Monday, March 17, 2014

Tips for Servers

This is a pretty controversial topic.

Recently, an article has been making its way around--as articles/blogs are apt to do.  This particular article is about servers and customers, and supposes to advise how to NOT be a "horrible restaurant customer." Read it here.  

Now, while it's the only one I'm linking to, because it is the one that originally roused my ire, it's not the only one of its kind.  In fact, I've seen several similar articles re-posted in the annals of Facebook by several of my server friends.

And let me just say: I get it.  I totally get it-- some people are rude, and jerks, etc.  And, before you ask, NO I've never been a server.  (By the way, your obsession with whether or not I have worked in a restaurant is just as fervent as my obsession with sitting in a booth--heaven forbid I want to be comfortable! And heaven forbid I have an opinion on something without having experienced it first-hand). However, I have worked at Quizno's and Baskin Robbins, and Bath and Body Works, and the Body Shop and various other places of employ, and I've been cussed out over roast beef, banana splits, lotion, perfume oil, etc.  So, before you go saying that I couldn't possibly understand, imagine a large man screaming at me over roast beef after having stood in front of a hot... conveyor belt thingy during lunch rush hour, and recognize that I may actually get it, at least a little bit.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand-- the article.

Now, I consider myself to be a pretty good restaurant customer--I tip well (at least 20%) for good service, if I pay with a gift card, I tip on the total amount of the bill, I make up my mind quickly, I don't sit at the table for an hour after I'm done, I am polite, and I say 'please' and 'thank you,' and I do it with a smile.

So, imagine my surprise when I read this article and discover that I actually can be considered a 'horrible' restaurant customer because I sometimes do things like say 'I didn't like it,' when the server comes to take my food, or I ask for napkins and then ask for a refill when the server comes back because I forgot I needed a refill the first time around (which, actually, why did you not just ask me if I wanted one anyway, seeing as it's unlikely I drank a whole cup of soda before you got back with the napkins--or, entirely possible I guess, considering some service I've gotten at restaurants. Whatever).

Or, and this could be my favorite reason I'm a horrible customer: I ask for a box for my leftovers.  *Gasp* How dare I ask you to bring a box for the food I didn't finish to my table!  Yep, this one is definitely my favorite.  Like, honestly, why do you care if I"m not going to eat it later?  I bought it, and it's therefore my right to do with what I please.  Maybe I'll take it home and it'll sit in my refrigerator for a week until I throw it out.  Maybe I'll feed it to my dog.  Maybe I'll see a homeless person on the street on the way home and give it to him (this has happened more than once). Maybe I'll use it as an offering to my tiny little Buddha statue.  Who cares? It is legitimately none of your business--and the only reason you should ever be PISSED OFF about bringing me a box for the food I paid for is if I act like a jerk about it, which I never do.  So shut up, and bring me a box.

I get it-- there really are terrible customers.  But, guess what? There are some really terrible servers, too.  I have never, in my life, as the article suggests, READ A MENU WRONG.  I learned to read in Kindergarten, and I've been doing it pretty consistently since then, so, yeah, I didn't get a HAMBURGER instead of a CHEESEBURGER because I read the menu wrong. I got it that way because you wrote it down wrong-- or the cooks made it wrong.  And heaven forbid I ask for cheese-- we've all been warned about what happens when you send food back.  So, I suck it up.  I eat my HAMBURGER (which I find totally gross, by the way), and never even mention it.

And how dare I ask you what your favorite dish is?  Especially if I've never been to the restaurant, and you probably have had at least a FEW things on the menu.  How totally rude of me. 

(Yes, I realize this article about which I am ranting was written in response to another one [linked to in the article I linked to], but the first one was decidedly more respectful in tone and content.)

Anyway.  I get it.  People can be really rude!  It sucks!

But, in the nature of fairness, since so many blogs and posts and articles are being written about some pretty innocuous things that customers do that make them HORRIBLE, TERRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD CUSTOMERS, I thought I'd return the favor, and compile just such a list in the reverse.

