Lunchtime poll - service with a snub
January 28th, 2011
01:00 PM ET
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One of the first things I knew about my now husband is that he had the appropriate level of regard for the people who serve his food. He and I met through online dating (seriously - it works) and one of the key criteria in my profile (in addition to not spitting in the street) was, "You're nice to the waiter and tip well."

His first note back included the assurance, "I have to be nice to waiters because I eat out so frequently. They have their own category on my social roster."

I'm a firm believer in the notion that how a date interacts with restaurant staff is a huge indicator of how he or she will eventually treat you. It's not just how much they tip (though that's always interesting) - it's the amount of respect they show.

In the six years we've been together, my husband and I have made friends with the waitstaff at some of our favorite restaurants, socializing outside of our visits to the restaurant. Why? Because the some of the smartest, quickest, funniest, most gleefully profane and emotionally intelligent people I know find that the profession that best suits those qualities is working front of house.

Sadly, not everyone's not on the same page of the menu. I've been out with people who treat their waiter with no human regard, dressing them down, treating them as a servant, asking "What do you do for your real job?" and assuming (most incorrectly) that someone would only take the job because they have to - not because it's their calling.

Those people have their own category on my social roster. It's labeled "dis-invited."

Previously - A life in waiting

soundoff (235 Responses)
  1. Rick

    I always interact with the people who serve me at restaurants as if they are my friends and some have become friends for many years, unless they treat me badly. I assume the best...and most times I am rewarded

    June 3, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  2. frank

    servers are stupid, and so they seriously think this is a profession...yea that's why I middle school kid can do it...? It's a minimum wage job. talking to customers and acting smart is not going to fix the perception that servers are losers. not to mention the fact that many will try to mess with your food when they get upset. it's like dealing with rabid cannot reason with them. usually when I eat out, I smile and am polite....then in the end I pay the exact bill and leave.

    February 17, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Rick

      do you know that waiters at top restaurants can earn over 100k a year...maybe you need a reality check

      June 3, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  3. Michizzle

    Seriously?! When did this turn into a competition of who is more professional based on ones job title or level of education?
    I am quite offended considering I am a server and work my ass off for a measily $4.26 an hour, and yet, I still strive to make sure my customers are taken care of the way I would like to be taken care of. MInd you this isn't because I have to, it's because I choose to. I love being a server, I make excellent money and appreciate what I do. And shame on all of you who judged us for honest work! Serving is a skill that requires a lot of talent and leads to growth in many diffierent areas of work. For those of you who think you know so much about this industry yet have never worked in this profession, and yes I'll repeat myself PROFESSION, I suggest you try to do a servers job. I can guarantee you won't last a day. I'm personally hoping this debate opens up some narrow minds to respect us for what we do. Like they say, 'it's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it."

    January 31, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  4. Drunk Bob

    I love waitresses. I try to eat one out once a week.

    January 31, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  5. 1am4thepeopl

    I don't understand the concept of tipping on a % of the meal. I pay for quality service, and find, as a rule, that high priced restuarants have snobby waiters with a lot of attitude, and that inexpensive greasy spoons have down to earth real people serving. I base the tip on the service, not the price of the meal.

    January 31, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  6. hbockoven

    It is a respectable and tough job that exposes them to a lot of SOBs. As a general rule I live by, Don't mess with the people who are preparing your food.

    January 31, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  7. Sharon W

    Every profession is an art for those who are good at it, but every profession also has their share of people who only care about their paycheck and do slovenly work. On the other hand, I don't like arrogant waiters. Fortunately, I don't run into too many of them.

    January 31, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  8. DesertRat

    Being at the very least polite to waitstaff (or anyone in a service position) is a mark of character. Kindness costs you nothing, and like I tell my 4 yr-old, life is always much more fun with a good attitude. Tipping depends on the quality of the service, though. I always tip at least 15% when I get basic service, more for better service, and have only tipped less a couple times for awful service.

    January 31, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Dean

      The establishment pays the wait staff to give me basic service. The amount of my tip depends on how much the basic service is exceeded.

