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.
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?"
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?
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!