I think that, unfortunately, this is going to be a post about waiting tables. Yes, I am a server at a local restaurant...a fairly popular restaurant if I do say so myself...and others would agree, but I'm not going to state the name...so we're just going to call it "Q" (for this particular blog's sake).
Working at Q has it's good and bad moments...there isn't really mostly one or the other, it's a pretty even amalgamation of good and bad - and most always interesting! The mis-conception by the general public is that most servers are not very intelligent and only wait tables because there is nothing better out there. As true as this may be for some, it is VERY MUCH SO not the case for all, and I am positive that it is not even the case for most. That being said, the establishment where I am employed, Q, is full of people that are trying to finish their degrees, and trying to support their families while having a VERY flexible schedules that they can work as a second job or as a part-time job while their spouse or significant other has another or better paying job. Most of the people I work with are very pleasant people and I thoroughly love hearing about their lives and experiences, because you honestly...cannot make up a lot of this stuff - both good and bad.
Customers, on the other hand....let's just say that...just like the average customer of a restaurant has pre conceived notions of the staff "serving" them, the server has the same preconceived notions about them. Whether right or wrong, from the server's perspective (as I am one), most of the time, the mis/pre conceptions tend to fall close to, if not right on, the mark. This is not always the case, thank God...because most of the time, it's probably something negative that is stereotyped to the customer. (For better or worse...that's just how it is).
Now...don't hear me saying that all customers are slime...because that is NOT the case at ALL! Most customers though, fall much more easily into the stereotypical customer categories....for instance, and please don't be offended if you are reading this and happen to find yourself similar to one of these categories, this is what MOST servers think about these stereotypes (and yes...you probably ARE the exception...)
Not being PC, here we go (and again, yes...there are exceptions...but that is all they are: exceptions):
* Old People: generally don't tip well. They also, don't want to be bothered. You almost have to sense when they're ready to order, and then once they have their food, don't talk to them again until they are finished! You're probably going to get 10% at least...15% if you're AMAZING...if you HAPPEN to get 20%, WOAH! You've done something amazing or they're just amazing people that want to bless the socks off you! And 20% from anyone 55+ is a GREAT tip...stereotypically speaking.
* Families with teens: generally don't tip well and are VERY NEEDY! If you can keep up with every little thing they need, then you might get 15%. The problem here is, these families, because they have teenagers (and especially if they're boys), will rack up a bill, just because they are order big plates, and then see it and say, "How did 4 people manage to get a bill for $65?!" and will then proceed to leave a $5-$8 tip. This isn't seen as a issue for the family...because they just paid freakin' $65 in one hour...and what did the waiter do, right? They just got refills, and the order correct....that's not even worth $2.
* Families with young children: These aren't as easy to give ONE stereotype, so I give them two categories:
1) They expect to have a terrible evening because their children are going to fuss and complain and be a huge burden and then they are going to be in a bad mood all night, and it will reflect in the tip 10-15%.
2) They go in with more realistic expectations and feel bad if their kid is a pain, and as long as they are reassured that it IS okay, they are only 3...it's understood and have the feeling that the server wants to give them a good experience genuinely, then you can generally expect 15-20% (But the server also has to approach the table differently).
* Couples (Older than high school***) on a date: If the guy pays, you can expect a 15-20% tip. Mainly, I think, because the man feels like he needs to tip well because it's a nice occasion and they're on a date and had already planned on spending money. Now, if the woman pays, it's generally not a good tip - and I'm not exactly sure why. But generally speaking, that's just how it is.
***(High schoolers NEVER tip well, it doesn't matter what the situation is, they just never tip. So I'm not even going to go there...because it never happens)
* "Big Tops" (Large Groups of People - anything that requires tables being pushed together - 7+) - these groups need to be split up into different categories;
1) Parties of 6-7 that one CANNOT add gratuity to: these parties are generally good tippers, and even BETTER tippers if the checks are split up, as much time and effort that takes the server, the more you split the tickets, the better people tip...and the reason is: if one sees $174.32 and the bill, one is not going to leave me a $40 tip on TOP of that huge bill - BUT, if 7 people see $15.00, they will generally tip the 15-20% just because it was a large group of people and I think they feel bad for the server.
2) Parties of 8+, when a grat is involved: This is a little more complicated. For instance, I had a 20 person table once, it was someone's party. The gratuity at restaurant Q is 18%...more than the average person tips out - so OBVIOUSLY I'm going to add the grat. It's common sense, and a "hey, you did great!" on a comment card doesn't pay the bills - sorry people, it doesn't! These people apparently were offended that I grat-ed them...and let me know that they were good tippers and don't like gratuity added because they tip well. So what did they do? Didn't leave any more of a tip? Why? To spite me? I don't really know...but I am NOT going to chance the rare "great tipper" on a $300 ticket...it's NOT going to happen. You can always leave more than the grat, so if you really are great tippers, did you not leave more of a tip to SHOW me that you were great tippers - because that definitely doesn't show me anything about you being a good tipper...moving on...