      January 31, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  9. JOE

    I grew up with the understanding that tips was an acronym for To Insure Proper Service. I try to treat everyone with respect, to get a 25% tip from me all a waiter has to do is keep all the glasses at our table full and be halfway pleasant.
    I really don't need to know your name, I don't need you to sit at my booth like you are eating with me and I don't need to know anything about your personal life.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  10. abby

    We have certain restaurants where we eat regularly and see the same waiters and waitresses doing a hard job always their feet with little rest. Many are simply wonderful, but we have met some that shouldn't even be near a restaurant and have let management know. (When you're a regular, the management is more than willing to listen to complaints as well as compliments.) We always reward excellent service generously knowing its the tips are their real income.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  11. POD

    I have the utmost respect for people that wait on me and I tip well when the service is professional. That being said, why is it that the restaurant OWNERS expect me to share in paying wages (via tipping) to their employees. I do not share in any profits the OWNERS might realize why should I subsidize their labor costs. Pay people a decent living wage, with benefits. If that means the cost of my meal goes up 20% so be it.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • DesertRat

      I remember being in Europe and gratutity was already included in the bill. That sure didn't guarantee good service, at least where we were! With tipping, there's some extra motivation for the waiter to keep hopping and keep a smile.

      January 31, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  12. drymocke

    A great waiter (or waitress) is like a great mechanic or a great doctor... hard to find! So when I do find one I treat them like the rare gem they are. Unfortunately many waitstaff are unable to execute the job with any level of competence. I eat out once a week and I find that less than 10% of waitstaff ever earn >20% with me with a great waiter getting as much as a 50% tip for a well serviced meal, a good smile and some witty repartee...

    January 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  13. jimjoe

    I waited tables while I was in college more than twenty years ago. I still have a recurring dream that I am chatting in the kitchen, I walk out, and my entire section is filled with angry people. A little unusual since I have been in law enforcement for 15 years but have never had upsetting dreams about that aspect of my life.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  14. kls817

    I really don't like waiters and that's why I rarely eat at a restaurant. They don't wait on me; I wait on them! I wait for them to bring a menu, take my order, and worst – to finally get around to bringing me the check; a lot of times I have to get up and find them or some other waiter to get the job done. I'd rather go get everything myself.
    Still I feel obligated to tip them properly; they are working people. But I avoid them whenever possible.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • DesertRat

      You're eating in the wrong restaurants!

      January 31, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  15. utsaralph

    This article is not highlighting the definition of professional. It instead focuses treating people as a means and not just as an ends. When you refuse to say hello to the cashier at the grocery store, chat with the taxi driver, or show respect for the humanity of anyone you encounter (most especially those who offer you direct service), you are not a person just a human (and you shouldn't expect others to treat you with dignity). Treat self-governing autonomous creatures with respect and focus on improving yourself instead of telling yourself that you are superior.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  16. Drunk Bob

    I like waiters. They bring me food. And drink. Canadians are cheap b*st*rds.

    January 31, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  17. kat

    I was a cocktail waitress for 5 yrs. really liked the job, 95% of the time, met some great peeps, but that other small %, well no class, threw their limes at me when I and the other staff walked by, management no help, so I and another waitress, washed our hands in their pitcher of beer everytime they ordered and they never tipped, I so enjoyed serving them after that, they thought treating me like crap was funny, but I was the one with the DIRTY HANDS, GOT YA WITCHES.Never mess w/ anyone who serves your food or drinks, oh and I am a really nice person. 95% of the time.

    January 31, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • kls817

      You're a good reason why people should never eat at a restaurant with waiters. Who knows what petty reason a waiter might use to do something disgusting to your food. Maybe the customer looks like someone the waiter doesn't like or are maybe the wrong ethnicity or appearance.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  18. JG

    waiters should not be tipped. its just a job. they kiss a$$ to get more tips. a customer who tips has already been thinking its ok to tip. its the waiters job to bring the food, keep it clean, and the tip is not insurance to keep it clean and spit/ur1ne-free. other countries dont ask for tip. if you make $500 in tips, you have a brown nose, and your lips are really dirty. i say, tip the cooks-behind-the-scenes because they cooked the wonderful food you eat. dont tip the waiters.

