You Forgot the Ketchup? …I Forgot the Tip.

The restaurant world is more of a one-sided experience for me: That of the customer. I have, momentarily in time, stepped foot in the restaurant industry trying out my hand as a server, waitress, waiter, wait-staff, whatever the politically correct title may be; however, the life of waiting on others is most definitely not for me – the brutally honest, can’t-bite-my-tongue-if-it-were-bit-for-me, emotionally charged kind of person. Your entrée is too cold, eh? Why don’t you let me sit on it, my hot temper will kick things up a notch.

Although I cannot speak on behalf of those waiting on customer after customer, day after day, I can understand and sympathize with those in the position and note that it is most definitely not the easiest, nor the most glamourous, job title.

I can, however, offer a well-informed opinion from my own personal views as the customer.

I’m going to refer to the aforementioned job position as “waiters” to appease my ignorance and make this flow a little more smoothly (I apologize if that entitlement proves offensive). Waiters get abused, insulted, assaulted, flirted with, chatted up, and often simultaneously assume the role of therapist, friend, foe… all while taking orders, delivering food and ensuring the overall content of the customers. The possibility that a waiter had been thoroughly chewed up and spit out by another table, before tending to your own table, is most probable. The question I have, however, is whether or not that prior abuse excuses a waiters treatment of the next table?

Everyone immediately resorts to all the troubles and sorrows a waiter has to deal with on a daily basis. Oh boo hoo! No one cares. I mean, really though, no one cares. Teachers get spit on, mark endless amounts of work stained with boogers and other bodily fluids, get yelled at by students and parents, plan lessons day and night, mark all products of their lessons day and night, go to workshops, take courses, defend themselves and their career day after day- and if they show up to school and give students or parents the cold shoulder because they’ve had a bad day… my goodness, they’d be gracing the blue pages at the back of the Professionally Speaking magazine outlining their attitude offences and why they have been suspended or even let go!

I know we’re all human, even waiters; but, dammit, there’s just no excuse for ruining my special night out! I just finished experiencing a bit of what it’s like to have a long-winded career as a waiter through Steve Dublanica’s best-seller, Waiter Rant. His novel, which was inspired by his formerly anonymous blog, goes through the various emotions and motions of the day-to-day life of a waiter.

I particularly found his waiter-ly views on tipping very… contrary… to my own views, as the customer. Dublanica, probably along with many working in this industry, believes that tipping should be mandatory, and, on top of that, a mandatory 20 to 30%.

HA!

Alright, fine! Consider me the worst customer in the world, but I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Here it is… from the perspective of the customer… No, wait, from MY OWN customer perspective. I can’t speak on behalf of everyone… even though I try.

I don’t choose to go out to eat at a restaurant because I cannot cook at home. I love cooking and experimenting with my cabinet full of spices and collection of various Caribbean hot sauces; however, once in a while, a special occasion arises! It’s a birthday, a job offer, a promotion, or a special night out to catch up with friends… some sort of wonderfulness needs to be shared and celebrated, and, as I noted in a past post, these social events often happen around food. We sometimes choose to celebrate these happy events at a restaurant because maybe we feel like splurging, maybe because we are flying-high on emotions and happiness and don’t feel like slaving over the stove or following up on good news with a sink full of dishes. Our reason for eating out can also be the complete opposite: We’ve had a hellish week and the last things we feel like doing are cooking and cleaning, we’re fresh out of KD, and just want a good meal accompanied with some friendly service. 

So, now we’ve entered the restaurant with good spirits and smiles on our faces, or feeling exhausted and sombre. Our waiter approaches and it quickly becomes obvious that he or she clearly doesn’t give a shit. They take our order… what was their name again? Oh, right, didn’t mention it. They bring the food, don’t check up on our overcooked steak, keep the drink glasses empty, and force us away from our conversation while we are constantly scanning the establishment for our mysteriously vanished waiter. The waiter spontaneously shows up and rounds off the night by handing the bill to the man at the table. Excusé moi? I am an independent woman and maybe I will be taking care of things this evening (most likely I’m not, but you know, it’s happened). Why on EARTH would Dublanica or any other waiter still expect I leave a 20 to 30% tip… why any tip at all?

I worked in the hotel industry, as a guest services representative (that means I worked at the front desk) for approximately 5 years. If I was all peaches n’ cream… no tip. If I was an under-slept, over-worked grump… no tip. There are many jobs or careers that do not offer a monetary value for work well done. Waiters still earn wages, like the rest of us. Yes, I know, less than minimum wage, but they are still getting paid and have the opportunity to leave the rest of us in the dust with a job well done. Tips, as far as I am concerned, are bonuses to the job and must be earned. If your waiter skills are as crappy as my toilet after a night of Mexican food, then explain to me how you’re surprised that I haven’t taken MORE money out of my un-tipped earned dollars to pay you additional money for ruining my night out?

Absolut Vodka before 11pm: $119.00 or AFTER 11pm: $159.00

Dining out is not, in my own situation, food for survival. Many of us, I presume (there I go trying to speak on behalf of the rest of you again), eat out for the experience. We do not go out and pay 10x more for a steak or 30x more for a plate of pasta because we like to throw money away. We go out to enjoy quality food, a welcoming atmosphere, in a social environment along with doting service. Why do you think people sit in VIP areas at the club and order bottle service, paying $300.00 for sub-par vodka when they can buy the same bottle for $30.00 at the liquor store? It’s for the experience. Being waited on, looked after, and just taken care of, leaving everything but bathroom visits and wiping, for someone else to take care of for an evening.

Absolut Vodka at the LCBO: $26.45

If you’re a waiter that bitches about customers not tipping, there are two possibilities: 1) they suck, or 2) you suck. If not being tipped is a regular occurrence for you, then it is probably you that sucks. Stop ruining the customer’s experience dining out because someone else tried ruining your day. The customer may not be able to dine out often and is probably already overpaying for the food, so being “taken care of” by a miserable waiter that’s “had a bad day” doesn’t warrant a tip! It just doesn’t! Just like the girls squeezing into clothes obviously sizes upon sizes too small, I cannot see the turmoil in your soul… nor do I care. Deliver my food to the table with a smile on your face. And yes, I’d like some of that fresh ground pepper on my salad. 

I do realize that waiters have a weapon against us: Screwing with our food (or Dublanica’s favourite form of revenge, farting while walking passed the table); however, us customers have a weapon against you, too! Screwing with how you make a living… accidentally forgetting the tip.

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