Get on the bus! Meet the folks who clean up your restaurant mess
October 18th, 2011
04:15 PM ET
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Alec Baldwin and Martin Luther King Jr. did it. So did Zach Galifianakis and Jon Stewart. Table bussing is generally one of the lowest-paid, least glamorous restaurant gigs, but it's almost a rite of passage for those entering the service industry.

The word "busboy" (or girl) comes from a combination of "bus," derived from omnibus - meaning ‘dealing with numerous objects and items at once - and "boy," because at the time (1910 or so) most positions were filled by young men.

Duties typically include removing finished plates and glasses, resetting tables and, fairly often, cleaning up diners' spills and messes. Restaurant labor was divided this way so that servers could spend more time tending to tables. Some restaurants even go as far as to separate table setting, bussing, refilling water and food running into individual jobs.

Interactions with bussers can leave patrons in a pickle, wondering if they should try to assist busy bussers, or just sit back. Usually bussers know which plates stack together easier, and they often have a way they like to organize the silverware to ensure maximum carrying capacity and efficiency. Having a helpful patron stack their own plates is a kind gesture, but can often make the busser's job harder.

There’s also the question of who clears the table if there’s no set busser. This is most often an issue when ordering is done at a counter and then either picked up down the line, or brought to the diner at a table. Do you leave your plates at the table when you’re done and hope that there’s someone to clean up your mess? Or do you search, sometimes in vain, for one of those big trashcans in which to dispose of your dishes?

Typically in the United States there are trash receptacles if there are no servers. But, in other parts of the world it’s up to an employee to clean up after you as they’re getting a higher hourly wage than the American table bussers who get a lower hourly wage and a percentage of each server’s tips. It certainly doesn’t pay well, but it’s also not usually a long-term career plan.

So, who do you tip? If you order at a counter, do you tip as if there were a server and hope that that money goes to the underpaid student who’s going to clear up your half eaten sandwich? Do you chance it and not tip and then, if you spot a busser, leave a tip on the table?

Bussing is sometimes a tactic used to get people out the door. Servers will sometimes remove everything from the last table of the night as a way to hint that perhaps it’s time they leave. Sometimes however this can border on hostile. I’ve sat at a table well ahead of closing time, but at the end of our server’s shift, with just a glass of water sitting in front of me. Everything had been removed: salt, pepper, sugar, decorative vase filled with fake flower, napkins. My companions and I felt like we’d overstayed our welcome, and to our server we clearly had.

So what's a conscientious diner to do? Perhaps the best rule of thumb is to be as nice as you can to the person responsible for cleaning up after you and hope that in return you’re served the same amount of courtesy.

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Filed under: Restaurants • Service • Tipping

soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. notsomuch

    I have a question for the people that say waitstaff arent deserving of tips because of whatever reason: Do you feel the same way about pizza delivery persons? I know for a fact that they make a bigger base pay than servers.

    October 21, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
  2. Reality

    What amazes me is that many restaurant customers on this forum that have never worked F & B are experts on service, restaurant ownership, management, and training and all have advanced degrees in economics. I'm not any of this but:

    If you want to save money, eat at home.
    If you want to eat out, expect to pay someone.
    If you expect to have a well-trained server that cares about what he does, expect to pay more.

    Just like every other industry, you get what you pay for.

    If you want to eat at the waffle house for 20$ and tip 4 bucks, it was probably worth it.
    If you want to eat at the French Laundry and spend $957 per person (which is the check average), then expect to tip more than 4 bucks, because the service was a little better.

    October 20, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • Reality

      I should have said "he or she"

      October 20, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • GCooke

      I've actually worked in Food and Beverage and the hotel industry. And honestly, I stand by my opinion that people need to get better jobs and stop having the expectation of others supplementing their wage. Or encouraging their bosses to pay them a living wage. This discussion is ridiculous. Stop expecting things your not entitled to and get a good job.

      October 20, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
      • Reality

        Gcooke, are you high?

        So you think that people in Food and Beverage should all seek a better career?
        Here's an idea: When you tip, you are not 'supplementing' my wage any more than your boss is supplementing your income by cutting you a check, assuming you work.

        These are basic industry standards which are SET BY THE MARKET DEMANDS AND SUPPLY just like any other pay scale. Servers aren't begging for your tip, nor do we rely on your 10% tip.

        Please, please go to a restaurant 5 days in a row and do not tip someone, or tip very poorly, which you obviously do.
        Then we can say that you weren't 'entitled' to proper service, oh and btw are happy with our current job.

        October 21, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  3. 1Iron

    Reading most of these comments it amazes me how costomers and employees of these various eating establishment are atacking each other. The owners of the restaurants get a free pass. In my oppinion they should pay their employees what they feel they deserve and not expect me to foot the bill for them.