    January 31, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Rob

      You sir, are an ignorant fool. Im a server in a fine dining restaurant. You tip because that IS the servers income. A server in Missouri gets paid 3.75 AN HOUR! The tips are what we live on. Other countries don't take tips because the restaurant PAYS the server. Cooks get paid hourly. Servers don't. Get it?
      Being a server for at least a while is recommended for everyone. Teaches you how to handle people. And a good server will attempt to pamper your every dining need, even if you will SCREW him/ger by denying him/her a tip.

      January 31, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
      • JG

        then fine. the minimum wage in missouri for waiters should be the federal minimum wage, then tips should be abolished. i still think the tips should go to the cooks for cooking a great meal. should subway sandwich artists get tips? i do see them having a tip cup in front.

        January 31, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
      • DesertRat

        The cooks aren't making minimum wage, they're making good money for the most part.

        January 31, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
      • mike shaw

        i think you're more ignorant rob. servers are guaranteed min wage by law....that 3.75 argument is hogwash. restaurants are obligated to make up the difference.

        just as you were hired to do a job without the guarantee of tips, we are customers and there is no sign saying "mandatory tip". I don't tip, and I have the right to make that decision. a good server will accept that and move on with their life.

        February 17, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Drunk Bob

      You must be a Canuck. They are all cheap buggers. Especially those from Quebec.

      January 31, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
      • JG

        they must be doing something somewhat right over there. theyre still tipping minimally?

        January 31, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  19. BG

    OK, I stand by my earlier comment, but I wanted to point out an inconsistancy in a competing philosophy regarding waiters.

    Some folks on here feel that you should not tip your waitstaff any less when the restaurant is swamped and service is slow because its not the waiter's fault he has to cover twice as many tables as usual. However, if the restaurant is swamped and the waiter still gets normal tips out of everyone then though he'll be tired at the end of the day he'll go home with twice as much money as average. There's really no reason to feel sorry for him on days like this and if your service is bad because of it, and you usually tip poorly for poor service, there's no reason not to leave a low tip. Even with an entire night of low tips the guy will probably still walk home with more money than usual.

    January 31, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Grace and Dignity

      That's a really nice theory, but usually not true. Take the two worst holidays to work in the serving industry: Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. I say the worst because these two days are insanely busy and you get sh*t for tips. When half of your tables don't leave a tip period and the other say forty percent that do tip fall in the 10% or under tip with on the remaining ten percent in the 15% or above tips. More often than not you're paying the restaurant you work for to work after taxes and tip outs. The matter is pretty simple if you can't afford to tip, don't go out to eat. If you don't like to tip, don't go out to eat.

      January 31, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
      • abby

        If you don't like dealing with people or hate the pay, get another job. It's that simple.

        February 2, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
    • abby

      Tipping is their primary income. To not tip on a busy day when they're really working their tails off is really inconsiderate. That's like not paying overtime when an employee works over 40 hours.

      January 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  20. fedup tipper

    Why are patrons responsible for paying tips? If it is a job, shouldn't the employer be 100% responsible for paying their employee? I don't get it. If I'm a mechanic and doing a service for you, I get a salary from my employer. Sure I'll take a tip if it's given to me, but I do not expect one since I'm already being fully paid for my services. Restaurants should do the same thing and fully pay their employees so customers do not have to. bottom line.

    January 31, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Rob

      I would LOVE to be paid a decent, steady salary paid for by the owner, but simply put, earning our tips at each table makes it easier to give a costumer the best service they can get. Otherwise, you would go to a fine dining restaurant and there would be a very good chance of getting treated like you just ordered from burger king.

      January 31, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
      • mike shaw

        and guess what idiot, i'm treated very nicely by the server at Burger King. so what's your point? thank don't have one.

