it but it definitely would strike up a conversation with customers that might be interested in the same things you’re interested in. I also thought that it’s kind of relevant for the server in today’s world. You’re working crazy hours and you often tend to deal with terrible people. So, I know a lot of servers that definitely use different kinds of things to cope.

Jaded waitress, surviving on escapism
“Our community is pretty great, lots of music, lots of politics. I just haven’t really gotten involved in the politics part. I don’t know if I’m scared or lazy or it’s too early in the morning for me.”
Artist's palette Nataliia Zhekova/Shutterstock.com

Education

My parents are from India, and they moved to Texas in the ’70s. I think they expected my siblings and I to be more career-oriented. I went to school for art at UT, more or less because my dad said you’ve got to go to school. I didn’t really know what else to do at that point. Honestly, I kind of wish I hadn’t gone to school — it’s a lot of debt for not a lot of reward. I got really disgruntled and I didn’t pay my loans for like a year. So they went into default. It took me a year of working a stable job before I was like: “I guess I have to pay it.” I just set up an automatic debit and I don’t think about it anymore.

“I usually get off around 3 or 4 a.m. and then I head to the bar where my boyfriend works. I’ll be there drinking and whatever else until 5 or 6 in the morning. Then we go to bed, wake up around 4 p.m. and we do it all over again.”

Community

After graduation, I probably stayed in Austin for most of a year trying to find art-related jobs. Then the tech boom started happening. People from New York and California were moving to Austin. The rent skyrocketed. I was competing against people with, like, master’s degrees trying to get serving jobs. So when the opportunity came to move out here with my boyfriend… I mean your money goes a lot further in St. Louis. It just made more sense to me at the time. After a while, someone told me if I really wanted to make money as a server, I should try the casino. It’s actually really good money. More than my manager makes. I basically make what someone in any skilled labor would be making and I don’t have to be completely present-minded.

Bar at a casino ekash/iStock

Work

I work at the casino during the week because I think I get tipped more by the regulars. I usually get off around 3 or 4 a.m. and then I head to the bar where my boyfriend works. I’ll be there drinking and whatever else until 5 or 6 in the morning. Then we go to bed, wake up around 4 p.m. and we do it all over again. I’ll take things that keep me going or mellow me out. It’s too much anxiety otherwise.

Jaded waitress, surviving on escapism
“Our community is pretty great, lots of music, lots of politics. I just haven’t really gotten involved in the politics part. I don’t know if I’m scared or lazy or it’s too early in the morning for me.”
office cubicles VasilyevD/iStock

Work

I like being a server. My sister works in the tech industry; she hates her job and she knows it’s stupid. But she makes like 80 grand a year and she’s just like: “Well, I’m just gonna milk this stupid job for what I can for now and then see what’s next.” I don’t like that. At least working in the service industry, I know I’m working for the money that I’m making. I’m not just some cog.

“At least working in the service industry, I know I’m working for the money that I’m making. I’m not just some cog."

Economy

I only want to dive in so much to stuff like money and politics. I did just start investing. My old boss told me that I should stop keeping all my cash under my mattress. So he hooked me up with a financial advisor and I just said: “I don’t want to think about it; you figure it out.” I gave her all my savings. I have a Roth IRA and then I guess she just put me in some mutual funds.

Planned Parenthood march a katz/Shutterstock.com

Politics

My interest in politics is very limited, more because I feel like there’s so much to the game that I’m just not aware of. It’s like the money, when I told her to take my money and put it away for me. I don’t want to know the ups and downs. I don’t need to get that anxious about it. So when it comes to politics, I basically go talk to a couple of my friends that I know are really intelligent. And I ask them to dumb it down for me. The only political campaign that I’ve ever actually felt interested in was Planned Parenthood. It really, like, irked me and I started donating to them. Because when you grow up with Indian parents, they don’t really talk to you about any of that stuff. So when I was really young, I had to go there and it really helped me out. So I did donate to them. I set up an automatic debit from my account for $10 a month and I didn’t really think about it after that. I changed my Facebook profile to show that; I don’t really know what else to do.

“I don’t want to know the ups and downs. I don’t need to get that anxious about it. So when it comes to politics, I basically go talk to a couple of my friends that I know are really intelligent. And I ask them to dumb it down for me.”

Race

Growing up in Texas, there was actually a defining moment when I realized that me being Indian meant something to other people. I had a crush on a boy in middle school. We were all hanging out and my friend realized that he didn’t like me. She kept asking him why he didn’t like me. And then she said: “Is it because she’s Indian?” I think I was in the seventh grade and it was the first time I realized it meant that I was different from everybody else. Because my parents divorced when I was really young, I didn’t get that much of the Indian culture. I didn’t speak the language. So I felt kind of out of place on either end.

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