Sunday, April 25, 2010

How To NOT Be an Asshole (while eating in a restaurant)

Recently, I left my job in retail to return to waiting tables. I thought I had experienced every form of jackassery during my 4 years of retail, but I was wrong. Very, very wrong. I forgot that while dining out, human beings have the ability to catapult their jackassery to the highest degree. In short, people are assholes.

Let me start off by informing you of a few things you may not be aware of. Servers make $2.65 an hour. This is why we rely on the tips you leave us - that's how we pay our bills. Servers also have to tip out a percentage of their sales to other restaurant employees. It's different from restaurant to restaurant, but I think the typical amount is 3.5% of their sales. This means we are taking a pretty decent amount of our hard earned money and paying the bussers, food runners and bartenders. Every time you don't tip 20% you are royally screwing over that server. That server also has bills to pay and mouths to feed. Know the restaurant you are eating at beforehand. If you don't want to spend $60 on dinner for two, plus a 20% tip (which is pretty typical at my restaurant), GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. Go to Red Robin or Applebees. Go to McDonalds. But don't come to my restaurant, spend beyond your budget and make up for it by leaving me a shitty tip.

I'm going to go through a typical experience waiting on a table in order to demonstrate the things that are sure to annoy your server, and therefore are things you should try to avoid doing in the future.

1. Greet

First of all, at my restaurant, we pour water at the table automatically and greet the table as we are doing so. As a greeting, I might say something like "Hi there, how is everybody doing tonight?"  Common responses are:
"fine" <---not very polite
"doing just fine, thank you, how are you?" <---this is acceptable
and my personal favorite, a totally blank expression, kind of like this:

This is so irritating. Why would you not respond to a simple question like, "how are you?" In any other circumstance, it would seem rude to everyone involved. But not in a restaurant,here it's totally acceptable.

2. Drink Order

Me: Can I start you off with a cocktail or a glass of wine tonight?
Most irritating response: No.

Really? Just "no"?. Would you like a beer? A Coke? Iced Tea? Lemonade? You fucking idiot. Clearly, I'm fulfilling a job requirement by offering you a cocktail or a glass of wine first. They are expensive and we want your money.
Here are a few acceptable ways to respond:

"No thanks, I'll just stick with water"
"I'd like a Coke or a Pepsi, whichever you have"
"What kind of beers do you  have on tap?"
"Yes, please. I"ll have a Manhattan"

Yesterday, I was waiting on a young couple, so instead of offering alcohol, I informed them that we had coke products, iced tea and lemonade, to which the boy replied "Uhh, do you have coke?"


3. Appetizers

I always offer appetizers. My main objective as a server is to get your bill higher so that even if you are a cheap bastard and you don't leave me 20%, you're still tipping me more than $5. Appetizers add at least $7-$10 onto your bill. I expect almost everyone to say no. That's totally okay with me. What isn't okay is what usually happens (note: You should probably click on the picture to enlarge it so you can see what these poorly drawn stick people are actually saying):

Either people make ridiculous comments about the choice of appetizers, or they all stare at each other and wait for someone else to make the decision. I'm always willing to give you more time, so if you're not sure, just tell me to come back. Don't make me stand there while you mumble to each other while looking confused and irritated. I have other tables. I have sidework. Essentially, it's like if you were at work, you have a million things to do, and people keep putting you on hold when all you're trying to do is get a couple of quick phone calls out of the way.

4. Entree Check

 Most of the time when I approach a table after they've had a chance to try their entrees, I expect to be annoyed. That's because it usually goes like this:

Me: How is everything tasting over here?:


What is the deal with this? Why do people start looking at each other like I just walked up to their table and said hey look what I can do! and started tap dancing?  Remember me? I'm your waitress. We've met. I'm just here to make sure that you're happy with your food. I'm not here to steal your food. This isn't the wild kingdom. You needn't hunch over your plate protectively and look at me sideways. As always, JUST ANSWER THE FREAKIN' QUESTION.

