13 Confessions Of A Waiter

Except for those who actually work in the food service industry, the general public is largely unaware of restaurants’ inner-workings, and after you read the following article you may concede that ignorance is bliss. Reader’s Digest has complied a list of 13 confessions of a waiter which are excerpts from a book called “Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip–Confessions of a Cynical Waiter” by an author who simply goes by “The Waiter.” See some of our favorites, inside…

2. There are almost never any sick days in the restaurant business. A busboy with a kid to support isn’t going to stay home and miss out on $100 because he’s got strep throat. And these are the people handling your food.

3. When customers’ dissatisfaction devolves into personal attacks, adulterating food or drink is a convenient way for servers to exact covert vengeance. Waiters can and do spit in people’s food.

4. Never say “I’m friends with the owner.” Restaurant owners don’t have friends. This marks you as a clueless poseur the moment you walk in the door.

13. Never, ever come in 15 minutes before closing time. The cooks are tired and will cook your dinner right away. So while you’re chitchatting over salads, your entrées will be languishing under the heat lamp while the dishwasher is spraying industrial-strength, carcinogenic cleaning solvents in their immediate vicinity.

Check out Readers Digest’s article for the full list.

We can think of no better time to abide by the Golden Rule then when eating at a restaurant. On two occasions, I actually exited a restaurant before the food was served because I felt that I had displeased the staff and feared their retribution. After reading these confessions, I think my instincts were dead-on.

13 Things Your Waiter Won’t Tell You [Reader’s Digest]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. beatofhawaii.com says:

    If you think wait staff is difficult on the mainland, you haven’t seen anything. Here in Hawaii, they are likely to quit over a date, or a chance to go to the beach. With near zero unemployment, no problem, they’ll be working down the street tomorrow. So if you noticed food service isn’t so good in Hawaii restaurants, now you know why.

    Aloha, [beatofhawaii.com]

  2. I find being very nice to my waiters/waitresses and remembering their names goes a long way. Not to say they don’t have bad days, but as long as I get what I ordered and the waiter/waitress wasn’t too incredibly rude — I’m actually quite happy. I don’t expect A++ at most restaurants, but I do expect to sit back, have a couple drinks, and not have to worry about dishes later ;)

    My pet peeve is when they take over a half an hour to check if you need a refill… I usually only have a couple hours without the demon children up my ass, so I want to fit in as much adult humor and liquor as I possibly can.

  3. Optimistic Prime says:

    I’m thinking of the scene in the movie Roadtrip where the cook makes the french toast “better.”

  4. Channing says:

    I’ve lived in Hawaii all my life and I’ve done my fair share of working around people in the food service industry and the only time I’ve seen someone quit was because the boss wouldn’t let them go to some really huge football game (I think it was the Superbowl? I could be wrong) after asking in advance for vacation.

  5. SOhp101 says:

    I like all of these, except #8. That just sounds like the server is being as whiny as his customers.

  6. Jon Parker says:

    I’ve been reading the waiter rant blog for a while now. I’m planning to pick up his book this weekend — he’s an excellent writer and his stories are highly entertaining.

    And yeah, be nice to your wait staff. Waiters tend to like me because I’m low-maintenance, understanding when problems arise and tip well.

  7. Tallanvor says:

    You might also want to consider linking to his blog… [www.waiterrant.net]

  8. forgottenpassword says:

    I have a problem with #10 “if you cant aford to leave a tip, then you cant afford to eat at a restaurant” .

    A tip is not automatic…. it is dependant upon GOOD QUALITY SERVICE by the waitstaff. You earn your tip. If I leave a bad tip (or no tip at all) its because you were a bad waiter/waitress.

    Note: I refuse to frequent restaurants that include an automatic gratuity in the bill.

  9. sparklingpink says:

    1. If a person was actually sick, Im sure management would have enough brains to send them home instead of have a dozen plus customers complain.

    2. Spitting in people’s food isn’t part of being a pissed off server. It’s part of being a complete disrespectful jerk who shouldn’t be serving food in the first place. If things like these actually happen, I doubt they do so in respectable restaurants I patron anyways. Even so, I have enough courtesy to treat servers with RESPECT, thus making sure my food won’t be tampered with in any way.

    3. Going into ANY place 15 minutes before closing time guarantees employees to be pissed off – not just at restaurants.

    This cynical waiter list just sounds like it was made up by some loser who lost his job.

  10. Jay Slatkin says:

    @forgottenpassword: Reminds me of this scene from Resevoir Dogs:

  11. weave says:

    I’ve been reading his blog for years. It’s quite good. He sounds like he is quite good at his job actually.

  12. lemur says:

    4. Never say “I’m friends with the owner.” Restaurant owners don’t have friends. This marks you as a clueless poseur the moment you walk in the door.

    Good advice. Bad explanation.

    Restaurant owners do have friends. I’ve gone to restaurants where I was friends with the owners or managers. I did get a little bit more than if I were some average customer. However, I did not walk in acting like I owned the place nor did I tell the staff I was friends with their boss. The way it worked is that the person in charge with whom I was friends was either present on site that day or knew I was going to come and told the staff ahead of time.

  13. Jim Fletcher says:

    @forgottenpassword: That’s totally fair… but I don’t think the point was that a tip should be automatic. My loser brother-in-law will walk into a nice-ish restaurant with $14 in his pocket and order an $11 entree and a $2 drink that comes to about $13.99 with tax. He’ll piss and moan through the entire meal about how the server isn’t bending over backwards to make him happy, and all the while KNOW that he’s not going to leave a tip – even when the service is awesome.

  14. lemur says:


    3. Going into ANY place 15 minutes before closing time guarantees employees to be pissed off – not just at restaurants.

    Oh so true. I worked at a convenience store when I was a teenager. Now, we’re talking about different time constraints. Fifteen minutes before closing did not bother us but we just loved it when people showed up after closing time and asked us to reopen just for them. Or people who walked in just a bit before closing time but for the love of god could not make up their mind about what they wanted. Or they had decided that a convenience store would be the perfect place for getting a week’s worth of groceries.

    I can easily see how restaurant staff would have a problem with people walking in 15 minutes before closing given that it is unlikely they’ll be out of there quickly. But this kind of problem is not peculiar to restaurants.

  15. Jim Fletcher says:

    @sparklingpink: I was working at the Olive Garden and came down with strep throat. I was on my way to the doctor and called in… management told me that if I didn’t come in for my shift that I was gonna lose my job. Needless to say, I went to the doctor -after- working a lunch rush.

  16. christoj879 says:

    [bitterwaitress.com] – Shitty Tipper Database. Recently rebuilt, it used to be huge. Hope your name isn’t on there :)

  17. battra92 says:

    14. Food service is the lowest rung on the proverbial job ladder. We know the waiter hates his job and wants to be a playwright or an actor but that doesn’t give him the right to do any of the things that he admits to above.

  18. Kid_Blink says:

    I currently work as a waiter in a fine dining restaurant, located in Manhattan. Overall I have worked in the industry for about 10 years. Despite a few of you thinking you know more than what was written, it’s good to see that some people are getting an eyeopener.


    To the comments about if a manager saw you were sick, blah blah blah. Yeah that’s not necessarily true. If you’re sick you call in before you show up. It’s a restaurant, not an accounting firm, generally everybody on the floor counts. And when you’re down one unexpectedly and can’t replace them before service starts you get pretty messed up during service. I have worked shifts while I was so sick I had to sit down on an empty milk crate in the kitchen every free moment I had. I came into work because I needed to make rent. Waiters don’t get paid for not being there.

    As for spitting, or as some waiters call it “enhancing”, the food of a guest. It’s not always spit, and it’s not always biological. We’ll serve you bottom shelf booze when you order top shelf for a mixed drink and charge you the same. We’ll short pour every glass of wine you order, and when you’re paying 14$/ glass for wine trust me you want all of what you can get.

    On checks for bigger groups, groups that are so rude and obnoxious that people in the tables adjacent to them are annoyed, you will get check padding. When there is 12 people at your table, and they’ve been drinking, see how well everyone can recall how many drinks they’ve had, or how many sides sauteed spinach were ordered.

    Wrapping food to take home after you whistled at me for my attention? Well I hope you like the box of food you just ordered violently shaken, or half the portion you’re wrapping going into the garbage. You’ll never check before you leave anyhow, and once you get home it’s too late.


    I think with the whole tip thing, he’s making it assumed that the waiter HAS given good service. You’d be amazed at the kind of tips you receive from people eating at an expesive restaurant give after you’ve bent over backward for them politely for 2.5 hours.

    I have so many stories about working in the industry I could tell. But maybe everyone planned on not being a shut in for the rest of their lives.

  19. jarndt says:

    I’m a former restaurant manager, and while some restaurants may let/require employee’s to work sick, it is not the norm in my opinion. I have sent staff home for being sick and even had to close a restaurant for the night due to a lack of adequate staffing. And while I have heard plenty of stories about people doctoring food, I have never witnessed this happening.

  20. DashTheHand says:

    So this is a book about a waiter crying about his crappy job? Boo hoo, sorry that you decided to be part of the food service industry. Namely, the crap end of it. Some of the whines are just stupid:

    #4? Yea people never have friends. This might be true of a restaurant like T.G.I. Fridays or Chili’s, but upscale restaurant owners definitely make friends.

    #6? This is just an ignorant threat. ‘Mr. Disgruntled Waiter’ would no sooner brandish cutters at you than he would at his own genitals.

    #11? Proves that the person is already dishonest and basically just someone ranting on about how displeased he is with his job. Sorry bucko, go back to school or work at McDonalds, its probably more your speed.

  21. Kid_Blink says:


    Lowest rung? How so? Do you know how much money annually a waiter is capable of making and it doesn’t even require a degree? You’d kick yourself if I told you.

    And if you’re bothered by what was said in the article, than you know you’re a culprit and it makes you uneasy thinking of what HAS been done to you.

    I’m a waiter, it’s my job, no one has any right to treat me like an animal or a slave. If you think you can do that to anyone, in this day and age, you obviously have never read fight club. You don’t mess with the people who rely on for your day to day living. It will come back and bite you in the ass.

  22. Kid_Blink says:


    Do you know how many people I’ve had tell me, “I’m friends with the owner,” or “I’m friends with so and so”. Only for me to have that person they’re friends with say “I don’t know who the hell that is”

    As for gratuities on larger parties. If you’re going to act like some child who’s never been to a fine dining restaurant than I’m not going to go OUT of my way to tell you about the gratuity that is CLEARLY marked on the check, and even then, even when I hate the person who’s treated me like crap the whole night, I will still circle it. After that, you’re on your own to sober up enough to read your own bill.

  23. DogRidingRodeoMonkey says:

    @sparklingpink: I have a feeling that you’ve never worked in a restaurant. From the Waffle House to Jean Georges kitchens and servers operate the same basic way, so think again when you’re hassling a waiter because your unlimited breadsticks at the Olive Garden didn’t come quickly enough.

  24. Pro-Pain says:

    @brooksosheffield: When I managed a food establishment EVERYBODY came in sick. If you are scheduled and you came down with the AIDS AND both your parents just died, you had STILL better show up for work. Maybe people will understand that better?

  25. Jubilance22 says:

    @sparklingpink: Not true. That’s why there are so many outbreaks of rotovirus at restaurants, because they make their sick employees come in and handle everyone’s food, and then 100 people all get sick at the same time.

