Holidays are a time of the year that bring out the best and the worst in people. Throughout our rushing around purchasing gifts, shipping items, grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, school projects and parties, unwinding, and an increase in general commerce, some things start falling by the wayside. Adults and children alike have their schedules altered, messing with attitudes and mealtimes, making people cranky, and forgetting basic civility. There are a few people who end up with the brunt of this, and lots of them work in the food service industry. Here are a few friendly reminders about dining out during the holidays from a former server.
I know you are hungry and tired from shopping, but I can't make your well done steak cook any faster. It generally takes 16-18 minutes (kitchen time - that means after I put it in on the computer) for any kind of well done meat. Cheese sticks take 4-8 minutes if you absolutely can't wait. Side salads are a good option too.
I know you are eating out because you don't have time to cook and clean up after it too, but just remember, I have kids and I have to do my shopping after work just like everyone else. My dinner is usually at ten or eleven o clock at night, and every minute you sit at my table unwinding after hours is making my stomach growl.
Standard tipping is 15% for basic service. It's not 1950 anymore, and things have changed. If we had a good time, or I went above and beyond for you, I will expect between 17-20%. If you tip me under 15% I will go to my manager to ask if there were any complaints about me or my service, because it is unacceptable to tip under that. Let me explain.
If you spend $100 on your meal in a decent sit-down restaurant, before you pay me any money, I owe the bartender $2, the busser $2, and the food runner also known as an expo in a lot of places, $1. If you tip me $10 on this meal, I automatically only get to keep $5 of it. If you spent $100 on that meal, I obtained at least one drink refill per person, went to the kitchen for just your party at least six times, and reminded the cook about substitutions from the menu offering. You also probably sat at that table at least an hour. The $2.65 I made from the restaurant is going towards my taxes and I will never see it, so I just made less than $5 an hour and I am not happy.
If you are the third table to do that to me in one evening, I will have to claim up to 20% more income on my taxes than I actually earned, because I will have had to tip most of it out to the bartender, the bussers, and the expo.
If you tip me 10% or less and you do not complain to the manager or to me, I will remember your face, and magically take up a pack a day smoking habit the next time you sit in my section, because I don't like working for free, as I am sure you don't.
When you go out to eat on a holiday, or even the day before or after, and you receive excellent service, it is very nice to see an extra few dollars on the table. Like I said before, my kids are staying with Grandma this and every other holiday so that I can serve and clean up your meal, so you don't have to do all the grunt work. You also probably get to spend it with your kids.
Talking to my manager about my stellar service is not a tip. I don't know who, how, or why that idea was propogated, but if you tell my manager I gave you stellar service, he will most likely forget it three days from now. I however, will not forget that my "stellar" service was not worth paying me standard tipping rate. Compliments are wonderful, and I extremely encourage them, both to the manager and the employee, but they don't buy groceries or pay rent.
We have holiday specials just to torture our employees and you. If you aren't peppermint-pumpkin-holiday-spice-turkey-and-gravied out by the time you sit at my table, you will be before you leave. My bonus depends on my ability to upsell at least 10 of them per night. If I sell more than the others on my shift I might get a gas card out of the deal. Even if I don't like it, I will want you to try it, because I need gas.
The same goes for employees working in just about any service capacity, checking you out at Wal-Mart, working the customer service desk in the mall, the gas station. We are real people too, and it's our holiday season, the same as it is yours. Please treat all of us, as you would want to be treated during the holidays and everyday.