-moral of this is, "I grat because I need to, not because I think you, personally, aren't going to tip me (even though I do think that). Blame everyone else for not tipping if you are going to take it personally." :)
3) Teen parties of 8+, like my disclaimer above stated, teens don't EVER tip well. EVER! It doesn't happen. So, it really sucks when they come in with 10 of their closest friends and all either JUST eat the complimentary items or share meals and just get one meal item and nothing else. They are also the neediest customers because they need refills all the time of drinks, complimentary items, etc. Also, they tend to, regardless of the ticket cost, complain about how expensive everything is. That's what you get when you eat out - so when they come in with $15, and their ticket is $14.04, They are angsty about leaving me a dollar...they are, you see it in their face when I bring them back a dollar as their change, it's like they want to ask me for change for a dollar and then leave me $0.50 or something. Anyway, teens HATE being grat-ed because then they HAVE to tip and they didn't plan on that and sometimes they didn't bring enough money. More often than any other customers, I have to go back to teens and say, "I'm sorry, the bill was $17.43 and you only gave me $15....
Am I cynical? Maybe a little? Probably. I love waiting tables....I do. Most days. It is very interesting to see different types of people and how they act in public. It's fascinating that people would actually do the things that they end up doing a lot of the time, and I'm getting great stories - you can't make up this kind of stuff...seriously...you'd have to be a psycho-path...
Those are just a few stereotypes, but honestly, not everyone DOES fall in to those, but most people do. And the harsh reality of the restaurant business is that people, more often than not, treat you according to the stereotype you fit into. Most people don't want to make the extra effort to not judge a table based on stereotype, but when that is the majority, it is so much more difficult. People just need to learn to tip. Servers only get paid $2/hour, and a lot of the time, the "Tip Share" that gets taken out, gets taken directly out of the cost of the meal, not the tip left. Here's the math:
4 people eat, ticket is $60, tip is $10
approx 4% of the cost of the meal automatically gets taken out for the busboys and hostesses: $60x0.04
Now, the tip has decreased to $7.50
The table ordered 3 maragaritas - that's $0.50/drink for the bartender, so now the tip is down to $6.00
I know that it doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but when eating out, people need to realize that the server does NOT take home all of the tip that is left. Maybe people do realize this and just hate tipping - if you don't like to tip, go to Whataburger, there's one in Moore now...
I am not bitter, I understand the reality of this, and I've accepted the fact that most people don't know how to tip, but you know what the WORST part of this is...there is one stereotype that I have left out for a reason:
* Christians/Sunday Lunchers - this group, as a whole, is by far and wide the worst tippers of the bunch. I've heard stories from people who have waited on PASTORS - and what did the pastors leave? Nothing. No money at all. They might leave a church bulletin though, or a business card with "We'd love to have you visit!" written on it...or the worst, a tract, that basically says, "You're going to hell if you don't do: A, B, and C". This breaks my heart.
What in the WORLD suggests to a Christian that it would behoove the server much more to leave them a "tip" about "salvation"...because isn't that what it's about? "BY YOUR FRUITS YOU SHALL KNOW THEM!" Does that even mean anything? What are you telling this random server, who obviously didn't go to church that morning because they're waiting on YOU, when you don't tip them....you're definitely NOT telling them that you love them, or that you want them to do well in life and here's a little extra just because I want to bless you, because you're a human just like I am...
I'm on my soapbox, but I'm not being irrelevant here. Ask any server what the worst shift of the week is for them, and they will say Sunday afternoon. It will be busy, yes, and they might make more than they would on a slow Tuesday lunch shift, but for the volume of people served, and the amount of tables they had that shift, I guarantee that the tip precentages/table are higher ANY other shift than on Sunday lunch shifts. That's sorry...and as Christians, we're shooting ourselves in the feet, because there are GREAT people that are serving tables, who deserve the knowledge of the love of Christ as much as anyone...and they have this idea in their heads that, "Why would I want to go to church, the church people are the worst customers...I'm just fine with the people I hang out with, they're at least nicer".
I'm not trying to say everyone is like this, because I know they're not. I have amazing tippers at times, and I have people that leave without paying ANY of the bill...it happens, that's reality. But my main thing is, that Christians are called to love others, just as Christ loved the church - you love them through all of their mistakes and their crap and their misconceptions, you love them regardless. Because if you read the book of Hosea, about the Israelites being "whores" to God...that's a really tough way to love others...but that is what we're called to do. So why can't we do it? We're not any better than the person that serves us food, and we're not any better than the people that wipe up our garbage and our mess when we're finished with it...
I want people to know that I love them regardless, and I AM a Christian - shocker. I want people to know that Christ loves them regardless, and that people are messy and we live imperfect lives, and to not judge too harshly (cough, cough...Sunday tippers), who aren't showing love at all...I NEED these people I work with to know that there is more to my life than what they see from most Christians....
...what mark are we going to leave on the world? As Christians, as a whole...what are we doing? Is it glorifying God? Because in my line of work...it's very grim and dank for Christianity...because who would want to be a part of that, they aren't nice, and they aren't grateful...