    As for tipping, I wish the industry went towards a decent wage for restaurant workers. Assuming that everyone is gonna tip is a bad idea.

  26. mikesfree says:

    Yet another reason to eat at home.

  27. Kid_Blink says:


    You mean the $4.60/hr we get paid in NYC isn’t sufficient to live my life happily? Weird, because there are a lot of people who eat out in New York that seem to think so. :D

  28. Legal_Eagle_In_Training says:

    @forgottenpassword: Here’s my 2 cents on the tipping issue.

    #1 – Remember, wait staff make their money from tips. When I worked as a server, I made $3.30/hr base wage. Unless the service is utterly horrible from your waiter/waitress, tip them at least the 18% minimum (yes, it’s up from 15%). If they did a bad job, then you be the judge on what to leave – but I would rather you leave nothing than leave the random change from your pocket. That’s just a slap in the face.

    #2 – Not affording a tip and simply refusing to pay up on one are two very different things.

    @brooksosheffield: Wow, your b-i-l is a great example of what the guys means by ‘if you can’t afford a tip, you can’t afford to eat out.’

  29. Mr_Human says:

    @forgottenpassword: You’re wrong. Tips are not for extraordinary service. Tips are a given and expected part of the restaurant experience. It’s how how waiters get paid — they don’t get normal salaries, like waiters in Europe, for example, where customers are tip very little unless service is particularly fantastic.

  30. Mr_Human says:

    @mikesfree: Live a little, for god’s sake.

  31. MeOhMy says:

    Food service people come into work sick. Office workers come into work sick. Everybody comes into work sick. Not saying it’s right, but the guy coughing all over that report he just handed me is just as big a risk as the guy coughing all over my sandwich.

    Frankly, it’s more understandable for an hourly wageslave who doesn’t get paid if he doesn’t work versus someone on salary with sick days who just wants to save his sick time for sunny days at the beach.

  32. sixninezero says:

    Amazing, the comments about how this person is whining and they should get a real job…You all make me sick.

    The wok ethic in this country has taken such a downturn we are forced to resort to import illegal labor to do the jobs that are below white folks. The food service industry is hard work, jobs that take skill and talent to perform well. It can be rewarding but there are bad days too.

    Stop degrading every job that doesn’t require college. Not everyone has the aptitude for university or the desire to spend tens of thousands of dollars for a mediocre education in what is basically a rite of passage.

  33. Tyr_Anasazi says:

    @sparklingpink: This may happen on your planet, but here on Earth if you call in dead to work many restaurant managers want your corpse to still show up…

  34. MickeyMoo says:

    Many restaurants with automated ordering systems report tips to the IRS as a percentage of server sales – this doubly screws your waitstaff if you grossly undertip.

    My pop waited tables for 30 years – called in sick 2 times, in 30 years.

    It’s an unappreciative suckass job – don’t be a douchebag to your waitstaff.

  35. forgottenpassword says:


    I’d say IF found out…. its grounds for firing a waiter/waitress for posting the names of their customers on the net.

    @Mr_Human: I said “good quality service” not “extraordinary service”. If you think good quality service is the equal of extraordinary service … think again. And the whole idea that a tip should be given no matter what is what is wrong with the industry.

  36. patodonnell39 says:

    @sparklingpink: I agree 100%. This is not a great writer who’s writing a cool tell-all. This is a whining, sniveling loser who hates waiting tables. Get to the back of the line. I can’t stand people who complain about waiting tables. If you hate it/people so much, get another job and quit bitching!

  37. backbroken says:

    4. Never say “I’m friends with the owner.” Restaurant owners don’t have friends. This marks you as a clueless poseur the moment you walk in the door.

    Sigh. Yet another case of ‘big king in a small fiefdom’ syndrome. If dealing with jerks bothers you, then get out of the service industry.

  38. sir_eccles says:

    You should probably also read Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential”!

  39. Cupajo says:

    “but don’t ask for water, lemon, and sugar so you can make your own lemonade.”

    Holy shit. Do people actually do this?

  40. mdot says:

    @forgottenpassword: No, actually you’re wrong. The standard 15% tip (I don’t agree that it has magically been raised to 18%) is you paying for the service of someone bringing your meal, drinks, condiments, etc to you as opposed to standing in front of a cash register having your meal handed to you and you take care of the rest.

    If you received ‘poor’ service, then it is reduced to 10% and if you received excellent service it gets upped to 18%-20%. If you have an issue with ‘the industry’ than don’t support it. Don’t make every waiter/waitress the target of your little mini rebellion. On the other hand, if you want the food, it is customary to also pay for the service which comprises the total cost of eating in a sit-down restaurant.

    The only excuse for not leaving a tip at all was that you received deplorable service. At which point the manager should be notified. Not receiving timely drink refills qualifies as ‘poor’ not ‘deplorable’. Outright rudeness is another story.

    So, if you don’t want to pay tips, don’t go to an establishment where tips are customary. If you can’t afford the tip, you can’t afford to eat at that particular restaurant.

  41. I was a waiter for a while. Worst job ever. The tips are only good if you work friday or saturday night. It is not worth bieng a waiter/waitress if you have to work any other night. If you aren’t sleeping with the management, or providing the management with blow/pain pills then chances are you won’t get scheduled for only friday/sat night. On top of the people customers are a pain in ass when it comes to food. Old people complain over everything, they didn’t ask for a special order, they didn’t read the menu, they didn’t ask what was in “it”. STFU and stop complaining.

    Lastly, if you order something to “Try out” and you don’t like it, why would you expect it removed from the bill? Atleast tell your waiter/waitress that the food tastes funny rather than “I didn’t like it, I don’t like fish”. DON’T ORDER FISH YOU SUCK HEAD!!!!!!

  42. B says:

    @Cupajo: If a restaurant doesn’t offer unsweetened iced tea, I’ll sometimes order a cup of tea, a glass of ice and a lemon wedge so I can make my own. If I do, I always leave an extra tip, though.

  43. Sidecutter says:

    @Mr_Human: Expected? Maybe. That does NOT excuse the serber from needing to *earn* that tip. I’m not saying it’s right that they need to rely on them to make a living wage. It isn’t. But you do NOT get a generous tip for providing poor service just because of your plight.

    Like anything else, the wage you make will be directly related to the quality of your work. If you truly do a poor job waiting my table, you will receive either a small tip or nothing. And you’ll have received exactly what you deserve for a job poorly done.

    On the opposite side, if you are polite, attentive, get things right, and do a proper job of checking in without harassing us too much while we enjoy our meal, you will receive a tip in line with the service. The only exception is when I travel on business, where I am limited to a 15% tip if I want reimbursement from my company for the expenses. There have been times when I would have liked to give more.

  44. Youthier says:

    I will back up the sick claim. I came in and worked my shift at a restaurant with a 102 degree fever. Someone else didn’t show up for their shift (and did get fired) so my boss just made me work a double without a break.

    And I was 16.

  45. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    I tip between 10 and 20 percent, depending on service. (average about 17 percent since I eat at a lot of places where I am a “regular”). I’m actually kind of sick of it. I’d be fine if the server was paid a fair wage, the cost was rolled into the menu price, and I could just speak to the manager when something was wrong.

  46. @Tallanvor: I’ve read his blog many times. He’s a good writer. I hope his book works out.

  47. chrisjames says:

    @SOhp101: That and #7. Asking for food that they don’t have is unreasonable, but asking to alter a dish shouldn’t be a problem for the poor, over-worked chef. I substitute and ask them to cook differently all the time and always within reason (substitute down, never up, and nothing exotic). I’m sorry, chefs, but I just can’t eat numbered dishes that have been optimized to satisfy the maximum number of people. If that breaks your mechanical rhythm, then screw you, go talk to your boss about it, and don’t fix me the “generic menu dish” anyway.

    And what’s this about home run every time? I can tell you that often they can not make the dish the same every time, even without alterations. Maybe the really upscale places that don’t rotate or churn their chefs can, but I hope those places have the dignity to do what the customer is asking for his money.

  48. Cupajo says:

    @B: Yeah, that’s perfectly reasonable. You’re paying for one product and converting it to another. Nothing wrong with that.
    But asking for a bunch of free shit (water, lemon, sugar) so you can avoid the buck-fifty charge for lemonade is just being a cheap bastard.

  49. forgottenpassword says:


    I disagree…. a tip has to be earned. ANd simply writing down my order & bringing my meal to my table does not warrant an automatic tip. I’ve tipped fantastic waitstaff who did their jobs extremely well, And I have neglected to tip those who basically dropped the plate on my table without a word & never saw them again until I had to literally get up to find the them to ask for my check. IMO simply adequate service deserves a tip. Inadequate service does not. And I dont expect waitstaff to do backflips while serving me. I expect them to be somewhat personable, moderately attentive & accurate.

    And I already said that I dont frequent restaurants that require an automatic gratuity included in the bill.

  50. WalrusTaco says:

    Bah, I’ve waited on thousands of tables in my life and worked at 15+ restaurants. As long as you’re nice and reasonable you have nothing to fear except the occasional dirty kitchen. If you start asking for things off the menu, keeping the waiter there hours after the normal closing time, or having your steak re-cooked three times, you’re asking for trouble. In the last instance, after two steaks, you got the “stomp steak” which we tenderized our own special way.

  51. mdot says:

    @forgottenpassword: Agreed.

  52. kewl132 says:

    On tipping. Also remember that most restaurants(Depends on in which state) have a Tip Pool. Now this can mean several different things:

    1. Like it sounds all of the waiters put their tips in a pool then divide them out some how.

    2. Some times a Waiter has to pay back a percentage to the house or bar. From 1% – 5%. Depending on how much of a bastard the company is(Pappasitos) the percent usally means SALES not TIPS. So an example. If I sale $1000 worth of food and drinks and the tip pool is 3% then I have to pay back the restaurant $30. So If I get people who only tip 10% then I really only made %7 tips that night. Plus if you don’t tip I have to still pay the 3% of your meal(sales) back to the resturant. So I lost money on your table.

    Bottom line ask your waiter how the tip pool works next time.

  53. faust_motel says:

    I’ve been a bar/restaurant patron for a long time and just this last week finally had my first experience not leaving anything for a tip. (I’m normally a 20% by default, more for great service sort of tipper). Wife and I went to a bar that was supposed to be kind of upscale, place was kind of dead. Ordered our drinks, server offered to take my card to run a tab, I said yes. Drinks came, and were consumed in 20-25 minutes. For the next 35-45 minutes, the waitress passed our table about six times, never making eye contact, never stopping by, and ignoring all of our attempts to communicate to her that we would like another drink. Finally, after almost an hour of no contact with this server, my wife had to go up and ask for the credit card back. It took them another 10 minutes to figure out which card corresponded to our table, then they ran it. Even an apology for the wait or the card confusion at this point would have netted 15%, but no, the bill was dropped on the table without even a word. First time in my life putting an “X” through the tip line.

  54. arkitect75 says:

    I’m just reminded of the movie “Waiting” when reading this.

    Oh, and I always leave 20%, unless the server didn’t do ANYTHING. My wife and mother both previously worked as servers and at the end of the night they always had to take and pool their tips together, so that the busboys and hostesses got their share (which I think is terrible, since the servers were the ones w/ the hourly wage that included tips).

