I have worked as a server in a restaurant for a really long time. Seriously… Like, just a ridiculously long time. Some might say “an embarrassingly long time.” And if working as a server has taught me anything, it is that some people are cool, and other people are just… Not. There are so many truly great human beings out there, but for others — regardless of the level of service that is provided to them — some people were ALWAYS going to be mean… or rude… or cheap. And if you are a person who is attempting to pay your bills by bringing people food in a restaurant, you know that “CHEAP” is by far the worst of those of those descriptors. I would much rather have a person be a total and complete asshole and hugely generous, than have someone who goes all out on being “nice” and then leaves a shitty tip. And I’m betting the same can be said for just about every person you’ve ever had a a server…
I’ve learned that if you try to pre-judge people based on what they look like, you will constantly find yourself being surprised and disappointed and foolish. As much as I can, I try not to make any judgements based on what people look like. There are a few exceptions… For example, if people come in decked out in a bunch of University of Tennessee orange clothing (I live in Nashville), my expectations for their tip percentage drop a good five to eight percentage points… MORE for people who dress their kids in those gaudy orange outfits. I keep waiting for someone dressed in orange to surprise me with their generosity — It just hasn’t happened yet. Anyway, there are few jobs that will teach you the lesson that people’s WORDS and their ACTIONS mean way more than “what they look like” than one where you rely on the generosity of strangers to earn a living. That being said, I’ve compiled a list of some things that people might say at a restaurant that will “tip” their server off (seewhatididthere) that he or she is going to get completely screwed when it comes time for leaving a gratuity:
- “Don’t worry, I’m a really good tipper.”
No. You’re not. People who say these words think that 20% is a startling act of generosity. If you can’t wrap you head around how lame it is to “brag” about what a good tipper you are while someone is taking care of you at a restaurant, then you are CERTAINLY not going to be able to figure out the ins and outs of the social contract surrounding the relationship between patron and server. If you are a person who has ever uttered these to your server, be assured: You are NOT a good tipper. You’re a person who makes your friends feel embarrassed. Stop it. Don’t ANNOUNCE that you’re going to be generous… Just BE GENEROUS.
- “Can you bring me a BOWL of lemons?”
“No. Also, I hate you.” <– This is what every server to which you have ever said this is thinking. And I swear to Caucasian Jesus that if you follow it up with, “Oh, and also can you bring me some Sweet & Low?” you are a terrible person, and you belong in prison. Dude… You don’t get to make your own free lemonade at the table. We get it — You think drinks are too expensive… But the REASON they are so expensive is because of cheap A-holes like you who use up $4 worth of lemons in their free glasses of water. Anyone capable of this level of asshatery was never going to leave a decent tip.
- “Can I order from the Kids’ Menu?”
Well, that depends… Are you a freaking KID?!? Oh my gosh, lady — WE GET IT! You need everyone to know that the normal entree size is too much food for your petite frame, or you don’t want to waste food, or WHATEVER… That’s why there are To-Go boxes. I used to just say “NO” when grown-ass adults asked me this. At some point, I was just like, “What do I care?” and I started saying yes. I thought maybe they would be so grateful that I bent the rules that they would tip like they had purchased a grown-up’s meal. I thought wrong. Your garbage tip tells me your decision was based more on “thriftiness” than on “not wanting to waste food.”
- “What is the cheapest beer you have?”
Seriously??? Did you just ask me that? I mean, I can tell just by looking at you that this isn’t the first time you’ve ever enjoyed a cold beer. Basically, what someone is asking here is this: “Do you have anything shittier than Bud Light, Coors Light, or Miller Lite? Because I have so little self-respect that I am willing to ask that question in front of people I call my friends, and I am willing to pour whatever horse piss you hand me down my throat… so long as it saves me 25 cents a beer.” Don’t worry, sir — When you round hand me $24 on your $22.75 bill and loudly proclaim that I can KEEP THE CHANGE, it will come as no surprise to me whatsoever.
- “Make America Great Again.”
I don’t think anyone has actually said this to me out loud, but I’ve had some folks who were actually wearing one of those godforsaken hats… And let me assure you: They are not good tippers. And before people freak out on me, I’m NOT saying “Everyone who voted for Trump is a bad tipper.” What I AM saying is that people who loudly, vocally, and proudly support Trump are exactly the same kind of people who think, “Screw this server — I’m going to get MINE.” They probably think tipping is some kind of socialism. “America First” is just “ME FIRST” on a global scale.