    October 20, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  4. GCooke

    My tip to wait staff is to take measures to get better jobs and start not expecting the customer to supplement their wages. It's not my issue to pay your way in the world. I don't mind tipping for stellar service but at the end of the day it's your responsibility to make sure that you have a job that pays your way in the world. Not mine.

    October 20, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Reality

      Sounds like you're a hypocrite. You want servers to get a different job, but expect go out and get served.

      October 20, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  5. curious

    Should you tip a bartender when you walk up to the bar and he/she is just opening and handing you a drink?

    October 20, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Quick and Dirty

      yes. they are serving you.

      October 20, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Reality

      No, don't tip the bartender, and I dare you to go back the next day at the same time.

      October 20, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  6. Noah

    I love working in a restaurant, I've been doing it for more than a decade. Everything from prep cook, to host, to server, manager, bartender. I've seen crazy ridiculous stuff, marriage proposals, fights, old men with tranny prostitutes, people with a "allergy card" wondering what we can make for them, etc...etc. I've been on the receiving end of awesome tips and extremely crappy tips more times than i can remember. Probably the most frustrating thing is how often just $2-$4 more dollars makes us feel either appreciated or cheated. The guest just got done spending $70 on dinner, whats $2 more dollars to leave $14 instead of $12? I know that everyone has their own ideas of good service, and how much is appropriate to tip....but we expect 20% when nothing goes wrong, when you don't run out of drinks, when your food is coursed appropriately...all the things a talented server should be providing. We share our tips more often than not. Usually about 4% is taken out..and depending on the cost of living in your state, a server makes hourly of $2.13-$8.50. So the argument that we should be lucky to even get tips is a moot point. Our tips pay our bills....most of the time my paycheck is zero because of the low wage rate for service industry. Its a wonderful industry to be a part of, and I think 75% of managers,hostesses, bussers, and servers in the restaraunt industry suck at what they do. They don't have the personality, patience, ability or pride to do a great job. And when youre talking about providing a service where you basically leave your "pay" in the hands of the guest, you better be pretty damn good. As far as counter service, I tip more or less the same I would the server. There is still labor involved, the tip is getting split many ways...if i can afford to buy the food, i can afford to take care of the people who took the order, made the food, bussed my dirty dishes, mopped the floors, cleaned the bathroom..etc etc The argument about tax evasion from the service industry is pretty funny. Either tipping is mandatory and therefore taxable, thus not "gratuity" or "extra"...or its left in the hands of the patron, which makes it a "gift" which is not taxable...ya'll need to make up your mind. I personally claim everything i make for a lot of reasons, but still....sweeping generalizations about the industry are mildly unfair....critics cant have it both ways

    October 20, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Frown

      As a general rule I leave 20% on the table at a normal restaurant. Mostly because it's easy to estimate 10% and double it for a good tip. However, I really bristle at the fact that you "expect" 20% for normal service. I suppose you expect at least 15% for subpar service as well.

      I get fairly annoyed at the fact that your expectations of what the diner owes you keeps going up. I think the whole tipping model we have is unfair to both the diner and to the wait staff. It's short both parties. I wish it could be changed so that the wait staff would receive a fair wage and tips could go back to being just that – a little gratuity for great service.

      Unless we ever get to that point, I'll continue to tip well, but as I wish. I refuse to keep increasing what expected of me because the wait staff arbitrarily decides it.

      October 20, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
      • Noah

        You misread what I wrote concerning expecting 20%. I said you better be pretty damn good, and that the expectation is based off of being "a talented server", meaning consistent great service....deserving 20%.

        October 21, 2011 at 12:38 am |
    • GCooke

      I have a thing about the expectation of a tip.  Personally, my tip is for the individual to get a better job. If I leave you money, it's a gift.  I have the expectation that you appreciate having a job these days as many don't.  If you don't like your wage get another vocation.  Don't expect everyone to supplement what you are already making.

      October 20, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
      • Lauren

        While I understand why some bristle at servers expecting a certain tip percentage, there is a reason why servers expect tips of a certain level if they do everything right. The wages paid in the food & beverage service industry ASSUME that you will receive a tip. When I was a waitress, my hourly wage was roughly $3. While it may still be called gratuity, our culture has determined that tipping is to be expected and therefore employers do not pay employees what would normally be minimum wage. This isn't a case of just being happy to have a job.

        October 20, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
      • Noah

        I love my job and make over $20 an hour just in tips. So your "gift" to help me get another job is pretty haughty and naive. I'm curious what percentage you tip Gcooke.

