Service with a shrug
June 3rd, 2011
12:45 PM ET
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The composed salad tasted of Spring, the Turbot special was sumptuous and buttery and the first glass of Prosecco di Valdobbiadene unexpectedly and delightfully dry. I would gladly have ordered a second, but the offer never came.

Nor did a check-in after the food arrived, a smile of any wattage, or any indication at all that we were welcome in the restaurant at 8 p.m. on a slow-ish Thursday evening. Just the check at the end. Was it something we'd done?

One of the first things my husband and I learned about each other - waaaayyyy back before I started editing a food site - was that we both love eating at restaurants, and that we go out of our way to get to know the staff.

Just a couple of nights before, we'd spent a chatty evening at our favorite neighborhood spot a few blocks a way. During the meal, which we spent sitting at the bar, the bartender e-mailed me a funny YouTube video she'd been showing me on her iPad, the chef and I chatted about a server who'd left – but with whom I'd just been exchanging Facebook messages, and we left with full stomachs and big smiles. And it wasn't just us; the same warm glow of welcome and hospitality was shone over everyone who walked in the door, whether they were regulars like us, or had just stumbled in off the street. As I've said to the owners on several occasions - we come for the food, and we come back and back and back because of the people who work there.

The same goes for my favorite taco dive a few blocks further down. There's a language barrier, but a lot of goofy smiles have gotten us through for years. The staff knows we're easy customers - never fuss if there's a wait, and always show our great delight in the food - and even if they can't get to us to a table swiftly on a bustling Friday night, they let us know they're glad we're there.

Perhaps that's a give and take I take for granted. I walk into a restaurant, smiling and assuming I'm in for an excellent evening. Plenty of people stroll in, just waiting for the staff to muck up, so they have the chance to vent the frustrations of the day and think for just one moment that they're in control of the world. I can only imagine how it must feel to take the brunt of that, night after night, and I hold members of the service industry in tremendous esteem for doing it with smiles on their faces and without a soupçon of customer slapping.

It was the indifference, I think, that unnerved me. If someone's having a bad day, it's often evident and it gives other people a chance to empathize. This was just - blank. What food do you want? Here it is. Now pay. I don't need a stranger to validate my existence, but I have this wacky notion that part of being in the hospitality industry would be to at least acknowledge a customer's existence.

Next time I'm in that neck of the woods and looking for a bite to eat, I might stop for a second and take a peek at the menu in the window to see if the Turbot is indeed the day's special again. Even if it is, chances are that I'll just shrug and keep on walking.

Previously - How about when customers are the one being jerks to the waitstaff?

soundoff (229 Responses)
  1. Christian

    As I was told at my first service job, "Tips are a direct reflection of service provided." There is MUCH more to being a server than simply bring the guest their food and beverage. As others have said, I would repeat a visit of the food was good but the service was off. However, if the experience is the same the second time, I would actually take the time to sepak with the floor manager and let them know about the fact the experience has been poor on multiple occasions.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  2. Josh

    The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.

    June 9, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  3. Melissa

    I don't go to a restaurant to socialize with the waitstaff - if they're nice, that's great, but what I want and expects is efficient service (or as efficient as possible given the circumstances) and basic friendliness.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  4. Yossphil

    How funny - service with a shrug (or worse) is what you usually get in German restaurants, at least in Berlin, Germany. Be happy the waiter does not indicate frustration if you change your mind 30 seconds after choosing an item on the menu, or if they don't walk away while you're trying to decide what you want (and could use some input). American restaurant goers are spoiled (and I miss American service!).

    June 7, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  5. Skate

    I will say that I certainly prefer that a server is friendly, but l also understand that everyone has a bad day, and not everyone enjoys their job and that can have a bearing on their performance at work. What does bother me, though, is when I go to a restaurant and my order is incorrect and I can't find anyone to help me make it right. Last week I went out with friends and my food was delivered (a) not the way I'd ordered it (I asked for beef and received pork) and (b) not fully cooked. Now, I understand that this is not the fault of server. However, I would have appreciated being able to find a server to assist me in returning said meal to the kitchen to finish cooking it. She was, however, nowhere to be found. I did find another server in the restaurant, but she couldn't help me because I wasn't sitting in her section, though she was at least sympathetic about the fact I didn't want to eat half-cooked food and she was friendly. I did leave a tip, however it wasn't the normal 20%.

