Originally Posted by Quatsch
Its a complicated issue, I'll admit, but for six out of the last nine months, I've been working as a server in an upscale restaurant between internships. Here's some food for thought.
Do you know what its like to go in to work knowing that you might have to work eight hours and walk home with $20? There have been nights in the last month where I made $7 and $11, often because of overstaffing on a slow night. I make $2.15 an hour. Its distressing to say the least. I choose to work here? Yes, maybe, but I get by here. Having two college degrees did not get me a job. You do what you can.
Ever have a bad day at work? Ever have a fight with your girlfriend and then go to work or have a death in the family? Are you always at your best? No, thats not human. Well imagine you mess up a little bit and your pay gets cut because the apps came out inexplicably fast - before you could get your table's drinks or because the refills started slowing down after that 5th glass of water. Or because someone didn't like the specialty cocktail they ordered and still had to pay for it. Or because the bar or kitchen is slammed and running slow and there is nothing you can do about it.
Many people show their worst side when dining out, even at nice places. A lot of people like to go out to places they can't afford and then undertip. They are rude and petty. Servers are treated very poorly by many guests. My name isn't "hey you." Its also harder doing this as a man - girls get tipped better just for being good-looking, regardless of the service. Unfortunately I don't have boobs to help me out.
I'll also say that stereotypes are startlingly accurate.
I try to give people a good dining experience. I don't try to pad people's checks or upsell unless its very worth it and I try to keep people out of pitfalls in the menu, and I try to be knowledgeable and engaging and friendly or polite and low-impact as I think that people want, but I am so seldom rewarded with anything more than the socially acceptable minimum that I find myself asking more and more what the point is. I generally hope for 20%. If you tip your waiter 20%, he's not taking all of that money home. I lose about 20-25% of my tips every night to tipping out the bar, server assistants, and the sushi chefs (technically not legal, but what am I going to do about it? refuse and get fired?).
I do end up making decent money at the end of the day, considering I don't have the bills that many of my compatriots do. Serving in the US is a hard row to hoe. The hours suck (we're open till midnight) and I often work 8 or 9 hours with no food or any kind of break, and will go 4 hours without even being able to take a piss. Show a little kindness and a modicum of respect (ie treat your server like a human being). If you can afford to pay $12 for a glass of wine or $14 for a bit of raw tuna with some fluff, you can afford to tip appropriately, even if that tip should be included in the cost of the food to begin with.