Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A pissing match...

Yesterday, I was hanging out on my favorite message board, Recovery from Mormonism, when I came across a thread about dining out and tipping wait staff.  Since I spent some time doing that particular job, I decided to chime in.  One particular poster, a guy who uses initials to identify himself, pretty much said that he had a "table" he used to determine how much to tip a server.  He wrote:

I was taught that "tip" meant "to insure promptness". I still believe that a tip is related to the level of service.

My tipping policy is,

If I get just the expected service, I give the "expected" tip, 15%.

If I get better than expected service, I give more.

If I get less than expected service, I tip less.

To give an example of how I might tip, one day at a nice restaurant, our food was delayed. My BF and I were not really all that concerned about the delay because it was a very busy night and we were expecting the kitchen to be backed up. The waitress came by and apologized for the wait. We assured her that we were OK and understood that they were swamped and that we didn't need anything to placate us.

Well, that was not good enough for her. She went over to the manager and asked him if he could comp part of the meal for us. Well, he recognized us as somewhat regulars, knew that we lived over 50 miles away and thought he would "take care of us". He comped that dinner completely and gave us, gave us desert and a $50 gift certificate to use for our next meal.

We got comped over $100, we tipped the waitress $50 on a bill that would have been about $60. Even tipping her $50, we were still $50 ahead. She took care of us, we took care of her. We continued to ask for her as our waitress as long as she worked there.

As a bonus, the manager knew that we rewarded good service so every time we went after that, we NEVER waited in line. We would walk in and the next available table was ours even if here was an hour wait. The minimum tip we left was around 30%. We were treated as royalty and we rewarded that treatment.

On the other hand, if we have to wait while there are available tables, the food is slow and the staff acts like they don't care, they may bet one penny. A one penny tip is often considered worse than leaving no tip. A one penny tip clearly shows that you didn't forget to tip.



I hesitated before commenting.  I knew that if I said anything, this poster would probably get upset and start an argument with me.  I had seen over and over again that this particular poster has a tendency to get defensive and generally doesn't listen to reason.  But I decided I needed to be heard too, so I wrote:


You said "On the other hand, if we have to wait while there are available tables, the food is slow and the staff acts like they don't care, they may bet one penny."

I don't know about all restaurants, but at the place where I worked, the hosts/hostesses were in charge of seating, not the wait staff. And sometimes those open tables you're seeing are for people who made reservations.

As for slow food, that is often not the wait staff's fault. It's one thing if the server forgets to put your order in, but in my experience, half the time slow food happens because of the kitchen getting backed up, which the server has no control over. The server who takes your order sometimes isn't the one who's responsible for delivering your food, either, especially if the place uses a food runner or the server has a "back" (another server who is in charge of delivering the food).

It's completely understandable to tip less if the staff acts like they don't care and I think it's great that you hooked up the waitress who went out of her way for you. The place where I worked actually made it hard to bend over backwards for customers because they had a lot of petty, penny pinching rules and did not make it easy to cater to people with kids. I was pretty happy when my time there was finished, even though I made good money there. Because of my experiences waiting tables, though, I never tip less than 15%, even if the service is poor. I don't believe that any server in their right mind deliberately gives bad service-- not when they make $2.13 an hour. But that's just me.



And just as I suspected, this guy got very upset by my post and wrote:


So, I expect that my tip applies to everyone, host and cooks alike.

But if you read ALL of what I wrote and not just go ballistic because of ONE LINE, you will see what I expect from my wait staff, I expect THEM to handle issues with poor service from other aspects of the restaurant. As with the waitress in my story, I EXPECT that if my food is slow coming out of the kitchen, the wait staff will do SOMETHING to acknowledge that there is a problem, and do SOMETHING to rectify the problem, and not just "act as if they do not care". I don't need to have my meal comped, but do SOMETHING to make up for the slow service.

The wait staff is my main interface with the eating establishment, I EXPECT they would act that way. I expect that they would insure I get fast service or they would do SOMETHING to make up for the poor service of other staff members.



I said I had not gone ballistic, just offered a different perspective.  And of course, an argument ensued.  Or, at least he tried to start an argument with me.  I had different ideas.  Ordinarily, I might have been upset by this person's comments to me, but since I knew what his reaction was going to be, I decided to have some fun with him by calmly mocking him.  With each new post, he became more and more insulting and abusive.  He even said he would leave me a penny if I waited on him.  I said that was fine, since I am now permanently retired from waiting tables (and have been since 2002).  He said I was "a low rent truckstop dive diner waitress if I ever saw one."  That comment actually made me laugh, since waitresses in those kinds of places tend to be nice.


With each new insult from the angry, entitled poster, I grew more and more silly and mocking, which got him more and more annoyed.  Instead of feeling anxious and upset and taking this guy's shitty remarks personally, I have to admit, it was a lot more fun responding by teasing him, because he predictably took the bait every time.  And what was even funnier is that another poster came to my defense, which ended up driving my poor victim into an indignant frenzy!    


I finally used the silly childish rhyme "I'm rubber; you're glue.  Everything you say, bounces off of me and sticks to you."  When he finally told me he would "let me feel better about myself by giving me the last word", I said "Thank you.  I do."  WINNING!!


Yeah, it was a waste of time and pretty stupid, but it was also surprisingly fun.  Maybe that's what I should do every time I run into an asshole on the Internet. 

2 comments:

  1. You know that jackass probably lives at home with his mom and his super-awesome collection of 1. Star Wars memorabilia or 2. Star Trek gear, including the Bible in Klingon.

    I doubt he's as much of a irritable douche in real life. If he was, I could see it severely shortening his life span.

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  2. You're probably right, SweetPea'sValet. A few years ago, I used to have regular contact with an extremely bitter and narcissistic woman who used to regularly bash the military and Mexicans. I couldn't stand her, but did my best to ignore her. But that didn't stop her from trying to pick fights with me.

    One time, she got all arrogant and insulting with me. She said I wasn't a good writer, while she had sold "thousands of dollars of articles" to real magazines. I was kind of surprised, since she couldn't even spell worth a damn. She was a complete bitch to me and other people. I finally told her she had the sensitivity of a Brillo Pad and left it at that.

    I had to laugh, though, when a few months later she was whining because her only son had chosen to enlist in the Air Force. This after years and years of her complaints about recruiters calling her home, trying to convince her boy to "join up". Obviously one of those recruiters got through to him. She also used to bitch about her husband, who played in a band and apparently had a "boyfriend"... some guy who played in the band with him and took up all his time. I don't think he was gay; he just spent all his time with this other guy. Frankly, given her persona online, I couldn't help but applaud her husband for preserving his sanity with his "boyfriend".

    Another online friend who had actually met this woman in person claimed that she was actually surprisingly nice and sweet offline. I guess some people let their alter egos shine on the 'Net. I'm just happy that woman is out of my life, online or off!

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