    I ended up paying for a meal that I couldn't eat and going to another place on the way home to pick up takeout to eat when I got home. While it may not be fair, I won't be going back to that restaurant again.

    June 7, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • David Hoffman

      If you encounter that situation again, ask or go see the manager or owner, while you are there. No manager wants undercooked meat of the wrong type being served. A polite calm explanation would probably gotten you some consideration(no charge, free meal coupon/voucher, complete meal replacement, maybe all three) and given the management an indication that they need to correct their processes. Managers hate idiots who come in with ridiculous cooking requests. One guy I saw was allergic to shellfish and was in a seafood restaurant that specialized in shellfish. His demands for specially prepared beef and fries were unreasonable. But another customer's complaint about a severely overcooked dried out fish was correct and reasonable. It was immediately taken care of by management. A replacement properly cooked fish and free after dinner coffee service for the table. What you wanted seems reasonable.

      June 7, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
  6. lonevoice

    "I can deal, but if I don't get everything I need, I'll be extra-annoyed " would have been my next choice, after "other."

    I guest my biggest problem is when the service staff is TOO chatty and personal. I go out to eat to be with people I know and enjoy–and that doesn't necessarily include the service staff. A quick joke, a smile, or genuine pleasantness from a waiter certainly ADD to the enjoyment of the evening. But uninvited involvement in my conversation, or blatant interruptions, make the occasion unenjoyable.

    I'll never forget the first time I had a service staff person take a seat at my table to take our order. It was exceptionally uncomfortable ad extremely off-putting. I've never been back to that "family-TOO-friendly" eatery.

    June 7, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • lonevoice

      I should also mention that I was also very disturbed recently when I visited a small, cozy local restaurant. The waitress spent half the evening hitting on my very handsome date–service with a smile, and a phone number!

      June 7, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • David Hoffman

      You have been caught in the chain restaurant server advice problem. Chain restaurants came up with a survey that showed servers could get a higher tip percentage if they knelt down or sat at the table while taking orders. The problem is that this survey seems to have been created for college aged customers at college eating places and Hooters type restaurants. Of course an industry that gets away with violating minimum wage laws would jump on anything that showed that if only the servers did something ridiculous they would get a higher tip percentage.

      June 7, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  7. nina786

    hmmm nice article....:)

    June 7, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Jerv

      Nice spam you have been posting all over Eatocracy.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  8. Bd

    I don't want the server to be a big part of my dining experience. I go out to dinner with my wife and family to enjoy each others company. I don't care at all if the server is in school, has kids, likes a particular dish...None of it. Take the order correctly, make sure I have the neccessary condiments, sides, deletions/additions for my dish and I am happy as can be.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:30 am |
  9. James

    I know more than anyone here, and you will listen to and respect my authority and genius. Is everyone reading this and bowing in exaltation of my greatness. Yeah didn't think so either. I will then just give my petty two cents. If the food is good and the wait staff are not, I get the food to go. :) If a there are five places to eat and 1 of them has great service and fun staff, they get my business.

    June 6, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  10. Johnny Doe

    If it doesnt pay like a career, people wont behave like it is a career. Sorry. Pay more or shut up.

    June 6, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  11. Tom

    Never happens in Japan. I love it here. Always smiling and happy to see you.

    June 6, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  12. C

    I'm a server who (gladly) doesn't work for tips (and makes above minimum wage), and in my two year's experience I've learned a number of things.

    One, there are few people who, if given greater choices, would rightly choose to work in food service, especially not for long periods of time. It doesn't pay well (unless you work in a high-end place), it's hectic,and both your managers and customers treat you like garbage, day in, day out. I became a waitress after my father died, to support my diabled mother and myself and try to keep our house from foreclosing: I was also a 21-year-old with no previous work experience, in a massive recession. Waitressing was literally my only job option and the only thing keeping me from being homeless for these past two years.
    Because this job is rarely the first choice anyone makes for a career, you get a lot of people in the service industry who aren't cut out for the service industry. Give your server the benefit of the doubt, we've all fallen on rough times in America and have had to take jobs that don't suit us, simply because there's not a choice. So I'm not meant to be a server, so I'm not good at it, doesn't mean I don't have to pay my bills.

