By Bri Cash
How often do you go out to eat? When you go to a restaurant expecting to spend about $50 on food, do you also plan on spending $10 on a tip for your waiter or waitress? My guess, probably not, but you should. The current normal tipping rate is 20%. Now, I realize that many people base their tip on the service. And, shockingly, I agree with you. If I give you bad service, I will not begrudge you for tipping me badly.
However, there are some things that are not my fault. When you place a drink order, and I’m talking alcohol here, it isn’t my fault that my bartender has to take care of her own guests before she tends to the needs of the servers. The best I can do is to bring you a glass of water and hope that is enough to suffice until I can get your drink to the table. If your food is cooked incorrectly, I know this may be shocking, but I don’t cook it. Nine times out of ten, it isn’t my fault that your food is wrong. Trust me, I am just as frustrated as you are at the kitchen’s incompetency.
There are some things you probably don’t know about being a server. We sometimes have up to ten other tables at a time to take care of. If the restaurant is busy that particular night, then I can’t give you the attention your table deserves. There is only one of me, and I’m sorry for that.
I don’t make the bread! Sometimes, god forbid, we run out of bread momentarily. It takes time to cook more, and I’m not the one responsible for it. It is my job to tell someone, who tells someone else, who tells the person in charge of making it. Sometimes the message gets delayed.
Servers have rules to follow and responsibilities outside of taking care of you. One rule that I hate, but have to follow is “hot food before cold drinks.” This means that if I am in the process of making your drinks and another server’s food is ready to be taken to the table, I have to stop what I’m doing to run food. It delays your drinks; it hurts my tip, but it’s a rule. We also have side work like racking up silverware, carrying plates, and putting up glasses.
Servers only make $2.13 an hour. Surprising, I know, but true. This is minimum wage for a server, and it has been the same since 1992. We live off your tips. So, I come back to the question, do you plan tipping into your budget when you go out to eat? If I’ve done my best, I deserve that tip. It’s what I’m hoping will pay my bills after all. And chances are, you aren’t the first table of the day, and you probably aren’t the worst table of the day. Once I have one table stiff me, I assume the rest of the day will be just as bad.
So next time you go to a restaurant, take into consideration the person waiting on you. Don’t sit at their table for two hours without leaving extra compensation, and, for goodness sake, tip your server. You are our livelihood. Take the time to talk to us. We’re people too, and we enjoy the conversation. It makes your experience better as well as ours.