        February 17, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Restaurant Lover

      Excellent example. Moron. If you are a mechanic doing a service for me, the shop will usually be paying you for the amount of hours they bill the me, not the amount of time you actually spend working on my car. That means that if the mechanic is good, and fast, and in an 8-hour day can finish jobs that are billed for a total of 12 hours, that mechanic will be paid 12 hours. Not 8. Who pays for that? Me, of course. And that's part of the reason why mechanics remain mechanics for 40 years. The better they get, the more jobs they can finish in that workday, the more they get paid. And if you actually are a mechanic, and you don't get paid like that, you're working at the wrong place, or you're not billing 8 hours consistently (which means you are not a very good mechanic). Hard work should be rewarded. I hope your next server spits in your food. I would.

      January 31, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • tipper gore

      maybe you're right, but the reality is you tip. so suck it up and pay!

      January 31, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  21. BG

    I don't look down on anyone earning an honest buck no matter how they do it so I basically treat waiters the same way I treat anyone else – with an average level of respect. I'm not going to call the guy 'sir' or something but I don't do that with anyone else either. As far as the tip goes, unless he does something truely extraordinary or is just godawful he's getting 15%. I don't need to throw money at some waiter to impress a date. If my date is the kind of person who overtips then I would be less likely to want to date her again. She's probably the kind of person who overpays for lots of other things and is just irresponsible with money – why would I want to date someone like that?

    January 31, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  22. Matt

    I tip 1$ at the most.

    January 31, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • mike shaw

      cool, more than me. i never tip. it's just a job, they need to learn to do it and shut up. they are guaranteed min wage and that's all the job is worth.

      February 17, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  23. Honest Lee

    I do a lot of business travel and eat in restaurants more than most people. I tend to treat waiters with more than common courtesy, as I know they will be handling my food, and I tend to tip at least 15% of the food and beverage bill. I DO NOT tip based on the total with tax included – no one should – and waiters should not expect that. If they want more money, they should give better service – I regularly tip 20 to 25% for exceptional service. If I could give one suggestion to every waiter in the world, it is this: don't interrupt your customers' conversations. It's rude to do that to anyone and doubly rude to do it to your customer.

    January 31, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  24. Fuyuko

    I think waiters do feel they have the monopoly on bad customers and the truth is they do not. Other service industries are just as bad, if not worse, and at least waiters are tipped. In general I rarely get an outstanding waiter. Usually they are average, to indifferent. When you have a bad waiter you are sort of at their mercy and while I understand people have bad days, I rarely eat out so a bad experience with a bad waiter can taint customer perception of the establishment.

    January 31, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  25. Dr. Jeckel

    Stupid wait-staff script:

    Starts with, Waiter saying: "Hi, I'm Jim and I'll be your waiter today."
    Doctor: "Hi Jim, my name is Dr. J and I honestly don't give a fig what your name is."

    End with, picking up the tab with my cash, Waiter says: "Do you want change back from this?"
    Doctor: "Yes please. The bill came to $42, I put $60 (three twenty-dollar bills) on the tray. I was going to tip you $8 (20%), now I'm going to cut it back to $6 (14%) for asking such a boldly presumptive and stupid question."

    January 31, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Serving and Tipping..

      It is very unrealistic to assume that the server will know what is in the pile of money on the tray. It could be two twenties and a five, short of rudely counting the money in front of the guest, there is no way to know.

      January 31, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  26. april

    I don't think about it at all. Waiters, doctors, garbage truck drivers...we are all just making a living. I treat everyone the way I wanted to be treated.

    January 31, 2011 at 9:54 am |
  27. Grace and Dignity

    These articles always provide wonderfully entertaining comments. You have the servers who are explaining how the job can vary depending on who you're dealing with to where you work and how they're paid, to the a-holes who feel the need to get everyone riled up because they have entitlement issues.

    Servers deserve the same respect you SHOULD give to any other person you may happen to meet. I say should, because the same people who treat their server like dirt are the same people who are intolerable jerks to just about anyone they come across out in the rest of the world. The general consensus on why people tip is rather alarming though, most servers never see a check or very little of one. The restaurants claim since servers receive tips they can pay us $2.40/hr. Unless your service was absolutely terrible, you should leave at least a 15% tip.