    Second, it is correct in most restaurants, that you, the customer, are 100% responsible for your server getting paid for waiting on you. The other $2.85 they made during the hour you ate there are probably going straight into their 401k plan or to taxes. Don't tip, and your server is basically working for free. Combine that with the fact that they still are required to serve you, or get fired, and that's pretty much slavery.

    Third, of course servers are there to create a good atmosphere and make the customer feel welcome. Tips are meant to be earned. If your service is consistently terrible or nonexistent: don't tip, or talk to management. But if your food got there on time, hot, delicious, your drinks were refilled, your order and bill were correct, but maybe the server didn't smile as much as you'd like: swallow your ego. We are there to make sure you are fed, and on a busy night there's little else most of us can do.

    Also, there's a lot more going on in a restaurant than you realize. The effort it takes to get your hamburger out of the freezer and onto a plate in front of you requires timing, precision, at least three or four underpaid and busy people, and adequate levels of teamwork. Many times, your food is late not because your server sucked, but because the cook in the back decided not to perform at work that day. Or maybe the dishwasher didn't wash any plates yet, so there's no clean plates to put your burger on. Out of cheese? Not our fault, it's the management who didn't order enough cheese. Waitstaff has painfully minimal control over your dinner: in my case, once I turn in the order I am no longer involved in your service, and it's up to the cooks and the runners to decide to cook it and bring it to you. But their poor service is reflected in the server's tip?

    Finally, courtesy in a restaurant goes both ways. Servers must be courteous to their customers to receive adequate tips and to bring in good business to the company, it is our job to make you feel welcome and want to come back. On the other hand, customers who are rude, condescending, malicious, or who refuse to see the point in tipping, even for acceptable-but-not-quite-stellar service, are not welcome in any restaurant. Respect goes both ways, and I would gladly forego a tip to make your experience awful if you're awful to me first. If you don't see me as a human being, I don't see you as a repeat customer.

    June 6, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  13. Miss Details Design

    Great article! The service makes a huge impact on whether or not an experience is great, and warrants a return visit. Perfect timing, as we just posted a blog on the subject also!

    June 6, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  14. rosethornne

    I usually go to a restaurant expecting good food and a pleasant experience, and with my 'tipometer' set at 15%. It then gets adjusted based on my experience – do a good job in a pleasant way that shows me you welcome my business, that's a plus. Make me feel like a bother, that's a minus. Roll your eyes and sneer at my children, huge minus, be kind and friendly to them, huge plus. Bring bad food and shrug, minus. Bring bad food, apologize and correct, plus.
    It's very simple – good experience for customer = good experience for server.
    And by the way, that 15% thing doesn't apply under ten dollars – if you trot around and fetch me my stuff I'm going to give you at least a couple of dollars no matter how small the check.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Clu

      I think the very last sentence of what you said doesn't get stressed enough to some tippers. The server provides service that should warrant at least a base minimum. If the service is decent, I always tip a minimum of two dollars, even if it's above the 20% mark.

      June 6, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  15. Ani

    "I can deal, but if I don't get everything I need, I'll be extra-annoyed."

    It is disappointing to me if I am unable to get a second drink, but I can deal with that. However, I get really frustrated if I am missing something or if I have to search someone out to get my check. Even with indifferent service, I will usually go back a second time if I like the food enough. If the second experience isn't any different, why bother a third time? There are plenty of other restaurants to go to and if I enjoy one with great service, why on earth waste my time going back to one with indifferent or poor service?

    June 6, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  16. Luenn

    I went to a local franchise that has had good food and decent service. However lately, I noticed each time I ordered a martini (and of course it was this same bartendar) the drink was awful. The last time I was there for dinner, I ordered a martini. The cocktail arrived and there was barely a shot in the glass, plus there were two olives in it to make the liquid look higher. Taking the olives out of the glass it was less than a shot. Granite, I don't need a big drink but for the price I pay for it, I would at least like a decent portion. I talked with the waitress and instead of her correcting the problem, she went and got the manager. As I explained, the manager could hardly keep from grining which I didnt like. He brought the drink back (of course to the same lousy bartendar), brought the drink back to me and it was up to the brim but barely any flavor and the rest tasted like water. All I ask in a restaurant is fare portions for the price....not to be shot-shot nor laughed at. I havent been back. It will be a long time before I do. By right, the waitress should have taken care of the drink, not the manager.

