Makenzie: So here’s the deal. Our service tonight sucked. Took 20 minutes to get water, 40 minutes for an appetizer and over an hour for our entree. People all around us were making fun of the restaurant & how bad the service was. Yeah, it was pretty terrible. But, it was very obvious that the issue was being short staffed, not the server. He was running around like crazy and never acted annoyed with any table. At one point we counted he had 12 tables plus the bar. More than any one person could handle! As I sat there and watched him run back & forth and apologize for the wait, I said to Steven… Wow, this used to be us. Waiting tables. I don’t miss it at all and I never loved that job. I did it for the tips. Steven and I agreed it would feel good to make this guys night when he would probably be getting minimal to no tips due to slow service. We walked out before he saw this and I’m not posting this for a pat on the back. I’m just sharing this as a friendly reminder to think of the entire situation, before you judge. And always always always remember where you came from.
Last week I had a family of 9 sit down in my section. I gave them my usual friendly greet and got everyone’s drinks and appetizers in a timely manner. I wasn’t very busy, so I even took the time to converse with them a little, and learned they were celebrating a birthday.
Everything was fairly normal, until I came to collect the payment for the bill. A gentleman at the table was paying the tab, and I hadn’t heard anything from him at all throughout their meal.
“Did that manager of yours ever do anything about that expired barbecue sauce?” he snapped at me. Confused, I asked him what had happened. Apparently he didn’t like the way our bbq sauce tasted (it’s vinegar-based) so he checked the date printed on the bottom of the bottle. The date read 7/23, about three weeks prior to the present date.
Disgusted, he had asked a different server to send over a manager. My manager had explained to the gentleman that the dates on our sauce bottles are actually bottling dates, not expiration dates, and that the sauces are actually good for up to a month after being opened. This is 100% true.
Well, I had no idea that any of this was going on until he brought it up to me at the end of the meal.
“That manager of yours tried to tell me that the dates on your bottles are born on dates, but I’ve been working in distribution for several years, and there is just no possible way that can be true.”
“Sir,” I said, “I understand how it can seem a little confusing, but I was actually taught in my training here that the date on our bottles are actually bottling dates…”
He cut me off, saying that the date on the other bottle on the table was from three days ago, and argued that there was “absolutely no possible way” that the sauce could be made, packaged, and sent to the restaurant and placed on a table in three days.
I explained to him that, since we are a locally owned company, we make and distribute all of our sauces and products at the company commissary, which is about ten minutes down the road from our restaurant.
Before I could even finish talking, he interrupted me again.
“I don’t appreciate your manager lying to me; just do your job, stop lying to my face. I know how the industry works and I wish you all would just pay more attention to your products.”
Again, I asked him what he would like me to do about the situation (the whole time I’m still holding his bill and his credit card in my hand) and he just huffed, “Nothing now, I’ve already eaten it. I just hope I don’t get sick. This is just awful.”
I left the table and confronted my manager, who told me he had already sent an email to the commissary, asking them the details of our bottling and labeling protocol. I asked him what to do, and, like me, he too was at a loss. He told me he had already taken off the cost of the man’s meal, and that until he heard back from the commissary, he didn’t know what else to do.
So I ran the man’s credit card (Still $150 tab for the table), walked back to the table, and set the card back on the table.
“He took off the price of your meal, sir. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you. Have a great evening. ”
I got a $2 tip on a $150 tab, from a group that took up 2 of my tables for 2 hours.
Ten minutes after they left, the commissary emailed us back, saying the exact same thing my manager and I had told the guy at the table.
I lost a significant amount of money because someone refused to be wrong.
As a server, I often am forced to subscribe to the “customer’s always right” philosophy, which is hard enough even when I CAN fix the problem. If a guest believes his/her steak is overdone, I can easily have it recooked. However, if a man swears up and down that our sauces are expired when they’re not, I can show him every date on every bottle in the entire restaurant, but it won’t change his mind, and I’ll still leave empty-handed.
Submitted By Andie
As a former waitress and bartender (and cook), the way people tip (and act at a restaurant) can either make me very happy or upset.
I waited tables for four years in college and for a little while when I moved home before I found a job to use my degree in. Let me start out by saying that I think that everyone should have to wait tables at some point in their life (for a week at least) to truly understand my frustration. If I were the president, this is one of the first laws that I would make.
Serving has truly shown me the best and worst in people. I have seen immense generosity, courtesy and respect as well as intolerable levels of entitlement, disrespect and selfishness. Because of this, I even did my senior thesis in college on “Tipping in the Service Industry”. I did an econometric analysis on the attributes that account for higher or lower tips. If you’re lucky, maybe someday I will post it to bore you (SIDENOTE: I got an “A” on it).