  55. EyeHeartPie says:

    On the tipping issue, I agree that it is an accepted part of the service industry. However, I don’t agree that you should leave 15% minimum (and I definitely don’t agree with the 18% base), regardless of the level of service. I have a system where I start the tip at 15% the moment I sit down at my table. Then, as the meal goes on, the tip increases or decreases based on what the waiter/waitress does, taking into account the current rush at the restaurant.

    For example, if the wait-person makes us wait 20 minutes when the restaurant is less than half full before coming to take our order, then that 15% in my head goes down a bit. If we only see the waiter thrice during the meal (to take order, then to deliver food, then to give the check), I drop the tip to 5% because that is the level of service we received. If the wait-person comes quickly, and is helpful and professional, and keeps our water/drink glasses filled, then that 15% goes up. If no extra level of service is received, the tip remains at 15%. You get the idea.

    One pet peeve I have is when the wait-person waits until I have food in my mouth to come and ask me if I need anything, then quickly walks away before really waiting for an answer. If that happens more than three times during a meal (i.e. not a coincidence), or if I see the wait-person standing, not doing anything, then hurrying over the second I put some food in my mouth to ask me if I need anything, that always drops a few percent off my tip.

    This weekend, I went to a restaurant where there was only one waiter, and there was only 3 parties in the place: my friend and I, a party of about 12 people, and a party of 5. I got low levels of service because the waiter decided to concentrate on the other 2 parties to maximize his tip. I understand, and I know he did because he came to our table once to ask how everything was, and otherwise spent his time shmoozing with the table of 12, cracking jokes and hanging around there. He got an 8% tip because he made us wait about 15 minutes to come take our order, and 10 minutes to bring our receipts after we gave our credit cards to pay.

  56. Geekmom says:

    I am so glad the waitors at my favorite resturant are my friends!

  57. mermaidshoes says:

    i’m really amused by the number of people dissing the intelligence of the waiter rant dude on here (“go back to school or work at McDonalds, its probably more your speed”). have any of you gotten a major book deal out of your online complaints? i’m guessing no, and i’m guessing there isn’t one forthcoming, either.

  58. trioxinaddict says:

    @lemur: Haha, so true. I remember when I worked at Blockbuster. It got to the point where if anyone was in the store 10 minutes to close I’d make an announcement on the loudspeaker that the computer was about to shut down and if you didn’t pick your movie, tough luck. It wasn’t technically true, but if I didn’t I’d be stuck there till 1am closing the store and then I’d be accused of theft. It was a lose-lose.

    I think that as a general rule of thumb people should not go to a business unless they will be open for the estimated amount of time you will be in there, plus 20 minutes flex. It sounds silly, but closing time is closing time for a reason! Give those kids a break!

  59. shufflemoomin says:

    I wish North America (And other country/continent that does it) would pay servers a decent wage and stop getting the f**king customers to pay their wages. If pay for a meal in the UK then I’m paying for that, not the wages of the wait staff. If they just do their job, no tip, they’re getting paid like anyone else, if they go above and beyond, I’ll leave a tip which is something on top of their wages. Minimum wage is the same all over the UK no matter what minimum wage job you do. Who decided who should get tips and who shouldn’t? Why give a tip to a waiter but not the guy who sweeps up every night for the same money? The US should get it’s finger out and start paying EVERYONE the same minimum wage regardless of what they do and stop expecting the public to cover the costs.

  60. arkitect75 says:

    @faust_motel: I had a similar
    situation like this once.

    A few coworkers and myself went out to a nice bar/tapas place for a farewell happy hour for one coworker. The place was dead and the five of us were the only ones there. We all ordered drinks directly from the bar and sat down at a table.

    We had a server come to our table a couple of times within the two hours that we were there (with no one else still coming in). The server was brining our drinks from the bar that was five feet from our table. Three of the people with me ordered food (I did not b/c I had other plans).

    When it was time to go, we asked if it would be possible to get separate checks since we were all paying by credit cards. The server and another server said that it would be fine, then proceeded to spend 20 minutes trying to operate the computer to split the checks. The others who order food, left an 20% tip. I only had three drinks, the first which I had gotten myself from the bar. I decided that since he didn’t do much for me, etc. that I would leave 15%. I signed the receipt and we all walked out.

    As we were standing outside, saying goodbye, the server ran outside and asked me if everything was ok. I told him yes. He then began hounding me as to why he ONLY got a 15% tip from me. He told me that I must have made a mistake and forced the receipt and a pen in my face. I told him that it was correct and began to leave. As we walked away, he started yelling obscenities at me.

    Needless to say, this really upset me, so i called the bar and spoke to the manager about the server. He assured me the he would take it seriously and then asked our group to come back to the bar for a big party that weekend.

    None of us have ever gone back.

  61. Kevin Cotter says:

    1. If a person was actually sick, Im sure management would have enough brains to send them home instead of have a dozen plus customers complain.

    Management doesn’t care, employees are a commodity easily replaced. By the time you get sick, it’s days later and who cares.

    I’d always work sick, because the other option is staying home sick for minimum wage (or less in many states).

    So this is a book about a waiter crying about his crappy job? Boo hoo, sorry that you decided to be part of the food service industry. Namely, the crap end of it.

    I loved my time in Food & Beverage, and generally made pretty good money. There where days when a couple jerky people could make you mad enough to do some pretty evil things to food or with your credit card.

    The movie Waiting… nailed the experience. The food doctoring scene was a little over-the-top from what I experienced, but otherwise it was spot-on.

    Like anything else, the wage you make will be directly related to the quality of your work.

    What I earned was based on a small part on the quality of my work, the largest factor was the quality of my customers. We did what we could to drive the cheap bastards and complainers out. Having good customers makes it easier to be a better waiter, thus increasing tips again. I could spot those people who wanted me to to earn every penny of that mediocre tip you are going to leave from a mile off. If I could sense a less than stellar tip based on you demeanor – why should I devote my all to you, when I can work my known good tipping tables.

    The only exception is when I travel on business, where I am limited to a 15% tip if I want reimbursement from my company for the expenses. There have been times when I would have liked to give more.

    So, it would have killed you to reach in your own pocket for an additionally buck or two? Even if it was well earned.

  62. paco says:

    Quick story…

    My daughter and I had a hip little sushi joint that we went faithfully once or twice a week by ourselves or with other families. We got to know the waitstaff and kitchen staff very well. They treated us well and sometimes threw free things into the meal.

    A few times things got screwed up coming out of the kitchen or our order ended up behind a much, much larger order (a problem when you’ve got kids at the table). In every case, we were comped part or all of the meal or at least offered a free drink or dessert. Regardless of the night, however, I always took good care of the waitstaff.

    Our schedules changed, and we stopped coming in as often. When we were able to come back, our server wasn’t new, but she wasn’t one of our regular people. She didn’t exactly ignore us, but she also wasn’t particularly attentive. When all was said and done, I tipped just under 20%, and I tipped in cash. When the charge showed up in my account, however, she had added five dollars onto the total.

    I stopped by with my receipt and my bank statement and explained the situation to the assistant manager. He asked me to come in the next day when the manager would be there. He also asked who our server had been. When I stopped in the next day, the manager recognized me and handed me a five dollar bill. He shrugged. No apology. Nothing. Just a shrug.

    I haven’t been back since.

  63. Aphex242 says:

    I worked at 3 restaurants over several years, and never once saw #3 occur. Not once.

    Not saying it didn’t happen, but it’s by no means some systemic thing.

    And agreed re: @Kevin Cotter: Nothing said “underwhelm me” like a table full of pissants who complain about everything… the tip’s busted from the get go, so why bother? Sure, get it over with and get them out of there, but they definitely get lower priority.

  64. zibby says:

    #10 is really the key point, but this guy must realize that cheapskate turds will always try to find some overarching philosophical reason to justify their self-interested behavior (see music piracy, tax protestors, etc.) so he’s going to be S.O.L. on a certain percentage of tables no matter how good he is.

    And yeah, as somebody who waited tables for a few summers 15 years ago I agree with whoever said old people are the worst. The vegetables are always too hard, the butter is too hard to get out of the little package, the drinks are too cold, too hot, is this-or-that spicy (read: does it have a twist of black pepper or a sprinkle of paprika on it?), do you have sasparilly or some other archaic thing, blah blah blah – and they mostly don’t tip much. On the upside, they’re usually nice.

  65. stre says:

    @forgottenpassword, mdot: tipping is part of the expense of dining out, deal with it. while there are some states (minnesota, for example) that at least pay their waitstaff the true minimum wage, there are plenty of other states (wisconsin, for example, where i served for two years in college) that have a separate minimum-er wage for servers, a whopping $2.33/hr. servers don’t make money on the hourly wage. all they can do is pay the taxes on credit card tips with $2.33/hr. i got paychecks with $0.40 because the hourly pay was obliterated by taxes from credit card tips.

    if you want to move to a no-tipping society, then wages will have to increase dramatically for servers (trust me, there won’t be enough servers out there if the pay is even the current minimum wage, considering the stress of the job). and in order to increase pay for servers, menu prices will have to increase, so you’d be paying for it either way.

    plus, by not tipping you put the servers in a bad mood for the next customer, which might be me. i don’t want a grumpy server. in my two years at Quaker Steak and Lube (i know, funky name) in Madison, i never saw any waitstaff/cook retribution so i prefer to just pretend that it doesn’t happen elsewhere as well (for sanity’s sake), but the dining experience is always more enjoyable (for customer and server alike) if the day’s tips have at least been on par with what’s expected. please don’t put my server in a bad mood before i have the chance to eat.

  66. RagingBoehner says:

    @forgottenpassword: Having worked as a server, I’m not sure that tips are optional, but I’ll give you that tips should vary based on service.

    I will definitely agree on the included tip or “auto-grat” as we called it in the industry. As a waiter, I rarely would auto-grat a table, even a large group (I could with any table of 6 or more) because even at 18% pre-tax I would usually be shorting myself. I would usually only auto-grat large groups of college students and foreigners. Call me stereotypical but it’s my bottom line here.

    So as a customer when I get auto-gratted I usually resent that the waiter sized me up and thought I was cheap. I guess what goes around comes around, but I almost never tip on top of an auto-grat.

  67. SexierThanJesus says:

    Waiter – “Please stop pissing all over me when you come in and eat with me”

    Half of the commenters on this article – “Don’t want me to piss on you? Get a real job! LOLOLOLOLOL”

  68. SchuylerH says:

    If I’m an asshole in an electronics store, the clerk isn’t allowed to spit in my face. If I’m an asshole in the grocery store, the checker isn’t allowed to throw my steak on the floor and stomp on it before putting it in my bag. If I’m an asshole at the drugstore, the pharmacist isn’t allowed to piss in my cough syrup. If I’m an asshole at the service station, the mechanic isn’t allowed to put sand in my engine block.

    So if I’m an asshole at a restaurant (based solely on the staff’s judgment – maybe if the Ruby Tuesday’s customer from the other day had noticed the crab on his plate and sent it back, he’d have been thought an asshole), why is fucking with my food acknowledged with a wink and a nudge by people on both sides of the counter? Food service can be a crappy job and I sympathize with the stories of fuckwad customers and lousy tippers, but there’s no excuse for adding unadvertised ingredients no matter how obnoxious the customer.