    June 6, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • David Hoffman

      In some restaurant the bartenders are treated like mini-gods by management. No non bartender is allowed to make mixed drinks. The regular servers learn to avoid the giant bartender egos and anger issues by going to the manager with any mixed drink problem. Bartenders are paid to make lots of money for the owners, by any non health endangering way possible. Watering down drinks is standard, although it is usually done only with on the rocks drinks or those frozen concoctions. Substitutions of brand name liquor with generic liquor are also common. Obviously the manager likes the bartender's performance at the restaurant you were at.

      June 7, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  17. JP

    It seems to me that the attitude on display in the story is endemic in the younger generation (I'm 54.) I see it everywhere, including at my job as a university librarian–young people so sullen and indifferent that they can't even manage the obligatory "Have a nice day" at the end of a simple transaction. I don't need to be remembered by name or entertained with pictures from their vacation, but a simple smile and a "thank you" is not much to ask for.

    June 6, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  18. dragonwife

    For those who work in the service industry, and say that you should always tip a server no matter how bad the service is, I strongly disagree. Part of a server's job is to be pleasant to customers and to make them want to return to the restaurant – repeat business is a cornerstone of most industries. If my server is rude, ignores me, or is otherwise unpleasant, he or she is NOT doing the job well, and I will not tip or will leave a very minimal tip. As to complaints that this is taking money out of the server's pocket, of course it is – it's meant to show my displeasure at not receiving good service. This is no different than any other job – if I don't perform my job duties correctly or only do some but not all of the things I was hired to do, I definitely won't get a raise when I get my evaluation, and I may very well get demoted or fired. No one is saying that a server has to be chirpy and hover over the table all the time. However, being attentive enough to refill a drink or bread basket (or at least ask if I want a refill), having a quietly pleasant attitude, and making me feel as if the restaurant is glad to have my business are all part of the job that the server applied for. That being said, I also despise people who do not tip at least adequately when the server has done his/her job well. My son is a server, and I've heard plenty of horror stories about 8-person parties who occupy a table for 3 hours and spend hundreds of dollars, then leave a $5 tip – or worse, simply tell the server that "they're going to tell the manager what a good job you did" and leave no tip at all. Bottom line – good service, leave a good tip. Poor or indifferent service – small tip, if any. Really bad service – definitely no tip, and also speak to the manager or maitre d' about the server.

    June 6, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  19. I want da gold!

    I've left the server a smiley face on the back of the receipt with the words "Cheer up, Sunshine" for their tip. I was in service for years so I cannot stand negative or indifferent service. No matter how bad my day was, I put on a face for the customer. If you cannot even bother to do that for me, I cannot bother to leave you a tip.

    June 6, 2011 at 9:49 am |
  20. Merriam-Webster

    Nowhere, in any definition of "indifferent," is it interchangeable with the definition of "rude." The question at hand is about indifferent service, not rude service.
    1. (often followed by to) showing no care or concern; uninterested he was indifferent to my pleas
    2. unimportant; immaterial
    3a. of only average or moderate size, extent, quality, etc.
    3b. not at all good or poor
    4. showing or having no preferences; impartial

    [from Latin indifferēns making no distinction]
    indifferently adv
    1. Relatively undeveloped; primitive: a rude and savage land; a rude agricultural implement.
    2a. Being in a crude, rough, unfinished condition: a rude thatched hut.
    2b. Exhibiting a marked lack of skill or precision in work: rude crafts.
    3c. In a natural, raw state: bales of rude cotton.
    3a. Lacking the graces and refinement of civilized life; uncouth.
    3b. Lacking education or knowledge; unlearned.
    3c. Ill-mannered; discourteous: rude behavior.
    4. Vigorous, robust, and sturdy.
    5. Abruptly and unpleasantly forceful: received a rude shock.

    [Middle English, from Old French, from Latin rudis.]
    rudely adv.
    rudeness n.

    June 6, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • I want da gold!

      Wow, you're a j@ck@ss.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:49 am |
  21. Dave

    I'm in NYC and there is an endless supply of incredibly good restaurants. Given that fantastic food is easy to find, service makes all the difference for me. When a server is indifferent or rude then I am very likely not going to stick around for more drinks or a dessert after I've had my meal, and I will most likely not come back again. Servers and management need to keep that in mind. There is a financial incentive to good service. I also tend to ask for my regular server at places I like. Good service = higher bill = bigger tip.

