Altercation

Status: I used to be a writer...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tips From a Waitress

I've learned a lot about restaurants since working as a waitress. Granted, I haven't been at it that long, but there are consistently some behaviors that IRRITATE me. And there are others that I simply didn't know about. I think it should be required that each person spend at least six months as a waiter/waitress just so they can see what it's like. I used to think $5 was an average tip. I've since learned that this is a jump-for-joy-and-cheer tip. Average tips are $3.

Since not everyone will have the opportunity to be a server, however, I'd like to pass on some of my learning. Let's also assume that everything I say refers to a good server. It's true that not all of them are (and believe me, I know this too!) But I am a good waitress. I'm always happy, attentive, keep your drinks filled, get you what you need on time, and I still have these complaints.

Second of all, you may not know it, but servers have an hourly wage of less than $3 an hour. When I got hired, I didn't think this was a big deal. I figured I'd at least make $5 off of each table, at least two tables an hour, we're doing great, right? Well... people aren't nearly so generous. Which brings me to my TIPS for you.

1) While there's no law (though there should be!), politeness dictates 15% tips for good service. If your server was exceptional, tip more! To the table of 4 with a bill of $42 that tipped me 2 bucks... there's just no excuse for that.

2) While we're on that, it's probably a good idea to tip at least a dollar for each person at the table. ESPECIALLY if those people sit in high chairs. This isn't about the total bill. This is about the amount of work your server is going to put into keeping you happy and cleaning up after you. So if you have two people and your bill is only $9, please tip more than $1. (I'm not making this up. I consistently get $1-2 tips.)

3) This is something I NEVER did before becoming a waitress, but if you get a To-Go order, tip the server! You might think they didn't do anything for you, but let me enlighten you: They answered the phone. They placed your order. They took time out from their tables to prepare your box, your condiments, your utensils. They took time out again to come to the register and ring you up when you showed up. They put your stuff in a bag, smiled and said, "Have a nice day!" A $1 tip will suffice here.

I've had nights where I only had four tables all night long. Sometimes we're slow, and I'm not the only waitress. If each of them tips me $2, well, you can do the math. Even if they tip $5, it's still not a ton of money. So if you liked your server, if they did a good job... show them your gratitude. They WILL remember it.

Good luck the next time you go out to eat!


11 comments:

Emily Larkin said...

I have always been a firm believer that if people want to be a waitress then they need to bring their A game every single shift. That job is a choice to gamble. You take a lower wage on the off chance that your fantastic service will be rewarded with a great tip giving you more money then working at walmart. Waitress' never complain when they get great tips. I do believe in tipping 20-30% When a waitress goes above and beyond, but I hate the attitude that I owe them anything for doing their job. When I have just done my job I have been paid my wage. I don't get a tip for doing exceptionally, but I also don't get paid less for doing less. I am not a gambler. But I will take to heart what you said about to go orders cause I didn;t know waitress did that so I will judge the service and now tip according to my own dictates.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

My husband and I always tip 15%, which ends up being a huge amount when we're dealing with a family of 5. When the kids were younger (and messier), we would tip more because we felt bad at the mess they made.

PurpleMist. said...

Nice tips!

Elisa said...

I knew the 10% general rule, but this post was very enlightening. We don't eat out much, so I think we've ruined few waitresses evenings with an inadvertent low tip, but it is still something to improve on when we DO go out.

While we're on that, how much would you say is a reasonable tip if one of those kiddos in a highchair made a pretty big mess?

Meg said...

I waitressed and I'm with Emily on this one. Even if you're a good server, %15 shouldn't be expected. A tip is just that...an added gratuity for excellent service. I do always leave %15 when I eat out (more if the service is wonderful) but I do it out of guilt and not because I feel like the server is owed anything. It is a very difficult job, and you come home aching and exhausted, but I think tips should be looked at the same way people in corporate jobs should look at bonuses. It's not part of the salary, so don't buy the nice car and fancy house based on that extra bonus as part of your income. It's a bonus that is given for outstanding work, and judged by very subjective critics. Serving grouchy patrons, cleaning up smashed crackers and sugar packets from crazy kids, and dealing with cooks who ruin orders (it's not my fault your steak wasn't prepared correctly, but I'm the one who suffers in tips) are all part of the job. I think that's why very few personalities can handle waitressing for very long, and in the end, they come out on top, because they're the best and the customers know it and will tip them well.

One thing I didn't enjoy was having to claim my tips on my taxes. That part makes it seem unfair because if I'm being taxed on those gratuities, it is considered part of my income....and if that is my income, it should meet the minimum wage laws and my base pay should be higher. There's a big double standard there.

janealfalor said...

Once a long time ago, I was a waitress and I agree with you. I never understood the people that tipped so little. When eating out now, I'm the type that really keeps track of what my server does and the more they do, the more I tip. Especially when eating out with kids.

Aaron and Emily said...

I always thought the rule was to tip 15%, unless they were a terrible server. (Although I still end up tipping them).

Tamara Heiner said...

Wow, I can tell some of you have had some bad servers! Remember I prefaced this blog by saying "the GOOD servers." So yeah, don't tip the bad ones, but we're not talking about them here. We're talking about the good ones. And it sounds like you guys tip the good ones. NOT EVERYONE DOES.

And Whoa, did someone say the 10% rule??? Oh I hoped I had cleared up that misconception! You pay 10% tithes to your church, not your server! 15% is etiquette. If your server is a good one (that's what we're talking about, after all), tip at least 15%!

Jadie Jones said...

LOVE this :) I waited tables for several years and have said multiple times to coworkers: MAN the book we could write... And yes, everyone should have to wait tables for 6 months.

Kari Marie White said...

I'd heard 20% was standard these days. Maybe that's a regional thing? I hadn't thought about at least a dollar per person on smaller tabs. I'll keep that in mind. Seems totally fair.

Tamara Heiner said...

20% should definitely be standard, Kari! Many restaurants tack on 18% when there's a group of 6 or more. So that seems like a nice amount. :)

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