So You Want To Be A Waiter

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Daily Archives: December 10, 2009

The other side of the tipping equation – some tips from a former waiter

From “The Mountain Murmur”

This is an article that wisely outlines some dos and don’ts for waiters. I love this part:

It’s not that I’m stiffing good waiters. I always tip good waiters, at the going rate plus. (If you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to eat out.) But the grouchy, the indifferent and the glassy-eyed, whom I used to tip because I too was once a waiter — well, they still get tipped. A bit. More leftover coin, less paper.

Also, something that takes new waiters a while to learn:

Another trait of the self-narrating waiter is to ask too many times, “Is everything okay?” Often, an honest response would be, “Everything is okay except for the waiter who keeps interrupting our conversation.” Rather than pester your diners, go Zen. If all your customers are jabbering, eating, laughing and generally having a good night out, you’re golden. Examine faces from a distance. You’ll eventually spot one neck craning. Zoop, you hustle up on her blind side as if by magic: “May I help you?” The mind-reading servant is most treasured.

This is soooooo true. If a table is entertaining themselves, there is no need for you to interfere with that. You should rejoice – they are making your job easier. However, you still have to be observant, especially if the food is taking longer than usual. If they are engrossed in conversation, you’ve just bought more time without having to give them updates. But observe one of them glance at their watch? That’s the time to let them know what’s going on, and not a second before.

I still occasionally find myself interrupting conversation. I used to do it without considering what I was doing. Most of the time now, it’s just because I thought that there was a lull in the conversation and I could break in, only to have the conversation resume at just the wrong time. It’s almost like that moment when you are getting ready to go through the intersection and the light turns yellow at exactly the point where you have no choice but to run a red light.

If you are a newbie, try to be extra careful when you have to interrupt a conversation. You should do it only in the case of a service emergency.

All waiters should read this short primer.

From Veronica at HubPages – Do You Have To Tip The Waiter? How much?

This is a great HubPages article from someone named Veronica from a couple of years ago. I think that it’s a “must read”.

The key phrase on the article is “social contract”.

This is what some tipping naysayers conveniently forget when they talk about the “voluntary” nature of tipping.  They think that this gives them the right not to tip. They are, of course, wrong. It is indeed a social contract that we make when we dine in a full-service restaurant. We might not agree with the philosophy, but we should comply with the implied contract that we make with our fellow members of the community. Tipping underpins everything that the restaurant business is based on. The fact that tipping is “expected” (yes, I said it, expected) allows a lower hourly wage than you would find in other businesses that pay a full wage. It allows lower menu prices than you would find if restaurants had to pay a full wage. And it gives the consumer the ability to pay precisely for the service that they receive. Tipping empowers the consumer. The consumer should never abuse this privilege, a privilege that isn’t extended to the consumer in most commercial transactions. Yes, it’s a judgment call, but it should be based on the baseline of 15% for average “workaday” service. And it should be based on reasonable expectations. I might judge service as great and leave 25% and someone else might judge it pretty good and leave 17%. That’s fine. We all have different expectations. What is unreasonable is judging service as poor just because your water glass gets empty once or twice (unless it’s accompanied by a “don’t care” and/or rudeness).

Fortunately for the waiter, most people tip appropriately and waiters can earn good money through their best efforts.

For those who say, “But waiters make $15 – $30 an hour and that’s more than most service positions that don’t require a college degree”, I’d simply respond, “The market has spoken”. If the mass of consumers willingly pay that amount through tips, then it’s impossible to argue that waiters are overpaid because they are being paid exactly what the consumers themselves have determined.