Some People Just Don’t Get It

There was a recent article in the New York Times entitled “Hey Waiter! Just How Much Extra Do You Really Expect?” In it the author, David Sax, just regurgitates the ignorant and curmudgeonly responses certain people have always had towards tipping. So read the article, come back here, and I’ll examine Sax’s ideas point by point.

1. Hey Waiter! Just how much extra do you really expect? – Well Dave, unless you’ve been living under a rock since the Eisenhower administration, the standard gratuity for a waiter is between fifteen and twenty percent.

2. Do you need change? – I’m in agreement with Dave on this one. Let’s say you’re a waiter and a customer gives you a fifty-dollar bill to pay a forty-dollar check. A server should never ask if you want change. You should just bring the ten back to the table – broken down into convenient tipping denominations like a five and five ones. To do otherwise is called “begging for change” which is unseemly and unprofessional. Even if the customer gives you twenty bucks on a $19.53 bill – you bring them change. But let’s say you hand a waiter a 100-dollar bill on a 95-dollar check and say, “Keep the change.” That’s a 5.2 percent tip Diamond Jim! So if the waiter brings your change anyway that’s waiterspeak for “Your tip sucks.”

3. And you, my dear bartender, who cracked open a $4 beer bottle, and handed me back my change entirely in a stack of one-dollar notes. Very subtle. As though the sheer bulk of that paper would deter me from putting it back in my wallet, and, defeated, I’d simply leave it there for you like a burnt offering on your sticky altar

After this article, something tells me Dave’s going to have trouble ever “catching a bartender’s eye” ever again. And what kind of bar are you going to where they tip only in ones? Probably a strip club. And yes, the bar tops in those places can get very sticky. Now if you’re just grabbing a beer at your local pub a dollar per drink is an acceptable gratuity. But if you warm that barstool for three hours and swill 100 dollars worth of booze the bartender’s looking for 15 to 20 percent.

4. As much as I think you’re pleasing to look at, and you do magical things with frothy milk, I just don’t see your services commanding a 70-plus percent premium over the market rate for my breakfast.

Even a barista’s not going to tip another barista 70 percent for breakfast. As a former waiter my default tip is 20 percent. Twenty-five if the service is outstanding. Some servers will tip heavier. But 70 percent? Unless I’m high as kite and the waitress is offering me a blowjob, no way. And having worked as a barista in Portland, Oregon I can tell you that “doing magical things with frothy milk” is a lot harder than it looks. Besides, baristas often don’t keep all the money customers stuff into that tip jar. Depending on the establishment, how those gratuities get divvied up can result is a byzantine formulation that would make an account stroke out. And yes Dave, some of those baristas are cute pieces of eye candy. But just because you have a snowball’s chance in hell of scoring with one of them doesn’t mean you should punish them with a bad tip.

5. “…parties of six or more will be charged a 20 percent gratuity.” Because there’s simply no way that six adults can gauge the service of a meal (one of hundreds in their lives)

As I will examine in my upcoming book Keep the Change, service quality has very little do with the gratuities customers leave. So that whole “gauging the service” thing is bullshit. How many restaurant customers out there say, “I’m leaving you a bad tip because your service sucked?” Most people don’t have the balls. How a customer tips is often a diagnostic indicator of their personality. I’d love to run a personality inventory on you Dave. The results could be very interesting.

And I’ve explained ad nauseam on this blog why “auto-grats” are slapped on to parties of six or more. Large parties eat slower than tables with two for four customers. The way waiters and restaurants make their money is by “turning and burning” tables. I can make a lot more money serving several two-tops that take 1.5 hours to eat than getting my section clogged up with an eight-top that lingers over coffee until the busboys start swabbing the floors with bleach. (That’s restaurant speak for, “It’s time for you to go.”) And if you’ve tied up my section the entire night and leave me a bad tip? Well then I’ve worked for nothing. Auto-grats are designed to protect waiters from cheap tippers like you, Dave.

6. Yes, I know you’re all underpaid. But guess what? So am I. When I get $500 for an article that I think is worth $1,000, you won’t see me e-mail the editor, saying, “Just so you know, service isn’t included.” Do I ask you to come into my workplace and supplement my meager income? No, I don’t.

Well Dave, judging from this piece of flotsam you wrote it’s entirely possible your articles aren’t worth $1000.

Waiters in New York State are paid $4.65 an hour. That’s what’s called the “tip allowance.” A restaurant owner is exempt from paying the full minimum wage of $7.25 an hour because the expectation is tips will bring a server’s income to or above the minimum wage. (If a waiter’s tips do not result in earning $7.25 an hour the owner’s supposed to make up the difference. But there’s as much chance of that happening as a mystical being exchanging legal tender for a tooth left under my pillow.) Simply put, waiters and other service personnel depend on tips to survive. Is that fair? Who knows? But Dave, if you have an idea how to change an economic reality that’s been operating in this country since the 1890’s let me know. And the last time I checked, no one can survive in the Big Apple on $4.65 an hour. When I was a waiter many customers told me, “If you don’t like the money you’re making get another job.” Well, that argument cuts both ways Dave. If you don’t like the money your editors are paying you then maybe you should consider another line of work.

7. Better to just slap us with a perfunctory tax and screw up our orders anyway. Once that tip is locked in, who cares if the fish is cold?

Restaurant owners care, that’s who. Serving cold fish is a bad way to ensure repeat customers and a good way to go out of business. And if customers stop coming to a restaurant because of shoddy food or bad service, neither the owners nor the waiters will make money. Oh sure, you’ll get servers who don’t give a damn once the tip is locked in because they’re lazy jerks. But sometimes we’ll be slow with our service because the table’s acting like a bunch of idiots.

8. Sure, you’re in the service industry. But doesn’t that mean that my gratuity should be a reward for better service, or at least an incentive?

Sure, servers are incentivized by money. But any waiter will tell you that they’ve given customers great service and gotten bad tips and given poor service and gotten great tips. At first glance there’s no rhyme of reason as to why customers tip or don’t. As I said above, service quality has very little to do with tipping. Shocker!

9. Oh, sure, I’m cheap – No shit, Dave.

10. But not as cheap as your boss, apparently, who figures he can pay you the minimum wage of $4.65 for servers, and the customer will just pick up the rest of your living expenses.

See the explanation above.

11. Imagine if everyone did that. As you file out of the airplane, there’s the pilot, standing with his palm outstretched like a doorman who just let you into the hotel: “Hope you enjoyed your flight. Ahem, bit of a rough landing there, ahem. Not too easy to pull off, you know. Oh, why thank you, sir. You shouldn’t have.”

Bad example. Commercial airline pilots and air stewards have historically never accepted gratuities. (Though private jet pilots do occasionally get tipped.) But let me tell you Dave, I’d have slipped Captain “Sully” a crisp 100-dollar bill after saving my ass.

12. I could elect not to tip, but that is as much an option as refusing to pay your income tax because you’re a member of the Tea Party

Yes, some Tea Party activists advocate the abolition of income tax but don’t they want to switch over to a consumption tax? (Correct me if I’m wrong.) But no matter how you slice their ideas, someone’s paying taxes somewhere.

13. So here’s the deal: I’ll keep forking over my change, you keep smiling….

Yes! We’ll keep smiling like service-industry lawn jockeys, Dave. Thank you massah!