        October 21, 2011 at 12:44 am |
  7. Mark

    I've always wondered how frequently the bussing staff washes their hands between setting the table for the next person and removing the utensils I slobbered on and the napkin I wiped my nose with.

    October 20, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • hump frump dump

      they don't, at least when I bussed tables none of us did.

      October 20, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  8. Max128

    When I first met my wife, she LOVED clearing our restaurant table when we were done eating. She'd stack the dishes, scrape the leftovers onto one plate, and stack it on top. Then clean off the table with a napkin. I would just sit and watch and shake my head. Then I'd ask if she was going to take them to the kitchen, too and wash them. I kept reminding her there's no need to do it, its someone job to do it, and that they have their own way of doing it, and she's not helping when she does it.

    It took a while but she finally kicked the habit (probably got tired of my teasing). Once in a while, though, she still slips up and starts cleaning, but then catches herself when she sees me looking at her.

    October 20, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  9. Daddy2010

    I don't understand all the complaints. Who is chained to the restaurant? If you don't like it, there are plenty of farm jobs in Alabama. I worked in fast food when I was young and did my best, knowing that I would find something else eventually. It's a choice. There are other choices.

    October 20, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  10. X-Hostess

    I was a hostess at (Popular Florida Sports Bar). The place was so cheap, they only had bussers on friday nights. Hostesses had to do ALL the bussing, while the servers got away scot-free. There was "tipshare" but it was a percentage of hourly sales, split between hostesses and food-runners, provided by the company. Servers did not share their tips. I had to clean up spilled beer, chewed up chicken wings....all while being expected to "flirt" and "look cute" for the customers.
    Customers sometimes leave an extra amount for making a mess, for the server since the server should be cleaning up. Nope. The server pockets the money and the hostess is left with a grimy mess. The establishment was supposed to train me as a server, as promised, but they kept 'forgetting' so I didn't return after a long vacation.

    October 20, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  11. Josie

    So some of you won't put money in a tip jar if there is one, but won't tip if you leave a mess behind (or my favorite yet...a few pennies.) If it's penny's just take them, we at our place split the tips between who ever is working (an avarage of 2 to 4 per shift). We are ones you order at a counter, and many times people leave their stuff on the table. Trust me when two are working, and there is a line, we can't get to those tables to clean them up! It's sad both of our main trash cans are right by the two doors we have, and yet for some reaon we have people who can't even find them! It comes down to sheer lazyness for most people anymore, they can't go out of their way to walk a few feet to clean up (it's mainly younger kids I see doing this).
    Resteraunt work is hard in general. Another pet peeve of mine. We close at 9, you come in at 8:55 and order and stay to eat till 9:15 or later...guess what even if we have everything done, we have to wait for you to leave. We can't finish counting our draw down and techinically we aren't suppost to have anyone in the building after closing hours and with the way our doors lock we can't lock them until you leave, which means the risk of having more people walk in!!!! Pay attention, get food to go if it's that late, and don't get bitchy if you are reminded we close in 10 minutes, if you can't eat that fast again take it to go.

    October 20, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  12. Hank M

    This is sort of silly to even ask Americans.

    In essentially every restaurant I order in from a counter it is expected that I clean up after myself.

    October 20, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  13. Jessica LaMonica

    to those who say servers are "tax dodgers" we most certainly do pay tax on tips.. even if we didn't get tipped. Here in NY you get taxed based on (at my job I believe) it is 18% of SALES so we are taxed on assumed tips.. if your "assumed" tips don't matc your "reported" tips it doesn't matter...18% either way. So if your party has an 80$ bill and only tips 2$ (asi had the other day for no reason other than they were teenagers and apparently my services do mot warrent at least 1$ from each party member). For that table my "assumed" tips would be closer to 13-14$ I'm paying tax on. So a whole night of "I don't believe in tipping" = I'm paying to work there. Granted I work in a small chain and I acknowledge some servers make out like bandits... most servers do not. And trust me IF I could find another job as easily as SOME people think I would. But for now it (barely) pays the bills. So please do not assume that I'm a crook and "don't pay taxes" in fact I may pay more taxes than some of you.

    October 20, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Victor Wheldon

      Jessica, I agree with you and relate to you more than most people here. I started as a busser for a year, moved upto server for 3 years and now have spent 10 years as a bartender. These people who dont tip are unaware that in most states the server/bartender are taxed on the money they may or may not have made. I have had bad weeks bartending where I got stiffed quite a bit and ended up with paychecks ranging from $5.00 to -$4.83.