- “Dear eight pound, six ounce Newborn Baby Jesus…”
People who make a spectacle of their before-meal prayer are some of the worst tippers on the planet. I have written about this before, so I’m not going to go into it at length… But suffice to say, some of the worst PR that “christians” get is due to people who give a loud, LOOK-AT-ME prayer, and then follow it up with a shitty tip. I’m a big fan of Jesus, but people who hold hands and make sure the next table over can hear them say “AND JESUS, WE JUST…” are “just” the worst. Do all the rest of us a favor: If you’re not planning on being generous — SKIP THE PRAYER. You’re doing about as much for Jesus’ reputation as the Catholic Church right now.
So there you have it. I’m sure there are more. If you have other examples of things people say that will let their servers know they are horrible tippers, maybe leave them in the comments. Also, this is not the only time I’ve written about restaurant stuff… If you’d like, you can read about “How To Not Be A Jackass.” Or you can read one I really love about Human Nature and Fear and Politics. You can read one about the time I received a $500 Tip from Aaron’s Last Wish. Or, if you’re just looking to laugh, you can read about “How Not To Do A Wedding Reception,” or laugh at what happens when idiots don’t know what an anchovy is.
Thank you again for reading! This blog is one of the ways I take care of my family. If you’d like to LEAVE A TIP ON PAYPAL, you can totally do that. If you’d like to BECOME A PATRON for this blog, that would be so very kind. And if you like what you’ve read, and you want to share it with others, that would be amazing. You can also keep up with me on Facebook and on Twitter. Love you all…
Chris, I’m a fellow Nashvillian and I’ve been reading your column for years. I almost always agree with you and enjoy your columns. This is the first time I wanted to delete it without finishing. I don’t know if you just had a really bad day yesterday or what, but this is simply rude and obnoxious. Give it a few days and re-read it. You might be slightly chagrined at your own words. I hope so.
Just wondering, Veronica, if you have ever worked as a server. I did for a couple years, and it was one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever done.
Yup, I worked as a server from the time I turned 16 until I got my masters degree at 27, in restaurants ranging from a Shoney’s Big Boy to an upscale steak house. (I’m now in my 50s.) And I agree 100% that it is a tough job. But I hate the way Chris wrote this because it was unnecessarily rude and snarky. Even though I know everything he wrote is true, I feel there was a better way to get his point across. I agree that it’s a point that needs to be made and I hope it will change some minds, but I doubt it.
LOL…C’mon, VERONICA, “rude, obnoxious, and snarky” has pretty much been BOESKOOL’s approach for the past couple years here, lol. His approach isn’t to change anybody — he’s intelligent so realizes most people don’t change due to what other people rub their noses in. Rather, he’s here to act as “someone who validates me-the-reader by voicing the same reactions to the world I’m experiencing”.
Maybe his rude n’ snarky approach became apparent to you this time ‘cuz you could empathize with being a server and having had these (understandably justified) feelings about lousy tippers, but along with realizing that even if professionalism hadn’t restrained you, any tit-for-tat, rude calling-out of lousy tippers wouldn’t have changed them anyway?
By th’ way — see my post to BOESKOOL himself below…
I agree with you Chris and you are SPOT ON!
I’ve never been a server, but…I taught my six kids, “Tipping is not optional — it’s mandatory, because it’s a part of a server’s expected wages”. The server is due that 20% even if the server is deliberately lousy. Not tipping 20% equals stealing a server’s wages.
A “GOOD tipper” pays MORE than 20%.
The larger controversy of “how should servers be paid” aside, as the restaurant business stands, for all practical purposes, a meal costs the stated price plus 20% tip. Since it’s effectually a fact of US society, more should be done by us all to make sure everyone, including immigrants from societies without tipping, know that tipping is mandatory.
If someone can’t afford the base tip of 20%, then he/she can’t afford to buy that meal. No one can go to WalMart and say, “Well, I’ll pay the $10 for the item, but not the 10% tax, cuz, the tax isn’t part of its price”.
What I’ve done on the (very rare) occasions when the server was, in my opinion, lousy, has been, to tip the 20%, but then privately speak to the manager or owner to share my complaint.
By the way…As your friendly neighborhood atheist, I do wanna know — where and how DID your version of Iesus and/or God teach you to be so blatantly demeaning and obnoxious?