14. …. and we’ll both lobby for an increase in the minimum wage.

Can’t wait to see you storming Capitol Hill to agitate for change Dave! The minimum wage can go up and up but, as the laws stand now, tipped employees in most states are subject to a tip allowance and will continue to make below the minimum. Can we change that law? It’s possible. But what you pay in tips will just get folded into restaurant prices and you’ll end up shelling out the same amount of money anyway. And since water always seeks it’s own level, unscrupulous restaurateurs will siphon off that money, pay their waiters a pittance and waiting tables will turn from an honorable profession that puts food on the tables of 2 million American workers into another wage slave job. Is that what you want Dave?

15. David Sax, a journalist and the author of “Save the Deli” (Houghton Mifflin), lives in Park Slope and always tips 15 percent.

I haven’t read your book Dave and after reading this crap I probably won’t. I’m glad to hear you’re still tipping 15% no matter what. That’s cool. But something tells me the guys at the deli murmur,” Oh no, that guy!” when you walk in the door.

Stephen Dublanica, the author of Waiter Rant – Thanks for the Tip: Confessions of a Cynical Waiter (Harper Collins, 2008) lives in in New Jersey (Got a problem with that?) and his next book, Keep the Change, will be published in late 2010. And yes, he knows how to tip.

98 thoughts on “Some People Just Don’t Get It”

  1. Jeff Lichtman says:

    There’s another reason for automatic gratuities for large parties: in a big group, when something is everyone’s responsibility it’s no one’s responsibility. It’s very easy when the bill is split among a large group for each person to think that someone else will make sure the tip is sufficient. All it takes is for a couple of members of the party to be cheapskates, or just bad at arithmetic, and the waiter gets shorted. The more people in the party, the likelier this is to happen.

  2. Robert says:

    The “woe is us, we need 20-25% tips to make a living wage” argument is getting old. Waiting tables is a job that requires minimal education and training, thus it deserves minimal pay.

    Even if you work at a low-end restaurant in NYC and serve only $500 worth of food in an 8-hour shift, an average 15% tip from your customers would yield you $75, or $15/hour. Add your $4.65 and you’re making $19.65/hour for a job that a well-trained monkey could do.

    And if you’re one of the few that is excellent at waiting tables, then you should be able to get yourself a job at a high-end restaurant and make more money. If you can’t get the better waiting job, then perhaps you should examine whether you’re really as good a server as you think you are.

    1. R P says:

      A well trained monkey? Waiting tables at a reputable restaraunt can be very challenging. It requires multi-tasking, great people skills, and punctuality. Many people do this as a means of earning a living while attending college or earning money to start a small business. Don’t discredit that.

      1. R P says:

        Btw i realize this thread is 5 years old, still had to get my 2 cents in

  3. Rach L in Vancouver says:

    Auto grats are like a land flowing with milk and honey to me. I’ve never worked in a restaurant that supports them, and I’ve been waiting collectively for about six years. Lamesauce.

    Great response sir! I’m glad that even though you’re an awesome writer you have not ceased to stand up for those of us who remain smiling through the four percenters…..

  4. Foodie says:

    Nice response, Steve. Reading that guy’s article, I can’t tell you how many times I thought “Douchebag.” There are 1,089 comments on his article and each one those who don’t dis it should stick to eating in.

  5. Anonymous says:

    >>> Now if you’re just grabbing a beer at your local pub a dollar per drink is an acceptable gratuity. But if you warm that barstool for three hours and swill 100 dollars worth of booze the bartender’s looking for 15 to 20 percent.

    Why is a dollar per drink a bad tip in the case of beer? If you’re drinking $4 beers and leave $1 for every beer, that’s like a 25% tip. I don’t get it…

  6. Greg in New Orleans says:

    I don’t think Dave would make a good economist. If the restaurant owners decided to pay us a lot more, they would have to raise the prices of the food. They would go out of business. We’re stuck with the system we have. As servers, we decide where we work based on how much money we can make (primarily). The better we are, the better job we get, the more money we make. As a customer, I want the best service I can afford. There’s bad service at every level, but if I go to a nice restaurant, I can expect my server to know what wine will go with my pork tenderloin. If I order a Pinot at Applebee’s, there’s a 50/50 chance I’m going to get a red wine. I simply suggest that it’s a pretty efficient system, albeit an imperfect one.

    On a second note, I hate that we tip automatically and not on service quality. I’m guilty of it myself. I tip 20-25% automatically unless the service is extremely good or extremely bad, but it would be a better system if we based our tip on quality of service. I’ve worked with some pretty awful servers that have made my life miserable, but they’re not going anywhere, because they make near as much money as me for half the effort.

  7. Bish says:

    When visiting areas where the minimum wage doesn’t have these pathetic loopholes, and the guy serving the plate makes the same (as a minimum) as the guy who prepared it, should the tipping rules still reflect that? Should we be more considerate of those who are being gouged by legislation, or not?

  8. NyQuil Driver says:

    Something tells me Robert has never been a server. Seriously dude, do you even READ this blog?

  9. Artie says:

    Why bother responding to obvious flame bait?

    The guy’s posting is nothing more than an attempt to increase his readership by getting publicity from 3rd party websites.

  10. Stephan says:

    And you just know this tool is probably the first one to bitch to a manager the very moment he feels he isn’t getting good service. What a fucktard!

  11. NYC Diner says:

    “But if you warm that barstool for three hours and swill 100 dollars worth of booze the bartender’s looking for 15 to 20 percent.”

    I hope you can’t get through $100 worth of booze in three hours Steve, I would worry about your liver.

  12. admin says:

    LOL. Have you seen drink prices in Manhattan lately?

  13. Megan says:

    California, land of milk and honey, has no wage loophole. Standard tip is still 15-20%. If your logic is that a tip should make up a wage, how does that fly here? I’m not arguing against it, I’m seriously asking.

    I eat in large groups fairly often; we always pay the standard gratuity charge, plus some money on the table. That being said, if your arguement is that a 6-top takes longer to turn over than a 4, maybe the solution is to speed up. I can count on my hands the number of times that I have had prompt and efficient service with a large party. While it is certainly difficult to deal with that many orders, split checks, etc- I have spent many evenings waiting far longer for food, drinks, and service. So don’t automatically blame the customer.

  14. Diana says:

    I read that bit on NYT and immediately thought, “Waiter Rant guy will have a field day with this!”

    You didn’t, exactly, but it’s a well thought out response.

  15. Bob Dobbs says:

    “California, land of milk and honey, has no wage loophole. Standard tip is still 15-20%. If your logic is that a tip should make up a wage, how does that fly here? I’m not arguing against it, I’m seriously asking.”

    Good question. As a California resident, I don’t have a complete answer. I would say that some things here are more expensive proportionately than in other places, like rent. At least on the coast, where I live.

    Okay, NYC probably costs more. But the only waiter I ever knew paying less than $600 for a room in a shared house was living in a place with no heat.

    Car insurance is more, taxes higher, even medical costs more (especially without insurance) than other parts of the country.

    And it’s hardly ever a full time job. I’ve been to places where waiters still grow old in the job, but not here. Even with the higher minimum wage most of them are gone by 30 or younger around here. It’s just not worth it.

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  18. Dacatus says:

    @Robert, Comment #2

    Dude, learn your math. Seriously, you are embarrassing yourself.

