So You Want To Be A Waiter

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Tag Archives: bad tipping

Followup to the “non-tipping pastor” story

In fairness, here’s (apologies to Paul Harvey) “the rest of the story”. At least the pastor says that she left a cash tip of $6. I’m inclined to believe her. Despite her self-proclaimed “lack of judgment”, I doubt that she would break a Commandment to compound her embarassment.

The real lesson in this is that a waiter (remember, I use that term for both sexes) has a responsibility to guard the privacy of his or her guests’ transactions when dealing in public forums. We all dish stories out of school over drinks and the like, but if you publically violate a guest’s privacy, especially in regard to names, credit card slips, signatures, etc., you must be prepared for the consequences. Surely you wouldn’t like your own privacy violated that way, right?

First 10% tip in a while

Today at lunch, I got the first 10% tip all month. In fact, I can’t remember the last one that I’ve gotten. In fact, it was my only table.

$10 on $107.

So I walked with $7. That means I made about $6/hr for lunch. Including my $2.13/hr wage.

But before you accuse me of whining, I should note that I made $218 last night. That’s about $50 an hour.


It all evens out in the end.

If it doesn’t, you’re working in the wrong place. Or you’re working in the wrong job.

I guess my real bitch with the 10% tip is that I definitely went out of my way to go the extra mile. One person had to be out by a certain time and wanted to order early. I was able to time the table’s meal so that they could all eat together instead of ordering her entree so that sh got it with everyone else’s salad course (which is what she wanted).  She actually ordered her entree before the 4th person showed up. By looking at the order and watching the clock, I could tell it wasn’t necessary, but I spent a lot of nervous energy watching one of the others nibbling on her salad. Had she frittered away more time, I was prepared to bring out the early orderer’s entree before everyone else’s.

But it was timed perfectly.

Of course, had I known that I was going to only get 10%, which is basically an insult tip in the face of great service, I would have simply ordered the first lady’s entree and plopped it down as soon as it was ready.

I did get a slight measure of revenge though. The lady who paid ordered coffee. I made sure that I didn’t come back to offer her a refill. I made sure that I could be seen in case she wanted to call me over, but she never did, so I got to bus a dead empty coffee cup that never saw fresh coffee after the first cup.

Lesson for you potential diners. In the US, 15% is the minimum that you should tip for good service. 10% is considered an insult tip unless it’s warranted by poor service.

You were amazing! Thank you!

This is what my 6 top told me last night as they were leaving. I disagree with the hyperbole because, if my service was “amazing”, then I’m in the wrong business. I should be President of the United States.

I’m glad I was “amazing”. The wife of the guy who paid wanted to know about our salmon. In fact, that was her exact question – “I want to know about your salmon”.

Ummmm, OK.

“Well, it’s fresh, never frozen. It’s about 11 oz, so it’s a really nice piece of fish and we served it fileted, not cut into steaks”. That should have been the end of it.

“How would you describe it”?

Well, I though I already had, so I tried desperately to figure out what her *real* question was.

“It’s farm-raised salmon”.


“So it’s not wild salmon”?

“No ma’am, it’s ‘never frozen’ so it can’t be wild salmon. You can only get wild salmon during about a month and a half in the summer when they run. They don’t let salmon be harvested except for about a 6 – 8 week window”.

Hopefully that solved the problem in her mind. Maybe she’s concerned with the safety of farm-raised salmon, a concern that isn’t totally unfounded because of the issues of feed and environmental conditions.

“How would you characterize it in comparison with wild salmon. I mean, some of the farm raised salmon is kinda yellow”.

Well, having never seen “yellow” farm-raised salmon, I had to reply, “Ours is bright reddish-orange. It’s a high quality fish. And, since it’s about 11 oz, it’s a really nice filet”.

“What about the Omega 3s”?

What am I, the Gorton’s Fisherman? Still, I’m not going to be trapped into being just another salesperson trying to sell something without knowing my shit. Besides, I prefer the sea bass.

“Well, it’s obviously not going to have as much Omega 3 as wild salmon. That’s just a fact, I’m afraid. Still, it has the normal level of Omega 3”.

One of the other ladies (one of the ones who said that I was amazing on the way out) asked me what I thought of the sea bass. I thought that was a quite reasonable question.

“It’s my favorite. I love sea bass because the flesh almost melts in the mouth. It’s so succulent. It’s just about my favorite fish”.

Had I thought it was a concern of hers, I would have told her that we had sourced a sustainable variety of sea bass (ours is MSC certified). In fact, we’re only serving it for about 2 months and then it’s going to go away. Had the first wife not been such a freak, I would have assured her about this, but apparently, she wasn’t concerned about the conditions of North Atlantic salmon pens and the bizarre food that their occupants are fed. Fortunately, this lady just wanted to know how good it was.