So, I present to you-- a [partial] list of what servers can do to NOT be horrible restaurant servers (because--while this list is not meant to be taken entirely seriously--and as much as you all hate to admit it, they do exist, and they exist in far greater quantities than I think you realize)!

1.  Don't call me 'sweetie,' or 'hon,' or any sort of diminutive cutesy name you can think of.  I don't know you, and it creeps me out and, quite frankly, makes me feel patronized and talked down to.  Sure, you're trying to foster familiarity, but you're not a little old lady who has called everyone 'honey' since she was 50.  You're a server who is my age, likely younger.  So, it's not actually cute or personable.

2.  Don't touch me.  If I reached out and touched you, you'd probably be like 'what the hell?!' and think 'omg, why did this person just touch me while I was trying to take her order?!' then you'd go home and add it to your list of ways to not be a horrible customer.  So, yeah.  Hands off.

3. Don't come up to my table, look at my empty plate, and ask: 'are you done?'  There is LITERALLY no food left on my plate.  Of COURSE I'm done.

4. Don't ask me if I liked the food if my plate's empty.  I ate it all; I liked it.

5. Don't flirt with my boyfriend.

6.  Don't tell me you're busy.  I know.  I have eyes, I can see that the restaurant is teeming with people.

7.  Don't read me the specials.  I guarantee you, I don't care.

8.  Don't get all pissed when I'm at dinner with friends and we ask to split the check.  Did you honestly think that wasn't going to happen?

9. Don't be rude.  Grab a dictionary and look up the word 'hospitable'--does it mean coming to the table with a sigh or a 'tude so that I know that the LAST thing in the world you want to do is actually serve me?  No?  It doesn't?  Shocking!

10.  Don't come to work sick.  Seriously.  

11.  Don't tell me to 'holler if you need anything,' and then show up at my table looking annoyed when I do catch your attention.

12.  Don't question my food choices.  Once, when I was at Chili's, I ordered the chicken crispers, and the waiter asked if I'd tried them and I said that I had, and he didn't hesitate to tell me that they were, in fact, gross.

13.  Don't ask 'how was your service today?'  I don't go up to coworkers or clients and say 'how did I do today?'

14. If I'm not allowed to forget stuff (ketchup, napkins, refills...), neither are you.

15.  Don't tell us about your day job.  I don't care that you act and sing on the side or have a band that you started with your college roommate and his girlfriend.  I don't care if you just moved here from Minnesota-- I don't care if you're studying marine biology at the local state school and your big dream is to work with Great Whites.  

16.  Don't walk up to the table to ask a question right as I take a bite of food.  Do a little recon, and maybe circle back so I can finish the bite I've just attempted to ingest.

Needless to say, I could go on... and on... and on.... and on.

But, that's not really the point.  The point, actually, is this: I'm a good customer-- and I am so sick and tired of these posts circulating suggesting that I'm not, because I do a few things that you apparently find annoying.

Yeah, you have to laugh at the whole 'I didn't like it' joke many times a day-- so what?  We all have to do things at our jobs every day that aren't necessarily our favorite things to do.  And I always have to laugh at the asinine jokes you make, too.

People work every single day at jobs they don't like, they live paycheck to paycheck, they deal with difficult, annoying, and rude people, and to top it all of, they don't even get tips for it. (P.S. Servers make minimum wage in my state, so none of that here).

Recently, I haven't been eating out very much-- and the few times I have it's been In-N-Out or Chipotle, but articles like this one make me not want to go out.  Why should I spend an extra 20% of my hard earned money tipping you when you secretly seethe at how horrible I am?  Any answers?

Yeah, probably not.

A tip is not a requirement; it is supposed to reflect the standard of service received.  I am often reminded in these articles that servers have to tip out at the end of the night to bus boys, cooks, etc., so I should dig deeper into my pocket!  In the same breath, I'm told that not everything that happens is a server's responsibility-- for instance, could be a cook's fault, etc., so that obviously shouldn't affect how much I tip my server.  Um... what?