      October 20, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  14. Server in Philly

    In Pennsylvania, waiters make $2.83/hr. This is the minimum wage for waiters in this state and I'm sure it is a similar number for most states. If you are too cheap to give a tip to a good server or too lazy to cook your own meals at home then perhaps you should go home to your mom and beg her for some food every night. She is probably the only person in the world stupid enough to raise such a nasty person with no sense of decency and the only person stupid enough to keep feeding you.

    Most kitchen staff get paid a flat per shift salary or at least the normal state minimum wage.

    October 20, 2011 at 10:50 am |
  15. TLC

    When I was a waiter we tipped the busboys. Servers know that a percentage goes to the bar and the busser.

    October 20, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  16. Margaret

    If a busser is supposed to get a portion of the total tip I leave at the end of my meal, why would I tip him/her separately? Also, how is anyone going to know if the tip I leave is for the busser? Most of the time, I don't even see the person who is responsible for clearing/cleaing my table, so I have no idea how I'd even leave something extra for that person without the server just grabbing it up.

    And a word about tip jars – ABOLISH THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!! It seems that every cashier has a tip jar at the front counter and I almost always refuse to put money in them. What is the difference between someone who simply rings up my takeout order and someone who rings up my grocery order at the store? Nothing, and neither one gets a tip.

    However, if the person behind the counter is the one who also makes my meal and puts it together for me to take to my table or back to work, I will tip him or her because they did more than push buttons on a cash register and are probably making close to minimum wage. That is the only exception. But all in all, tip jars are a disgrace.

    October 20, 2011 at 9:55 am |
    • AleeD

      You GO girl! I couldn't agree more with your first two paragraphs. In addition to abolishing tip jars, I would also like to see collection jars at convenience stores abolished/outlawed. In both cases, you don't really know to whom that $$ going. If you want to make a donation to "The Fund for Obscure Causes," do some research and write a check. If you're just trying to get rid of carrying the change, tell the cashier to keep it ...

      ... but I digress.

      October 20, 2011 at 10:05 am |
  17. Thomas

    Not getting into the tipping or not argument (didn't we just have a CNN article on that).

    I think there is no excuse for ever leaving a mess for the busser. Their job is to pick up the dishes and clear the table for the next customer.

    I agree with the comment about not trying to "help" the busser for the busser probably has a system that works best for them. The best way to help a busser is not to be a fricking slob in the first place and clean up your mess in the second place.

    Leaving a mess is simply rude.

    October 20, 2011 at 9:39 am |
  18. Bill G.

    I clean up after myself. In the unusual case where that is not possible I leave a small tip

    October 20, 2011 at 9:15 am |
  19. me

    Wow. That chick in the picture is amazingly beautiful. I would tip her 50% no matter what she does....Looks make a guy go crazy...what can i say, we discriminate based on the outside..

    October 20, 2011 at 2:14 am |
    • not me

      ew! she's got fat arms! her face not bad. body is in deep question. guess depends if she can give good head.

      October 20, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  20. Katie

    Why not tip the dishwasher? Or the cook? The sous chef? Where does it end? One of my sons is a dishwasher, the other one was a busboy for a short amount of time. Neither of them got tipped, and both griped about being the hardest workers in the restaurant. Nobody ever tips the dishwasher. The busboy was supposed to get some of the waitress' tips, but she wouldn't share because – as she insisted – she was supposed to get the tips. Tipping is a ridiculous custom, IMHO. Too many waiters/waitresses today whine about 'deserving' or 'needing' tips because they aren't paid much in wages. My answer to them is go get a different job where the pay is better. I will tip for good service. I will tip well for excellent service. I won't tip for someone who: doesn't want to be there, can't remember to bring something or brings it so late it isn't needed or wanted anymore, doesn't come back after the food is served to see if anyone needs anything, is too busy conversing with fellow staff to do the job s/he was hired for. I don't hold wait staff responsible for poor food or dirty silverware but I will hold them responsible to be polite, friendly, and knowledgeable. I expect that when I make a request – for a glass of water, for another glass of wine, or for catsup or extra tartar sauce, eg – I won't finally receive it when everyone at my table is finishing their meal.

    October 19, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
    • Thomas

      I think we should also tip the people who built the restaurant. Let's not forget the workers at the utility companies supplying the restaurant with water, power, sewage services too. Gotta tip everyone these days it seems. :)

      October 20, 2011 at 9:33 am |
  21. Susan

    Tipping is one time when we are honor to do the right thing. I think it is a very good test as to who is going to go to heaven. I always tip well, it is the nice person thing to do.

    October 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • waynebob

      Tipping shows who's going to heaven? Sweet! I always wondered who'd get in.....

      October 19, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • amused123

      that's the DUMBEST thing I've ever heard!!