***NOTE: the parts about tipping are specifically geared toward readers in the U.S. I understand that in other countries tips are not as typical/common***
My guide to restaurant etiquette, starts now:
1. Servers are “paid” $2.13 an hour. By “paid” I mean that we never actually see a real paycheck. I think the highest paycheck I ever got was maybe in the range of $20 (for two forty hour+ weeks of work). This clearly is not enough to live on. We work on tips. I’ve heard all the excuses in the book on why you shouldn’t have to tip but the fact of the matter is (here’s where my economist mind comes out) service would greatly decrease if wait staff were to be paid a flat hourly rate. Here’s why: If I got paid, say, $10 an hour there is very little incentive for me to give you anything but sub-par service. I can do the bare minimum to keep you happy and get you on your way. The fact that my pay is supposed to be based on the service I give you incentivizes me to work harder, better accommodate you and pay make sure you have a great experience. Afterall, I’m going to want you to come back!
2. You are not my only customer. While I would LOVE to have only had a table or two at a time to make sure everything is perfect for you, the fact of the matter is that more than likely I’m scrambling around trying to keep 20+ people happy at once. Do you realize how hard that is? Be PATIENT. Sometimes we forget things (we are, afterall, human), kindly remind us!
3. A ten percent tip just isn’t what it used to be. Cost of living has gone up. Not only for you, but for the server that is waiting on you. Lets say a server is working a very slow lunch shift. You (naturally) order the special that costs maybe $8. please, Please, PLEASE do not leave someone 80 cents. Well lets just go ahead and say don’t ever leave less than a dollar. It’s quite frankly, insulting to say the least. I don’t care if it was the worst service ever. Leave at least a dollar. PLEASE! A standard tip should be at least 18% for lets say, average service. They weren’t bad but it wasn’t the best service you have ever gotten. Really should be 20%, but I digress… If you have horrible service, you should still tip – I’m going to say, at least 15%. Try and talk to a manager or the server and see if you can get something taken off the bill or figure out what happened. A lot of the time slow food is NOT the servers fault and they should not be punished. If you have great service, go ahead and tip above 20%. The sky’s the limit 🙂
4. If you order something extra, expect to be charged for it. Restaurants have to pay for their food and you have to pay for what you order. Don’t act shocked when the chicken and avocado you added to your salad adds on a few bucks. Things come as is for the most part. If you want to substitute things and do not want to be charged, just ask! Chances are that you can’t sub black olives for steak but restaurants are usually pretty accommodating.
5. Splitting checks. Oh the joys of the split checks. This is not a problem – I didn’t even mind splitting checks 10+ ways. Let your server know in the beginning that you would like separate checks and realize this may add some time on at the end when everyone is paying. It is what it is. In order to speed things up, PAY WITH A CARD or EXACT CHANGE. Servers typically have their own “bank” of about $20 each shift. When a ton of split checks are paying in cash, we may not have the cash needed to give you change. This is also super time consuming. Swiping a card is really fast! Also, don’t get mad about getting gratuity added on to big parties. Even though you may tip great, Cheap Charles may not tip well on his $75 bill.
6. The price is on the menu. I guess this goes along with #4. Please don’t ask us “how much is…”, “how much will it be if I…”. Just look at your menu. I am already remembering so many things including your 2 extra sides of ranch and half coke half coke zero that I don’t really remember the prices.
7. Speak when spoken to. This is something that my mother and father taught me. It is extremely useful in restaurants as well as all aspects of life. If I ask you if you need anything or what you want to drink, your blank stare does not tell me anything. I was not majoring in mind-reading when I was at school at the University of Georgia serving tables. Use your words, I won’t bite. (SIDENOTE: Dear girls that whisper in your boyfriend’s ear what you want to eat when I ask you, please know that you can just tell me, I do not want to play telephone with him and get your order wrong!!!)
8. Allergies & Dietary restrictions. Please inform your waitstaff if you have allergies. We just met, so I have no clue that you are a vegan or that you are deathly allergic to corn. Tell me! I am here to make sure that you don’t die while eating our delicious food. I don’t have a spare Epipen and I probably cannot successfully resuscitate you using CPR. When your pizza comes out with cheese and you are a vegan, I really can’t help you (the ingredients are also on the menu and I am assuming you can read).
9. Specials. Specials are just that – special. Sometimes we have them, and sometimes we don’t. Please don’t be upset with me because we do not offer what you want on special at that particular time. It’s not up to me.
10. You are not “better than me”. One of the most terrible things I got while serving was people thinking you are their slave or servant. They were highly mistaken. I am here to provide a service to you, please respect that. You came to me – I did not ask for you. I’m trying to make money just like everyone else. Do not tell me that serving is not a “real job”. It is very real.
11. Servers do more than just deliver you food and take your order. A lot of people, surprisingly, do not realize that servers are responsible for much more. We roll silverware, clean your dirty plates, carry dishes, scrub floors, clean unspeakable things out of the bathroom, mop, dust, etc. You name it, we do it. There is no “cleaning crew” – that’s just another part of my job.