Okay, so which is it?  It can't be both ways.  I either tip based on the fact that these tips will reach parties that may be responsible for good or bad service, or I don't?

I know people can be jerks-- no one wants to receive a business card or religious quote or fake money for a tip.  But no one wants to be told that they're a terrible customer when the definitely aren't. However, it appears there is no happy medium when it comes to servers who choose to write articles/blogs/etc.  

So, while servers continue to write these articles, and other servers circulate them on social media with echoes of "OMG. YES. THIS." and the like, good customers like me--who are nice, polite, tip well, and don't cause trouble--realize that we'd just as soon make our own food at home.

Go ahead--cut your nose off to spite your face.

[disclaimer: anonymous comments that are rude will be deleted].


  1. I was a server for a long time and I was seriously the best ever. Mainly because I wanted good tips and secondly because I worked at a Spires, where most of my patrons were little old couples, lonely old men and gaggles of old ladies. I thought of my grandparents going to lunch or getting their early-bird-special on and I just wanted them to be treated wonderfully. If you have a bad attitude, you shouldn't be in the service industry. It truly does go both ways.

    I don't know about you, but I can not stand the overly helpful and attentive servers either! Last Saturday, my sister and I went to get lunch and our waitress was so sweet, but we were having a very deep and emotional conversation (maybe we should not have had this convo at a BJ's LOL), but every time we were about to say something really deep and personal, "How are you girls doing? Oh don't you love the roasted brussel sprouts on that salad? Can I offer some dessert? Your dress is so colorful, I wish we could wear more color here."

    OMG, I almost wanted to scream!!! It was just TOO much!!

    Oh, and don't forget my straw!!

    Also, fun fact. In the Czech Republic, tips are not as expected as they are here. I mean, people leave them when the service was above and beyond. Ian and I did not know this, and since our dollar was so strong compared to their Crown, we tipped big. ($5 on average was like 98 Crown, which was huge to them.) We ended up finding a couple places that we would frequent often during our honeymoon, and they got to know pretty fast, that we were the fat Americans who liked to tip really big. Needless to say, while the Czech people are a little rude and cold, the Czech servers were the nicest people ever. LOL

    Ok, that is my rant.

    1. Nikol! YES-- that happens a lot too, and it's so frustrating. And I can tell they know that they've interrupted, and they don't seem to care at all. I find it very strange.

      I know! When I traveled abroad, I traveled with my friends who FORCED me to tip, haha. I feel like people in this country have a weird notion about what tipping is supposed to be. I was on a trip for Mock Trial once in Ohio or somewhere, I don't even remember haha-- but, this van that was a cab came to pick us up from the airport and dropped us off at the hotel. During the ride (about halfway through), he turned off the meter thing, and charged us per person. He was VERY OBVIOUSLY ripping us off. Yet, the girl that was leading the trip (captain of the team), tried to force us to tip him-- she wanted something like $3/$4 from all of us (there were over ten of us), and I flat out refused. She got pissed off at me, but I didn't budge that time.

      Tipping is something that should be reserved for good service-- whether it be a cab driver, a server, a hair stylist, whatever. It's not obligatory, though people sometimes make it out to be that way. So frustrating!

  2. Very interesting list. I'm not worrying about tipping to much here, because unless you are a tourist, it's not really expected in the Czech Republic. A 10% tip is all that is necessary. Had to the check the rules for Paris, where you really don't have to tip at all. But, I'd not seen those articles, and it was worth a laugh.

    1. Sabrina-- thanks! :D 10% sounds fair-- the different rules abroad are interesting! I feel like I'd want to tip MORE if everyone didn't always tell me how REQUIRED it is. Especially in California, where servers make minimum wage of over $8/hr., plus tips.

  3. What about when they bring you your food and you never see them again? Like that one time at El Torito when we had to flag down a manager to get our bill. I was so pissed!

    1. Yes!! And then, even then, the manager didn't come back with it right away. Or he forgot or something. And ironically enough, *I* wouldn't let us leave. :-| I want a do-over on that one.... we'd definitely have left, haha.