    These people are human beings in an industry that comes with a lot of down sides, most of which they're unable to control. You're appetizer took 40 minutes to get to you? The cooks are swamped, or taking a smoke break and we can't get them to cook it any faster/ get back to work. We didn't greet you the minute you sat down? The restaurant is short staffed/ so and so just walked out and now I have 12 tables to take care of on a Friday night. We don't know that dish from memory? Our establishment changes the menu every 3 months, and it just changed yesterday. We're no longer running that promotion you liked so much 6 months ago? We have no control over what runs and what doesn't and no we can't still make it.

    I worked as a server for 5 years, are these problems the customer's fault? No. Are they the servers fault? No. Your service might not always be perfect but having a little understanding and patience when you go out to eat might help you out. I always made sure to treat every customer with the best attitude possible and try and accommodate everyone but sometimes things go wrong and half the time I had no control over it.

    In all my experiences though, what always killed me was the absolute a-holes who came in and would treat me like crap, and the minute I'd throw a little crap back they'd become sweet as pie, and leave a great tip. Why? It was always a game, they weren't happy unless they were treated like insolent children. I know sounds like a bad joke, but it's all part of the job. I've been out long enough that I can understand why people get upset with service workers, however that doesn't mean you have the right to act like you own them. Whether it's the greeter at Wal-Mart, the kid taking your order at Burger King, your server, or some random stranger you bump into, treat everyone with common courtesy and respect. It makes life a lot easier.

    January 31, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  28. Hope

    I respect the waiters when I go out. I want to be nice to everyone. I tip well, but I don't think being a waiter is a calling. It is a step up from working at McDonald's. I am sure that is because of where I eat out. I have read about what is required of waiters in nicer restaurants. I am sure for them it is a great job.

    January 31, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  29. Serving and Tipping..

    I have been serving for four years and the reasons behind why people choose to serve are as varied as the people themselves. I am myself working as a waitress to pay for my education and the job can be very stressful. Every duty to be completed revolves around multi-tasking which can be extremely draining on a mental level. The general public, while often very friendly and polite, offers the occasional trouble maker. During my shifts I've had women try to fight me, children fall off of tall chairs, people throw items at me, been called obscenities and had men grab at me. My coworkers and I tend to people and while tips are customary, there is an aspect to the issue that most people do not know. Hourly wages, which is minimum wage at the restaurant that I serve for, are taxed automatically by the company. However, the government is aware of the standard tipping procedure in the United States and therefore at the end of the night, servers complete a "claiming" process in which we report our earnings for the shift. This is based off the amount of food and beverages sold and does not take into consideration whether or not the patron actually tipped. Based on the amount that is claimed, our paychecks are additionally taxed after the tips are considered. Therefore, if you don't tip your wait staff, he or she is paying taxes on tips that were not collected. In a sense, the server is paying to have served the patron. This issue adds to the feeling to entitlement because server's paychecks are reduced due what people order, not whether or not they receive compensation for their services. While I do somewhat understand that not every person feels that tipping their server is an obligation to be fulfilled, I believe that there is simply a lot that is misunderstood about the industry. I hope that those that feel that tipping is unnecessary could understand that there is a great amount of effort and work that goes into serving. We are hardworking people tending to complete stranger's every whim with the silent understanding that the social contract insinuates compensation.

    January 31, 2011 at 6:14 am |
  30. Gecko

    A professional waiter is a very respectable professional who will earn every bit of a 20% tip or better. Anyone else should be classified as a "server" because taking my order and bringing out my food is merely a service that any high school or college aged student can do to help them work through school as part time income. There is no reason to tip a "server" more than $5 per table. Caring after 4 tables in an hour shouldn't net a person a higher per hour wage than many other professions. Really, should a server make more than $20/hr? NO. The guy who delivers 100 meals at a fast food restaurant will never make more than $10 an hour and they do far more work in that time. But people gladly pay servers 15-20% because they are mistakenly made to believe that every server is a waiter and vice versa. Trust me when I say, you haven't experienced the services of a waiter at an Applebees, Olive Garden, etc. But we are a jeans and polo shirt wearing culture these days who don't know what a night on the town is really about. So, can you blame people for their ignorance?