    Or at least if you’re going to do it, have the balls to do it right in front of the customer. You want to be vengeful, don’t be a coward about it.

    (And for the record, I can’t recall ever having sent a dish back except for getting the wrong thing, I always tip at least 20% and I’ve only ever asked for a major substituion once, spaghetti instead of vermicelli with puttanesca sauce.)

  69. Sasquatch says:

    Oh great. Another Consumerist tipping debate. Nothing like one of these to suck out that last ounce of faith in humanity I had.

  70. mythago says:

    Tips are part of your food cost. Don’t like tips? You’ll be screaming and whining when the labor cost of paying waiters straight up, without tips, is added into the cost of your food. A 15% tip means that you’re not paying for overhead; you’re getting a break on the cost of your food.

    I’m normally very much behind waiters, who like all service people put up with a lot of idiots with power issues, but you know, sometimes the fuckwad is on the other side of the counter.

  71. MissTicklebritches says:

    The Golden Rule is the best way to go. Treat your server/cashier/bartender/salesperson the way you want to be treated. End of story.

  72. battra92 says:

    @mythago: You’ll be screaming and whining when the labor cost of paying waiters straight up, without tips, is added into the cost of your food.

    Just means I’ll eat out much less than I do now. Even now I only go to a restaurant when I’m on a date.

  73. dlab says:

    Having dated a few waitresses I know this is all true, and not to piss them off.

  74. AdvocatesDevil says:

    “Oh, but I had to show up and actually do my job! You should give me lots of your hard earned money because I did my job.” Um, no. If you give me crappy service, I’m giving you a crappy tip. If you provide good service, you get a good tip. How hard is this concept?

  75. jscott73 says:

    I waited tables for 5 years through college and I have recently started waiting tables again part time at night to pay off those college loans my wife and I have.

    I have never seen any major tamporing with food, maybe the cooks would go a bit overboard with special requests, like extra spicy would be way freakin’ spicy but the cooks are the ones who work really hard for the least amount of money.

    The whiny servers I have seen are those who feel “stuck” in their jobs, ie have to work this job to pay bills and aren’t going to school to learn to do something different that they might enjoy more.

    All the servers I have worked with who were either attending college or had day jobs were pretty cool and mostly shrugged off rude, power-hungry, guests or bad tips since the next table might be way cool and leave you a $100 tip on a $122 bill (happened to me a few night ago).

    I must say though that coming in just before closing or not paying your bill right away, at least within 20 minutes of receiving it is a little rude. I had to wait an hour and a half a few night ago for my last table to pay, I didn’t get home until 10:30pm but I still had to get up at 6am the next morning. I can’t fault them they didn’t know that but an hour and a half to not pay a bill is a bit excessive.

    Also for tipping if you leave a crappy tip or no tip at all the server lost money on your table. Servers still get taxed on the expected tip and have to tip-out around a total of 5-6% of the bill, not the tip. So a $100 bill with no tip would cost the server $8 or so. I’m not saying they shouldn’t work for their tip, I do, and I average 20% tips, but don’t judge them too harshly and if they suck at least give them a little to cover their costs.

  76. DanGross says:

    Here’s one thing about tipping I could never get my pea-brain around, and the arguments here support it: it does not really allow you to truly indicate poor service, unless you are a regular at a place. My starting point is around the 20% post-tax, pre-discount range (technically the percentage is supposed to be based on pre-discount, pre-tax, thus the “double the tax” rule of thumb). There are times that I get service that’s poor, but not poor enough that I’d bother calling the manager over to complain. I’m not looking to get a kid fired in these instances, just trying to send a quiet message that “really, you could do better” at a point in time where it will not have any bad effect on my food. Now if I leave a bad tip by my standards, it could still be considered an average tip unless I go really low. If I do go really low, a kid could pull the same “cheap bastard” excuse (blaming me rather than looking at his own performance) that I see thrown around here as the universal response to a poor tip. ..and it’s even clearer now that if I do say something to the waiter about the service before tipping low, then I’d get labeled as a cheapie who’s looking for excuses to not leave a tip…a no win for the consumer…Guess it really doesn’t matter, but it’s another angle to the absurdity of the tipping system…

  77. Ninjanice says:

    I like #4 and #13 and think they can be carried on to most service businesses. Employees know most people that claim to know the owner are full of bull. Either you would have seen that person around or the owner will typically let you know when one of his/her friends are coming in. I used to laugh when I worked for my mom at the flower shop she owns. It used to be owned by a family that we’ll call the Bensons. The flower shop still has the same name (Benson’s Flowers and gifts), but my mother is in no way a Benson. We’d have people come in all the time and say how they were friends with the owner, Jim Benson. The funny part is that if someone was actually friends with Jim Benson, they’d probably know that he’d sold the business years ago.
    I’ve worked in retail and food service and this is the most annoying thing customers do. They’ll come running in at 6:58 if you close at 7:00 and say “wow, I just made it before you closed, good timing, huh?”. No. Not good timing. Good timing would have been if you’d gotten here at 6:30, because what you want me to do is going to take at least half an hour.

  78. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    All servers make at least the federal minimum wage:

    If you are a server and you aren’t making at least min wage, your boss is screwing you and you should report them to the DOL.

    What I never got was the whole tip % thing. If I sit in a diner and order a cup of coffee and stay there for an hour, I should only tip 20 cents? If I order a big ass lobster tail, why should that equate a larger tip than if I ordered a small salad?

    Granted, I get aggravated over this because I worked full-time in a kitchen throughout college and even as the highest paid cook, all the waitstaff worked fewer hours than me and still made more than me (even after taxes). Oh well, that’s why I stopped eating out.

  79. chikarin says:

    here I was tipping about tax (13% here) + more or less thinking I was being reasonable but seeing how people bitch about 15% tips being low, I really don’t know what to think.

    most of the time when I dine out all they do for me is take order, bring me my order, talk to me when i’m chewing, and bringing me water. I don’t really think this amount of service grants such a high percentage.

    the so called “service” that the servers offer most of the time aren’t really that great or considerate. maybe it’s just me that never had a moving experience with a server but I don’t know, I just can’t justify their claimed value of their service.

  80. Carabell says:

    @Sidecutter: why couldn’t you give more out of your own pocket, then ?

  81. Shadowman615 says:

    @sparklingpink: Your comment about #1 is a bit naive. I don’t mean to be offensive there, it’s just that I worked for several years in quite a few restaurants as a waiter and bartender before I finished college. Every place I worked at was *always* slightly understaffed or staffed just so they could not afford for anyone to be missing. Almost all of the managers I worked with would press very hard for you to come in anyway when you were sick.

    Sure, the company handbook says not to work when you’re sick, but in practice, this is contrary to how the place is actually managed.

  82. DrGirlfriend says:

    To those repeating the “sounds like this guy’s just a whiner” schtick, based on reading a very small sample taken out of the guy’s larger work, I’d suggest taking a look at his blog, which is what got him the book deal in the first place. You may find that actually knowing what the guy is talking about might help. http://www.waiterrant.com

  83. puka_pai says:


    All servers make at least the federal minimum wage:

    According to the Department of Labor: “An employer of a tipped employee is only required to pay $2.13 an hour in direct wages”

    I know it goes on to say that the employer is supposed to make up the difference if the employee doesn’t make enough in tips, but that’s not how it ever works, in my experience. The reality is that the employer is allowed to assume a certain level of income in tips, and if the server doesn’t make that much, too bad. So when you short your server, it doesn’t just fail to reward him/her, if actually costs him money.

    I haven’t been a server since I was young and stupid (I went into retail management, which tells you how smart I ain’t!) but I’ve been an office manager in restaurants over the years and the wage policy is a crime. The problem is that no matter how good a server is, they’re still only guaranteed to make $85 a week before taxes. Everything else is up to the customers, and you can’t control for that. (Like the guy’s brother-in-law who is a cheap mofo.) For those people who say that being a server is easy, maybe you ought to try working a job where you can’t even be sure you can afford the deluxe cardboard box to live in at the end of the week.

  84. kable2 says:

    I live in canada, the waiters here get paid minimum wage or better. I sometimes tip a dollor , sometimes.

    If the restaurant wants me to pay for their staff they are crazy. Thats their problem. When I pay like $30 for food that cost them maby $4 to buy they are making enough to pay their own staff.

    /worked in a kitchen after high school
    //did the really hard work
    ///watched the waiters and waitresses make more money doing an easier job for less hours
    ////usually dont tip

  85. lalaland13 says:

    I worked at McDonalds for three weeks. It was the best lesson ever in compassion for food-service workers. I try to tip pretty well unless it’s just a crappy waiter who obviously doesn’t care. If they’re trying, that counts a lot for me, and I figure their managers are probably screwing them over some way or another.

  86. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    Best line in the whole article:

    Never say “I’m friends with the owner.” Restaurant owners don’t have friends.

  87. Tmoney02 says:

    12. If you want to hang out, that’s fine. But increase the tip to make up for money the server would have made if he or she had had another seating at that table.

    I can agree with this if the restaurant is packed and tables are at a minimum, though really in that case it is best for everyone involved, including the customers, to find a new location.

    Otherwise if there is open tables in their section I don’t see the need to increase their tip, unless of course they continue pouring the coffee and water, though most disappear after leaving the bill.

  88. zibby says:

    @kable2: Wow, how the heck did you get stuck in the kitchen?

  89. @Cupajo: (the “free lemonade” trick) My dad does this all. the. time. He got the habit from his crazy “ladyfriend” (who generally behaves, and looks, like a bag lady).

    ‘Cept my dad does it with Splenda, so it’s sugar free lemonade.

    It’s the height of embarrassing.

  90. tbbx says:

    It seems any restaurant story turns into a battle over tipping.

    I’m not a big fan of the current system, but I’m wondering if anything is being done to change things.

    I don’t see the French solution happening here:

    Does anyone know of any movements or sites devoted to this? Is anything happening beyond just talk?

  91. stre says:

    @chikarin: yikes, 13%. that’s the difference between coming home from a shift with $70 or $120, though i guess any money is good money.

    i had several situations when waiting tables where it was just obvious that the customers were using a different scale for tips (believe me, you can tell the difference between that and a bad tip), and you just kinda have to shrug them off. i had a family come in one time that appeared to have a pleasant dining experience, the mother paid and since it was her first time ever using a credit card and she didn’t understand the procedure(note: this was just 18 months ago) she asked me to put the $5 tip on the card instead of waiting for the tip sheet to come back to the table. the bill was $60. even before swiping the card i knew i was going to get screwed. before leaving they all mentioned how good the food and service was. they just had a different tipping scale. a VERY different tipping scale. in that case, i just had to smile and move on, but now when i go out to eat i live the mantra “complement with your wallet, not just your words.” i’m living comfortably enough, so a few extra bucks isn’t going to kill me. it could definitely make a server’s day, though.

    i’ve read several articles stating that the average tip is slowly creeping towards 20%. Not because the servers need more money to live on or anything but because younger restaurant-goers are simplifying the math. it’s a lot easier to calculate a 20% tip than a 15% tip for some people. especially since no one does math in their heads anymore.