    June 6, 2011 at 9:18 am |
  22. Ayn Rand

    Don't forget, Atlas shrugged.

    June 6, 2011 at 7:36 am |
  23. TampaMel

    Do we go to a restaurant for good service and a good (OK Excellent) meal or are we there to make friends? I get annoyed when a wait person comes over and says, "my name is so and so and I will be waiting on you tonight." I really do not want to know their names but if they ask me what I would like to drink or eat or whatever and they do it in a timely and efficient manner, then what more should I ask for (the quality of the food and drink is a complaint to the manager since the wait staff are probably not cooking the meal). If I had to deal with the public (including myself) I would be in a bad mood every day. We, the public can be real pains in the you know what.

    June 6, 2011 at 4:48 am |
    • Smackles

      "I get annoyed when a wait person comes over and says, "my name is so and so and I will be waiting on you tonight." Jeezuz H Krist. That annoys you? I bet you are the biggest bi tch to wait on.

      June 6, 2011 at 7:44 am |
    • Hav-a-Tampa@TampaMel

      Obviously the "mel" doesn't stand for "mellow."

      "If I had to deal with the public (including myself) I would be in a bad mood every day."
      What an ironic thing to say. Sounds like you don't deal with the public and you're in a bad mood all the time anyway.

      Go have a seat in the stfu cafe and someone will be right with you.

      June 6, 2011 at 8:16 am |
  24. Soleada

    Also, the reaching across someone's plate issue... Many times the guest(s) won't bother assisting the server in handing said glass over so there's no other option. My #1 pet peeve is when ppl leave their cell phones/laptops/ipads/ipods out on the table where anything could get spilled or dropped on it. I've even seen ppl leave their all-important laptop flat on the floor beside their seat In a majorly high-traffic area forr servers in the restaurant where anything could happen. Drives me nuts!

    June 6, 2011 at 2:48 am |
  25. Soleada

    In my experience with paychecks, pay periods & whatnot, the gov't doesnt necessarily assume 10% of your sales in tips. Do you not have an option to claim all tips made + tips out When you cash out for the night? That's what your check & taxes are based upon. Every serving job I've had including where I work now, you have to put in what you made & tipped out. The Mex restaurant I worked @ didnt use a pc system, we had to write our credit card & cash tips in on the back. That place + Red Lobster (my previous job) paid weekly, & I never claim 100% of my cash tips. My checks were always between $20 & $40 depending on how much I worked.

    June 6, 2011 at 2:40 am |
  26. Pieface

    Tip: Don't play with matches.

    June 6, 2011 at 1:14 am |
  27. Travis

    Most people want something for free, use coupons and never tip 20%. Yes it is all your fault.

    June 6, 2011 at 1:13 am |
    • I want da gold!

      Coupons are meant to be used. If I have a coupon, I'm going to use it.

      As for the 20% thing...I believe this norm is too high but I go by it. heck, it just makes it easier to figure out the tip anyway. Just multiply the total by two and move the decimal a few places over. Easy-peasy-Japanesey.

      (Note: If you use a coupon include the savings in figuring out the tip! Tip on what the total would have been. I usually even tip a bit more since I'm getting the savings. Hook the server up a bit. 25-30% tip or so and we both make out better than if there were no coupon involved at all.)

      June 6, 2011 at 9:54 am |
  28. MoodyMoody

    A nice personality from a waiter or waitress is a nice bonus, but it isn't what I tip on. I tip well if the service is at least adequate under the circumstances. If it's Friday night and the place is jumping, I don't expect to be hovered over, and if I'm at Fridays or Applebees, I don't expect "professional" service. Show me that you're doing your job, and you'll be compensated. Be rude, or let me sit for half an hour with an empty glass, or serve me cold food, and your tip will be reduced accordingly.

