So You Want To Be A Waiter

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

From Tip20! – a customer’s perception of what will cost you a tip

Most of these things are pretty common sense, although I have to say that the tone is a big haughty in some cases. She also seems a bit paranoid about germs, which is OK, I guess.

Some quick comments:

“Proper etiquette, not to mention common sense, dictates that when someone is finished eating a dish they will move the plate to the side. If a plate is still in front of me, then don’t ask if you can take it. Not all of us inhale our food. Some of us enjoy savoring our food, chewing it up, and periodically pausing for conversation, etc”

The problem is, not everyone actually moves their plate to the side. Also, it is not “proper etiquette” to push your plate to the side (maybe it’s Mississippi’s revision of Emily Post). “Proper etiquette” (in the US) demands that you place the utensils parallel with each other (tines up) on the right side of the plate. It is common to push the plate to the side, but many times, especially if you’re eating in a booth, this is impossible. So cut us a break, will ya. I agree that we shouldn’t be all grabby, but there are ways that you can indicate that you are still eating. When you see us coming, simply pick up your fork. After all, you say this:

“For some reason most servers fit into one of two categories. Either they come by every 2 minutes and ask if everything is good, refill, etc. OR they set your entrée down and you never see them until the bill comes. It is so easy to make yourself seen and accessible, without worrying someone to death”.

This works both ways. When we make ourselves seen and accessable, make yourself “accessable” as well, if possible. I understand being in a conversation and being fixed on a fellow diner, but at least have a minimum awareness of our presence please, especially if you’re going to demand that we’re seen and accessable. If you are admittedly a food-savoring, chewing conversationalist who routinely gets asked to have your plate taken away because you haven’t taken a bite of a 3/4s empty plate for the last 4 passes of the waiter while everyone else has been cleared, don’t expect your waiter to read your mind – be proactive. Grab your fork when you see the waiter or server assistant coming.

“If someone raises a finger, hand, or arm at you, that means they need your attention. It is not a wave goodbye or friendly gesture. So, don’t wave back, just come see what I need”.

It’s fine to discretely raise your hand to attract my attention. But don’t be a bloody waver yourself please. I will probably not “see you”.  And if I have done what you ask previously and make myself “seen and accessable”, hopefully you will never need to raise your hand because really, is there anything that you need that you won’t be able to get 2 minutes later when I pass by and you catch my eye? Yes, as long as you have an attentive waiter, you should never even need to raise your hand. You should simply make eye contact. I understand that if you’re a “conversationalist”, this might be hard. But surely you can use your Spidey senses to detect my passing presence now and again.

“Once you get the bill, don’t ask if I need change. Just go pay the bill. If I do get change, then bring it to me. This is my biggest pet peeve and I can not tell you how many times I was going to leave my server 20-30% tip, but instead answered: “No, I don’t need change anymore” and the server only got the dollar or two left over from the bill*.

This seems a bit harsh and an odd “pet peeve” (although I guess it takes all kinds).  Yeah, I know, it seems like grassing for a tip, but it’s a bit of a pet peeve for me as well for a guest not to tell me that they don’t need change. They’ve just made me waste a trip, which can impact someone else’s service (that someone else might very well be you because when you complain that I’m not being accessable and seen, I might be making unecessary trips for guests who can’t tell me that they don’t need any change. and it seems weird to me that you might actually withhold additional money when you were planning to add to the change. Why didn’t you just put the extra money there in the first place. Seems like you were hoping that somone would ask you if you need change so that you could withhold the extra money.

“You put the bill on the table and you see me digging through my purse for correct change, don’t come stand over me. My purse and wallet are none of your business. When the bill is ready for your attention it will be pushed to the side of the table or handed to you”.

That’s fine. Just make sure that you have money (or the credit card for that matter) sticking out of the top, indicating that you have paid. Just because you’ve moved the check presenter doesn’t mean that you have paid. Many people move the check presenter without paying.

As I said, the rest of the list is pretty commonsense.

“NO! I’m NOT finished”!


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