    January 31, 2011 at 5:42 am |
  31. Martha

    Food fetchers are low life pieces of s hit that can't get real jobs so they cry like little babies when they don't get tips... WAAAAAAAAAAAAH! THE WORLD OWES ME!!!!!!! WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

    January 30, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  32. Quackles

    Just like most everything, it's somewhere in the middle. You have to earn respect.

    January 30, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
  33. Novel1

    OK – I was a waiter for many years and I never had to kiss a** at any table. I was always professional but funny/charming when I could determine that the table was looking to be entertained some. It got me some great tips. But when it was either a "romantic" dinner or a "business" dinner, it was my duty to stay out of their way and just serve the food and get lost. I had probably four proposal dinners (the man had a ring for her) during my career and that was always fun but it was once again a bit of a challenge to stay out of their way during the important moments. My husband and I always notice when a waiter is being obviously unfriendly or even rude. And we tip accordingly - being sure to let the waiter in question know (before the end of our stay) that we were BOTH waiters once. LOL

    January 30, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
  34. Charlie

    I have total respect for good wait staff – and "good" for me is a pretty low bar. Get the food on the table without dumping it in my lap and don't get nasty, and you've reached that level. Seeing a great waiter / waitress work is an art form. I've had waiters / waitress who are fun, kind of funky, personable, and made dining a personal experience. I'm single, live alone, and love to dine out – and I have no problem doing it alone, as some people do. I've actually had waiters / waitresses sit down at the table across from me while taking my order, make a minute or two of small talk, get kind of flirty (there was one ADORABLE waiter at a restaurant I enjoy – sometimes I go just to check him out!), etc. It's not the wait staff's fault that your steak was overcooked or your dessert was late, which is why I really get upset when I see someone tear into the wait staff for the chef's misgivings. Waiters are people, too – treat them as such (and remember that a good waiter at a more high priced restaurant can pull down a few hundred dollars of tips a night, as tax free as they want to claim on their 1040 – can you claim you pick up a few hundred bucks of pin money a night?)

    January 30, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  35. idiocracy82

    I love when articles like this come up for debate.

    I'm a server, and have been for 14 years. I do this now because I am very, very good at it, but yes, initially, when I got involved in the business, it was because I had to. I've done it all- A pool hall, a Fridays, a diner, some serious fine dining, and most recently a bar. Now, I've been in the same restaurant for 4 years. I'm moving up. I am actually in charge of a small staff. I average 20-25% in tips. And in charge or not, I'm still getting paid $2.63 an hour, so I do depend on my tips to live. That being said, I KNOW that I depend on tips to live, and I have ZERO expectation of someone tipping me well if I don't serve them well. I know what it's like to be super busy and being unable to give everyone the service I'd like to, and to be honest with you, it's very disappointing to me. I'm the person that's laying in bed 4 hours after I get home at night thinking to myself, oh crap, I forgot to give the lady at 6 her water!! On the other side of that, I also know what it's like to be super NOT busy, and be able to bring my tables little samples of things, and chat with them, not because I think it's going to get me more money, but because I am genuinely GLAD to do it. I love the look on people's face when you do something just to be nice. Sure, the money part is lovely, and it's great when things "pay off" in the end, but 90% of my business is regulars.... The other 10% are regulars that dont know it yet. ;)

    Tipping, while 'technically' optional, isn't. I'm sorry. The prices in restaurants would skyrocket if my boss had to pay me and everybody else a real wage. Then we'd all have that to complain about. Furthermore, if you are out at a bar or restaurant with a business associate, even if you generally don't tip, if you're picking up the check you had better leave some sort of tip, because the people that you're trying to impress by buying generally won't be impressed by you not leaving a tip.

    I won't tip a terrible server. In fact, I will often ask for a manager. I work very hard all week to make sure my guests are happy, I excpect the same when I am out. However, before making any rash decisions about throwing him/her under the bus, I observe very carefully. Is it really their fault that I havent seen them in 20 minutes? Is there a table holding them hostage? Or are they out back on the phone and smoking butts? Is my food wrong because of the kitchen, or because my server didn't care?
    I'd say most of the time, people are very unaware of how much work goes into our job. I don't blame them; I don't know what they do at THEIR job, either. But I'd never assume that I do.....