      October 19, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • Andy

      Wow, giving someone a small amount of change will secure you a spot in heaven? In that case, send me all your savings and I'll be sure you get to the pearly gates.

      October 20, 2011 at 3:05 am |
      • Thomas

        Bribery for forgiveness has been a part of christianity since the days of indulgence.

        So, evidently tipping is the common man's indulgence?

        Learn something new every day on the Internets Tubes.

        October 20, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • jzaks

      When you do get to Heaven, Jesus will ask you what you have done for the world. Your answer will be that I tipped well. Jusus will reply, "Sucker".

      October 20, 2011 at 7:25 am |
      • Thomas

        Tell Jesus that instead of donating money to help the poor, you spent that money tipping.

        See what that gets ya. :)

        October 20, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  22. babygirl

    I was a busser and actually preferred that to hostessing or serving. However I used to get very frustrated because as the only female busser (and the oldest) I would be left with a lot of the work. Most of the servers would be hollering at me from across the dining room to come and clean their table because I got it done faster and the guys were no where to be found. I didnt like to be taken advantage of by the servers because I took my job seriously. They would snap their fingers at me, call me sweetie and more often than not disappear and then I would have their customers asking me for refills, or napkins etc. Sometimes the patrons would see that and offer me a side tip. So a word to servers, be nice to the bussers. They are not beneath you. Do not snap your fingers at them, don't call them honey or sweetie or patronize them. And lastly, don't steal from them. I found out that some of the servers were under reporting their tips so we wouldn't get as much. Niiice.

    October 19, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • justaguy

      Don't call the customers sweetie, honey or any other of those things, either. Bad form.

      October 20, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  23. Nyc

    If I am ordering at a counter and there is a tip jar, I will throw a few dollars in for the staff. But if I'm clearing my own table, I don't always feel obligated to leave money. Tip jars have gotten out of control, even places like Subway has them. We are aware that waitstaff make minimum wage, I was there once. But if someone is working behind a counter I would hope they are getting paid more than a few dollars an hour. Shame on the owner if they aren't paid properly!

    October 19, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  24. Cheapo

    If I order while standing at a counter then sit at a table, there is no tipping. Doesn't matter if they call a number or bring the food to my table, whether I bus my table or they do. Counter order = non-tipping situation. Unless it's a pizza place. Pizza is an anomaly. I don't know who made the rules but that's Tipping 101.

    October 19, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  25. Marck

    I am in college, and I have been a busser for a Chili's franchise for about a good 2 and a half years. Believe me, I do not get any tips (directly from patrons) unless I help them with something important. I can barely remember the last time someone gave me 10 bucks for helping their elderly grandmother out of their seat and back to their car, and helping them get safely in the car. It's not part of my job, but people remember you, they come back, and you get larger tips when you greet the regular faces.

    To get back on topic-

    My hourly wage is only 3.13$ an hour, and on a very good night, if I work only a night shift, and it's a friday, I'll make around 70$ if I am the only busser. So, that being said, it's all about how good you are at bussing tables. Being more efficient, and how fast you perform it, vastly affects how much in tips you can make in a night. Waiting that extra 10 minutes to take a break, could be the difference between a 70$ night, and a 40$ night.

    Thanks, sorry for venting.

    October 19, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  26. tina

    no, didn't miss the question. Just elaborating on the questions posed in the comments. and no you do not tip the busboy, there is no reason to if there is a waiter serving you – they tip him/her.

    October 19, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  27. Jeremy

    You don't have to tip, it's your option. Your choice. You don't have to be a prick either, but some people choose this option as well. Tipping was around before you were here and will be here after you are gone. If you can reconcile that you were a jerk in life then that is your business I guess. I think I will probably keep tipping, and tipping well.

    October 19, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  28. tina

    good service – 20-50%, bad service 10% to the penny. waiters are still making next to nothing, so I tip regardless. If you're a regular and are evil to wait staff they remember. It's not good to be remembered in that instance. You'd be surprised what happens to your drink/food.

    October 19, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Dennis Colwell

      You missed the question. The question was: DO YOU TIP THE BUSBOY (OR GIRL) if you order at the counter!

      October 19, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
      • Thomas

        Tina is not very good at that reading comprehension thing is she?

        October 20, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  29. Scott

    I bussed tables in college. I actually preferred it to waiting tables. And I found that the faster I turned a table the more tip outs I got from the waiters. And the waiter that tipped the most got his/her tables turned faster.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • IHEG@Scott

      Its true, I was a waitress in college in a very busy rest. and we were supposed to tip the busperson 10%, of our total sales...not me, I would tell the new guys, the faster you bus, the more tables we turn the more money we BOTH make- I usually gave 20% or more depending on the hustle and I never had a lack of steak knives and lobster crackers which we ALWAY in short supply- people steal the weirdest stuff.

