Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Tipping Point

If you're a waiter (or Server, as is the proper nomenclature nowadays), the following scenario may be familiar to you:
You've just finished waiting on a table of four people. They were pleasant and didn't demand any special orders or run you crazy during the meal. You were prompt, got all the meals out accurately and in a timely manner. Basically, you made sure they were taken care of. After cashing them out, they gushed about how good of a server you were and would definitely ask for you again when they came back. You're smiling as one of them presses some money in your hand. The smile fades when you look and see that they just gave you a $3 tip on a $50 check.
As strange as the previous example sounds, this actually happened to someone I work with.
This happens more often than one would expect and frankly a lot of servers I know get fed up with busting their humps and getting little to nothing to show for it. So, since I am a server and have the fortune of writing a blog, I'm going to offer some guidelines, if not actual rules for tipping properly and more than a little personal opinion on the subject as well.
First things first: If you can't afford to pay for your food and a proper tip at a sit down restaurant, then go to Mickey D's or BK. They have value menus there and you don't have to concern yourself with leaving a tip.
We earn our money on the tips that we get, not an actual paycheck. At most restaurants, servers only get paid $2.13 an hour.
YES. $2.13 an hour.
Even with a full 80 hours, how much do you think that someone is going to take home after taxes? Could anyone actually live or support a family on that kind of a wage?
Secondly: As servers we are there to serve you, not be your personal slaves. We are people doing a job, yes, but more to the point, we're people. Just because we serve you is no reason to treat us like we're less than you or that when you're there, you're the only table in the place.
Has any of you seen the movie "Waiting"? There's a scene in the movie where a bunch of the waiters make a 'special contribution' to a bitchy woman's steak. As she tucks in, she's none the wiser and seems to enjoy the steak very much.
"Oh, meat" indeed.
Mind you, I've never seen this happen in any of the places I've worked, but it's a safe bet that somebody, somewhere, has made a 'special contribution' to the food or drink of guests that have pissed them off. The warning here is clear: we handle your food and on the wrong day, someone may put their professionalism aside to get theirs back. Even at the cost of their job.
Third: The proper amount to tip on a bill is 15 to 18% of your total bill.
For example: $50 bill=$7.50 tip(15%), $9.00 tip(18%), $10.00 tip (20%)
That's the norm. If the service was excellent, you can tip more if you like. If it wasn't quite up to par, then maybe 10% of the total bill is appropriate ($50 bill=$5 tip[10%]), unless your server just sucked. Then I can understand anything under 10%.
The point is: if we did a great job, tip us properly. Lavish praises are not going to pay a light bill, put clothes on our family's back or food on our table. Again: we make our living on our tips.
I apologize if the tone of this post is a little sharp. I've been a server most of my adult life and what I've mentioned here is a stinging source of frustration, because it happens a lot. (Not to me necessarilly...)Personally, I believe most people don't know how to tip, have never been taught how to do it properly or are mistaken about how we earn our money. I'm just trying to put the information out there so that the next time you go to Red Lobster, Joe's Crab Shack, Olive Garden or any of the many restaurants that are out there, you'll be able to show proper gratitude for a job well done.

1 comment:

  1. My baby sis has been a server as well and had some pretty faithful customers (at Cracker Barrel) who tipped her well. But others, especially large tables seemed to forget the fact that she was running their drinks, meal, napkins, and bread requests. People do need to be educated on proper tipping procedures because the people serving have bills; just like you.