This is the twelfth installment of "Eat This List" - a regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about. Today's contributor is the pseudonymous blogger The Bitchy Waiter. He lives and works in New York City, and has appeared as a guest on Dr. Phil and a guest commentator on CBS Sunday Morning and in a previous Eat This List. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter @bitchywaiter - and don't forget to tip.
When customers go to a restaurant, many variables can affect their dining experience. The server is in charge of some of these things, but many of them are beyond his or her control.
This does not, however, keep some people from punishing their poor, defenseless server in the form of a lower than average tip. I would like to apologize in advance for some of the things my customers might be unsatisfied with the next time they sit in my section.
If you need your dinner to arrive in just a few minutes, might I suggest something other than an appetizer followed by an extra well-done steak? But I'm really sorry.
2. The food
If you're unhappy with it because you hoped it would taste like fried catfish and mashed potatoes and it instead tastes like pan-seared monkfish and celery root slaw, that's the risk you take for broadening your palate. But I'm really sorry.
3. The noise
It is not me who decides what music is playing or how loud it is, I can't change the acoustics of the building and I don't want to approach a baby to rub Anbesol on its gums or give it a shot of brandy. But I'm really sorry.
4. The prices
I guess the one consolation I can offer you is that if restaurants paid their servers a living wage and did away with the annoying expectancy of tipping, that cost would be offset by customers and your burger would cost approximately $133. But I'm really sorry.
5. The timing
At some places, management requires me to "check back" with the table a certain number of times to make sure your needs are being taken care of. Trust me, I would rather not have you try to answer my questions while I am watching a piece of romaine lettuce securing itself between your two front teeth, but I am just making sure you're satisfied. But I'm really sorry.
Will there be anything else for you this evening?
Of course there are times when the server is absolutely at fault. Perhaps he wrote down the wrong order or maybe he ignored you even though there were no other customers in the restaurant. In those cases, the tip should be a reflection of the service received.
Sometimes though, it's easy to forget that there are lots of other factors that can ruin a restaurant experience and the blame doesn't always fall squarely onto the server's shoulders. It's easy for your waiter to apologize but just because he says he is sorry doesn't mean that is was necessarily his fault.
But I'm really sorry.
Complaints? Share 'em in the comments below. See more of The Bitchy Waiter's musings at thebitchywaiter.com
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