    January 30, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  36. someoneelse

    No one tips a kindergarten teacher and they do much, much more than any lousy waiter. They have to deal with parents which make bad diners look like nothing. Tipping is the most inefficient, stupid thing North America has going (and yes, most of the world actually does the work they are paid for without expecting extra for good service). Tipping is the epitome of our 'me/me/me' culture.

    January 30, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • KCJames

      Kindergarten teachers work for a salary which is paid them by their employer. Servers make 1/2 minimum wage at best.

      January 30, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • someoneelse

      You completely miss the point. That is a part of the problem that must be fixed.

      January 30, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
      • KCJames

        I just think your notion of a "lousy waiter" needs rethinking. Every waiter is not a "lousy waiter." What about "lousy teachers?" There are people who perform well and people who underperform in any profession. Who gets to decide which professions deserve what pay rates? You seem to be talking about a social revolution away from American Capitalism as it works now– a point with which I agree.
        And, if by "lousy waiter," you meant "Kindergarten teacher[s]... do much, much more than any waiter,, whose function in society is negligable..." then what about the lousy bankers, brokers, athletes, movie actors, etc? If you can get this revolution going, I will jump on board immediately.

        January 30, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
  37. publius enigma

    If they treat me with respect and make sure my food is prepared right and on time then they get a tip. Dont give me that bull about how they cant help what the cook does. My dining experience is their responsibility. If their job was just carrying a plate then they wouldnt deserve a tip, Ill go pick it up myself. As far as respecting the profession, why wouldnt I? Anyone that is doing honest work deserves all my respect.

    January 30, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • someoneelse

      If your dining experience is their responsibility, why do they need a tip at all? I agree with your last statement wholeheartedly though.

      January 30, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • publius enigma

      Thats what a tip is for – payment for ensuring my meal is satisfactory.

      January 30, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  38. Steve Dalia

    My name is Steve Dalia. I am showing Realtors and Brokers how to secure their own REO and Government owned listings.
    I am hosting another class this Friday Feb 4th at 3PM EST.  I hope you can make it.  Here is the registration link:
    Thank you,
    Steve Dalia

    January 30, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • RichardHead@Steve Dalia

      Is it Cartus or USAA? This is a Food Blog DUMBAZZ!

      January 30, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  39. Merlie

    I won't say I've never had a bad waiter, but as a rule, I love 'em. I'm a New Yorker (currently desplaced) and I used to eat at alot of places with "career" waiters of Italian, Chinese, Indian and Jewish ancestry. They're good because they're in it for the long haul. They often aremen who love people and food – waiting is a social job. Sometimes they're comically curmudgeonly, like comfortably annoying relatives, (the Jewish deli style). Sometimes they're so gently flirty, (the Italian style – being gently corrected on the pronunciation of 'ghnocchi' by a softly smiling Italian waiter was quite a thrill actually) Chinese waiters are cheerful and seem to genuinely feel sorry for you if you aren't also Chinese – it's all part of the fun of the dining experience.
    I also happen to know that career waiters make very good money. The downside is though, that they often don't pay much into Social Security or have other pension plans, so an old waiter can be cash rich – but wiped out in a trice by a serious illness or disability.
    To be fair – I've also met many fantastic female waiters, though they tend to be found in smaller venues and towns – and sometimes are the cooks too.
    All I can say is God Bless them all – the very thought of restaurant work makes me tired and anxious. I'm SO glad there are those who love it and I'd sooner eat at smaller places than fast food or big chains for that reason.

    January 30, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  40. KCJames

    I manage/own/operate a casual upscale restaurant in Kansas City, and I have a few words for the people who are confused.

    Here is a dining experience which requires no tip: You wait in line to walk up to a counter and order lunch. You pay for it before you see the food. An employee hands you a bag, a tray, or calls out a number. You carry your food to the table you want, toss the trash in the waste bin, and leave.