  92. Canino says:

    My ex-mother-in-law used to always order “water with lemon” as her beverage. Made me cringe every time. Finally one day we were at a Chili’s or some similar place and I excused myself and went and found the waiter and told him to bring her lemonade and charge us for it. I slipped him a $10. Oh man was that funny. She argued and argued and got all indignant. Finally he looked at her with a straight face and said, “Ma’m, you ordered water with lemon. Water with lemon is called lemonade, and it costs $1.50.” She stormed out and went to the car. I paid for the drinks and gave the guy an extra $10 for his performance.

  93. colinjay says:

    I worked as a waiter twice, both at Tex-Mex places no less. Those have to be some of the worst places to works as you wouldn’t believe how many people expect free chips/salsa/tortillas to be on their table at all times. Not to mention plenty of people come in, order a $5 appetizer, eat chips, tortillas and drink water and would run me for a good hour. 15% of $5? $.75 tip. Nice.

    I think that folks should consider a minimum tip for small purchases $4 is where I start. Lunch that costs $10 bucks with good service gets about $4. It’s a 40% tip, sure, but there is nothing more depressing as a server than the lunch crowd that orders an appetizer and a water and still takes up a table in the end costing you money and leaving you with nothing more than pocket change to show for it.

    My biggest peeve about servers is rushing me from my table. If I take up your table, I’m going to compensate you, chill out. There is nothing more rude to me than being asked to leave which has happened to me twice. Both times I was astounded at the audacity of the server for making such a request. If I want to linger over wine and chat, I damn sure have the right to. I guess the cheap bastards of the world have forced servers to assume that nobody is going to compensate them for not turning the table.

  94. The_IT_Crone says:

    @sparklingpink: Are you kidding? In the end I lost my retail job because I was sick, and asked to to go home. I was told that “since I showed that I didn’t want to be there” I was fired.

  95. colinjay says:

    I also have to disagree with raising the standard tip rate to 20%. The fixed 15% should accommodate things such as the rising cost of living as it is tied to rising food prices.

  96. stre says:

    also, while the amount varies from restaurant to restaurant, basically everywhere requires servers to “tip out” to bussers and cooks (and sometimes even bartenders) based on the bill, so not leaving a tip because you don’t think it’s mandatory is really like skipping out on some of the bill, since the server is going to have pay that 5% or whatever it is anyway. if you don’t tip on a $50 bill, for example, the server literally loses $2-3 by serving you, which as i pointed out further up isn’t always covered by the hourly wage.

    and kudos to all of the cooks and bussers out there who work their asses off to make the servers look good.

  97. MrEvil says:

    I hate alot of these places that put out a tip jar now and they’re not a sit-down place. You have to stand at a counter, and walk and then hand somebody who stays in the same place your food then you go find a table on your own.

    Kinda the same reason I don’t tip when doing carry out. The Applebee’s in my town will actually come out to your car, ask you what order you’re waiting on and bring it to your car door. That’s worthy of a tip, but me having to park, come in, and then wait at the counter for someone to mosey on over does not. I tip more for delivery people when doing pizza or chinese. I tip $5 minimum or 25% (whichever is bigger)

  98. se7a7n7 says:

    NEVER NEVER NEVER say anything bad to people, complain or yell until after you get your food…. NEVER

  99. With regards to coming in sick, there’s a simple explanation why restaurant staff do it. If you don’t work your shift, then everyone else has to work extra (unless you can cut a deal with someone to cover your shift). It’s not like an office where you can just do your work the next day.

    @Canino: “Water with lemon” is not lemonade. I never order it, but I always add lemon at fast-food places with lemons available. And some places put a lemon in my water without asking.

    (Add sugar you’re pushing it, but that’s not what you said.)

  100. sparklingpink says:


    Thats hilarious because I actually DO work in a restaurant.

  101. sparklingpink says:


    It must happen on my planet cuz I do work in a restaurant and when people call in sick, they just get other people to replace the shifts.

    I guess I’m really lucky because I get tipped well and when service is slow (for customers), they at least understand because we are constantly busy.

  102. Canino says:

    @Michael Belisle: The way I see it, if a place has lemons sitting there or they bring them to the table normally without having been asked, then do whatever. But ordering “water with lemon” isn’t the same thing if lemons aren’t normally served free with water. Just expecting a business to supply you with free lemons so you don’t have to pay for something to drink…that’s what bothered me.

  103. Javert says:

    To all of you who mentally start your tip scale out at 15% and then slide it up or down based upon quality of service, kudos to you.

    For those of you who do not believe in tipping (regardless of service) because you are already paying for the food then don’t go out. You are not making a point. All you are doing is taking someone’s pay who has earned it because you have a beef with the way the restaurant system is in the United States. Suck it up. If you want to change it, open a restaurant and pay them a fair wage and let the patrons know you do. Until then, don’t screw over some kid trying to make ends meet or trying to pay for school because you don’t like the system.

    As for anyone citing Europe and their tipping system or lack there of, two points…one, the food is much much more expensive there because the staff is included in the meal and second, the service is almost always awful across the continent. If I got that service here, it would reflect in their tip. The servers in Europe would not last 10 minutes in the States b/c the servers here have to earn their money.

    Just a few side notes…if you use a coupon or gift certificate, please tip on the amount you would have paid had something not been free. Just to be fair to your server. Same goes for water. When calculating the tip mentally, add in the cost of a beverage.

    Oh and if the service is bad, never leave no tip. This is because your point will not be made. Most likely the server will just think you are one of the j-offs who ‘doesn’t like the system.’ Your point is not made. Leave some random amount…thirteen cents but not change from the bill. Let them know you made a conscious decision to reflect crappy service in the tip.

  104. AndyMan1 says:

    I just had an idea with regard to the tipping justification of “they get paid below minimum wage, so you should tip them to make up for it” an obvious solution to this problem is to just tip them the difference in wages.

    In Colorado, tipped minimum wage is $4.00, and non-tipped 7.02. The difference is $3.02. So I should be tipping $3.02/hr. If I’m at a diner for 2 hours drinking a bottomless cup of coffee, I tip $6.04. If order a $50 meal and spend half an hour there, $1.51.

    Now you no longer tip based on some vague subjective quality of service (which in my experience, waiters can never do wrong, the customer is always a shitty tipper and will get their food peed in the next time they come in).


  105. katiat325 says:

    I tip about 20-30%, 15% if I think the service was bad, 5-10% if I think it sucked. Great site to check out is [www.stainedapron.com]

  106. bbagdan says:

    Regarding working while sick:

    In restaurants, it is usually a catastophe if one or two workers are absent. Managers will beg and plead for you to come in if you are sick.

  107. People who think they’re entitled to a tip regardless of their service piss me off. Note to waiters: slapping the bill before you’re done with your meal is rude.

  108. mcjake says:

    @sparklingpink: “1. If a person was actually sick, Im sure management would have enough brains to send them home instead of have a dozen plus customers complain.”

    HA! You really haven’t ever worked or known anyone in the service industry have you? You should do stand up.

    Never ever, depend on service industry managers to do the right, decent or polite thing for their employees.

  109. Constantine says:

    Never say “I’m friends with the owner.” Restaurant owners don’t have friends.

    The thing is, no one who is actually friends with the owner would do this. In restaurants where I am friends with the owner, I come in, wave to the waitstaff, walk through the kitchen, and hang out with my friend, the owner, in his office, assuming he’s not working in the kitchen.

  110. Bunnifer says:

    Serving is a really difficult job, mentally and physically. Although I’ve never seen anyone tamper with food, customers have made me cry with how verbally abusive and rude they can be -especially when drunk.

    Most of my paychecks were less than $5.00 because of taxes from charged tips, I was often in charge of dishwashing (for the whole restaurant- as many of the other servers weren’t as experienced) as well as waiting on all my tables, half the time the cooks are screaming at you for not bringing out their food while customers are screaming about where their drinks are and your boss is yelling at your for forgetting an extra steak knife…

    I guess my point is that the people washing your tables, preparing your drinks, serving your food, doing the dishes AND going to get you an extra lemon slice is someone’s daughter or son and if you’re treating staff in a way that you wouldn’t want your children to be treated, c-c-check yourself.

  111. zibby says:

    @AndyMan1: Ha! Thoughts…yeah, here’s one: if you put this scheme into action, avoid going to the same place twice.

    Anyway – your joke illustrates what I said above, albeit far more humorously: People will jump through some amazing hoops to justify and/or rationalize cheapskate turd behavior. I kind of wanted to do that too, but I couldn’t come up with a “system” both plausible and amusing enough; I have no doubt that a few people will take it seriously and put it into action. Well played, sir.

  112. veronykah says:

    @shufflemoomin: Do you really think you would have anywhere NEAR the service you get now if waiters and bartenders were paid MINIMUM WAGE?
    I have a college degree and while working up the ladder of my chosen profession I still bartend. I bartended and waitressed all through college and at a point was making more money than my then airline pilot boyfriend.
    Go to McDonalds and take a look at the people working there…THOSE people will be your servers, bartenders etc if those jobs are reduced to minimum wage. I for one would quit IMMEDIATELY.
    To all the bad tippers. I have never understood the smug self satisfaction some people get from leaving a shitty tip. Whatever your reason is, it all seems to come back to making yourself feel superior to whoever is serving you.
    I leave 20% as a standard, its easy to do the math and is that 5% more really going to kill me? No.
    I also get BETTER service after tipping and on each subsequent visit.
    Just remember people who work for tips WILL remember you if you tip poorly. So next time you get bad service or a weak drink don’t wonder why. I’d rather give you a crappy drink and never see you again than have to serve you repeatedly for your miniscule tip.

  113. tracykins82 says:

    @Cupajo: hahaha…I had a friend that did this…but I didn’t know other people did! I emailed her the link after I read it

  114. Kevin Cotter says:

    My mother works at a K-Mart in Vegas. She works in the deli preparing pretzels and stuff. She has Hep-C, enjoy your pretzel.

  115. Cthumer says:

    #3 – Spitting in my food is a Felony. If you’re that pissed off, you might as well punch me in the face. You’ll get less jail-time.

  116. rockasocky says:

    @Channing: Sugar Bowl? Hula Bowl? All Star Game? UH vs. Boise?

    Also, who?

  117. MrMold says:

    Tipping was exempt because the servers tended to have melanin-rich dermis. Which explains a lot of the posters (posers) on this thread. Bow down, kiss my widdle weiner and maybe, just maybe, you’ll get enough to buy food this week.

    My former boss did this quite often. Stiff the waitstaff on tips. One day we all went to lunch….and discovered that the Regional Manager’s spouse was our server. What a sneaky way to scope out your treatment of others..

    WeaselBoss hasn’t had a promotion or raise since.

  118. Ilikenumbers says:


    Your point is soooo perfect.

    I’ve waited/cooked/bartended/managed at 4 different restaurants in my pre-professional days, and can tell you, the whole system is screwed.

    When I was at the Olive Garden (probably one of the most efficiently run, consistently good tipped restaurants of the four I worked in), the other servers and I would always hate the lunch crowd with the all you can eat soup/salad/breadsticks. The justification for your 4 dollar tip on a 14 dollar bill (assuming two people) was always the percentage, never the dozen or so refills on your items/beverages. To make it worse, our location was supremely busy every shift, so servers were stuck to three table sections during the hours between open and an hour or so before closing, when cuts were made. We used to call it the row of death, seeing your three tables ham it up for an hour (lunch money was all about table turns) with 12 bucks coming your way.