The first wife ended up getting the sea bass, confirming what I already knew – that she just wanted to know the answer to a question that she already knew the answer to. Anyone who knows about Omega 3 in salmon probably already knows that wild salmon has more Omega 3 than farm-raised.

Anyway, I could have gone home at about 8:30 but had to stay for this 6 top. They had sat in the bar for about 30 minutes running up a $125 tab, which I had to transfer and pass the tip along to the bartender.

So, when I got the $625 check back only to see a $70, I was really pissed. Of that $70, I only saw about $45 because I had to pass along $15 to the bartender and another $10 to the server assistant. I didn’t want to screw him out of $6, so I tipped him the normal 20% instead of dropping the tipout to 10% on that part of my night (the bartender actually told me not to worry about her tipout, but I couldn’t do that to her).

Plus, I was getting out at about 10:15.

I can hear a civilian say, )hell, or even someone who works in a place where you’re lucky to make $50 on a Sunday night for that matter),  “What are you bitching about? An extra $50 for staying an extra hour and a half”?

It’s a principle thing.  I feel that I got shorted by almost half. That means that I should have gotten another $45 or so.  It would be one thing if my service had sucked eggs. But it didn’t. They told me so themselves! Unfortunately, the ones who said how great I was weren’t paying the bill. In fact, they would have probably been embarassed by their host’s tip.

I can hear you ask yourself, “I wonder if he was rude to the wife who asked the questions”. While I can’t be totally objective here, I’m pretty sure that I kept my own cynicism out of the equation and I answered her questions without being condescending or rude. the bartender told me later that she had questions about this guy anyway, that he was acting all bossy and dominant.

So, thanks a lot pal. I hope you choked on the Bud Light longneck at the honky-tonk that you were going to after you left us, because you probably wouldn’t be able to get the Jack Single Barrel and Ginger in a tall glass that you were drinking with me.

BTW, these weren’t imperious business people, rednecks or old farts. These were late 20s, snappily and hipply dressed. They seemed pretty hip. Well, they all were, except for the guy with the clear plastic Amex card (you know the one – it’s got the little blue shiny square in the corner).

Oh, Canada

No really. Oh Canada :sigh: Why don’t you know any better?

$30 on $300 is a really shitty tip. It really is.

What astounds me is, from all accounts, you’re supposed to have roughly the same tip standards as us in the US, 15% as the “average”. I’ve already given up the idea that, unlike many in the US, you’re just not going to tip on the final post-tax total. I get it, really I do, so, when the bill is $330 and you leave me $30, I give you the fact that you’re actually only tipping on $300. I also give up any notion of getting 20% even with the most outstanding service. That’s just a given.

So why is it that 10% is such a common tip? Is it because you know you’ll never be back in the same restaurant, so you feel you can save money on the back of your server? Is it because you’re proud of being thrifty? Anyone who spends $330 on a meal for you adults and two young adults is obviously not so very concerned about “thrift”, if you catch my drift. Do I really have to tell you that I make 2.13 an hour? I know it’s not that way everywhere in the States, but 9 times out of ten, it’s well below the $7 or whatever minimum wage is today.

You are all so nice and well-scrubbed and well-spoken. Your grooming is above average. You like to watch men with sticks and dangerously sharp shoes slam into each other, occasionally slash at each other with said sticks and get into massive fights. I can dig that. Hell, those very people know how to tip, even when they come from the Uzbekistan or Finland.

I guess what I want to know is where this 10% thing that you have become so famous for comes from. Apparently it doesn’t come  from your own restaurant tipping traditions. How is it that so many of you are on the same page on this?

Could you please turn the page?

PS, I almost made $200 tonight. I would have had you even bothered to tip $35 on $300 (pretax), which would have still been a shitty tip (five more bucks would have killed you?). It makes it really shitty when you make $196 having had 20% of your business leave you a bad tip and leaves you just short of a milestone number. That’s right, your shitty four top was 1/5th of my whole night from a sales standpoint. On a Saturday night. It was actually a fourth of my covers, having waited on 16 people total (6 tables total). I can hear you say, “Well, I spent money, didn’t I? If I had only spend $200 and left you $30, you would have done about the same amount of work and you would have gotten your darned 15%, right? Well, my friend from the North, it doesn’t work that way. It’s a percentage game, which you know, since you lift me almost exactly 10%. You knew what you were doing, didn’t you? Plus, if you had only spent $200, you would have left me $20, you smartass!. I don’t think people outside the industry know how we feel about our percentages. I know it’s all about how much you take home in the end, but we really do gain job satisfaction out of hitting our marks, and that includes hitting our percentages. I would have rather ended up with $180 in sales if you had spent $150 and left me $ 22. I would have felt better about the night. Yes, I know it’s really not about my feelings and all that, but I just wanted you to know.  

OK, rant over. I feel better now.