      October 19, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  30. no tipper

    since when does doing your job require a tip????? i work in retail salesfor an hourly wage and i get no tips for selling anything or giving good customer service. tipping is just supporting the business owner who is too cheap to pay a decent wage. jeesh, tipping someone for picking up yer dishes. crazy. same as tipping cabbies. for what? charging you too much to begin with.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Scott

      I hate to think what you have ingested over the years. Unless, you never eat in the same place twice.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • lilaclee

      Servers make around $3/hour because the tip is part of their pay. You can not live on $3/hour. Most servers that I have, clear the table, refill drinks besides taking your order. It amazes me how many people believe servers get minimum wage of $7 whatever it is an hour now. They just went from $2.15/hour last year to $3. I don't know of a single server that is making above poverty level.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
      • ex-waiter

        In which country/state did you work as a waiter? I used to wait some years ago in Northern California and then in Connecticut. We were always paid a minimum wage, whatever it was at that time,.. I think $5.75 per hour, regardless of the tips. I wasn't working at fancy restaurants either, just the diner types... Unless the laws changes, waiter staff still gets paid the minimum wage. I'm not saying that it's enough or that pits are not greatly appreciated... just setting the record straight.

        October 19, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
      • Linney

        ex-waiter, most waiters and waitresses (tipped employees) work for server minimum wage, which is a couple dollars less than regular minimum wage. I don't understand how you're not aware of this. Google it. You'll see that the way you were being paid was not the norm.

        October 19, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
      • ala-kat

        @ex-waiter – most states only require half of minimum wage be paid to servers. CA has been the exception for many years, can't comment on CN, So, yeah, many servers (without tips included) are not making minimum wage.

        October 20, 2011 at 1:46 am |
      • xab

        CN = the other Connecticut?

        October 20, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • LEB

      As someone who works in the service industry, I would think that you of all people would understand why tips exist. Service-oriented jobs are hard. You don't get to sit in a cushy chair in an air-conditioned office in front of a computer all day... you're on your feet, dealing with dozens or even hundreds of people a day, and the work can be quite physically demanding, depending on the nature of the work. If someone goes above and beyond for me, you bet I tip! And if tipping isn't appropriate given the nature of that person's job, I fill out a comment card or I compliment them to their manager - doing so often enough tends to result in bonuses and higher pay for that hard-working individual.

      Retail salespeople don't get tips because traditionally, they earned a commission on each sale. You think the restaurant owner is robbing the waiter/busser/etc by making them rely on tips? Well, your employer is robbing you by paying you a fixed wage and not a commission. However, salespeople on commission often work ONLY on commission, so the hourly wage became popular because salespeople could be guaranteed pay, even if it was less than what they may have made on commission. Since the majority of workers would rather have lower but stable pay rather than potentially higher but entirely unpredictable pay, the system has been established, and you are subject to it - at least until the day you quit and take a commission-based sales position, if you are ever motivated to do so.

      October 19, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Travelerkate

      I've worked both retail and as a server. When I worked retail, I made above the minimum wage; thus no tips (no I didn't make a fantastic wage, but I could survive, and there were no commissions). As a server in Missouri I was around $2.00 an hour. If you are going to go out to eat, you need to have budgeted enough for your meal and the tip. Sorry if you don't like it, but that is how it is done in this country. I personally wouldn't have a problem if servers made a REAL income so we could get rid of tipping, but until that happens, you need to not be an a-hole.

      October 19, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  31. Chuck

    The level of tip depends on the level of the service. If I order at a counter and carry my tray to my table, but a busser cleans up, then I tip a little, but less than for full service.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  32. Chefianf

    This is ridiculous! As a restaurant person i tip well. I understand the plight of the server. But to tip your bus kid... Screw that. They get tipped out (sometimes hansomly) as the article points out. I have one bus kid make 250 in a single service. Two rules of thumb i can tell you: A: counter staff and baristas get paid an hourly wage that is minimum wage or above. Tips are just an extra thanks for their service. Hence why while i might tip a counter girl/boy its a few bucks, not 20%. Servers and bartenders (although not all the time with bar tenders) get a wage of about 3.18/Hr. I always tip 20% or more depending. For instance, a server at a Denny's at 20% tip on your 10 dollar moons over my hammy is getting two bucks. While 20% is the going rate, two bucks ain't gonna pay her bills. pay her 50% and they will love you forever. If anyone who this article debates should get a tip it should be the cooks or the dishwasher.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Matt