    True, 15% of 500 is 75. In an eight hour shift is goes for $9.37, + the $4.65 minimum its $14.02. Not shabby for NYC and region.

    BUT… you are assuming (ass of u) that a waiter will always move 500 dollars of food in a night. And that his tips will ALWAYS average 15%.

    If you had a clue, you would have known waiters have to work up to the 500-15% tips, a guy who is working the prime shifts where he can expect to make $14 an hour has or be server, bartender, sommelier, dietitian, have iron legs and a very solid emotional shell, or he will crumple and knuckle under quick.

    Trained Monkey? Bullshit, I bet you would not last a week trying to move $500 of food and eight hours on your feet.

  19. Peaches says:


    How many restaurant customers out there say, “I’m leaving you a bad tip because your service sucked?” Most people don’t have the balls.

    I’ve done that only once and I explained why to the owner –

    1. My order was brought (great, that’s why a small tip was given) by the waiter who took the order (the restaurant doesn’t have a mix of wait staff/servers like some do – whomever takes your order delivers your order and, ideally, checks on you)
    2. Waiter never checked to see if everything was okay, did I want something more, and, in fact – he pretty much disappeared after bringing my order
    3. I waited easily 10-15 minutes after finishing my meal (eating utensils on the plate, napkin in the proper position to indicate I was done, plate pretty much empty) for a bill (this was probably 45-60 minutes after I arrived)
    4. No bill, no table clearing before a bill.

    So, I left my table, went to the foyer and gave the owner a very small tip for the server (as a courtesy) and paid my bill (oh, yeah, no one was in the foyer, but I waited because I was not going to “stiff” the restaurant; I got my meal). Oddly enough, the server soon realized I was talking to the owner and came rushing up…

  20. Mike Harris says:

    I’ve always very much liked your writing, Steve, but I think the “massa” thing is inappropriate.

  21. Jessica Maraschiello says:


    I cannot even begin to explain how much my blood pressure shot up while reading that ignorant article. Seriously?

    I couldn’t have responded better myself. Dave has obviously never waited tables, and maybe he should do some extensive hands on research next time before he decides he knows enough to write such a one-sided article.

  22. Jeff says:

    You know – you really need to get the law changed in New York (and wherever else it applies) to remove the whole tipping adjustment thing. Minimum wage is minimum wage and should be the least per hour that anyone is being paid, regardless of the potential for tips.

  23. thirtyeyes says:

    Here’s an interesting story about a woman who has been banned from a restaurant for not tipping:

    The story was a bit biased. The funny thing is she’s actually a “no tipper” not a “bad tipper”. The peition signatures came from a Church where she works and where a relative is the paster. Also, the “news” reporter is also a member of her church.

    I am actually in favor of an auto gratuity. Why? Because I typically tip over 20%, so when I get autograted for 15 or 18% it saves me money and everyone is happy. In such cases I only leave an additional tip if the service was stellar.

    I truly wish that restaurants would abolish the tip system and pay comparable wages. I pay list plus 20% for my meals and there’s tons of you who do not. I am tired of carrying the cheap skates. The bottom line here is that the ridiculous tipping system in America allows cheap bastards to pay less than responsible adults and I for one am tired of it.

    Here’s what one local place in San Diego does:
    “The cost of table/bar service for dining-in guests is included on each check at 18%. We do not accept tips. If you’d like to express extra gratitude, please leave cash behind for our charity of the month.

    Why does everyone who complaigns about waiters not deserving tips always go on to state that they always tip well? I call Bullshit. I’d like to see receipts and credit card statements.

  24. MHA says:

    A buck a drink is fine until you start drinking the pricier stuff, as the Barmaid Blog suggested a while back. As you said, drink prices in NYC are more and more likely to leave a buck a drink in the sub-15% range!

    $100 in three hours isn’t hard at all, especially if you’re buying for friends, or a bunch of people are on one tab. I sometimes splurge on the $30+ pours of single malt scotch, though I don’t think I’ve ever had three in a row…

  25. Glenn B says:

    19. Mike Harris,

    If you really find that inappropriate then maybe you should take a step back and examine your life as well as this blog. It was a sarcastic reply to a poorly written article from a man who honors himself on being a cheapskate. Now of all the things that you could be upset about you choose the one light-hearted comment. Get off of your high horse.

  26. Robert says:

    Dacatus, true, my math was f’d up. Or I may have just meant to write $800 instead of $500. But even at $500 in 8 hours with a 15% tip plus the $4.65/hour, the $14.025/hour final wage is good money for a job that requires no real education and no major training.

    And moving $500 worth of food at a NYC restaurant in one night — even a weeknight — is nothing. Using ultra-conservative numbers, if you serve only 8 people at a time and have only two servings in a night, that’s 16 diners, an easy night. Each diner would have to order only $31.25 worth of food and drink. That’s a main course and one app. A drink or dessert puts you well over.

    So yes, even on the slowest and easiest of nights, I would expect any server to average at least $14.025.hour. And way more on a busy night or at a higher end restaurant where mains go for $30 and up.

    Also, I have to respond to this:

    “I bet you would not last a week trying to move $500 of food and eight hours on your feet.”

    Why? What amazing skill set — above and beyond that of any average able-bodies human being — do the thousands and thousands of servers across this country possess that enables them to perform this awesome feat?

    The fact remains, basic serving is a job the requires minimal skill and few hours of training. Just look no further than the fact that it is a job of last resort for so many people. So it should pay accordingly.

    By the way, I generally tip 18%. My problem is not with the practice of tipping. My problem is with servers who whine that 20-25% should be the standard. 15% is more than adequate to bring servers up to a living wage.

  27. Thomas says:

    The reason for the bartender returning you a stack of singles has many obvious causes. For one, that might be all she has because she gave her fives and tens to everyone else. Or, perhaps your drink cost three bucks (hey, in Milwaukee? Easily during happy hour for mixers. New Yorkers are suckers) and it’s a lot easier to take three bucks each time than constantly move fives around.

    How I personally tip bartenders depends on how long I’m there and how well I know them. For someone I know well, I tip out when I leave. For someone I don’t, I will generally tip every drink or two, depending. If I really want to be taken care of? I’ll pony up a ten or twenty first thing and say, “take care of me”. There might be more later.

    Guy’s clearly not a serious drinker. Probably wouldn’t get any drinks bought for him here, either.

  28. Kyle O. says:

    I like how Sax says “my gratuity should be a reward for better service, or at least an incentive”, then says that he “always pays 15 percent.”


  29. TC says:

    I replied 3x to Hey Waiter and just had to stop reading it! I am pretty sure Robert also commented on the NY times piece because I recognize the “trained monkey” analogy.
    Please Robert one day with me at the fine dining restaurant I work at. Simply put,not everyone can be a server (at least well). Try standing politely by a rude table of 6 while they just completely ignore your Good Evening greeting, know the menu ( which changes constantly) up and down with correct wine pairings, remember who drinks the Makers mark neat and who drinks the Kettle one martini and certainly don’t forget that so and so is a vegan! In mid summer on the large outdoor seating area move from table to table in a heavy starched white shirt, long pants, bistro apron and black Danskos, of course with a smile and appearing to not be hot at all.
    I usually don’t complain about my job. I choose to be a server because I am skilled at it, it can be great fun and I make darn good money. I would not be a server if I was to get a straight $10-$15 an hour. I would do something that was worth my time. Restaurants would lose good servers.