  119. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    @puka_pai: “I know it goes on to say that the employer is supposed to make up the difference if the employee doesn’t make enough in tips, but that’s not how it ever works, in my experience. The reality is that the employer is allowed to assume a certain level of income in tips, and if the server doesn’t make that much, too bad.”

    Again, if they are doing that they are breaking the law and should be reported. Then, when they are eventually inspected (and damn does it take forever for the DOL to do anything), and they get their big ass fine followed with having to pay missing wages, you can just smile away. Not that I ever reported the restaurant I worked at for anything. ;)

  120. parad0x360 says:

    12. If you want to hang out, that’s fine. But increase the tip to make up for money the server would have made if he or she had had another seating at that table.

    I agree but sometimes that are just being stupid. For instance I was at a Bickfords (amazing breakfast) at 6am and they are just opened. I was romancing a co-worker after an all night shift and we ordered breakfast and then hung out and talked, all while drinking a couple cups of coffee. We where there for about an hour or so and the waitress was pestering us to hurry.

    Problem is we were the only people there the whole time and we planned on leaving a $15 tip on a $20 bill which I think is quite generous.

    We ended up leaving $10 which is still 50% but she really pissed me off and that was the last time we went there and we used to go between 1 and 3 times a week and everytime we left very nice tips. After that we went to the far inferior Denny’s and they never gave a damn how long we stayed.

  121. Khaotix says:


    Soulds legit if you were eating at a Dennys. If it’s a decent restaurant the waitstaff is a step up from acne-prone teenagers.

    When you go somewhere and the waiter understands the menu fully, can act as a decent sommelier, and provides a high level of service (anticipates your needs, cleans your crums, all that jazz) then I can understand giving them 20% of an expensive meal.

    I personally hate tipping. I almost always leave 18-20% unless the service is wretched. In Boston this feels like the norm. I wish tip was simply rolled into menu prices so the server received a fair wage and leaving an extra 5-10 on top of exceptional service was the norm.

  122. HeartBurnKid, creepy morbid freak says:

    @Legal_Eagle_In_Training: You know, I don’t have a problem with tipping, but no — it has not gone up from 15%. And it won’t go up from 15%, at least as long as I’m the one tipping, no matter how entitled the waiter feels.

  123. HeartBurnKid, creepy morbid freak says:

    @HeartBurnKid, creepy morbid freak: Just to clarify, I’m not saying that I never tip more than 15%, but that 15% is and always will be my “baseline” amount.

  124. velvetjones says:

    @lemur: If you’re really friends of the owner, the owner will tell the staff before you get there.

    We always labeled our customers good tippers or bad tippers, so always tip well at a restaurant you plan on returning to, so often the difference between a good tip and a bad tip is a dollar. Also, if you get treated poorly by a waiter and tip him well, you OWN that guy. It’s a great way to get the last word.

  125. Sick_N_Tired says:

    @Canino: Not if she’s diabetic. That’s corn syrupade – at least water with lemon is water. With lemon.

  126. dweebster says:

    @brooksosheffield: Report the incident to the Public Health Department. Firing you or otherwise disciplining you for not coming in sick would be a violation of Public Policy – illegal, and Olive Garden and their nasty food should know that they can have their ass handed to them and you get back wages.

  127. You think these confessions are bad, we do tons more stuff than this and there is a ton more you just don’t know about the people who handle your food.


    Also, to AndyMan1, we are on our feet for 98% of our shift, we have to pay taxes on those tips, we have to tip out on those tips. Tipping based on the wage vs. the service quality like you’re telling people to do would literally break us.

  128. Landru says:

    And if you do allude to being friends with the owner, you’d better overtip. Not just tip, but wayyyy overtip. Because you supposedly know what it’s like.

  129. Prions says:

    “On two occasions, I actually exited the restaurant before the food was served because I felt that I had displeased the staff and feared their retribution. After reading these confessions, I think my instincts were dead-on.”

    Please tell me you’re not serious. So you made them make the food and ran? You do realize that the restaurant needs to throw out that food now. (Or eat the cost.)

  130. DrTweeker says:

    #10 is probably the most important – if you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to go out, it’s just part of the process – otherwise the server/waiter is actually paying for the ability to wait on you and tip the bartender/other staff on your behalf – so now you’re just not bucking the system, but you’re on a sort of “server welfare” where the system actually supports you LOL

    [www.RagingServer.com] is another one that should probably write a book, or one of the “confessions of” entries – the things this server talks about would amaze even the most established restaurant goer and probably even some in the industry.

  131. AcidReign says:

        When I used to work in the restaurant biz (cook, not a server!), I LOVED the “10 minutes before closing” customer. Hey, I was an hourly employee, probably already on overtime, and I was paying my own rent. “What ever you guys want!” If they drank and chatted for hours, so much the better. I was working about 65 hours a week, and didn’t have a social life, anyway. The later I hit the clock, the better, and I didn’t drink up as much of my take afterward.

  132. mr mike says:


    Again, they said “If you can not afford to tip” Don’t go to the restaurant expecting bad service so you won’t have to tip.

  133. Roclawzi says:

    On #2, that’s correct about sick time, and it’s not only because of the money, it’s hard to run without a full staff. I’ve worked as bartender, waiter, and manager all at the same time because we didn’t have enough people. However, the owner of my place was a great guy who did appreciate people who went above and beyond, and would not only occasionally give bonuses on rough nights, but actually made up for my salary and tips on two days I missed because I got glass in my eye.

    3.Never seen anyone spit in food, but I’ve seen rude customers get skipped as far as getting their food. If two tables come up at the same time and the rude table was there first, they are still getting helped last. Poor service gets rude behavior, but the reverse is true, too.

    4.Yes owners have friends, and if they want you to treat them special, they will tell you. Mostly it means free dessert. Still, good to know that your customer has a relationship with the owner if they want to complain. Doesn’t entitle them to anything at all.

    6.Don’t snap your fingers because we will not hear it. And if we do, we’ll totally ignore it.

    7.Special orders shouldn’t be a problem, but deviate too far from the original meal and who knows. Place where I worked sold a nice potato crusted sole, and someone was on the atkin’s diet and didn’t want the potato crust, so I watched the chef pick off the crust with his bare hands. Yum

    8.Passive aggressive here on the water with lemon issue. I generally would bring them a long spool and extra lemon and sugar as well as a dish for the squeezed lemon wedges. Why? Because it looks like good service, but is really just highlighting the behavior. I did it this way because our lemonade was not only not fresh, but it was also too sweet, so if someone did this because they liked it better, they appreciated it. If someone did it because they wanted to be cheap, it was embarassing.

    9.100% yes on asking for a particular waiter. As manager I made note of it for two reasons: 1.To see if this was someone’s friend trying to get away with something for nothing. and 2. To see and appreciate what a good job the waiter was doing with these customers. It was usually one of the other, but when I was bartending or managing, I still had 3 seperate groups who would only have me wait on them, so I would still take their tables, but give the tip to the server assigned to the table. I wanted the customer happy, but never at the expense of a coworker.

    10.Tipping is an important issue and basic service deserves 15%, not 18%, but be very sensitive to the quality of the service you are getting, because the best waiter you will ever have is the one you don’t notice, but appears with the food right when you are ready, the drinks or requests for refills right when you are ready…and more often than not, this waiter gets average tips for exceptional service because they are so unobtrusive.

    11.Examine the check for a tip, remember that a built-in tip doesn’t have to be the whole tip. Sometimes large parties would get the automatic 18% and tip another 10 over that and when I point it out, they would tell me it’s intentional, which was very cool of them. I had one table of 14 people that bet me my tip that they I couldn’t run their table without my notepad, just hit it out of memory, and when I was done they asked the manager on duty if they could take the automatic tip off and the manager did. They, in turn, tipped 40% of the bill to me in cash with the whisper of “don’t claim it all”. Obviously this is not normal circumstances, and I didn’t hide tips from the busboy/bartender, but nevertheless it was very cool of them.

    12.Hanging out at 8:30 is one thing, hanging out at 6:30 is another. Tip a little extra if you hang out when the place is mostly empty. But tip a lot extra if you loiter during dinner rush or, even worse, the last hour it’s opened. Servers often get to leave up to an hour before closing, leaving just one or two to handle the rest. And if you are hanging out, don’t be afraid to ask for the check early so your server can close out, and tell them you will be hanging around for a bit but wanted to settle up. They will be able to cash out and go home and the close out servers will still take care of your empty coffee cups. At least, in theory.

    13.Coming at closing time is not just a heat lamp issue. Cooks are their all day. As the place winds down, they are cleaning up and going home. You come in late for a meal and you’re likely going to get someone who usually makes appetizers and bar food making your entree, and the quality won’t be quite as good. When my place closed the kitchen at 10, by 8:30 we were down to 3 servers and 4 chefs, by 9:30 it was 1 server and 1 chef.

    And restaurants don’t pay much to servers, this is true, and at some point I had 6 months worth of paychecks in the amount of 20-30 bucks each in the glove compartment of my car. The owner asked for my keys, went out and got them, and cashed them out for me because he was so tired of having them outstanding on his account. So yes, they get paid by the hour a bit, but what you’re tipping them is everything they live off of.

    And one final note, this doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. Since waiter jobs are often a dime a dozen, you don’t always get ethical people. If you pay with a credit card, check to make sure there is just the one charge on the card. I’ve had to fire a person for charging off a cash-paying customer’s bill to someone’s credit card and pocketing the cash. The shocking part wasn’t that he did it, but that he had been doing it for 5 months before someone noticed and complained.

  134. ffmariners says:

    All of my friends I know who are waiters and waitresses make a minimum of $15/hr when it is averaged out. Some work at restaurants like Applebees (Crapplebees)

    My girlfriend came home the other night from a 8 hour shift with $220. She ALWAYS makes over $100 shift.

    I have worked in a restaurant before but it was a $9/hr thing in high school, they told the patrons no tips were required unless they thought the service was exceptional.

    Stop EXPECTING 15-20% tips waiters/waitresses… we all know you get paid well enough for what you do. You want a nice tip, work for it.

  135. ffmariners says:

    Oh, and during the holiday season… if you get a package delivered… do you tip the UPS seasonal driver’s helper?

    He is only making $8-10/hr and is busting his ass more than a waiter. I would know. And no, no one tips them.

  136. Leohat says:

    A couple of thoughts

    1)Here in WA, it is illegal for a food service worker to work in a restaurant while sick.

    2)It is illegal and criminal for a food service worker to adulterate (Spit in) your food. There was a case in CA where a waitstaff adulterated the food of a pair of cops. He went to jail.

    3)There seems to be a hazing mentality going on here. Of course people don’t want to work in jobs where the attitute is “I suffered so you must too”.

    4)I think that is should be illegal for management to pay subpar wages and expect tips to cover the differance. I think that waitstaff should be paid a wage + commission (not tips) on the value of the meals they sell.

