Monday, July 09, 2007

I'm on a roll

Okay, here's the second post for the day, after a two-month absence that ended only last week. This has nothing to do with grammar, again, but something to do with snobbery. Today, my target audience is waitpeople. The theme of my post is: I don't owe you 15% of my bill just because I sat at your table.

I'm a single male. Chances are I eat out about three times as much as you do if you are married, and about twice as much if you're a single female. It's not that I don't like to cook; I just don't cook as much as I used to, a combination of not having time and being lazy when I do. I like the food I make more than restaurant food, and it's way cheaper. But sometimes, I just feel like having my lunch handed to me. My point is, I go to restaurants a lot. So I think I know what's going on in them.

Consider the following two scenarios. I go to a restaurant about 30 minutes before the rush starts. I'm seated in a waiter's section, at the same time as a family of four.

In the first scenario, the waiter appears, looks at the family of four, looks at me, and then goes to wait on the family.

In the second scenario, the waiter appears, looks at the family of four, looks at me, smiles and says "I'll be right with you", and then goes to wait on the family.

Wonder which one will get the better tip?

I think most customers have reasonable expectations of waiters. We know that when someone gets double-sat (and let's not get into a discussion of whether "double-sat" is a word right now), they have to choose someone to wait on first. If I were a waiter, I'd want to get the big party first. But at least spend a second of your life to acknowledge the existence of the guy who's going to lose the race to the kitchen. Hey, if you want to wait on me first, all the better, but you should go say "hi" to the family, in that instance. It's just courtesy, and that always pay$.

How formal should waiters be? I think the rule should be: too formal is better than too informal. Don't call me "honey" or "buddy". Don't touch me while you're waiting on me. Don't sit at my table. Don't -- Do not -- DO NOT put someone else's dirty dishes on my table ! Are you KIDDING?

I'd rather not be called "sir", but when I am, I assume it's someone being formal to be courteous, and that's okay. It's won't cost you anything.

In fact, it's hard not to get a decent tip from me. The best way to try is not to wait on me for a long time after I'm seated. What's a long time? Someone should come by my table within a minute. Yes, a minute. If you don't think that's a long time, go sit by a table for a minute and then you tell me.

Other than that, the only thing that will really screw up your tip (besides just crappy service, obviously) is bringing me my change. Okay, say the dinner was $9.63. I give you a twenty. First, don't ask me if I need any change. Of course I do, I'm not giving you a 100% tip. Second, don't bring me a ten dollar bill and 37 cents -- that's just as bad. Keep in mind that you're probably getting paid out of the change.

Speaking of which, most waiters don't like to make change down to the last penny, and that's fine. But the last time I went to one restaurant in Austin, I had an $8.20 tab, paid with a $10, and got a dollar bill in change. Fine -- that eighty cents you just stole is your tip. Like I said, it was the last time I went there. (Hope my waiter doesn't miss his "buddy".)

And why should a tip be more than 15%, anyway? Now all the waiter rant sites say you should leave 17%. If the service is great, sure. If it's good, 15% is plenty. Don't whine to me about inflation. You're getting 15% of something that's a lot more expensive now than it was 30 years ago.

Thanks for listening, honey.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My expectations re waitpeople (I will not go into my opinion of words like that) are those of the population in general: Be polite. Do your job well--for your own sake as well as for those who are paying you. Have some common sense, for heaven's sake.