  30. Amy says:


  31. Greg in New Orleans says:

    14. Meagan.

    I disagree with the notion that people should tip because of the tax loophole for tipped employees. I’ve never met a server that couldn’t make minimum wage. I’m glad I work for tips, because I’m in one of the few professions that I know I’m making what I deserve. That being said, I like working in CA, AK, OR, WA and MT, and get full minimum wage.

    As for the big party situation, I don’t think you get how hard big parties are. Most servers like getting them, because it means more money, but they are an extreme pain in the ass. They tend to be very social tables and linger forever. Everything is about timing in food service, and large tables screw it up. How many times have you waited a long time for your food, because a large group was just before you. Finally, people in large groups that ask for separate checks don’t deserve the luxury of good service. It is incredibly rude. Not only does it take a monumentally long time that the server may not have (lowering his tips at other tables), it can shut the whole restaurant down as other servers wait for that computer.

  32. Kim says:

    @ Pass the Mustard – brilliant response in the blog you put in. Thanx.
    Steve aka Waiter – I love your point by point, brilliant.
    For anyone in California who wonders about those tips when the waitstaff gets paid hourly akin to what everyone else makes? Well, my Mom, the former waitress, didn’t get health insurance with her 40 hour a week job. Fortunately, for her, my Dad did so she didn’t have to stress about that. But she and her waitress friends had to put their tips into a jar at the end of the night to be divvied up between them, the bus staff, the kitchen staff and the chef aka the owner. You read that right. The owner. So in a lot of cases, you’ve got a wait staff person busting ass for minimum wage but has family at home that needs health insurance which costs a freakin’ fortune (especially now – thanks Anthem!). Minimum doesn’t cover the parents who let their kids have an “Animal House” style food fight or the dine and dashers.

  33. Greg in New Orleans says:

    Kyle O.

    Missed that. Awesome point

  34. jess says:

    I recently moved from a state where servers didn’t make at least minimum wage to a state where servers do make at least minimum wage (state wage, which is higher than the federal min. wage). I’ve always wondered about tipping etiquette when it’s not part of the “make-up” wage in states like this (mine is Minnesota) or in Canada. We generally tip at least 20% anyway (always depending on service from the server solely, and not kitchen screw-ups or things that are not the server’s fault), but I’d love to hear more on this subject in states where it doesn’t necessarily make up their pay rate to where it “needs” to be.

  35. Desert Shark says:

    Sounds like a guy who never worked a real job before he became a journalist. He should spend a couple months in a job that involves customer service and we’ll see how much his views change.

  36. Diego says:

    A little while ago, I did a little research regarding minimum wage, specifically in California. Someone decided to figure out what a true minimum might be and it turns out that in the Golden State, which now has a minimum wage of $8.00 and hour with San Francisco workers getting an additional $1.79, this ‘true’ minimum was actually figured to be $12.44 for a single individual, no family. That was figured out a few years ago and even in this terrible economy, prices have not diminished, in fact, some like gasoline, have increased, so the probability that even $12.44 covers an individual’s living expenses is questionable.

  37. Julia says:

    I’ve known a number of people who waited tables for a living at some point in their lives. My attitude is, tip 20% minimum, tip $1 minimum (except at the Sonic if I’m only getting iced tea, and then I’ll go under on that), and be as cheerful and understanding as possible.

    And you know what? People are glad to see me and glad to wait on me, and if I have a “regular” order, it’s remembered. So I’m living in a bubble of cheerfulness, and that’s worth a lot to me. Maybe Mr. Sourpuss wouldn’t be so sour if he actually, you know, had a cheerful attitude about tipping.

  38. The Bitchy Waiter says:

    Once again, you hit the nail on the head, Mr. Waiter Rant. All of us bloggers aspire to be you and we remain two steps behind as usual.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Waiter, you’ve worked so long in high-end places that you “just don’t get it” as much as those multi-million dollar bankers.
    Try eating lunch every day where the blue-plate special is $4.99 (coffee included). How do you feel about the 20% tip which amounts to $1?

  40. zack says:

    Obviously this guy doesnt know what he is talking about. Something I have always wanted to see was an actual true to life reality show about waiters and waitresses. Not this food channel bull crap where its all high-end restaurants. But take a normal waiter in a “normal” (think more chain restaurant-style) restaurant and install a hidden camera on him. that would be entertainment!
    been a waiter for many years now, love your blog!

  41. Amit says:

    Can we change that law? It’s possible. But what you pay in tips will just get folded into restaurant prices and you’ll end up shelling out the same amount of money anyway. And since water always seeks it’s own level, unscrupulous restaurateurs will siphon off that money, pay their waiters a pittance and waiting tables will turn from an honorable profession that puts food on the tables of 2 million American workers into another wage slave job.

    Steve, don’t want to get into your bad books but the crux of it seems that there is a fear that a law which pays waiters more would not be enforced. Hence the reference to unscrupulous restaurateurs.

    All work is honorable, but is it creative or satisfying? Can a career be built out of it?

    Why the fear of an end to tipping if it promises a fair wage to waiters. Maybe the question is would the minimum wage be the one people (waiters would like).

    In short, if their was a vote for sub minimum wages with tip or minimum wage what would you vote for?

  42. MsMoon says:

    Maybe the author of the original article only makes $500 per article because he does not bother to do any research on the subject matter.

  43. La Femme says:

    I’ve written better blog posts for free than that article. What he writes is obviously not even worth the $500.00 he’s getting paid. Maybe I need a “tip jar” on my blog!

  44. Greg in New Orleans says:

    40. Anonymous.

    A guy that works in a place with a blue plate special probably waits on 100-200 people during a shift. He makes his money off of volume. A fine dining server waits on 20-30 people and makes his money off of a higher level of service and higher check averages.

  45. Christine says:

    You tip 20% to BARISTAS? wow.

    I worked for Starbucks throught most of the 90s as a second job. We’d take the tips and divide it by the hours worked by all non-management staff (they got bonuses quarterly from the co in lieu of tips).

    I usually was the one to figure out and divide the tips and week in and week out, the average tip we got from each customer on a $3.75 average check, was seven cents or less than 2% on that average check. It generally averaged out to 75c to $1 per each hour that someone worked so if you were full time, you’d get $60-$80 in tips every other week. My life would have been rather different if our customers were even 10% tippers. Is it really common to get more than a few pennies per customer at other coffeehouses (oh and BTW, visiting employees from other stores were always impressed at how “high” our average per hour tip was.

  46. rockingham says:

    I tip at Chinese buffets. Left 18% the other day. I know some who will not tip at buffets which is pretty miserly in my book. Anyone else want to chime in on tipping at a buffet restaurant?

  47. rockingham says:

    Dave Sax is Canadian and they have bad reputations here for being stingy. I notice though that Sax is living off the fat of the land here, lives in Brooklyn now. He wrote a good book about Jewish delis. If he had been barred from the USA he could not have written this book. What a pig for this kind of payback. For his attitude towards servers and waiters. Maybe his book sucks and the expected coin isn’t rolling in

    He wrote “Save the Deli”. That book would have been three pages long if it was just about Canada’s Jewish delis. Dave and his bad attitude should have been kept out of America

  48. Stu says:

    I’m getting so bored with the constant regurgitation of this on your blog. Yawn.