12. Bar Etiquette. As a bartender at one of the biggest SEC football schools in the country, I’ve seen it all. This may merge with a previous number, but don’t leave me less than a dollar on a drink. I understand that I “only” opened it. You’re forgetting that I am going to have to deal with you as you get more and more turnt-up. I think I deserve a few extra cents for that. A little tip – if you are ordering liquor and not tipping or not tipping well, please know that your next drink will likely have less alcohol in it. If you’re tipping good, you will probably get a heavier pour. I have friends that don’t tip until the end. DON’T DO THAT! Tip consistently (unless you have a tab)! Seriously.
13. We have bad days too. Somedays, I was just not “on”. Please be empathetic. You do not know what your server is dealing with or what is going on personally for them at that time. Although this should never constitute rudeness, just know it’s not always easy. I remember one shift while I was working, a dear friend of mine passed away. I got about five minutes to cry, compose myself, and put my happy face back on. Be kind, for everyone you know is fighting a tough battle.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed my guide to restaurants and can learn something from it. My experience has greatly shaped me as a person and I am so glad to have done it. I met some of my best friends and learned some valuable life lessons.
Never trust or date a bad tipper.
Reddit user Coppin-it-washin-it posted a photo of a note his mother recently received from a server at Red Lobster that has gained a lot of popularity.
After his father passed recently his sister decided to take their mother out to her favorite restaurant, Red Lobster, on her and her late husband’s anniversary. When the server asked if they were there for a special occasion his sister explained that her parents had been going to Red Lobster for the past 31 years for their anniversary, but since her father had passed away in March she decided to take her mother and keep the tradition going. From then on the mother and daughter continued to enjoy their visit at the restaurant but never expected to get this when they received their bill…
The note reads:
We are sorry to hear about your husband’s passing, but we appreciate your loyalty in spending 31 years of your anniversary with us. For our appreciation your meal is on us! We look forward to spending your next anniversary with us!
Red Lobster + your server, Taylor
When Coppin-it-washin-it posted it on Reddit on Wednesday night he never expected it to go viral:
A Red Lobster spokesperson was contacted by BuzzFeed about the heartwarming moment:
“We’re truly proud of the Columbia team. We also extend our wishes to the family who dined with us and look forward to serving them again next year!”
I’m a server at a corporate restaurant in New York. This past Friday I had a table of three – a husband and wife, and either their son or grandson. Things started off normal. They sat down and gave me a cake to put in the fridge for them for the wife’s birthday. They ordered their food, it hit the table, and they began eating their meals.
As I was walking back to my section with drinks and bread, I hear everyone screaming NO! Naturally I think “Oh, someone spilled something! Good thing I have slip resistant shoes on”. So I continue to walk but then I hear “HE POOPED…HE POOPED!” I’m like what!?!?
Apparently the grown man took a sh”t all over my section! I look down and I see and SMELL a trail of diarrhea on the floor of my section trailed all the way back to the bathroom, which was apparently worse. He was about 60 years old and seemed pretty normal until the incident. While he was in the bathroom the wife and kid just sat there like it never happened or as if it happens all the time or something. My other table yelled “hell no, I’m getting out of here” and moved to another section far, far away from my smelly, poop section. The third table had NO IDEA what it was and even asked me. I was mortified I said I wasn’t sure and pretty much ran away.
When the guy came back he said something “didn’t agree with him”…like he wanted me to apologize for the food making him sh*t or something! After a manager cleaned up, the sh*t was gone but the smell wasn’t. I work in a nice restaurant and this kind of stuff does not happen! When he was sitting back at the table I noticed he had sh*t all in his socks and shoes and just sat there continuing to eat like nothing happened! The worst part is they still made me bring out the cake and sing Happy Birthday! My manager was preoccupied cleaning so I guess he never asked them to leave or he probably figured a normal person would leave on there own, right? Well, no…
At this point I was scarred for life singing Happy Birthday with their cake in my hand and the smell in my nose. After I sung I left the cake/pie on the table for them to cut themselves. I couldn’t bare the smell and I was so disoriented I just couldn’t do it. When they finally left they only tipped me about $13 on a $100 check. I was also cut after the incident since my section was off limits, therefore not only was I leaving scarred, I was leaving broke as well.
I had a couple come in and had a blast with them. They had been out drinking and were just enjoying their day. We joked around and I thoroughly enjoyed waiting on them. It was a big shock when they left me a less than 10% tip. But I didn’t let it bring me down. One week later they dropped this at my job with $20 in it! It was the nicest thing I’ve ever had happen from a customer. I just want to celebrate the good with the bad…sometimes the bad shows there are good people out there!
(Submitted By Stacey)