Arun is Bringing You...Your Daily Remedy

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Assumed Tip

One of the jobs that I've always wanted to do, is be a waiter at a nice restaurant. A waiter you ask? Yes, a waiter. I think it would be fun interacting and bantering with a plethora of different customers, knowing that I am largely in control of how much extra I'm getting.

I also think that I would be pretty good at it. I love interacting with people, and as a normal person who goes out to eat once or twice a week, I notice some who are not so grand at the "high end food service position."

Take last night for example. It's Aaron's birthday, so a bunch of us go to this pretty nice steak house. The ambiance is pretty good and we get seated right away. So far so good.

The Waitress comes by for drink orders and we order up...twenty minutes later our drinks arrive. So what the hell complicated drink order did we place that it took TWENTY minutes? Nine waters and a beer.

One slip up, no big deal.

I pleasantly alert the waitress that we are ready to order. Two of our friends had some car trouble and hadn't shown up yet, but since it was getting late, we agreed that I would order for them. The conversation between the waitress and I goes something like this:

Me: "Thanks, I think we're also ready to order"
Waitress: "Okay"
Me: "I'm actually gonna go ahead and order for my friends who are going to be late as well"
Waitress: "WHAT!?! You mean you're not even going to WAIT for them?! (rolls her eyes)
Me: "Well uh..."
Waitress: Let me go get my notepad."

She was completely serious! I mean a line like that would have been funny had there been some sarcasm behind it, but there was none! So it takes her another TWENTY-FIVE minutes to get her notepad so we can place our order. Conveniently, she gets her way because by the time she comes back, our other friends have arrived.

I won't bore you with the rest of the subpar service but lets just say I wasn't a real happy camper. What irked me even more was that a 15% gratuity was already added when we got the bill!

I am a firm believer that 15% is for good service (most of the time), 20% is for excellent service (rare), and less than 15% is reserved for things like waiting TWENTY MINUTES FOR WATER. I also wasn't too thrilled that she gave me attitude about ordering for my late friends. This was ridiculous though! I was FORCED to give her a tip for being "good!"

One thing that's interesting is that other people in the waitressing business either currently or formerly, always feel extra sympathetic for waitresses.

Sympathetic People: "Oh she's working hard!", "She's probably had a long day!", "Its really busy!" They seem to think its a given that they are going to get a tip.

Not my problem. I DO feel sympathetic if the waitress is extra appologetic and she legitimately seems to have been thrust with too many tables. But when they bring the 'tude, I bring El Cheapo.

Now you probably think I'm some sort of a demanding tyrant when I go out to eat, but there's nothing further from the truth. The last time (and only time) I sent food back was six years ago at Applebee's when my medium-well steak came back scorched on the outside, and mooing on the inside. I'll admit I'm also a shameless flirt in general with waitresses.

Other general restaurant observations:

-I hate the feeling of sitting down at your table, starving, before you've ordered, knowing that the kitchen hasn't even begun to think about cooking your food.

-I hate when the waitress is bringing out food, and you get all excited because you think it's yours, but at the last second she serves a table right next to you.

-I'm always worried when I get those little vibrating-flashy-light that I'm gonna some how miss it going off, or I'm going to be out of range and miss my table!

-About half the time I go out to eat and I give a name for a table, I give the hostess the name of someone I'm with, because if I give them my name, I have to listen for about six different pronounciations that people come up with.

-It's always fun to see someone get the birthday song from the restaurant staff, but after the first time, the novelty wears off big time!

-The think bartenders get far too many tips for what they do, especially if its just opening a bottle of bear or filling a cup from a tap. I still tip em' just so I can get service in the future, but its still stupid.

-I secretly worry when I get a waiter who doesn't feel the need to write anything down and goes by memory. Interestingly, these people are usually this why Asians are so smart?

-There used to be this Indian restaurant I'd take friends to in San Luis Obispo. Everytime I got the bill, I'd get a mystery 10% discount. This never happened to anybody else. This became known as "The countryman discount"...I wish I was Thai.

I know there are more, but I'd be interested to hear any of your restaurant observations/ramblings.


Justin said...

Whit and I appreciated you ordering for us, don't let that waitress give you attitude. She was a bitch though huh?:)

Arun said...

That she was. I suppose you indirectly made this post, but I'm sure you'll do something more directly "blog worthy" in the near future.

Tim said...

Two things:

1. The gratuity added for large parties is usually supposed to make up for the extra work of an extra large party. So, if you had a 15% gratutity added, and tipped her nothing elese, you can think of it like tipping her 10% for crappy service, and 5% for service to a lot of people. If that makes you feel better...

2. I wonder what that waitress was like to tables that didn't have a gratutity added. Did she maybe just assume she could not care about you because your party was big enough that you wouldn't have a choice but to tip her? Makes one think.