    I have insult-tipped only once: my husband and I were at a diner-type place at 2:00 p.m. There were two waitresses and only one other occupied table. We waited for 20 minutes for the waitress to take our order, another 45 minutes for hamburgers (which were cold), never got a refill, etc. The only reason we didn't walk out was because we were on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and it was the only restaurant within 20 miles. We always make sure we pack a lunch if we go on the Parkway now.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:21 am |
  29. RachelM

    First of all, when I go out to dinner with my spouse or with friends, I'm there to have a good time with THEM, not the staff of the restaurant we choose. If the manager and or chef is at my table, it better be because I'm either dissatisfied with my food or there is a fire and the building needs to be evacuated.
    I know a few people like the author of this article who want to be friends with everyone at every place they patronize and I can only imagine its because they are hoping to cash in in the future with a freebie of any kind. Or maybe they have some kind of 'Dolly Levi' syndrome, and the notoriety is the high they need to supplement their fragile egos.

    June 5, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
  30. itsgonnaBok

    I have been in the industry for almost 30 years. Tips are absolutely relied upon as a servers main source of income. However, if a server provides terrible service, it should be reflected in their tip. Furthermore, use your voice to tell the server or a manager about your experience. Trust me they will appreciate it. By the way, servers in my restaurants typically earn between $25-30 per hour. These are casual restaurant/ bars.

    June 5, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  31. mango455

    what a couple of pretentious dooosh sacks, tough it out man, what, are MF royalty? If I was your server I would take a dump on your food.

    June 5, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  32. Ashley

    Why do people feel so entitled? You aren't the Queen of England. I don't care what the server does or doesn't do as long as I get my food. Servers shouldn't have to kiss your arse in order for you to be happy. Ugh.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  33. mattymaloo

    There are great tippers in this world and lousy tippers in this world. Servers and bartenders are there to perform a service for gratuity. If the service is lousy, it should reflect in the tip. Same goes for extra gratuity for quality service.

    The hardest part is reading your guests....some want to be coddled, some want to be left alone, and some are hoping for the babe with the big boobs.

    The worst part of the job are the names you get called when you refuse someone service who is intoxicated or wait on the guest who is miserable in life and takes it out on you.....does make for good stories later, though.

    June 5, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Mike2

      I'll agree there. Interestingly, I was a waiter in Texas on 9/11. The following two weeks, customers kept coming in, but there was a noticeable change in attitude. The stress was palpable and everyone took it out on their server. Nothing was right– the food, the drinks, the service– nothing. I am not complaining, but I found it an interesting social experiment.

      June 5, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  34. Clu

    If a server is indifferent in that he or she doesn't want to engage in a bunch of small talk with me, I don't mind that and actually find it preferable, whether I'm alone or with others. I won't react negatively to said small talk though, provided he or she otherwise does his or her job effectively and doesn't seriously invade my space. (On the latter point, I take into account the general atmosphere, too. For example, wait staff at, say, Hooters is trained to act very differently than wait staff at Outback Steakhouse, and I'd account for that.) But If a server is indifferent in that he or she doesn't care about the actual service he or she provides, that's a totally different matter, and I will subtract from my tip accordingly.

    June 5, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  35. Chef Axxgrinder

    If i get excellent service i will be an excellent tipper, i have been out plenty of times where the server is very indefferent and seems like they have better things to do then be at work taking care of my table then i will acknowledge it first hand to the server, "whats up? you got somewhere else you want to be? listen if you take care of me then i'll take care of you," however there are also those servers that don't care what you want after the food comes, and every time they walk past the table and don't offer another drink the tip starts to dissappear.

    June 5, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Mike2

      I appreciate your directness. As a server, sometimes you don't realize the vibe you are giving off. If someone lets me know that they are feeling neglected, even if I don't agree with them, I will go out of my way to correct it.

      June 5, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  36. Soleada

    I've been a server for quite some time now. Those people who say 'just bring me my food & stay invisible' kind of irk me. I'm a naturally very friendly & outgoing person. Of course I can tell when a guest isn't interested in talking to me, but it always makes my day more interesting when guests conversate a with me a bit. I honestly really enjoy what I do. I Dont exactly work in the best area (restaraunt is great, but the area has gone waaay downhiill) & i -def- dont make much $$, but the many ppl who are nice & enjoy great service outweigh the rude, picky ppl by far.

    June 5, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  37. Mary B

    The staff should smile, check on my table, and definitely ask if I want another drink. Anything more than that takes up too much time and can affect how long people wait for the server to take their order, etc. A pet peeve: I am not impressed if the waitperson does not write down the order, I worry that they will screw it up and it detracts from my dining experience.