      Tip for putting dishes in a dishwasher? I don't think so. People go to Dennys for the prices so they aren't going to tip 50%. That waiter/waitress handles multiple tables at a time, most with 2-4 people so the $2 tip you describe would be multiplied by the number of people he/she serves. It's still should be 20%. If there is only one person at the table there isn't that much for the waiter to do so the $2 tip is fine if the bill is only 10$. That person won't take much of your time.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
      • Chefianf

        wow... so the guy who is cleaning all the half eaten crap off your plan as you sneezed, coughed and god knows what else all over it doesn't deserve a tip? Or the same guy who cleans the bathrooms, as you were too lazy to watch where you pissed. or the same guy who cleans up your best friends vomit at that batchlor party you had at that sports bar? Maybe the guy who is putting all the food away and then changing the kegs so you can have a nice cold beer. Maybe this guy who comes in at 5pm to a mound of dishes and dirty pots and pans, takes out the trash at the end of the night while you all are drunkedly carrying on and wont get out untill 1:30am doesn't deserve a tip. Or maybe you have no idea how hard they work? The dishb&tch, dishdog, what every the name may be is the hardest working person at the restaurants you frequent. As per No-tipper.... my comment is this: You have no idea how a restaurant works, nor any idea how tax claiming works. Yes they might skim off the 30 bucks they make but this is no ponzi scheme. Stay at home and eat microwave dinners.

        October 20, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • no tipper

      tips are just tax free gravy for the workers and an excuse for govt and business owners to deny decent wages in this industry in the first place. and if the govt income tax laws make ppl declare tips or force a % for taxes, you can be guaranteed they make more than they claim. i say no tips to anyone or tips for everyone.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
      • ex-waitress

        Uh, you think they let servers go without being taxed on tips? You have to claim your tips and then when you have nights with jerk-off customers like you, your boss thinks you suck at your job because they can see if you aren't earning close to 20% of your sales.

        October 19, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
      • ala-kat

        LOL, claim you're not making minimum wage with the tips you declare, you will be watched. While very few, if any, servers declare all of their tips, they'd be darn stupid to under-report to that point. Never mind the IRS who is into everyones business, if you can't pull minimum wage serving, maybe you're in the wrong business.

        October 20, 2011 at 1:55 am |
  33. Sylvia

    That chick in the picture is definitely not a busser. Anyway, the tip you leave the server is divided amongst your server, the bussser, the runner, the bartender, and probably some other people. So tip your server well and everyone will get taken care of.

    October 19, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • AleeD

      That's how I understood the tipping thing worked. Unless you're tipping cows. That works differently.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • IHEG

      Don't forget the "Podium Princess" AKA hostess

      October 19, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  34. Lisa

    To the 41 people who said they "don't believe in tipping in any case", please stay home. You don't belong in a restaurant.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • dave

      I LOVE this concept. CRACKS me up. Yes, I am sure you would rather have your employer go out of business. blah, blah blah. You want a real salary, get a career.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
      • Chefianf

        Hey troll,

        You want to make 80K a year, go tell a server in NYC that it's not a career. It's people like you that the servers come back and bitch about. Stay home and keep our 10% tips for your wife making your dinner.

        October 19, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
      • Matt

        Who's going out of business? Most people believe in tipping so your comment is nonsense. Those non-tippers are such a small portion that it would have no effect on the overall restaurant business.

        October 19, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
      • dave

        Dear Matt,

        Perhaps you can follow the logic. If you do not want people who tip below a certain amount to eat out, your employer is losing business. Regardless of whether or not it goes far enough to put him out of business, regardless of your take-home, lost business is bad for business.

        Simple concept, no?

        October 19, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
      • dave

        Dear Chefianf,

        Of COURSE being a server is not a career. with very very few high end exceptions.

        Requires edu? No. Requires training? Maybe a day. we call it oddjobs, not career. No one is debating that it is real work or that some make a decent wage at it.

        Not believing in the tax-dodging scam that is the american restaurant industry and its socially mandated 20% tips is NOT being a troll. I feel dumber for even replying to you.

        October 19, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
      • Reality

        Hi Dave, Reality here.

        I'm a waiter that makes 65k a year and has health/dental/401k. I have a great schedule, and once I leave work, it stays there. I work for a high end hotel that serves people with 'real salaries' so that the people with fake salaries can
        get by.

        Oh and when you and your partner paint the town at the local Olive Garden, just remember that if the owner had
        to increase wages so your cheap self doesn't have to tip, your plate of spaghetti pomodoro would probably cost $25.

        October 19, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
      • Amy Spadoni

        Who are you saying that waiting tables is not a career? People who make it their career are more than likely happier then you in your "job", or you wouldn't have said such a stupid thing. If I didn't like my career or job so much I would have spit in your food! lol! Not really, I like freaking people out..... lol! You and people like you are not worth the effort....

