Monday, October 19, 2009

Here's a tip for you...

Brave Astronaut wrote a nice post about being a regular, and in there he related an anecdote about his soft spot for wait staff. My parents owned and operated a restaurant for many years, so I, as well, appreciate the work involve. Maybe because of that, I may have higher expectation (let’s be honest here, I have high standards about almost everything), but I also tip well, for a job well done. When I waited tables I appreciated the good tippers. When we went to Greece I wasn’t too comfortable with the “service included” policy they had. We made do with it, and were lucky enough throughout our trip, to get decent service, but still. Whenever we were really pleased we would add more gratuities. It only made sense.

During the summer 1999, we made our way to New York City, Manhattan more precisely, for a karate tournament. We did the tourists’ things and one afternoon ended up at a restaurant by Time Square. We were there with friends. All four of us sat in this busy restaurant, can’t remember its name, ordered some drinks and some food. The service was slow, but then again the place was quite busy. We finally got our drinks. Then, one of us got his appetizers, followed by another, and another. Then my meal came. I asked the waitress about my salad, I didn’t mind having it at the same time as my main course. She went to look, and didn’t come back until about twenty minutes later, asking if I still wanted it. All four of us agreed: the service was really crappy.

My husband tends to be the type who will complain in “private” but will avoid a confrontation. He was making comments about the service, and such to which I told him “to stop complaining because he would leave a nice tip anyway”. We talked about leaving no tip since our waitress was really bad. On top of forgetting my salad, she had mixed two orders and forgotten drinks. She really wasn’t doing her job well. I’m sure you’ve also been in a situation where you’d think of not leaving any tip, because of poor service, but then when the bill came you did leave some. We’ve often done that: think about it, but that's it.

That fine day in the Big Apple, my husband took it upon himself to actually walk the walk. The waitress brought us the bill; Hubby took it, checked it out and scratched out the tip amount to simply sign the credit card bill. As he did this, the rest of us, got up and left the restaurant.*

As he was leaving, he was almost at the door, when the waitress tapped him on the shoulder and said: “Sir, the service wasn’t included”, to which he answered: “I know, but the service was crap”. She got pissy and went away. I think that was the only time I ever saw him leave no tip at all, and it still brings a smile to my face when I think of it.

* To this day, Hubby says that we ran out of there, but we just left. Really. Ok, we might have walked fast a little… it was embarrassing after all ;-)


cinnamon girl said...

That was funny! We don't tip here at all - it's not part of our culture (we pay our waitresses a lot more though so they don't need it to survive).

The salad thing made me smile - that's something very French to me, having salad separately. We would just dump it altogether on one plate (except sometimes in restaurants where it would be on a separate dish but with the main meal). Do you have it before or after the main meal? I prefer it before, but in some places I went they had it after...

Mmmmmmmmmmm, food.

flurrious said...

I don't have a problem not tipping if the service is bad. Servers will say that you must always tip because it's not an extra, it's their wages, but I hardly see what that has to do with it. If they do a bad job, they shouldn't get paid for it. I think it's only been two or three times in the last ten years that I haven't tipped, and those servers were not only inept but also rude.

Titaxy said...

a friend and i had a similar experience a month or so ago...the service at the restaurant we went for dinner was extremely bad...we had asked for a soup refill and the server brought it after we were done with the meal...and she said "sorry, i totally forgot abt the whole thing, would you like this to go?"..

and so the friend gave v less tip and wrote the reason why at the back of the receipt...

Marius said...

If I leave a 15% tip it means I'm not happy, but there was one time that I left no tip, but not because of bad service. I was a poor college student visiting a friend and we went to Pizza Hut for lunch. When it came time to settle up I had just enough to pay my half and pay the tolls for the 4 hour drive home. She was equally broke, so we left an apology on a napkin explaining to our server that it wasn't her fault, and beat feet out of there because we couldn't bear to face her.

3carnations said...

I spent a lot of years waitressing, and I've never left NO tip. I've never gone lower than 10%. I figure they work for the tips, and if they get only 10%, they know they did something wrong. They still need to pay their bills, though and I disagree with what Flurrious said about that. If people in an office or retail job mess up, they still get paid (short of gross misconduct). Waitresses make less than minimum wage in most situations.

Just my 2 cents. (which also wouldn't be a very good tip, ha)

lizgwiz said...

I have left no tip a couple of times. If I have to get up and walk around the restaurant to find my server every time I need something--from ordering to getting the check--I don't leave a tip.

And once I made it a point to very pointedly give the tip to the co-worker of our official server--who appeared at our table only to give us menus, then later to present the check and wait for her tip. This poor guy we kept flagging down actually relayed our order, brought our food, refilled our drinks, but it was HER table, so she thought we were going to tip HER. Think again, honey--we could see you there in the corner giggling with your friends.

Barb said...

Like 3carnations, I have to disagree with flurrious, as well, probably because I've also spent time as a server. But like you, my husband and I only ever talk about not leaving a tip. When we aren't happy with the service (slow; server clearly doesn't know what s/he's doing and is probably a newbie), we leave the standard 15% since normally we leave more. On the other hand, if the server's completely rude, which is rare, forget it -- no tip. Maybe we should take a tip (heehee) from 3carnations and only leave 10% when we're dissatisfied with the slow ones.

Green-Eyed Momster said...

IMO, if you get great service, I/we leave a great tip. Good service = Good tip
Crappy service or no service = nothing. If you're in the "service" industry, you need to try to serve. I've never had that kind of job but I've fed a family for over 18 years.
I understand that there are other issues involved and it's not always the waitress's fault but even an "I'm sorry for your wait or I'm sorry I forgot your salad, I'm sorry we're busy and the kitchen's backed up....." Any type of communication goes far with me/us.


kara said...

her correct reaction should've been apologetic. he might have been guilted into adding a little something. people just don't get people.

we have a lot of service issues here. portland is known for it. such pride.

kara said...

OH OH OH...brendan's designing a label for the pickles and then they'll be on their way to you.

Stinkypaw said...

cinn: We tend to eat our salad before the main meal, but at home we tend to do it with the meal (the "just dump it altogether" technique) ;-)

flurrious: I would think if they needed that extra that bad, they would make sure to please their clients to get it.

Titaxy: Good for your friend, that person deserved to know, but at least she offered and was honest about forgetting it.

Marius: Ah, yeah, the broke student days... but the intentions were there. :-)

3c: I wish I could say the same, about them knowing they did something wrong, some would actually have to care for that. But I agree the majority would know, and we are, in general, generous especially if the service was good. As for the office people, some should get pay cuts, that would motivate them to do a better job!

lizgwiz: Good for you, I would have done just the same. The deserving one should get it.

Barb: I can excuse the "newbie", but not the rude or careless behavior. We leave less than the expected 15% or more depending on the service.

GEM: Bingo! I totally agree with you, my tip reflects the service I got (or didn't).

kara: Obviously, you don't know my husband - he's guilt resistant. Really.

Can't wait to see that label, now!! ;-)

Charlie said...

I don't think I've ever not tipped, but I have a scale ranging from 5% to 20%.

There is horrendous turnover in the restaurant business, the staff is seldom trained thoroughly, and are often given too many tables to serve. It's a crap job, so I leave at least 5%.