In my life, I’ve had so many jobs, it’s ridiculous. I’ve worked for a surveying company, I started folding pizza boxes for $3 an hour when I was six years old to support my video game habit, and at this point, I’ve sold enough writing to support my family and not have to work a full-time job. I’ve never had anything resembling a roadmap to how I should live my vocational life, so as someone with no guidance, I tried it all. However, my favorite job was, and is being a server.
For the most part, it’s awesome. I get to indulge my flirty side, give guests an awesome experience, make people happy and get a lot of cardio during the day. It’s kind of like being paid to go to the gym every day and not having to stress too hard about talking to that girl in the corner using the leg machine. It’s kind of part of your job to flirt with her. (And, yes… I’ve worked in place that for reasons I don’t quite understand have workout equipment IN the restaurant…)
However, there is one part of being a server that is really horrible, and that would be the small minority of guests that insist on stiffing the wait staff.
I could give you the normal reasons why this is so heinous; the wait staff get paid less than minimum wage, they live off of your tips, a lot of restaurants make it so that the servers have to share their tips with employees that are already making a lot more than they, blah blah blah;
But, I’m not going to do this.
What I AM going to do is tell you why stiffing your server or just being a nuisance is a bad idea. For YOU.
First of all, part of being a server is learning how to read people. Serving hones that skill to an almost uncanny degree. Nine times out of ten, we KNOW we’re going to get stiffed by you. If you go into a restaurant knowing you’re not going to bother leaving a few dollars for a pleasant experience, we’re aware of it. Believe me, we’re already in the back of the house talking about you. Some of us are even placing half-hearted bets about whether we’re getting stiffed completely, or left two dollars on a fifty dollar check. The over/under itself is somewhat lucrative if you’re REALLY good at reading people.
Second, when you have us running like a chicken with our head cut off, we’re cursing your name and hexing your children. If you need mustard, extra napkins, and an extra plate, we shouldn’t have to make three separate trips for this. Tell us when you place your order, or when we bring the food out, that way we can get everything ready for you to indulge in your conversation (assuming you’re not eating alone) and enjoy your meal. After all, we do have three or five other tables who want to have a good time as well. You’re monopolizing my time and decreasing the enjoyment of the rest of the guests around you. Not only is the wait staff cursing your name, but the tables around you are remarking about how much of an overindulged, pompous ass you are.
Third, just because we serve you, doesn’t mean we’re your servants. The second you start treating us like we’re beneath you, we’re in the back talking about you. “Get a load of the [insert insult here] at 54…” We’re making fun of your jacket. We’re making fun of your Browns jersey, and yes we’re making fun of your voice and imitating it in the most ear-piercing screech possible. It’s like for a minute, you become our children, with the exception that we’re not allowed to spank you without a safe word being discussed beforehand.
Fourth, there’s the food sabotage issue. Now, myself, I would NEVER knowingly allow a guests food to be tampered with, because I simply am not that evil of a person, no matter how much crap I get. I’m a professional, and I have a job to do that I will do regardless of any consideration. (This applies in EVERY arena.)
Others are not so scrupulous. Again, MY guests are safe, but I’d like you to think about the thirty year veteran of the restaurant wars with the “questionable hygiene” you just mouthed off to. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Waiting” you’re only scratching the surface. All of the acts contained in that movie are quite simply warning shots.
Now I’d like to also address something else. If we did not give you a pleasant experience, feel free to not tip us. I, personally, do not want money I didn’t earn. (Unless you’re someone with an inheritance I haven’t received yet. Or, you’re just Bill-Gates-rich and you’re looking for an heir. I’ll debate the morality of accepting money I didn’t earn from a private island somewhere. I’m fine with those anomalous circumstances.) It’s perfectly fine.
It’s also perfectly fine to not tip us under any circumstances. After all, you are paying good money for good food and you should get EXACTLY what you pay for. But, if you intend to ignore the service aspect of the restaurant industry, I recommend going across the street to McDonald’s. Understand that while, by law, we HAVE to serve you unless you make us uncomfortable, that doesn’t mean we as servers don’t share a knowing look of disgust whenever you walk through our doors. We remember the people who take our service for granted. We remember the overindulged woman who makes us run for a half an hour for silly reasons and then stiffs us.
I LOVE to make you smile. I love making people happy and to feel good. It’s what makes me who I am. I walk through the doors of my restaurant every day, because I want to make someone’s day better. I want someone who gets served by me to engage me in conversation, and to leave a little happier than they did when they walked in. I’m selling an experience, not just good food. I LOVE making people happy, and serving is one of those jobs where I get paid to do exactly that.
I absolutely love serving. I love the job, I love the atmosphere of a restaurant and a few bad apples aside, I love the people I serve. Don’t be the reason servers hate their job. You go out to eat, tip your damn server, or go to Wendy’s where they serve square burgers. If you’re server is a reason you smile when you walk through the door, then you should be the reason THEY smile as well.