Sometimes I love my job. I love to be around people, love to interact with them and shoot the shit with the cool customers.
Today was not one of those days.
Christmastime is a very busy time at The Restaurant. However, it seems that there are very few people that feel any sort of generosity or kindness toward their friendly neighborhood servers. And it’s not just about money. I might possibly feel a little less animosity towards some of these people when I accepted their two-dollar tips if they were a little more friendly and a little less ungrateful jerks.
Here are a few helpful hints for those of you dining at your local restaurants this holiday season. It will truly make your experience more enjoyable for you and your server. But remember: these useful tips can be used year-round, not just at Christmas. (There are so many more things I have to say about working in a restaurant, but I’ll leave it at this.)
Hint #1: When your server first approaches the table, let him or her speak first. Trust me, they have something planned to say, and it is impolite to interrupt. If your server says, “Hey, how y’all doing?” or anything of the like, neither “sweet tea” nor “hungry” are appropriate responses. That’s just rude.
Hint #2: Also regarding table approach, “bread” is not an appetizer. It comes with the salads. It will be out with the salads. We haven’t forgotten about it. We know you have not either. Do not say, “I’d like to put in for an order of bread” or “we’d like to start off with an appetizer of bread.” If you do, I’ll have no choice but to charge your ass for it.
Hint #3: When asked what you would like to drink, do not attempt to jazz up your water by calling it “lemon water” or “water with lemon.” Every tea and every water gets lemon. And don’t think I’m not wise your requests for extra lemon and Splenda. I hope your tablemade lemonade tastes as good as the Minute Maid we have on tap. I really do. But when you ask for lemonwater, quit trying to cover up the fact that you’re cheap. You’re cheap, and we all know it. (Note: This may not always be the case, true. I know because I don’t drink soda and I usually drink water. But when someone asks either how much a soda is or how much refills cost, it’s usually a tell-tale sign.)
Hint #4: When I begin to tell you about the fresh fish, I don’t care if you are interested or not: shut the hell up and let me finish. I have to do this, I’ve practiced, and damn it, I want to. It takes just a second, and if you don’t want it, don’t order it.
Hint #5: If the hostesses have had you waiting in the lobby for a while, don’t take it out on me. We do not work together trying to find out ways to piss you off. I understand you want to sit down and eat. And I’m sure everyone else in the lobby would like the same thing. Another tip concerning waiting times: if you come in with 500 people or if you notice about a thousand people waiting in the lobby, don’t think it unnatural if your food takes a little while. Food has to cook, and no one wants you to hurry up, eat, and leave more than I do.
Hint #6: If you order a well-done steak, don’t tell me that you want it to have “no pink at all.” I know how a fucking steak is cooked. And I’m not the one cooking it. Also, a well-done steak has to cook. For a while. If you want “no pink,” be patient
Hint #7: Do not tell me crossly while ordering, “I don’t like seafood.” Why the hell are you at a seafood restaurant? Read the menu. There are other selections. And if you would have let me freakin finish my table presentation, you might know that.
Hint #8: While I am passing out drinks, don’t start asking me for a straw before I’m even finished handing them out. Chances are, I have them, ready to give them to you. I’m not holding out on you. Do not feel the need to assist me in my job by reaching into my apron pocket for straws. This could result in your withdrawing a nubby for a hand.
As I am on the subject of aprons, do not consider mine a trash receptacle. When you finish rolling your straw paper into a little ball, do not think it is entirely appropriate to stick that little ball into my front pocket. My apron is also not some sort of miracle chamber like Mary Poppins’ purse. When you ask me for some tartar sauce, more bread, or a fork and you never see me leave the area, do not expect to magically produce it when I walk back by your table.
Hint #9: If you want tartar sauce or if you think you need something else, please tell me when I am at the table and I ask you, “Is there anything else that you think that you might need?” I’ll be back, but you can keep that pissy attitude to yourself, thank you.
Hint #10: This is probably one of the most important tips of all. First of all. If you come in and spend $50, $80, $100 or what have you on dinner or lunch, tip like you have the money to spend. If you are willing to fork over that much for a meal, you ought to be willing to tip just as well. Five dollars may seem like a good tip to you, but when it is on a $100 ticket, that’s 5 percent and it’s tacky.
If your bill is considerably less and you pay with a 100 dollar bill, you’d better be a decent tipper. I know you have money. I just gave it back to you.
When your server hands you the bill, don’t say, “Oh, we’re not staying for the drawing.” Not only is it not funny, no one knows what the heck that even means. Don’t waste my time and your breath saying it.
I don’t care how much your bill was, two dollars is not acceptable. I still had to cater to you, bring you your lemon water and salad and bread and the 15 tartar sauces you requested and only used two of. Merry Flipping Christmas, asshole. My children are going hungry tonight, but I’m sure you’ll sleep well.
Don’t be a wise-ass and say “Keep the change” if you know that the only change I’m going to be getting is a few nickels and change in my opinion of you.
“God Bless You” in either verbal form or in the form of a tract is not a tip. I’m just fine, thanks. Nothing makes your church, your religion, or your god look better than you leaving me a card telling me that the wages of sin is death and a 87 cents tip. I’ll see you in hell, sir. God sure didn’t bless me, or you would’ve left a better tip. My response to those people is usually “God loves a cheerful giver – look it up.” Just because you came in here on a Sunday after church doesn’t make you any better than me. If I went to church with you every Sunday, who would make sure your fried catfish was fried extra well done and your broiled flounder was extra broiled?
We make $2.13 an hour. That’s it. I hardly ever get a paycheck that is more than a few dollars. We are mothers, fathers, daughters, college students, and (sometimes) college graduates. We aren’t stupid, and you are no better than we are. Keep in mind this holiday season that we are just trying to provide for our families and friends as well.
You should be nice to someone who is bringing you food that you will eating. Be nice to me, and I will be just as nice to you. I don’t get a kick out of being a bitch. Well, most of the time. Don’t consider this to be a threat. I have never spit in anyone’s food. However, I did stick my finger in a woman’s baked potato once. But she deserved it. I promise you.
Happy Holidays from your table-waiting friends.