    Hints that you're at an establishment which requires tipping:
    You are greeted by a Host or Hostess upon arrival. Those "Please Wait to be Seated" signs can be expensive, and that quirky girl is getting paid minimum wage to organize the customer flow throughout the night and deal with the fact that you want to switch tables. Unbeknownst to you, your reasonable request to move three tables over MAY be throwing off a lot of people's work trajectories that evening.
    You are taken to a table and provided personal menus. Then, you are greeted by an employee whose job is to make sure you get exactly what you want within the boundaries presented by the menu, and facilitate your selection. You have the opportunity to ask questions about the food, and can easily order multiple courses to be delivered at separate times. Perhaps you order a bottle of wine, or a draft beer.
    Your food may be delivered to the table by the same employee, or perhaps by another employee whose job is solely to run food to tables. Your drinks may arrive in similar fashion. If you're allowed to sit back and enjoy the scenery this whole time, you must tip.
    The larger the number of employees on whom your service depends, the more generous you should be with your tip.
    It is a fact that servers are not paid much more than what the government requires the restaurant to pay them in taxes on that employee, so most of a server's physical paycheck is eaten up that way. Bartenders, bussers, and hosts generally have a slightly higher wage (at least minimum wage), but your server is also tipping these individuals an amount of their total sales at the end of their shift. So, when you think you leave a 10% tip on your bill, you may only be leaving 7%, or 4% if the staff is large.
    So, maybe restaurants should pay their staff more. Frankly, I think we're lucky that people will pay $11 for a cheeseburger, and if service staff was being paid appropriately enough for tipping to be totally ancillary, you would probably be paying about $19 for that burger.

    Oh, you don't care? THAT is the problem.

    January 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • wendy

      very well said! i live in KC and would love to visit your restaurant based merely on your statement. hints as to where i can go to find out where your place is at??

      January 31, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
      • KCJames

        Wendy, please do visit the Westside Local at 17th and Summit!

        January 31, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
      • wendy

        thank you!! i shall check it out as soon as this lovely weather we're having decides to leave us alone. :)

        January 31, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  41. Dru

    I assume that waiters just ended up in that job, or are only doing it temporarily... but i think that is because the quality of places i can afford to eat at never have professional waiters. And, at mid-range eateries, i have learned to accept rude waiters who still expect 20% tips.

    January 30, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  42. Rick McDaniel, Lewisville, TX

    Wait people can be good or bad, and it has nothing to do with the tip. Most of those who do that, are doing it because they simply have few other options, for the same income. (Sorry, but people really don't set out to be wait people.)

    On the other side of the coin, the restaurant industry, as a business, has fostered the false notion, that the public should pay extra to get good service, above and beyond the cost of the food, because .......1. The industry doesn't want to pay for their help, themselves. 2. Making the service a separate part of the bill, makes it seem like the menu is less expensive, than it really is.

    I advocate making the restaurant base its menu pricing on the actual full cost of providing capable and professional table service, and making the public face the true cost, of eating out.

    By the way.......some of the worst tippers, are the wealthy, who are very demanding, and stingy, at the same time.

    Those who think that giving someone 20% or more, of a check, to spend a very few minutes providing service, are simply demonstrating their lack of good business sense. These same people, will go into a retail store, and "switch tags" to get a bargain price, on goods, fraudulently.

    Those who take the "high and mighty" road, tend to be frauds.

    January 30, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  43. hk

    I believe that most people who become waiters do that so they could make money before they go on to something else. Once in the field, the money is good and alot of the people do it because they enjoy it. If you enjoy your job then life is better. If you turn it into your profession then like any other job it becomes a craft. Good waiters should be tipped rather well. Bad waiter should not. Just like any other job out there.

    January 30, 2011 at 8:12 am |
  44. Trazier

    I am neither respectful, nor disrespectful to anyone serving me. I'm entirely indifferent to them, until they do something that changes that. I've been in some places where it's nothing but smiles and kindness, and i've been in other places where it takes them 10 minutes to notice you, and all they do is throw down some menus on the table, splashily dump some water in some glasses, then disappear for another 15 minutes. How I am to them is determined by how they are to me.

    January 30, 2011 at 6:55 am |
  45. acey

    Julie is a bi+ch.

    January 30, 2011 at 4:24 am |
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