My readers may find this hard to believe, but I don’t know everything. Sometimes it takes a while for news like this to sink in, so I will provide you with the natural pause that is a new paragraph….
There are actually quite a few things I don’t know. For example, I don’t know how to keep my mouth shut a lot of the time–in groups, it is harder for me to NOT talk than it is for me to add my two cents. I know very little about Asian literature, history, and culture. And I don’t know how to spell worth a carp. If it wasn’t for spell check, this would barely be readable (or is it -ible?). I also don’t have a complete understanding of the rules to racquetball…. There are a lot of things of which my expertise is limited, but there is one area that I am definitely an expert: People who are stupid when it comes to dealing with servers at restaurants.
I have had a job as a server (part-time, at least) for about the past 10 years (Wow. Has it been that long? That’s just dumb). That may sound kind of depressing and sad for a man like myself (a college graduate with above-average intelligence, a killer body, and mad blogging skills), but it has actually been such a blessing. It allows me to work my day job (working with kids) while affording me and my family some simple luxuries. Like food. And I’ve met some amazing people. Really–it has been a huge blessing, and in the meantime, I have learned a lot of stuff about the “service industry” that I didn’t know before. I shall now share some of my expertise (I totally tried to spell that with a C) with you….
CAKE–People like to go out to restaurants for their birthdays. Many of these people bring cake with them. Here’s what you need to know: If you bring cake with you (or, to a lesser extent, cupcakes), you need to give a piece of that cake to your server. If you don’t, you are an awful, awful human being. What kind of a person eats cake in front of someone and doesn’t offer them a piece? An awful one–that’s what kind. And if you have half a cake left, if you really want to be cool, you will offer it up to the staff. When this rarity takes place, the servers take the cake to a secluded place, surround the cake like lions around a wildabeast carcass, and experience five minutes of pure joy. When this happens, I celebrate by pouring myself a 64 oz. stein of ice cold milk and drinking it carelessly, letting the milk strain through my beard and run down my neck–like my ancestors before me.
POLITENESS–I don’t care if you have a thirst like you just smuggled sponges in your mouth out of the Mojave Desert, if a server greets your table and you answer by curtly stating your desired beverage, you are being a prick. The question, “Hey, how are you guys doing today?” should never be answered with the words “Sweet Tea” (And on a side note, two things about sweet tea: 1. I realize we’re in the South, but “sweet tea” doesn’t rhyme with “white tie.” And 2. I know it seems this way, but we didn’t decide to not have sweet tea just to piss you off–it was just an added bonus). When your server comes up to your table, look at them. Maybe even smile or speak. Later, when you’re asked the question “Have you decided what you’d like?” don’t lie. If you say yes to that question and then give a seven second vocalized pause, then you were lying. You’re a liar. Shame on you. Then, when it comes time to answer the question “What would you like tonight?” if you answer that question by silently pointing at the menu with your pinky finger, you should have to wear a scarlet “A.” For ass. Also, if you shake the ice in your glass, snap your fingers, or touch your server in any way in order to get his or her attention, you are not nice. Go home and make yourself some Mac & Cheese.
PATIENCE–Be patient. That should go without saying. Here’s an example of what NOT to do: When your server drops off your checks at your table, instead of insisting that he or she take your card RIGHT AT THAT MOMENT, go ahead and wait the 45 seconds until everybody else at the table gets their card out. Otherwise, you make them run your card, come back, and then make another trip to run the rest of the cards. The only time this sort of thing is acceptable is if you leave immediately after getting your receipt. Immediately. In an ambulance. If you make me make two trips and then sit there for another 15 minutes, you will be wearing a scarlet “A.” For adulterer.
KIDS–Kids are great. I have three, and I love them. We take them out to eat all the time. Here is what I don’t do: I don’t let my kids run around in a restaurant without their shoes on. I don’t let them lick the top of the parmesan cheese shaker, or pour out cheese all over the table, or open the Splenda packets and pour them out on the table into lines that they snort through a straw like little messy, miniature Charlie Sheens. Here is what I do do (hehe): If my kids throw a bunch of crap on the ground (like noodles or those little teething poofs or an actual bunch of crap) that my server is going to have to clean up, I make sure I leave that person an even bigger tip than what I normally would. Which brings me to my last one….
TIPS–A lot of people know that most servers only make about $2.17 an hour, but what many people don’t know is that servers have to tip with every meal–and we don’t get a choice. We tip out the bartender, the hostess, the food runner, the busser…. Usually it totals about 3-5% (some places as much as 8%). What this means is that if you stiff your server on a $50 tab, your server is actually losing about $2-3 for taking care of you. I don’t care if you bite into your hamburger and pull a severed human finger out of your mouth, don’t take out your disappointment with your food on your server. And if, for some reason, the restaurant buys your food, leave your server a decent tip–you just got a free meal. And speaking of free meals, if someone picks up the tab for the whole table, offer to leave the tip. Conversely, if you are the person who decides to be generous and pay for the whole meal, allow the other people to leave the tip–this is so much better than getting sticker shock and leaving a 10% tip to your server because you weren’t planning on paying $120 for dinner, but you decided to act like a big shot. People who do this deserve to wear a scarlet “A.” For anus. And lastly, if the server adds an automatic gratuity to your check, it is because they have have to–not because you looked like you weren’t going to tip well. Don’t be offended, and don’t act like you were going to leave so much more if the tip wasn’t already added. You weren’t. Anyone who would say that was just looking for a reason to leave a crappy tip. If you really were feeling like leaving more, there is a little line on your receipt where you can leave an additional tip. Go right ahead… I didn’t think so.