  137. welsey says:

    @i.hate.trustafarians: Amen, I went and cried in the bathroom in the middle of my shift last weekend because people are just assholes. If you want to have every person you interact with treat you like shit take a job in the service industry. I’m not even a server, just a hostess, and I still get tons of crap. If the manager isn’t yelling at me for almost anything he can come up with, customers are coming up to me complaining about slow service (which requires me to go back to the kitchen and pretend to talk to someone, because there’s no way in hell I’m telling a server his/her service is “slow” according to some douche customer who couldn’t even be bothered to listen to my response before walking away) or getting pissed at me for not reading their minds about where they wanted to sit.

    And the only reason you shouldn’t tip is if you sat yourself, got up from the table and put your own order in, cooked the food, got your plates from the kitchen to your table, refilled your own water, bussed the table, and wished yourself a good night on the way out (then came back in to spray down the table and roll up a few sets silverware to replace the ones you used).

  138. bria says:

    He’s got a book deal and is featured in a national magazine. Who’s the loser?

    Oh, and he didn’t just lose his job. If you read his blog, you’d know he’s worked in many upscale restaurants and actually likes his job. He’s just witty and has a lot to say about it. You don’t have to read the book or this article, you know?

  139. Colage says:

    I’m not anti-tip, but come on.

    Being a server is that hard? My old roommate generally made $100 or more in tips over a 4-hour shift in addition to $7.25 for CA minimum wage. Meanwhile, people with genuinely hard jobs – manual laborers, janitors, etc. really do make minimum wage or worse. People are mean to you? Welcome to the workplace.

    Again, I’m not trying to say people shouldn’t tip, but this inflated sense of self-importance I hear from servers whenever the subject of tipping comes up is laughable.

  140. Grive says:

    @forgottenpassword: The original point had nothing to do with the quality of service, though. IF you CAN’T afford the tip, you can’t afford the restaurant, Period. This is completely true. Fine, don’t leave a tip if the waiter was an ass. Heck, leave one cent if that waiter was particularly bad – a huge slap in the face.

    But if a waiter is good, there isn’t a valid excuse to skip on tipping. You can’t know if the waiter will be good or bad – so you’re deciding not to tip no matter what.

    THAT was the point.

  141. ffmariners says:

    @Colage: Amen.

  142. hoosieradvisor says:

    Like the old story goes: An impatient Bill Clinton was in a restaurant eating dinner with a group of people. He grabbed a passing waiter by the shirt tail and said, “Bring me some butter right now.”

    The waiter said, “I will in just a minute, sir. I have to take an order first.”

    Bill Clinton scoffed and said, “Young man, do you know who I am? I am the former President of the United States.”

    The waiter said, “Sir, do you know who I am?”

    President Clinton snickered and then responded, “No, who are you?”

    The waiter respectfully said, “I’m the one who controls the butter.”

  143. OsiUmenyiora says:

    I was a busboy in two relatively fancy restaurants. I’ve seen steak fall on the floor, get stepped on, get picked up and taken back to the kitchen, be washed off, reheated and re-served. I’ve seen kitchens infested with roaches while the restaurant remained open. I’ve seen waiters accidentally step in large pots of tomato sauce left on the floor of a walkin refrigerator. I’ve seen cigarette ashes brushed off a birthday cake brought in from outside and cut and served from the kitchen. Those champagne bottles for your wedding? The busboys are shooting them at each other in the back room while they suck nitrous gas from the whipped cream cans. Pretty much whatever you can imagine goes on in a restaurant.

  144. varro says:

    @West Coast Secessionist: He should go to Murky Coffee and try to make a “ghetto latte”.

  145. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    i am absolutely amazed that no one brought up something that i learned the hard way from my ex boyfriend, who was a waiter for most of the three years we were together.
    he didn’t spit in food. he put visine in it.
    yes, he WAS truly evil and i know exactly what the effects are because he put visine in my iced tea when i tried to break up with him. two days in the hospital from severe dehydration and heart palpitations.
    use just a little and you end up spending several hours in the bathroom with the runs. i obviously got more than a couple of drops when he dosed my drink

    my mother is an insanely bad tipper, the kind of person who will order a $1.50 beverage and tip $0.15 cents on it regardless of service level. whenever she took me out to lunch i’d excuse myself during the meal [after the food was served just in case] to track down the server out of sight of my mom and ‘pre-tip’ them at least 10% more of the estimated cost of what we had ordered, explaining that she just doesn’t understand tipping. i worked at that well known theme park in florida and we usually went to an on-property restuarant to use my discount – she’d tip on the DISCOUNTED amount too… *sigh* it’s a hard enough job serving tired sweaty tourists in flip flops and tube tops in a fine dining restaurant without having to get shafted on the tips too.

  146. AlphaWolf says:

    @Canino: I disagree that because you do not want caffeine or sugar in your drink (harder to avoid than it sounds) you are ripping off the restaurant for a “free” lemon slice.

    If the restaurant wants to charge for a lemon then so be it, hardly an ethical dilemma.

  147. ian937262 says:

    @sparklingpink: about your first comment. I’m a server. They don’t send you home. It sounds stupid but I was forced to serve with no voice before. It was the worst day I’ve ever worked.

  148. z4ce says:

    For those of you wishing that waiters were just paid what they deserve, come to Australia first. That’s the system they have here. Unfortunately, you will find the service in even nice restaurants is far below U.S. casual level. You pretty much have to grab a waiter if you want a refill or anything else.

    My aussie wife was of the opinion that waiters should be paid “fair wage” and not depend on tips.. until she went to the U.S. and saw how much better the service was. And the good waiters can make a lot more than the “fair wage.” So basically: incentives work. Keep them.

    It makes me wonder how it would be possible to change a culture from “non-tip culture” to tip-culture. It doesn’t seem like it would be possible. But at the same time when I first moved here to Australia everyone took their shopping carts (trolleys) around the mall… and some how they changed that in what seemed to be overnight!

  149. @ffmariners: We expect 15-20% because we DO work for it! Good servers have no respect for those that don’t work hard because we bust our asses for our money.

    There are plenty of nights we don’t make good money; sometimes the good nights of the week balance out with the bad nights but ofttimes they don’t, so actually do some research before you make such a callous statement as you made.

    For those of you who go out thinking that you can order a glass of water and a bowl of lemons, think again. Servers hate it when you make “Ghetto-ade” and many of us charge for a lemonade, especially if you demand a bowl of lemons per refill. I have no problem charging for it, or at the very least, for a buck fifty side of fruit so that my restaurant gets the cash for those lemons you’re trying to steal.

    For those of you thinking that serving is easy, then you try it for a week or two. I’ve seen plenty of hard asses that thought they were God’s gift to the world break down and walk out because they couldn’t handle the stress the guests caused them, or the constant running required of them.

    Also, make sure you tip on the discounted price if you’re getting food taken off your bill for some reason, because we still get taxed and tip out on the original price. If there was nothing wrong with the service, and you have a problem with the kitchen then you should take it up with the management and the cooks, don’t screw your server behind it. It’s not always our fault when your food comes out messed up, and a good server will own up to it when it is their fault!


  150. snowburnt says:

    Most of those points were asinine and not true for most restaurants.

    The last couple ones were very good.

    I’d add: if your meal is bad, undercooked, overcooked, it’s not your server’s fault. Don’t tip based on food quality, tip based on customer service. If the server handles it wonderfully and is able to get you a new meal or talk the manager into comping some of the ticket without the manager having to be called over, obviously the server should get a better tip than one that just apologizes or does nothing about it.

    As always, to get good customer service, start by being a good customer.

  151. Many of the things waiters do are crimes punishable by law (messing with your food, working sick, etc.). Just because they can get away with it, doesn’t mean is not a crime. I don’t know about you, but it looks to me that the service industry is populated by a bunch of would-be criminals with a sense of entitlement.

  152. HeartBurnKid, creepy morbid freak says:

    @ffmariners: I’ll tip the driver if I see him; unfortunately, most of these UPS drivers seem to be ninjas. If I’m lucky, they’ll actually knock on my door before abandoning the package on my doorstep. Made me feel all warm and fuzzy when I ordered a $250 monitor, and found it sitting on my doorstep for “Bob”-knows how long in full view of my neighbors in my apartment building in a horrible neighborhood.

  153. lmo says:

    So for the past 7 years I’ve worked at restaurants and bars and the one thing that gets me is that people don’t realize is that we don’t make a paycheck! So please tip! (and 15% is no longer the norm…good service should get 18-20%) And tell your friends to tip too

  154. BadAxe says:

    @sparklingpink: You don’t think “enhancing” the food is commonplace in restaurants at every level? Welcome to Earth. Look around, you might enjoy yourself.

  155. ehlaren says:

    @Javert: You work waitstaff don’t you?

    Excuse my language but, fuck the tipping system and the horse it rode in on. The majority of people will make arguments such as yourself till they are blue in the face about how if the system needs changed then they should open up a resturant and pay them living wages. Guess what, it would go under. Why? Because the current system is a lopsided to people that don’t. The public is subsidizing the wages of the places they patron PERIOD.

    If more people wouldn’t tip instead of it being a fringe activity then it would be less common for waitstaff to complain about the customers are more common to see things like wait staff unions, organizing, and push for laws and change in the ridiculous system that is probably the closest thing we currently have to state sanctioned slave labor. Do waitstaff really feel proud knowing that they can only survive based upon the whims and good charity of the people that happen to patronize the store? Can you think of any other job whatsoever that is based on the same principles? I sure can’t.

    To be honest, I am hypocritical because I DO tip. I tip though because it is the only way I feel that I have a direct impact on someones day and can make them feel good. Not because I feel that I have to. But, as you can tell I am one of the people that will actually speak up on how tipping is horse shit in its’ current form. I have worked as a bus boy. There are some waitresses who should get a living wage + awesome tips. There are some waitresses that should be fired. Instead you see good waitresses get boned because some loser had a bad day and you see the ones who should get fired because they are ridiculously horrible get tips because people think they have to tip. The whole system is lopsided and will someday change because this system has a feedback loop that revolves around the fact that even if you are crappy and do a small amount of work you get money. Guess what happens? Thats right everyone starts doing the smallest amount of work and then the customers finally say enough is enough and the system collapses. You’re already seeing it.

  156. Preppy6917 says:

    @Cupajo: Happens all the time. I just ring up a lemonade when one of my tables does it.

  157. Preppy6917 says:

    @The Raging Server: True dat. I often take the blame even when the error had nothing to do with me. People appreciate accountability, and I’m the public face for the family-owned and operated fine dining restaurant that I work in.

  158. ffmariners says:

    @The Raging Server: No, you do NOT work for it. You want to do hard work? Become a UPS loader (of trailers, not delivery trucks, even though that is harder than waiting, too.). Become a landscaper. Become a number of any other jobs. You surely do work, but not in the way you intend it.

    The nights you “don’t make money” are far outnumbered by the nights you do make money. Once again… all my friends as examples… complain about a night where they “only” make $80 for 6-8 hours. ONLY. HAH!

    And research? As I said… I worked at a restaurant for 13 months. Just because it wasn’t tip based doesn’t mean I did not encounter the “pressures of the job.” And then all my friends and GF talk endlessly about waiting… so I know how a bunch of different restaurants operate.

    And water + lemons = natural

    I work at a major beverage bottler right now. Do you know what goes into lemonade? I love lemonade but will not drink it. So perhaps they are just being health conscious. Charge away. And how nice of you to care so much for your restaurants costs, when you are disposable to them.

