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Learning, Progress January 28, 2016

Racism in the New South

I was visiting relatives in Nashville this past weekend, the place of my birth and the milieu of the first quarter century or so of my life. Indecisiveness was not an element in my departure to New York City, and I have never had an urge to reside again in the verdant hills of middle Tennessee.

Learning October 12, 2015

Columbus Day and Whatnot

Let’s be honest. Columbus Day is a fun holiday because many of us have off from work, and that’s always cool. But in the end, unless you’re a flaming Italian-American Catholic, it’s really a third-tier holiday for most of America.

Learning September 18, 2015

Make America Grate Again

I always get a chuckle when I hear people say how much better America is than the rest of the world. It’s almost always doubly funny because the people who seem prone to saying it the most have probably never traveled outside their own neighborhood, or if they did it was to fight in a war they actually volunteered for.

Learning July 19, 2015

Let’s All Go to the Beach!

I love the beach and I used to try to get there every summer vacation. For a few years now I have lamented the fact that I can’t make it down to the shore. This summer I’m dealing with it pretty well though.

Learning July 3, 2015

How to Tip a Waiter or Waitress

I‘d like to talk for a few minutes about a somewhat sore subject, tipping in restaurants. I seldom cook at home, because I seldom have one, and as a result I’ve been eating in restaurants for a long, LONG time, all across America. At this point in my life I know what makes for a good diner meal, or a fine dining experience in a swanky restaurant. I also know that what I’m about to say is going to make some people really mad, but hey, sometimes the truth hurts. Deal with it.

How to Tip a Waiter 1 - American Slander

Hop to it, bitches

Lately I keep hearing waiters and waitresses (servers, if you will) bitching about how awesome they are and how hard they work and how customers are assholes for not tipping them a lot of money all the time because they don’t even make minimum wage and they need tips to survive. This is an evolving phenomenon, which in my experience has increased greatly in frequency and severity in recent years. In response to it I say cry me a fucking river.

Here’s how tipping works folks, and I suggest all of you disgruntled servers who apparently have never been told before now please attend. Generally, there is a sort of baseline percentage that one is supposed to tip, let’s say 15%. This is the BASELINE, which means it’s the appropriate tip for BASELINE service. It’s NOT the tip required for ALL service, especially when the service is BAD.

As a customer, one starts with this baseline tip amount, and can either raise it or lower it based on the quality of service one receives. Therefore, if a server is rude or inattentive or overbearing or forgetful or slow or otherwise provides poor service, their tip is lowered accordingly.

We Waited 30 Minutes No Service - American Slander

No tip for you

Conversely, if a server is friendly and efficient and mindful and quick, they’ve earned the BASELINE tip, because those are the BASIC requirements of being a server in a restaurant. Those are NOT an indication that the server has in any way gone the extra mile, and their tip should not be raised above the baseline in reward for baseline service.

If, however, the server possesses the now-insanely rare gifts essential to success in their field beyond the baseline, such as being able to anticipate common customer needs, make valuable suggestions, be attentive but not overbearing, respond effectively and courteously to complaints, and ensure a pleasurable dining experience for all their customers, then the customer should seriously consider tipping above the baseline amount as an appropriate reward for above the baseline service. That’s how it works people. If you want big tips and you need tips to survive, you have to EARN them.

But I’m not here simply to stir the pot. I’m happy to bring my experience to bear and make constructive suggestions to current and future servers out there; suggestions that may seem harsh but are in fact key to increasing the likelihood of a server earning a large tip. About all I can say to any server is, while you may not care to be schooled like this, disregard these suggestions at your peril.

Kiss My Grits - American Slander

Kissing of grits is strictly prohibited

My first and foremost suggestion addresses a problem that’s become epidemic among servers in just about every major city I’ve eaten in. To be a successful server, you must disabuse yourself of the notion that you’re super-cool and will be a famous rock and roll star or film director some day and all your customers are just assholes you’re using as a temporary means to an end. Actually, YOU are the asshole who is making a shitty living carrying other people their food, so put your bloated ego aside and do your fucking job, hotshot. Believe me, NOBODY you’re being paid to wait on cares if you think you’re destined to be the next Eddie Van Halen or Orson Welles. You’re a waiter. Act like one, or have your tips suffer as a result.

