So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Tipping in US Vs. Europe – Wrapup

Update – 2009-09-17

I admit that I never really liked my argument in this post. It’s the first post that I sent to someone to see if he had any ideas on how to improve the argument (he didn’t). The main weakness is that my argument is entirely based on trying to put myself in someone else’s shoes, trying to imagine what it is like to work a job I have never worked. One of the reasons I write these posts is to help myself organize my thoughts about a particular topic. Often times I don’t have things very clear even when I finish the post. This is why I asked openly for opinions from waiters with experience in both continents.

I certainly didn’t expect the level of response this post received. A fellow blogger by the name of Teleburst clearly disagreed with me strongly, because he wrote more than six thousand words, well over six times the length of my original post, informing me just how wrong I was. I have read every last one of them, and I must say that, when he gets around to it, he makes some very good points and raised some important issues I had not thought of. The restaurant and bar cultures in the US and Europe are sooooo different that – as I surmised in my original post – it’s really impossible to compare the two in a way to isolate tipping as a variable.

This has been a learning experience for me. Primarily it has humbled me into realizing that my ability to empathize with others is a lot weaker than I assumed. It sounds to me like professional waiters, at least in the US, are a lot happier than I originally assumed they must be. Tipping is yet another issue where both sides have to be classified as different, but not necessarily better or worse.


Erik is one of those few individuals on the internet who is actually willing to change his mind in the face of new evidence. I can only hope to aspire to the same level.

I’m not surprised that he might think that we American waiters are a miserable lot, when you consider how many waiter bitch sites there are out there. What people need to remember is that these are venting sites and that even the most bitter waiter would admit that most of their interactions with guests go just fine and are productive. 

The restaurant game is just loaded with lots of juicy opportunities to dish. People are quirky things, regardless of which side of the table you’re on. So it makes for some funny/tragic/mocking/incredulous stories. But don’t be fooled. For the vast majority of us, those stories are the exception, not the rule. Thankfully.

PS, I pity that poor fool because he claimed to have read every typo-ridden word. I’ve cleaned most of them up for this blog, and, in my defense, I was typing responses in between a bunch of doubles, plus, for some reason, I couldn’t use the edit function in the comments section of his blog due to some glitch or something.

debate team


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