    June 5, 2011 at 9:42 am |
  38. karrie pittsburgh

    As a person who suffers from in invisible chronic illness, meaning no one can tell just by looking at me the misery I'm in, all I can say is:

    Invisible burdens.

    Everyone can have one, or some, at any time. And be having that moment when it's just impossible to hide it. No matter where one works or plays.

    While it is a server's job to be a positive representative of the establishment, it's also my job as a human being to maybe scratch the surface a little and see if I can also be a bright spot in their day. If it doesn't work, so be it. At least when I go to bed at night, I can say the choice I made today was to wait until I HAD ALL THE INFORMATION before I passed judgment.

    Maybe everyone should get my illness, and then they'd understand?

    June 5, 2011 at 7:03 am |
    • Voice of reason

      Maybe you should say something, then. If you absolutely cannot manage to be civil because you are in so much pain, a simple, "Please excuse me tonight, I have a chronic condition that's acting up." Not only will that give your diners something to weigh against, it might gain you sympathy tips. But there is no way for your diners to know if you are in pain or just being rude, and the benefit of the doubt is nice, and all, but it makes them feel like never coming back.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
      • Jerv

        Agreed. If folks don't know of the condition, how can they be empathetic?

        June 6, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
      • karrie pittsburgh

        In the case of my comment, I'm the patron with the invisible chronic illness, not the server. I try to always give a little leeway for a first impression, because there are INVISIBLE conditions amok. If a server seems 'off', I will try and find something positive to say. If nothing works after the third time, if we get a third time in the same dining experience, then the tip will be reflective of that. Since I haven't been able to work for almost 20 years, and we come by our income less easily, I too feel we should get the best service we expect, and going out to eat is a really special occasion for us.

        I would hesitate to complain too much in today's economy. People are being thrust into jobs they never thought they would have to have. Unless the service is really horrible, I'll assume something is up that we can't fathom.

        June 6, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  39. David

    I've walked out of several places before I even order. I work hard fpor my money and I wont give it to a business/server that sees me as a burden. I don't expect much, but if you act pissed because you have to quit texting your homies, I would rather go elsewhere. I'll go hungry before I pay for bad attitudes before I even order. If I order and then get the cold shoulder, don't expect a tip.

    June 5, 2011 at 1:07 am |
  40. handler

    they are there to bring you the items you request. you need your 'existence' validated, go to a psychic. you need to be entertained, go to a comedy club. this article is nonsense.

    June 4, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • David

      The only thing I need is to feel appreciated for giving them my business. If not, no biggie. I'll give my patronage to people who appreciate it. If customers are a burden, then it's not a place I wish to visit.

      June 5, 2011 at 1:10 am |
  41. sissy

    I saw a scruffy man standing in the middle of a traffic jam. He was screaming, " I couldn't move my car, it's broken down". As he turned to walk in front of my car I smiled and said to him, "God Bless you and keep you safe, Sir". The look on his face changed from frustration to amazement. He smiled at me and said. "Thank you". (He didn't jack my car or flip me off.) Be excellant to each other, even the clueless. Out do one another with love. I'm not writing about sex, or being good to your family and friends. I'm writing about being aware of everyone around you and making a difference. Tell your server what you'd like. They are not mind readers & people have different expectations. Sometimes I want or need more service than other times. Also, I sometimes ask for the expected wait time, if that's an issue. I'd say plan on 15% minimum & more if they are great.

    June 4, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  42. Soleada

    Something I've kinda decided on recently – if a server is doing a bad job, i'll let that reflect in what i tip as opposed to complainin to a mgr. Complaining could result in that server losing his/her job which is something i dont wish for anyone. Furthermore, even though servers 'only make' 2.13/hr + tips, our employers -have- to pay min. wage. Say you work a 6 hr shift. If what your hourly pay rate + tips dont average ovt to min. wage, the employer has to make up the difference on your paycheck.