  49. Connie in CA says:

    I was a waitress 10 years back at a Denny’s, and I wish we had the auto-gratuity. We would get those huge church groups in who’d leave the typical pennies and change tip or the tracts…. /sigh

    When my friends and I go out, we adore the auto-gratuity. If service was good, we’ll toss a few bills onto the table as a thank-you for the server to help prevent tip skimming.

    For me, barista tips are the change from my coffee. If I have a particularly complex order, I’ll throw in a dollar to ensure they get it right.

    Other than that, standard is double the tax, rounded up to nearest dollar OR double tax + change to bring my total bill to the nearest dollar… Since I live in LA County, that means a 16-17 percent tip typically.

  50. Andrew says:

    Tipping 20% just means that the minimum wage will NEVER change, because there’s just no incentive for servers to push fit.

    If servers really cared about this, they would campaign for a REAL minimum wage so they have a living wage.

    So until you see people campaiging for a real minimum wage, you can only assume it doesn’t matter that much to them.

    Keep tipping 10%!

  51. widget says:

    why the 15% when did this happen. Was there a law passed. When did “10%is customary” become “we’re expecting 15%” I mean with inflation a 10% is still more money than previously. 10 % goes in my area, plus our state recently passed a law that the service is taxed so all restaurant prices went up to replace it, which means people tipped less. (lets not even talk about some restaurants which tried to make the waitstaff cover the cost of credit card use) Though some poor lady having to keep up with my husband’s coffee demands may get extra.

  52. aaron says:

    You know, if they did away with tipping as some people here have advocated, then your service would be as bad, if not worse, then it is at other minimum wage establishments, like mcdonalds and starbucks. No waiter, bartender or bus boy would give a shit at all. Because I work for tips, then I work hard to get you your food, drinks and make sure it’s all clean while you’re there. Yes, as someone stated in another comment, a trained monkey could do it, but if we were paid as low as trained monkeys with no incentive to do a good job, then fuck it, your fish will come out cold.

  53. Luke Smith says:

    I’m so glad I live in a country where people get a wage to live- and even get decent healthcare for free.

    I don’t get tips. I occasionally get a bonus, but I don’t depend or rely on it. I don’t understand why waiting in the US would be any different… other than obviously being stuck in a cultural log-jam. Same goes for universal healthcare.

  54. BoredOfThis says:

    Agree with Stu – unfortunately this blog has become the same rant over and over. Don’t think I’ll be coming back for any more. Quite a shame after following this blog for years.

    @Rockingham – What does Dave Sax being Canadian have anything to do with this? That’s just unnecessarily offensive – and for the record the “fat of the land” that is America isn’t as great as you seem to think. He’d actually probably be better off in Canada. Oh, and btw, he could still contribute an article to the paper no matter where he lives, so get off your high “patriotic” horse. You and your narrow mind should be kept out of civilization.

  55. abby says:

    What can I say that TC #29 didn’t say. I am really really offended by the thought that only the uneducated become servers and that anyone can do it. I have an education but guess how I payed for it! Waiting tables! I’m sorry but remembering menu changes, specials, what each table needs at that exact moment and God forbid you forget anything from a regular customer takes a certain type of talent. Let’s add not reacting when a customer starts swearing at you for something you had no fault in. Waiting takes a considerable skill that I am sure not all people possess. Even though I was able to get a job with my BACHELORS degree while I work on my Masters I am still waiting tables… does that still make me part of the uneducated masses waiting tables because I have no other skills… Do you (the ones who say we shouldn’t make 20-25%) work a job where you make more then just a living wage… and what do you do in your jobs… I am sure there are some of you out there working jobs that you earn wayyy over the living wage where you do a whole lot less work than I do as a waitress and I am willing to be that a trained monkey or a machine could handle your jobs with a lot more skill. To the types who think we are “whiners” for wanting paid for our skills and our service… keep your 10 or 15% tip and shove it up your ass, I don’t want it.

  56. Greg in New Orleans says:

    Widget. According to Wikipedia, the customary tip percentage was 10-15% until the 80’s, when it went to 15-20%. I think you need to move. You’ll double your income. I’ve worked in 14 states. 10% sucked in all of them.

  57. Amanda says:

    Thank you Steve for sticking up for us =) I get paid 2.65, that has to be the lowest wage ever. Some people just don’t know how to tip sometimes! That’s why we add the auto grat! Plus we can make more money by taking several two tops instead of a large party (like you said). The fine dining restaurant I work at has a 18% grat that you can add, other restaurants I have seen 20%. also when we get the awful coupons we can also add a gratuity BEFORE the discount, thank goodness for that because people tip on the discounted price >:o
    thank you Abby! Loved your comment. I am working on my bachelors degree and guess how I’m paying for it? Yup you guessed it! waiting tables! Waiting tables is not only for the uneducated. I’ve known many many people who were waiting tables AND also had a professional job. I knew a guy who had his doctorate degree and was working at his professional job and by night tIme he was serving tables! It’s becoming more
    common than we think!

  58. rob says:

    It would be a good article if it was written in England or France where there aren’t the tip adjustment laws and where servers are generally paid a decent wage.

    I don’t tip coffee shops, I don’t tip in bars apart from the occasional ‘one for yourself’ when I’m drunk and she’s cute and I’m getting in a big round.
    A gratuity and a tip should be just that – a little extra to say thanks.

    But, I’m aware it’s different in the US.
    I think the US laws are terrible, I think it should change, I’d vote for a decent wage for servers (except I can because I’m not even American).
    I’d vote for the tips to be abolished and for the menu to hike the prices by 20% so I didn’t need to re-evaluate the worth of the menu when deciding where to eat.

    But, when I eat out in the US I know that 15% breaks even and 25% is a tip.
    I know that’s the way it is and I play those rules when I’m in that town.

    I’ll stand shoulder to shoulder and agree with Dave that the current system is damned silly and needs to change. But I’ll still leave a half decent tip when I eat out.

  59. lil waitress says:

    yeah. that Dave guy is full of it. He’s probably never worked in a restaurant.

    “When I get $500 for an article that I think is worth $1,000, you won’t see me e-mail the editor, saying, “Just so you know, service isn’t included.” Do I ask you to come into my workplace and supplement my meager income? No, I don’t.” – so funny! The jackass needs to get over himself and realize that maybe all his narcissisum is biting him in the karmic ass! HAHA

    I read your book, Waiter. My mom’s best friend who is a former waitress, like myself, and I tried to get her to read it. She didn’t get the humor in it. But alas, all the universal inside jokes with us in the foodservice industry (universal inside jokes? a bit oxymoronic, but ok haha.) Loved the book. Love the blog. Keep on writing, Waiter! (Sorry, it just feels so weird to call you Steve! It’s like when my professors try to get me to call them by their first names!)

  60. lil waitress says:

    Oh! And I worked for a restaurant that only paid me $2.16 an hour! But then again, they were penny pinching morons who cheated on their taxes. YAY for KARMA!

  61. Dasy says:

    Have owners pay a living wage. Don’t force customers to make a Human Resources decision at the end of every meal. No Tipping!

  62. Bob Dobbs says:

    “I tip at Chinese buffets. Left 18% the other day. I know some who will not tip at buffets which is pretty miserly in my book. Anyone else want to chime in on tipping at a buffet restaurant?”

