Originally Posted by a tailor
i am retired and not able to eat at a white tablecloth restaurant.
but it irks me no end when a young waitress picks up the check folder
and asks "do you need change" its the young ones that do it usually.
also is the bartender that assumes that the change belongs to him/her.
When I'm working, I'll usually make it a point to give change back whenever possible, as I also get annoyed when servers ask me that question. However, it's one of those things where being able to read minds would help quite a bit, as some customers will actually get mildly offended by having change brought back, as if the act were a statement that the tip was not enough. There's also the practical reason of not wanting to spend the time making change or leave money out on the table or bartop where it could be snapped up by some unscrupulous busboy/other server/customer if it is known in advance that the extra cash is intended as a tip anyway. Usually a server can make a good guess of what to expect based on the amount of cash given (e.g. someone paying for a $10 tab with a $20 bill is going to want change, whereas someone paying for a $10 with a $10 bill and 2 $1's almost certainly won't). Aside from that, I find that the best thing to do as a customer is to preemptively ask for change or tell the server to keep the change, and as a server, the best thing to do is say something neutral like "I'll be right back with your change" and create the opening for the customer to insist you keep the change if that's the intent.
One other amusing thing I learned from other bartenders is that walking off with the change can often be used as a trick to call out non tippers in a non-confrontational manner. For example, say a guy has come up twice earlier in the night and each time ordered a $4 drink, paid with a $5, and took the change without tipping. So the next time the guy comes up and does the same thing, the bartender would just quietly keep the change. That way the non tipper is either forced to swallow his pride and quietly accept having left a tip as is socially expected or has to make a spectacle by confronting the bartender and demanding his change (an amount of money small enough to be innocently mistaken as a standard tip), thus outing himself as an ass who will go out of his way to avoid tipping to both the bartenders and the surrounding customers and pretty much ensuring that he won't be getting any more drinks at the bar for the rest of the night. Not that it's something I would do, but I find the idea amusing and always enjoy watching when I notice bartenders doing it.