It still amazes me when people patronize restaurants and treat their waitstaff like personal slaves. Being a part of the food service industry and dealing with people constantly is no easy feat. I think it’s important to consider a few things when dealing with “the help.” As a member of the National Guild of People who Carry Your Food, I think it’s important to take a moment to mention this phenomenon and to shine some light and perspective on the world of Waitressing.
1. I am not a servant. Most of us chose this job because it’s lucrative in proportion to the amount of hours we need to work to make rent, snag a season pass, or to put ourselves through the schooling necessary to pursue something outside of the service industry. Please don’t speak down to me or any of my fellow waitstaff. I expect those who patronize the restaurant I work at to treat me with dignity and respect. This is my job and while responding to your every beck and call may be in the description, putting up with your shit because we don’t have anymore of your favorite beer on tap or we ran out of tonight’s special is not. Just because I am not allowed to tell you that I hope your dick falls off, doesn’t give you the right to treat me like your workhorse.
2. I am handling your food. This one is painfully obvious. You have no idea what waitstaff or bartenders could be telling the kitchen about your attitude and treatment of them. Now I am not insinuating that the restaurants you choose to visit are staffed by Dane Cook look-alikes who are hawking huge loogies and spitting them on your steak you’ve sent back for the seventeenth time, I’m merely suggesting that you keep in mind who is in control of what you’re consuming when you’re dining out.
3. I am human. Cut us a little slack. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have expectations when you go out to eat. That’s part of your dining experience and you are absolutely entitled to want satisfactory service where you’re choosing to spend your time and money. Sometimes I have a bad day. Just like you, there are times when I really, really don’t want to be at work. I can feel a cold coming on, my period is at its peak and I’d rather be crying in my bed to Sookie and Eric Northman, or I’ve just had a few tables that were really hard to handle and sent back everything they ordered. I don’t think you should tolerate it if I’m being blatantly rude to you or completely inattentive. All I’m asking is that if I forgot the ketchup or made a mistake on your burger-with-one-bun-half-a-slice-of-tomato-4-and-a-half-pickles-exactly-one-tablespoon-of-mayo-no-onions, please don’t chastise me for the rest of the night. I’m sorry I didn’t chuckle at your terrible joke about my red hair; I don’t have the energy to offer you a pity laugh right now.
4. Tipping is not optional. I’m going to say this again. Tipping is not optional. I am paid far less than the national average for minimum wage. Almost all of my income comes from the tips I make. This system was not of my doing, like most of the elaborate palace of social construction we live within. Also remember that I am merely a conduit between you and the magical kitchen. Consider this when you’re thinking about docking my tip because you found a hair in your salad or that incredibly intricate and specific order you placed wasn’t completely perfect. The amount of time I spend arguing with them over the course of a shift is probably directly proportionate to the amount of time it took you to eat your dinner. If your waitress is terrible I can understand leaving less, but we count on our tips and will try our best to serve you accordingly. Plus, if you are a good tipper, we will spread the word and everyone will want to wait on you. Conversely, everyone will be made aware of it if you are not, including the kitchen. My point is please don’t go out to eat if you are not planning on leaving a tip. You are not making a point by neglecting to leave one, nor are you Steve Buscemi in Resevoir Dogs; you’re an asshole.