    I tip ten percent for table clearing, etc. Some buffet offers are at regular restaurants where you can order non-buffet, and the waitstaff clears tables and brings drinks and so on. That’s the same as regular waiting, and I tip the same.

    The ones that puzzle me are the ones where you pay up before you eat. I’m not usually in the mood to put a tip on the charge slip in advance; these are usually the cheap completely self-serve ones where no one even clears your dishes. Maybe a tip jar by the exit?

  63. Ben from Buffalo says:

    I actually appreciate that restaurants auto-grat for larger parties. Keeps all the patrons honest. A few weeks ago I was dining with a group of 5 friends(too small for auto-grat)…we received excellent service and when the check came I calculated my portion plus a ~25% tip, as did a few other diners. We all gave cash to one guy who put the meal on his card…I peeked and saw that he left a 15% tip. I called him out on his cheapskatery, but im certain that waitstaff get screwed all the time like that.

  64. Waiting says:

    Waiter: I agree with your points.

    I’m surprised that the author is paid so well for an article that I could have written while taking a shit.

    Here is a classic example of why gratuity is added to checks:

    Last night, a party of 8 English men come in to eat and I wait on them. 6 arrive first and order beer while waiting for the other 2. The other 2 don’t arrive until an hour later. When they do arrive, everyone orders food, then dessert, then after dinner drinks. They remain at their table for 45 minutes AFTER the check was presented – even after their table has been cleared of everything except their water glasses. All in all they took up a large chunk of my station for over 3 hours. Of course, I added gratuity which totaled $45 – well below what I would’ve made waiting on the individual tables that were pulled together to accommodate the party. As I was prebussing the table I heard one of the men comment “Wow… that’s really how much we are supposed to pay for a tip? That last guy looked super pissed when we gave him $15 – no wonder.” The entire table then laughed at how little they tipped the last server.

    Robert: Even if you made $75 you would not leave with that amount – you would probably tip out almost half of it to your support staff (food runners, bussers, bartenders). Let’s say you tip out less than half ($35) and leave with $40 – now you make $9.65 hour. Also, I’m pretty sure replacing waitstaff with well-trained monkeys violates some health code. I would love to know what you do for a living because EVERYONE is expendable and monkeys are pretty smart and can probably do whatever your job is too.

    Also, you seem to think that servers are stupid and incapable of doing anything else. Long term servers have more than likely worked “real jobs” and probably made less money and worked longer/more hours. Personally, I do it because I’m insanely good at it. Also, I like the fact that I only work 35 hours a week, make 2X as much as my computer programmer friends, and don’t have to give my job a second thought when I get home. Also, most servers in Vegas are part of the union and have benefits provided by our employers – like free health/dental insurance, paid vacation, paid holidays, and a base pay higher than minimum wage. Who’s stupid now?

    Don’t get me wrong – I work my ass off for my money but in terms that I can accept. I average at least $2000 in sales a day – in a casual fining dining environment that equals A LOT of running around. If you think you can keep up with me I would love to see you try. I work with plenty of other servers who aren’t nearly as good as me and they would still probably run circles around you.

    BTW: I also paid for my education by waiting tables and graduated debt free.

    Rob: I wouldn’t be opposed to having the prices include 20%. Though, I have seen large parties who were informed of 18% gratuity break into smaller tables seated away from each other just to avoid paying the gratuity. I have also seen lazy servers give substandard service knowing that gratuity was already included. I would never do that because I equate that to stealing from people just like I think when someone gives me an undeserved shitty tip (while telling me how fantastic I am) is stealing from me.

  65. rasbobbo says:

    dave is just pissed because he didn’t get a cool name, like mr. black.

  66. jessfromtx says:

    I waited tables for a long time and often had customers like this guy. If I go out of my way to go above and beyond the requirements of my job to make your day better, including free refills because I think it’s crap that the restaurant charges you 2.50 a cup for what costs them .13, I do deserve a little more than the 2.155(yes, it rounds up to 2.16, so some places do pay you a half penny an hour), especially when the bar gets 10% + of my tips, bussers get 3% of my sales, expo gets at least $5, no matter what my sales are, and I have to pay a babysitter during summer (tourist season) to go to work while the kids dad is at work as are both grandparents that live in the area.
    I love waiting tables, and I am damn good at it. It paid my way through college and helps out during the tough times when I work summers and weekends.
    Congrats, Steve, for calling this guy out. For the few jerkfaces (I’m a teacher now, that’s the extent of my cussing) who don’t understand why you tip, eat at a fast food place or cook yourself. I know you may bring it up a lot, as pointed out by a few people, but it’s because a server can go to work and loose money because of tip-outs based on sales and cheap people.
    And, really, this guy is complaining about $500 for 500 words. you aren’t that good, homey.

  67. KZBlog says:

    And you, my dear bartender, who cracked open a $4 beer bottle, and handed me back my change entirely in a stack of one-dollar notes. Very subtle.

    Yup, I assume that bartenders, taxi drivers, and other people who tend to get small tips, deliberately give me change in small bills whenever possible. Which is fair enough. It’s not expecting me to tip the whole stack; it’s just making it easier for me to tip him.

    Honestly, I’m not going to tip a bartender $5 for a $4 beer, so if I don’t get ones, he’s not going to get a tip. I would probably I give him the five after a few beers, but maybe I’m not staying that long. So if I were a bartender I would certainly give my patrons lots of ones in their change.

  68. The Beer Judges says:

    Just a thought…

    As an Australian, the minimum wage for people working in restaurants, bars, etc tends to hover around the AU$20 per hour mark (depending on the various state agreements and the like). This works out at about US$18, CAD$18.60, GBP 12, 13 euros, etc

    If the minimum wage was raised in these tip-heavy countries to something approximating the level in Australia, what would be likely to happen?

  69. Your Slave says:

    Bad tippers are the people that no one wants to be around. People who tip badly are bad people. They are probably the bosses who treat their employees like dirt, the husbands who cheat, the fathers who abuse, the citizens who cheat on their taxes, the store manager who steals from the till. It’s ok if that is who you are, but embrace it. Don’t tell me what a fine and generous person you are, and in the next breath tell me that you resent having to give a tip after eating in a restaurant. Good people don’t even notice the tips they leave. Bad people feel it in tenths of a penny, like shards of glass in their eyes.

    Eating in a restaurant is a luxury activity. People like to imagine that they are being “thrifty” when they short the tip. Our Canadian friend, Sax tells us that he is “cheap”. Sax, people who watch their money eat at home. If you want to save money, go to the grocery store, and buy a weeks worth of meals for the price of one dinner in a nice restaurant. Shop around for discounts on your insurance, maybe look into a bundle on your cable-internet-home phone package? If you can afford that meal out, afford that tip or accept that you are an asshole.

    When dining out, try to model your behavior on one Arthur Fonzerelli. And what’s Fonzi like? That’s right. He’s cool. Sax, you’re a Potsie, and no one likes you.

  70. John says:

    “After this article, something tells me Dave’s going to have trouble ever ‘catching a bartender’s eye’ ever again.”
    – Really? How many bartenders know this author by face? I can’t imagine the International Barkeep’s Union is distributing Sax’s mugshot as we speak. No, my guess is the article this guy’s written will have no impact on the service he’ll continue to receive.