Similarly, just because you’re a server in a cool place doesn’t mean YOU are cool. Working in a hip spot doesn’t make you hip, it makes the people who you serve hip. In fact, I’d go so far as to say the fact that you’re there to work and not to hang out makes you spectacularly UNCOOL. Again, you are there simply to bust your ass to make the customers happy, so again, put your bloated ego aside and do your fucking job, Liberace.

Third, and this seems to be a problem at certain sorts of restaurants, NOBODY wants you to sit down at their table and tell them your name and be their fucking buddy when they go out to eat. Doing so is outrageous and embarrassing and makes customers uncomfortable. Please remember, your job is NOT to make customers uncomfortable, quite the opposite in fact. If you work at a restaurant that insists you do that shit, keep it to the absolute minimum. Certainly do NOT sit down at the table, EVER, as I’ve had servers do far too many times. That’s simply unacceptable, regardless of what your boss may say. If they demand you do it, QUIT IMMEDIATELY.

Waiter at the Outback - American Slander

Medal for most confirmed kills

Fourth, don’t serve customers badly-prepared food and then insist there was nothing you could do about it. For example, if a customer orders a steak rare, don’t bring them a steak that’s well-done and then say the cook fucked up when they complain. Serving a bad dish is NOT the cook’s fault, that’s YOUR fault, and your tip should be lowered accordingly. And don’t for one second act like you have a legitimate argument with the customer about it, because you don’t. Your argument is with the cook, who is ruining customer’s meals and by extension making you get lower tips. A shittily-cooked meal is NOT the customer’s fault, it’s ultimately the restaurant’s fault. Since YOU are likely the only representative of the restaurant a customer will deal with, YOU can and should bear the brunt of a customer’s legitimate dissatisfaction. If you don’t like it, tell the cook to get their fucking shit together because it’s hurting your bottom line. THEY are your problem, NOT the customer who left unhappy.

Fifth, keep the drama of your private life to yourself, as any professional does. Nobody gives a damn if you’re having a bad day, certainly not the customers you’re being paid to serve. Customers do not need to know that you’re angry, or overworked, or too fabulous for this shit. They just don’t. It’s unprofessional and makes customers uncomfortable, and your tip can and should be lowered accordingly if you put on a fucking show every time you come to the table.

Office Space Waiter - American Slander

Fuck your extreme fajitas

And finally, perhaps above all, do yourself a favor and accept what waiting tables is. It’s exhausting, it’s degrading, it’s frustrating and it’s shit work that pays shit wages. It’s not something you can just waltz through without giving a fuck and expect it to pay off big. It’s hard, in your face work and frankly it’s not for everyone. Many if not most customers these days are rude, narcissistic, mean-spirited cretins who think they can act the same way in a restaurant as they do sitting at home in their dirty underwear in front of their TV drinking beer and eating fucking Cheetos.

Also, many of them were never taught how tipping works either, or why, and they may stiff you because they’re dickheads or because they’re poor or because they’re just plain retarded. Some customers are so fucked up they will leave religious tracts instead of cold hard cash as a tip, and think they’re doing you a favor. When that happens, take some solace in the knowledge that they will go straight to hell for pulling that bullshit.

Unfortunately, no matter who they are, once they’re seated at a table none of that is THEIR problem, it’s YOURS. As a server you need to make sure these idiots are full and happy when they leave. If you can’t do that, despite how difficult it can often be, you’re probably not going to be successful in your job.

When I Order Coffee I Want it Filled 6 Times - American Slander

When I order coffee I want it filled 6 times

Bottom line, tips are NOT, contrary to what some may foolishly believe, required of customers. Tips are offered to motivate superior service, and are paid in reflection of the quality of the service received. Therefore, while I’m personally a dream customer, I don’t suggest you give me shitty service.

I tip accordingly…