        October 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
      • Chefianf

        Come on man... TO state that there is no education to be a server is laughable at best. Wine classes, Culinary school, keeping up in mixology or new menu items, or craft beers to name a few venues of education. The education that servers receive isn't always a BA or PHD, but they constantly learn. Most restaurants are not tax fronts, or drug dens or money laundering facilities. No not believing in the socially mandated 20% tip isn't being a troll its being a douchebag. Coming on a board like this and sounding off about something you have little knowledge about or experience in and making irate comments to get people irritated, that sir is being a troll. Next time you see your kids teacher doing weekends at Olive Garden and you stiff her so she can't buy supplies for the class or make her rent remember Karma is a b&tch and you will end up one day busting suds in a rubber apron to pay your bills.

        October 20, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • Jim

      With only 9 responses so far it seems you are going to be waitress for awhile. Your counting skills are a bit off.

      October 19, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • no tipper

      i do stay at home, thank you very much. and eat much healthier and cheaper. so if you work in a restaurant, you wont make any money from me.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  35. OldGoat

    If the bus person looked like the babe at the top of this article, I'd tip. However, most busboys in our area are Mexicans who No hablo ingles. - and aren't female.

    October 19, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • yellowlegalpad

      best reply of the day

      October 19, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Matt

      Why would their look matter? And Mexican guys need income too.

      October 19, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  36. RdclCntrst

    Having worked in the service industry both in and out of food service, my solution is this: Vote for politicians who work for better wages for those in the service industry. You can't legislate special lower-than-minimum-wage pay categories for restaurant workers and then complain that customer service is a lost art. You get what you pay for; you want better service, pay more for it.

    October 19, 2011 at 8:39 am |
    • DP

      I worked full time in a restaurant after college. I could have cared less about the $2.35 an hour I made. It basically paid part of my taxes. Based on my tips, I was making closer to $50 an hour. Restaurants work on very narrow profit margins. Raising the minimum wage will have a significant impact since the cost will have to be passed down to the consumers.

      October 19, 2011 at 10:08 am |
      • Melissa

        DP, you must have been working at a nice restaurant! I was a server in college, making $2.13 an hour. The place I worked catered mainly to college students and old people (a lot of food for the money), and my average tip was about 10%, no matter how great a job I did. This was fairly standard even for the servers who had years of experience. It certainly wasn't a crappy restaurant, much better than, say, Denny's, but my roommate at Outback was making three times as much as I was in tips. All in all, with how the managers made us stay after to clean up (rather than the bussers who were actually making minimum wage) I was making about 5-6 dollars/hr for a six hour shift. Needless to say, the exhausting work was not worth the money! If restaurants can make it in many states that pay their servers minimum wage, why can't restaurants in set server wage states do the same?

        October 19, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  37. sonas76

    I worked at a restaurant when I was in college, so I know what kind of mess people can leave. While I tip at the Chinese buffet, because the busser also brings drinks, I don't leave a seperate tip at a full-service restaurant. The busser at a full-service place (around here at least), makes minimum wage, unlike the server. What I do instead is 'pre-bus' my table for them. Speaking of table messes, if you have a cold, don't leave your dirty tissues for the busser. Throw them out in the bathroom or stick them in your purse, that's plain courtesy.

    October 19, 2011 at 8:28 am |
  38. AgreenOH

    When the economy crashed and pay freezes started, plus the fact that my employer cut wages 10-15% across the board, I picked up a job at Olive Garden as a busboy. I had a 2 year old daughter and a house payment and my fiance wasn't working at the time... I'lll never forget the time they had me clean up a spill under a large party table. I was under the table on my hands and knees cleaning it up while the family ate dinner and the kids played... It made me miss my family. I quit on the spot and said I would rather live under a bridge and be happy with my family then to do that job. #occupyOliveGarden!

    October 19, 2011 at 8:28 am |
  39. Delta

    Eating at the counter, a server who cleans up after me – 20%
    Ordering at the counter, someone brings my food to my table, they clean up – 10%
    Eating at a buffet, they clean up – 10%
    Ordering at the counter, someone brings me my food, I clean up – 0%
    Ordering from the counter, fast food style, eating there or taking it away – 0%

    October 19, 2011 at 8:19 am |
    • Chuck

      This seems about right, a good guideline to start with anyway. The exact amount of a tip depends on the quality of whatever service is provided.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
      • Pattysboi

        Exactly, Chuck. It ain't rocket science. I figure: good service= tip. Bad service, don't even THINK you're getting a tip, and I may even speak to the manager.

        October 19, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
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