  71. clark says:

    and now i am going to be killed and eaten.

    i have been in a few high end restarants, many in the mid range and fast food on a semmi-regular basis. i have also managed many years ago in a national family chain.

    when i get good service, which i class as promptly taking orders, bringing hot, correct food to the table, following up after the food is served, clearing empty plates towards the end on the meal and promptly bring a check, i tip well. at least i think it is well.

    on the other hand, if the above conditions are not met, my tip goes down or disappears, and i discuss my issues with the management.

    how many of those replying here and/or working iin serving jobs think they should not be tipped if the customer thinks he or she got crap service?

    just for fun, answer honestly.



  72. Sihaya says:

    Man, I wish I’d get change in ones more often. They seem to be hard to come by.

    #6 – This guy gets paid $500 per article? I did not realize that money grows on trees in Park Slope. This article was 495 words – that’s more than a dollar per word. The average pay for magazine and newspaper submission is something like seven cents per word. Sheesh.

  73. Katie says:

    hm where I work the servers hate getting big parties because gratuity is not included. Often, the parties will tip 5% or nothing at all because they don’t bother to look at their bill and realize gratuity is not included. I once waited on 30 people who took the whole room to promote a pyramid scheme. Kept on talking about having “deep pockets.” one guy paid for the whole thing and said the other people would cover the tip. took up three hours of my time and the “richest” lady in the whole scheme was the only one to tip me. $11 for three hours. I never worked for such a demanding group.

  74. expat says:

    I am an American living in Italy, where service is often included as part of the bill at a restaurant. I’ve eaten at many different types of places in different parts of the country and I don’t feel that I’ve EVER recieved bad service as a result of this system.
    Also, when I first moved here, I was surprised by the concept of a “coperto” or “cover charge” to sit at a table. I didn’t understand it until I realized that dinner may take 2-3 hours here depending on how many courses the customer orders and how long they wish to linger over a bottle of wine, etc. You are basically paying to rent the table for the evening. Everybody wins because the customer does not feel rushed and the server does not have to worry about how much turnover he/she has.
    I’m not suggesting that we do things incorrectly in the U.S. but I just thought I could offer some perspective on how the restaurant industry works in a different culture.

  75. Kat says:

    #65 Europe is different. People linger over meals, whhose prices include tax and tip. I’ve lingered over dinner 4 hours in French restos and no one’s ever batted an eyelash. What happened was a cultural misunderstanding.

    Stephen, this subject has been rehashed over and over again. What you did was help publicize that guy’s article. Page views and all that shit, you gave him free publicity and I bet his editors love him now.

  76. krs says:

    well done waiter for setting that arse straight.

  77. Chelsea says:

    For the record, I’m a server in the South–we only make $2.85 an hour.

    Be grateful, people serving in New York.

  78. Joanna says:

    A few months ago I was driving around town flipping through channels on the radio. There was a minister giving a sermon and I decided to listen for a few minutes. He gave some good advice, seemed like a good guy, THEN, he said.

    “After you leave church next Sunday and go out to brunch with your friends, consider not leaving a tip at all, and instead donate it next week to the church.” I was APPALLED. I read on another board the constant complaining how the church crowd tips, (or usually doesn’t)but didn’t know they were actually getting advice from the church to not tip and instead donate the money to God.

  79. Kim Taylor says:

    The worst people to wait on are women that have never worked a day in their lives. They are under the assumption that you are their waiter alone, and have changed over to their slave that they can snap their fingers at, make rude comments at and NOT TIP. My way of getting back at them, is to walk away from the table and never come back, ever.

  80. Kim Taylor says:

    I don’t know if every state does this, but in Arizona a waiter pays the government 8% for every table he or she waits on, whether a tip was received or not. When I first started waiting on tables in the early 70’s we paid 25 cents per hour for taxes, I cannot for the life of me understand how waiters or waitresses make enough to live on now.

  81. dks64 says:

    @ Greg In New Orleans

    I actually liked it when people asked for separate checks, I was more likely to get 15%+. With large parties, as many servers know, every person who throws in money thinks someone else is covering the tip. I could separate an entire check for 10 people in less than a minute. Some computers are probably set up differently, but I would rather spend that extra time insuring my work for the last 2 hours was compensated for. Just my 2 cents.

    @ Joanna (Re: Church)

    Absolutely terrible. I’m surprised no one said anything, I would have.

  82. Cranky Tutor says:

    #79, that’s HORRIBLE! How could a preacher say that?! I just…ugh! My daddy’s a preacher and he NEVER tips less than 18%. EVER. He always quoted that “sow sparingly, reap sparingly” scripture to me.

    Regarding the “Hey Waiter” article, all I can really say is UUUGH! I think your response was fantastic, funny, and spot-on.

    (As far as the Tea Party thing goes, you’re partially correct. There’s one group that wants a reduced income tax, maximum of 10-15% and an abolition of other forms of taxation.
    Then there’s another faction that wants a complete removal of income taxes and a flat consumption tax of 20-35%, depending on who you ask.)

  83. Gary Flood says:

    Ba-da-boom! Owned! Nice one, Steve.

  84. lexilou says:

    Thanks for letting us servers have a chance to speak our peace. The only bad part is the people who really need to read and understand these things probably don’t.

  85. katie says:

    way to stick up for servers! check out my new blog

  86. Misha says:

    Am I the only one that knows that the minimum wage is a myth. I have never seen that money!

  87. Heather says:

    Brilliant article! I have been a waitress almost the entire time I have been in the work force. Where I live servers only make $2.13/hr. It’s horrible! Sure, I would make good money if everyone would tip like they should (and by this I mean 15% or more), but this doesn’t always happen. Yes, I could go work at a fast food restaurant and make straight minimum wage, but that wouldn’t support my kids or help me go back to school either. So, right now I’m stuck working my arse off, hoping that I make close to or a little over minimum wage every night serving, until I get my degree and can actually make a living wage.

  88. Zen Waitress says:

    Serving is an art form. You can achieve a state of grace within the clockwork mechanism of a smooth and prosperous busy as shit weekend night; when everyone participates in a spectacular ballet of intricate memory, feetwork and restocking – oh, the ever present restocking…and you needy bitches always NEEDING shit!!! ….and the waitress knows you want that shit and brings it to you, and politely apologizes for the long delay. Submit and defer. yes, massa.