5. The Tip

As I've said before, unless your server called you a fatty, made fun of your baby and dumped food all over you, you really should be tipping 20%. Nothing is more upsetting than knowing you gave excellent service to a table and opening up the book once they've left to discover this:

Another really annoying thing is tipping ONE DOLLAR less than 20%. What lesson do you think I'm learning from that? That I'm really good, but I should try a tiny bit harder? Because mostly what I'm getting from it is that you're an asshole. A recent example would be $31 on a $162 bill. What? You really needed to save that one dollar? What are you going to do with it? You can afford to spend $193 on dinner, but not $194? What does that mean? My mind is boggled. I mean, don't get me wrong. I love that my restaurant provides the opportunity to make $30 off of on table, but come on.

So there you have it. ANSWER QUESTIONS and TIP WELL and we won't think you're an asshole. Treat us like human beings (because we are).  

Or, if you must be an asshole, for god's sake, stay at home.

UPDATE: I think sick and twisted humor may have found its origins in the restaurant biz. I mean, when servers are having a bad day, a conversation might go like this (this is an actual conversation I've had):

Me: You know what we should do?
Coworker: What?
Me: Go out for drinks and plan the perfect murder
Coworker: Fuck yes.

Then later, I come home and draw this:
and think that I'm the funniest person alive.

Also, the fact that I don't drink to excess several days a week makes me the exception in the restaurant biz. When you are an asshole, you're driving people to drink. You're ruining people's lives!


  1. you are my hero... other favorites: are we celbrating anything special tonite? answer: no. (customer proceeds to order wine by the bottle and three courses, one at a freakin time...) um, miss, we have a 7:00 show to catch! are our entrees coming??? AHHHH! You MORON!! It's now 6:30 and you just GAVE me your entree order!! Remember when I asked (basically) for the reason you were out tonight??? THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN A BETTER TIME TO MENTION YOUR THEATER TICKETS ASSHOLE!
    And why do people think that restaurant grills/ovens/stoves cook faster than home ones?? News flash... a fricking well done steak takes a long time!! try eating one with some flavor at say, medium, so we can all move on with our lives!!
    Wow, thanks for letting me rant! :)

  2. First and foremost let me say I have worked in the service industry, and I do in fact tip 20 percent on average (for acceptable to superb service).

    I also completely agree that you deserve common courtesy and respect from the people you encounter during your shift. You are a human being and deserve to be treated like one.

    However It seems that you have forgotten that people DO NOT have to tip. It is a courtesy. Your job is a gamble, and by the tone of entitlement in your post...a gamble that you usually win (which I'm guessing is why you got out of retail and back into the service industry?).

    I'd say servers in general have a superiority complex because it is easy money. You get on the job training and a month latter are grossing more than first, second, and third year teachers that went to school for 4 - 5 years.

    Lets not forget that on average most (I understand not everyone is included this and this one isn't even directed at you) people in the service industry are people who never really grew up. They tend to be heavy drinkers, extremely promiscuous, and the occasional illicit drug user. Truth be told they are horrible examples of the human race. And keep in mind my side note that that statement wasn't directed at you at all, but something tells me you can agree with me on that one.

    Your complaint about the extra dollar on that table with the 190 bill, come on. What are you going to do with the extra dollar? I get your point, but you come off like a spoiled child. Your job IS difficult, I get it, like I said before I've been there myself. I just think you are overlooking the fact that you just made 30 dollars on ONE table for probably a combined total of 10 minutes of running around for them. Let alone the probability that you have other tables that are tipping you out as well. I'd be interested to know your average hourly rate? Something tells me on a good day it's close to $15-20?

    Other people work hard to make you money, i.e. bussers, bar tenders, food runners, dish washers, cooks, etc. (and if they don't you should have the balls to talk to your management about their sub-par performance). A good restaurant is a team sport, and from the tone of your complaints you don't like being a team player.

    The reality of the situation is that they probably deserve a high percentage because their job is crappier and more annoying than yours. But unfortunately for them, they probably aren't as attractive as you so they got placed lower on the service industry latter. It's sad but true

    To sum it up my point; you should stop complaining and count your blessings darling.

  3. I love anonymous commenters. I feel all famous now.

    You did see the Snarky part in SnarkySouffle, right?