    June 4, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
    • Chris

      That's actually a common misconception. It's true that the employer has to make up the difference if your wage plus tips is under the standard minimum wage, but it's based on the entire 2-week pay period, not the individual shift. A server can make under the standard minimum wage for a shift and the employer may not have to make up for it, if later shifts in the pay period do. Some restaurants may do it differently, but that is the law, based on what I was told by management at a restaurant where the servers didn't make very much money.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
      • Mike2

        Most restaurants (and the government) assume 10% on your total sales. If you sell $800 worth of food over a ten hour shift, they assume you made $80 in tips. Ad $2.13 for your hourly wage is $10.13. However, if you serve two big parties and they don't leave an appropriate amount (as often happens where policy does not automatically ad it), you have made considerably less. You just hope you make it up in that pay period.

        My experience is that employers never make up the difference.

        June 5, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  43. Cindy

    I have gone to specific restaurants simply because of the wait staff – and I have stayed away from others because of the staff. At one restaurant, when our favorite server saw my friend and I coming, he'd often have our drinks on the table before we were ever seated – every once in awhile, he'd even "forget" to charge us for the add-on salad bar. Needless to say, the $$ we would've spent on the salad got added to his tip!

    June 4, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  44. Nancy

    I just wish someone could teach black people how to tip. Blacks almost always never tip, and they are the most fussy customers anyone can get. I just wish they would stick to their neighborhoods and not come into ours.

    June 4, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • LeRoy@Nancy

      We don't get da big hootered white women's here in da hood. Come on over and remember,don't bend over 'cuz we'll give ya a "tip".

      June 4, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • Jayne

      That's a stereotype. I was a server until recently, and I've gotten really nice tips from black families. I've dealt with more whiney, uppity, snobby white women that treated me like crap–sucky people come in all colors, and so do nice people.

      June 4, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • Trainer Mike

      Wow....are you serious??

      June 5, 2011 at 1:10 am |
  45. fwiw

    I am content if my food arrives in a timely fashion and my beverage never runs dry. I'll tip 20% for that. If my server knows they exist to serve rather than entertain, and can do it with a minimum of chatter, then I'll tip more. I don't go out to eat to chat it up with the waitstaff. I go out to eat.

    June 4, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  46. btender10

    As someone who has worked in the service industry I agree that customers should be treated kindly and feel welcome all the time. I don't agree with not tipping because your server doesn't care to swap life stories. Most od the time we are simply too busy to spend that much time with one table. Over the years I have learned that tipping is a class issue. People who do not tip have no class. They obviously believe they are above the people who wait on them and that is not true. A job is a job and it is not your place to decide you know everyones story. Waiting tables is good money and flexible schedule Many servers are college educated and take great care of their families. Most of the people who look down on the job could never handle putting up with rude pwople like themselves day after day.

    June 4, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  47. justin

    I'm a server, and even when sick, sad or mad I always manage to smile and say "Hi, how are you today?" It's called acting and part of our job. It takes almost no energy to lift the corners of your mouth or say something nice to your guests. A bad server does deserve a bad tip. I often eat out and if I get poor service by someone who just doesn't care I will leave them a much smaller tip (10%ish). On the other hand I generously reward high quality and friendly service(25-40%). I have been known to tip at fast food places just because the person helping me was so nice. Don't feel obligated to leave a standard tip (15-20%) if you recieve poor service. Ask to speak to the manager, and tell him/her the issue you have. Be sure to leave a small tip to cover your servers tip to the bussers and bartenders, but don't pay for service you did not recieve. People don't eat at restaurants because of the food. Anyone can cook at home. They visit because they don't want to cook and want to be served. If service fails, the entire restaurant fails. Doesn't matter how good the food is if the service staff have the personality of wet cardboard.

    June 4, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  48. VIC

    I can't believe how stupid this article is and the response from so many of them. I don't go to a restaurant to chat with a waiter or waitress.

    If that is what you go for-then seems like you people need a life-. The restaurant served you excellent food-the wine was great--what else did you want-. So the waiter didn't kiss your behind and butter you up so what is the big deal--is that how cheap you have become mentally-having a go at the poor waiters and waitresses--.

    Go get a life--. Next time you want to get a date with the server-let them know up front that you need them a little more attention-other than that enjoy the food and the wine and if you like the wine and want some more--just ask--. Don't let your ego get in your way to ruin your evening-.

    I am not in this line of work-but it ticks me off when you well off people want to run over the people who cannot say back to you right on your faces " you suck "

    June 4, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • star

      You must be from New Jersey!

      June 4, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
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