    I have worked the high and the low and the hole in the wall. 12 year vet in the Midwest. We have the nicest people in the nation living here and some of the worst fucking tippers ever! 6$ on a nine top. What?! Currently, I work in a Pancake house (which shall remain unnamed – bwahaha!) and I am amazed at what constitutes a good tip for what service – also understand that I handle eight to twelve tables at a time. That is potentially 24 in booths and either a crazy party row, or at least 12 more people. and yes, I could potentialy make a dollar per person. (36$ for an hour and a half) But, this is a high stress area and it is hard to keep shit running. Who do you think fills the fucking syrup bottles every single time and warms them so they are all full and toasty to go with you pancakes? Or makes sure that there is always coffee? Makes sure that there are lemons cut for your stupid ice water (which signifies that you may, possibly be, a cheapass)? I had to give an ‘econ-101’ speech to a group of four high school boys who all came in and just ordered water (and urolled all the silverware) and then said only one of them was ordering. ‘Someone has to painstakingly roll those back up, gentlemen’ – That’s what you get paid to do, was the response. This is the ignorance that the bad tippers have to come to grips with.
    EVERYTHING that you see in the restaurant was put there, or obtained, or served on or whatever, is there because the servers and staff work tirelessly to ensure that you have all the things you could have provided for yourself, and I can’t even get a fucking couple bucks out of the whole deal? Customers are whiny, needy fucks. (except the nice ones – don’t worry guys, I do like you – you guys are the freaking best) Waiting tables is like making a four year old happy and also do what you want them to do, but like, in a fun way so they think they chose that! ha ha! People keep me running all the time. ONE dollar is all the ‘thanks’ that I get for attending to your every needs (and I have seen some bizarre and complex ones) is not fair.
    You would pay a dollar a drink (I usually 2$ per, but I drink the hard stuff, and its not pouring itself), and that amount also translates to someone who just gave you complete table service for the price of a bluse plate special? Bullshit! Stay home.
    I deserve MORE than 14$ an hour for the service I provide. I am lucky (and it holds true for anyone at most establishments around here) if I make that! Most servers are lucky to get over thirty hours as well. That is only 360$ a week, maybe! This job is a crapshoot, but exhilerating. Maybe I am just a glutton for punishment, or I am always striving for that ‘perfect’ night in a Krameresque fantasy, just trying to see how far the proverbial tank of gas will take me.
    Tip for keeping your cool, oh Servers of the World; dance. dance all the time. do a little ‘getting a ramikin of mustard dance’ or the ‘waiting in line for the soda fountain’ dance whatever, it is a remarkable way of helping to elevate your mood and most of the staff will follow suit. (Plus, this tones your leg muscles so they are less sore over time, also helps with the cocaine and caffeine jitters…not that I would know….

    …and don’t get mad; but when you do, go silent and throw something non harmful and walk away. This will demonstrate collected rage and no one will steal your tables, ever!

    Normal people have no idea. Keep fucking that chicken, Dave.

  89. Diana says:

    After having worked in New York at restaurants then in Boston, MA at a restaurant to put myself through school (where other servers included people from Harvard getting their Masters thank you very much) it was tough to go from $4.60 or whatever it was in NY to $2.63 an hour!!!!! in Massachusetts. Boston is still a city where it is very expensive to live, let alone put yourself through school and still pay your rent, utilities, and be able to feed yourself. Doing this on $2.63 an hour is near impossible. Servers rely on tips. It’s not our choice or decision that we should get paid less an hour Dave, since this role is a tipped position, we get paid below the minimum wage and need to employ the “I hope I make enough tips this week to pay my electric bill” attitude. And before you say, oh get a different job, blah blah. Try getting any other job that’s as flexible and allows you to attempt to make a sort of living working nights because you’re in class the rest of the day. Except for stripping…which still is a tipped position Dave. So maybe that’s what you can do with your extra singles. Though I’m not sure how you’d hold true to your 15% vow there.

    Anyways, I worked at a restaurant as a server for a year in downtown Boston- it was very busy most nights, but could also be as dead as MJ. Yes, there was the potential to make good money, but guess what Dave? Like any job there’s the chance to get screwed over by idiot bosses, so if you had a bad section, or maybe had tables that didn’t tip, tipped badly, they held your tables for reservations that didn’t show up and an hour and a half goes by where you’ve made no money, then there goes your rent.

    That’s so great you’ve made $500 to write that article, many servers shoot for this in a week, so maybe if we take all those extremely intelligent underpaid servers and have them do your job, then everyone will be happy, including your readers who might actually have something good to read then.

    p.s. I graduated Valedictorian and am also bartending at another downtown Boston restaurant to help pay loans, etc. and meet some of the most amazing people through my job. And guess what, I’m genuinely nice to them and they don’t mind tipping me. Karma. So I’ll stick to my job, talking to hundreds of awesome people a day while you sit at home hunkered solitary over your laptop and spew out $500 useless words into what you call an article. Just be sure not to get your computer dirty with your self-masturbatory, ego-inflated verbiage.

  90. julie says:

    Not sure about other states but they tax either 12 percent of my sales or all my credit card tips whichever is more. And i get checks for $0.07 or simply void when it’s the busy season. No matter if i made the money or not. And bussers and bartenders get paid off the sales so when the british party tips me the eighty three cent change on their three hundred and seventy three dollar check i’m literally paying to have served them. I would be fine with either an actual living wage or better yet let the assholes screaming for no tips win… but i shouldn’t be forced to pay taxes on an assumption that they were socialiized enough to tip at least fifteen percent.

  91. Rae says:

    I live in CA, and while we do technically make the full minimum wage of $8.00 and hour, we also get taxed on 10% of our sales as tips. So if we work a night where we have sold $1000 worth of food and drink, and we make less than $100, we are getting taxed on money we never made. And then, our supposed tips are added to our salary, taxed, then taken out. So I end up getting a hundred bucks less then the hours I worked especially if I made less then it was said I did as tips. This guy obviously has never served a table in his life.

  92. Gerri says:

    As a waitress, I found myself horrified at some of what was written. I’m also in the process of training to be a Barista, and will be working both jobs. Some of what was written is just crazy. I can attest that being a waitress and a Barista is not something just anyone can do. It’s not a job for quite a few people. You put up with a lot of crap for the few good people. I’m not referring to tips either, sometimes, you just get really bad customers. I’m doing a steam of consciousness thing here so apologies if I jump around. Larger parties, while they generate more money, do tend to cause problems. They take over the kitchen and tend to cause problems. People get impatient, especially in small restaurants. Even though people are warned about the restaurant being small and that there is only one chef with six burners, they can be a pain. Another thing to note is that not all waiters/waitresses get to keep the full tip. I’ve heard of restaurants that split the tip amongst the majority of the workers, not give the tip to the waiter/waitress who worked the table. Speaking of tips, there’s no guarantee you get tips… or customers. If a night is dead, you aren’t getting money from it, simple as that.

    Lastly, I was the Valedictorian at my high school. I’m nineteen, currently attending college(sophomore year), and taking six classes. I’m working three jobs. Waitress at an Italian Restaurant, Barista at Starbucks, and entering files in a Doctors Office. I also house sit when I can. Being a waitress is not easy, nor is being a Barista. To those who think we make tons of money, or don’t need the tips: I assure you, you’re wrong. That minimum 15% is the difference between a paid bill and a late one with fees.

  93. Seth W says:

    Other than grabbing a beer at a bar or a waiter grabbing u one drink, I say the min tip is still 5 bucks. I don’t care if your tab is $12 bucks bc u and ur friend got 2 $6 burgers. You still sat at my table and took my time. Forget ur $3 tip even if it is 25%. My booth is more valuable than $3/hr. So go ahead and keep that change, next table!

  94. Lance says:

    I used to wait tables when i was in school. To the people crying about paying mandatory 12% taxes on your sales. When you average over 12% do you claim that extra non-mandatory income on your income taxes and pay the taxes on it? If not, quit crying. If you aren’t averaging at least 12% in tips you are either in the wrong business or working at the wrong establishment.

    Servers saying take that $3 tip and shove it? really? I’ll take it. Let’s say i have a 6 table section that i turn 4-6 times over the course of a 6 hour shift. Even if every one of those checks are couples ordering the cheapest thing on the menu and tipping $3 then I’m looking at $72-$108 for 6 hours of work. (5 on the floor + 1 hour of sidework) My average sales for 5 hours on the floor was $600-$1200.

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