    I appreciate your right to your opinion, but since I dont know who you are, I can't take it seriously. Obviously, this post was meant to be funny. Obviously, I understand where you think you're coming from. BUT, this was meant to be funny. And to say that servers are drunk sluts and therefore cannot complain is like saying you shouldn't help out homeless people because they're only spending it on booze.

    I work overtime every week. I definitely don't make nearly as much as a teacher. I've walked out of that place after 11 hour days with $60 in my pocket. I wasn't complaining about tipping out, I was merely making people aware of it, because most people don't know that a percentage of the money servers makes goes to other employees. I also think most people don't know that we make $2.65/hour. I couldn't do what I do without everyone else doing their jobs. Everyone deserves to be paid for the hard work they put in.

    Anyone working in the service or retail industry thinks their customers are assholes. Every teacher gets annoyed with their students. Bosses think their employees are idiots and employees think their bosses are idiots. Very few people are lucky enough to find a job they absolutely love going to everyday. So for you to show up here and leave some condescending ANONYMOUS comment because I chose to take my frustrations with my job and make them funny, is completely ridiculous.

    I think it's great that you have found a job that you love waking up for every day and you never have one complaint about. Although, then you don't get to use MS Paint to draw silly pictures that make you laugh. BECAUSE LAUGHING IS FUN.

    Thanks for saying I'm pretty, but don't call me your darling.

  4. Dear Anonymous,
    i have one more thing to add in defense to this humorous situation...tipping is NOT a courtesy. If it were, servers would make at least minimum wage, like employees at starbucks or subway... but since we only make about a third of that, hourly that is, tipping is expected, the fact that we servers have superiority complexes is mutually exclusive, it's just a character trait necessary to walk up to parties of complete strangers every five minutes, and act happy to not only see them, but take care of them like family...think about it.

  5. Dear Jayme,

    I fucking love you.

    I hope that doesn't make things between us awkward.

    K thanks



  6. Dear Anonymous,
    Fuck you! I would have to say that any sense of entitlement gleaned from reading said blog probably came to fruition after working retail and dealing with countless faceless douchebags such as yourself on too much of a regular basis. It sounds to me that the entitlement is coming from your direction. It's very impressive that you point out that most people in the service industry have never grown up, are heavy drinking, promiscuous drug users whom are horrible examples of the human race- well holy shit I'm pretty certain that applies to a very generous portion of people of EVERY position in life, be it employment or otherwise, to generalize something like that is ludicris. In other words, where the fuck do you get off saying such garbage?

  7. I learned a lot today! Well, two things.

    1) Anonymous is a dbag.

    2) I am a good restaurant patron.

  8. original anonymousApril 30, 2010 at 12:11 AM

    for one, i don't consider myself a douche bag. I never accused Snarky of anything really besides being attractive... I was just citing my own observations. I thought the point of a blog was to stimulate discussions? Be it positive or negative?

    Oh and I do apologize for misinterpreting your tipping out - my bad.

    The restaurant experience I have had comes strictly from non college towns so perhaps the situation is different in ann arbor, than say novi (which is where a good portion of my time spent in the service industry occurred), and maybe it was just the restaurant I worked at but seriously all horrible I can only speak from my own experience.

    Also first year teachers make around 23K a year working around 9 - 11 hours a day, 5 days a week. Working in Washtenaw County I would still have to say you make pretty damn close to that, coming from my friends in the industry, and if you don't maybe you should try another eatery.

  9. This blog made me laugh so hard that I uncontrollably started to cry! My boyfriend up stairs heard me and came running down to make sure I was okay; however, I was crying to hard to explain to him that it was from laughter. "Entree Check" was what really got me. Seriously, soooo funny!!! I want to copy and paste it on to a word doc so when I am having a bad day I can just read it and feel all better. I love that you added that picture too, it makes it that much more funny.
    Thank you for writing such a hilarious blog:)!
    P.S. I tip 20% regardless of the service, because I understand it is hard to wait tables.

  10. I just posted the last comment and after reading the previous comments I feel the need to inform you that I am a different Anonymous, and I am in no way associated with the asshole Anonymous.

  11. "Waahh, I am a server and I only make $3 an hour, waaahhhh."
    Nobody put a gun to your head and made you take a job waiting tables.
    Now hurry up and refill my water.