    And I understand the cooks role in the eating out process. HOWEVER, I am paying the waiter to be my liason between everyone else so I don’t have to. If something messes up, ultimately it is their fault as they are the last line of defense and working for me (thats what working for tips is, right?)

    Waiters who feel they are owed 15-20% are a dime a dozen and unfortunately make the rest look bad

  159. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @The Raging Server: Who cares what you expect? Even if you supposedly worked for it? (Which is my decision, not yours!)

    I can expect a fifty percent raise on my next annual review because I do the job of someone who gets paid fifty percent more than I do, but what do you think would happen if I marched into the boss’s office and told him so? He’d say the exact same thing I’m telling you. He’d say that it’s his decision how good my work was. He’d say that if my work was exceptional, he’d give me a bonus. (He did this year, and it was a decent one.) But his payroll decisions are not made based on what his employees expect. My pay is based on my work quality and productivity, and so should yours be.

    I can understand and appreciate your efforts to educate people about the plight of the server and the way the system works. But your lofty attitude that we are too damn stupid to read your mind and divine your ever-increasing “expectations” is ludicrous.

  160. Kat says:

    I don’t like that articles like these sometimes contain violent threats. Not the spitting in our food – that is a valid warning. But number 6 – “6. Don’t snap your fingers to get our attention. Remember, we have shears that cut through bone in the kitchen.” That is just a ridiculous threat that should have been edited out. While I’m never rude enough to snap my fingers at a waiter, if I knew what restaurant that waiter worked in, I’d not go there.

  161. Roclawzi says:

    Wow. Seriously, people, work in food service for a while. For the last 6 years, I’ve been in a manual labor job, working as a general maintenance worker for a hospital. I do demolition, tear down and rebuild boilers, install plumbing and move furniture and a plethora of other things and I can tell you this:
    I preferred working in the food industry, but it was far more difficult. And here’s why (and I swear I wish this list wasn’t going to lost on page two of an old post)

    1.Time limits:You are bound in food service industry to whatever time limit the customer silently desires. Too soon or too late, and you’re screwed. Working labor, if the job can’t be done in time, it won’t, and there’s nothing they can do about it but pay me overtime to get it done faster.

    2.There is a chain of people designed to screw you up. Food runners, busboys, expeditors, hosts, bartenders, cooks. It’s your tip at risk, yet all these people are going to have an effect. The food runner that takes your food to the wrong table. The busboy that starts taking their dishes while they are still “working on them”. The expeditor who thinks that 20 seconds between apps and entree is cool at the beginning of the shift and 45 minutes between them is normal in the middle and won’t listen to a single request to wait or speed up. The host that seats you with two tables in two minutes. The bartender who is busy angling for their own tips and/or watching the bar TVs while their service tape runs 30 drinks deep. The cooks that get backed up and take shortcuts with your food, or send it out before it’s ready to shut the expeditor up. All of these people can ruin your table’s evening and who gets hurt the worst by it, the server. And let’s not forget the managers (some of them) who find it easier to blame the server than the mangle of ineptitude running in circles in the kitchen. Working manual labor, the chain of stupidity is usually much shorter, and when the job breaks down, it breaks down completely and everyone knows who dropped the ball.

    3.Entitlement:Customers who come in thinking that you’re the genie in the bottle for them. They believe they can dictate the boundaries of your responsibilities and you, like a schmuck, do everything you can to prove them right because you need them happy and tipping. In the manual labor world, the bosses try to set limits, but ultimately it comes down to what you can do and in what timeframe. As long as you’re not a slacker, they know you will give them everything they can get, and if that’s not enough, they shouldn’t make promises they can’t keep.

    4.Everyone is an authority. The warm pink middle of this steak does NOT mean it’s rare. It means it’s medium. If you wanted no pink in it at all, order it well done. Well done is not charred, no matter what happens on your BBQ grill at home. This rum and coke has too much coke because I can’t read the menu through the glass. This lemonade is too sweet. Everyone has an opinion, and since you need to appease these people, sadly, you’re bound to their insane desires. In the manual labor world, not only do the majority of your customers have no idea of what you are doing aside from “moving a sink across the room and installing a therapy whirlpool”. You have tools that they don’t recognize and it’s generally intimidating. They are many times more likely to accept the results they get as the best it could possibly be.

    5.Downtime: Simply put, there is none. Maybe it’s only a 5 hour dinner shift. But you have opening prep, mid shift prep, early birds while you’re still prep, the rush, the closing, clean up…if you find 5 minutes to go smoke a cigarette, you’ve stolen it from something else you could be doing. And sharing prep is no better because Elazybeth DoLittleOrNothing has cut up four lemons for friday night because there were so many thrown away from the twenty you cut for thursday night. Working maintenance, I get scheduled (PAID!) breaks, I can slip out for a smoke without anyone particularly caring (within reason), and scheduled (PAID!) lunch. I work 8.5 hour days, and considering clean up, travel, breaks…really it’s about 6.5 hours of actual work.

    6.Sick time means no tips. Even if they let you have it, you’re going to go broke from being sick. Between vacation and sick time, I have 38 paid days off, plus 6 holidays…all of which are paid, and if I work on a holiday, it’s time and a half + the paid day.

    7.Insurance: If there is any, it’s going to eat whatever meager leavings there are in your paycheck, god forbid you have to insure your spouse or child. In the labor industry, I have life insurance, health insurance, dental and an eye plan.

    8.Disposable employees: You could work for a place for three years and depending on management, especially new management, you could be canned without warning on the complain of a insane customer. You have no recourse, you are at the mercy of management, and can only hope that they are on your side. On the labor side, I’m a union member. I can’t be disposed of easily unless I screw up in an epic fashion, and even then I have several avenues of fighting for my job, and if I do win it back, all that time I was out? I get paid for it.

    There are other reasons, but I work in the labor industry now because I have a family and my wife doesn’t work. I provide for them with a steady paycheck and I don’t have to buy cheaper diapers due after getting a 3% tip on a 12 top because the gentleman who’s turn it is to pay is hiding money from his wife because he wants to get a half hour in the champagne room of the strip club or he bet on Rampage Jackson knocking out Forrest Griffin in the first round.

    But I preferred the food service industry because I was a bartender at the end. I started as a waiter, then split time doing day bar, then I was head bartender, then I was night manager for a while, and then back to bartending again when the hours changed and the night manager job wasn’t needed. I loved bartending because I knew all my regulars and managed a friendship with everyone one of them, at least as long as I was pouring their drinks. Servers often maintain the same relationship with their regulars, too. I didn’t leave willingly (new owners with a bartender from their old place wanted to give him the best shifts, and I didn’t volunteer to go back to 2 nights and 3 days on the bar), but it did ultimately work out for the best for me.

    I also preferred the service industry because I was a manipulative bastard who made it a game of giving the people what I wanted by making them believe it was what they want. I exerted control over the customers in subtle ways about 80% of the time, and it was probably a serious character flaw on my part at the time.

    And maybe this is the best indicator, but after 8.5 hours at work and an hour commuting, I still have energy to play with my daughter or do some work around the house. After 5 hours waiting tables or 8 behind the bar, all I had energy to do was take my shoes off before I passed out on the couch. Usually.

  162. Roclawzi says:

    @ffmariners: You know how one becomes a UPS loader or a landscaper? They start at another job and fail miserably. You may have no respect for your “last line of defense” but being a server is not an unskilled job. Anywhere from 2 to 30 people are looking to you to juggle all their desires for their dining experience and every small mistake is met with anything from mild hostility to outright rudeness, not to mention loss of income. Waitstaff do not have high turnover because it’s a stepping stone other things, they have a high turnover because people wash out of it, constantly.

    And it’s not all sunshine and roses on the pay issue. If you manage to string together a run of bad days (like a week of snow followed by random salmonella scare on the local news), you’re in trouble. That’s money gone. You might make it up later, but you might not, too.

  163. Roclawzi says:

    @speedwell: No, you HOPE to get a 50% raise commiserate to raise your pay to the perceived level of the tasks you are completing. I’ve done jobs that were worth thousands of dollars for an outside contractor in my current job and I expected to get paid my hourly rate for the 2 days it took me to do it. I did my job well, and since my pay is in a rigid system, the expectations are clear.

    If you expected to get a 50% increase to make your responsiblities, you’d quit when you didn’t get. You couldn’t work for someone who was overworking you because you don’t stand up for yourself and you take on extra work because it’s there to be done, even if you have no specific contractual obligation to it, right?

    Now, this bonus you mentioned. Glad it was a decent one. Now, what if you turned in the same quality work but at your annual review they told you that it was the wrong color paper on your TPS reports and you used the wrong font, causing eye strain to your superior and instead of giving you a bonus, they are going to keep your next 3 paychecks as a way of punishing you for their arbitrary complaints that in the really real world have nothing to do with the quality (nor the above and beyond amount) of your work?

    Well, Raging Server’s manager is only his boss in the sense that he gives him a very small paycheck and tells him he can come back to work again tomorrow. As a server, each and every table is your boss. They make the payroll decisions when they decide how much to tip you. You may indeed be penalized because they are having a bad day. You may be penalized because they were caught in flagrante delicto with then neighbor’s prize winning pug by their wife who tossed them out without their supper. You may be penalized because your table next to this one has four kids running amok and parents that told you to go do something anatomically impossible when you asked them to keep their children seated.

    You can talk about your expectations with your boss all you like, and gatekeepers of the payroll, but it does not apply here. It’s a rigid system based on rules.

    Servers are subject to many many “bosses” a day, every customer, every table. They may be cheap, insane, angry, or not like their food, potentially none of which is the server’s fault. The bottom line is that you can do everything right and still get the snub from payroll. It’s a loose system with no rules. Raging Server, and others are making suggestions about what the rules should be, and getting a lot of noise for it. People by and large do not know best in every situation they are in. In the server/customer relationship, the server is the professional but ultimately, the customer decides the value of the work. The tipping system is indeed bass ackwards, but it’s not going anywhere soon. But no one is going to start a revolution over it, the most we could hope for is that the readers here consider what’s said and maybe act better themselves.

    Yesterday, I got a call from a neighbor who bought a new fridge with an automatic ice maker, I quoted her 30 bucks + parts to hook it up because it wasn’t in a handy spot for it. I went over, split the kitchen sink’s cold water feed, put in a “T” and ran 9 feet of flexible copper tubing, 6 of it behind cabinets and 3 of it under the molding. It took me about 10 minutes. If I had told her I’d do it and afterwards she could pay me what she wanted, I’d have left with a plate of cookies and a net loss of about 15 bucks for the parts. But that is how the servers get paid.

  164. janai says:

    I live in a state whose laws require base pay for waiters to be no less than the minimum wage, so unless service has been extraordinary or (in rare circumstances) I’m in a high-end restaurant, I keep my tips to 15%; paying someone else’s salary is not my problem. (I work FOR said state, and am therefore not exactly rich. :) When in the restaurant, though, I’m always polite and patient and don’t make a fuss, and I’ve had waiters tell me they liked me anyway (on the second or third time, so they know how I tip), so I tend not to worry much about people getting, um, creative with my food.

    Basically: be fair, be aware and don’t be a jerk, and everyone ought to come out okay. Applies to everything, really.

  165. Channing says:

    Oh, right. And some guy that worked in Nick’s Restaurant.