Daily Prompt: Eighth Cardinal Sin, Thou shalt not disappear after bringing my food! You often come across articles about how to be a good restaurant, bar or cafe customer, usually written from the point of view of waitstaff – as waiters and waitresses are now referred to. Invariably one of the focal points will be the absolute need to tip and what constitutes an appropriate tip; the proper way to get your wait-staffer’s attention and so on.
Let me start by stating unequivocally that I am an exceptionally polite person, and I have been told on numerous occasions that I am an above average tipper, even if I dislike the current system where I, the restaurant patron, have to directly pay, via tips, a significant portion of wait staff salaries because restaurant owners can employ them at below average minimum wage.
Tipping used to be done on the QT, a little backhander, some palm grease, a bit of a cash bonus tactfully passed from customer to waiter, doorman or cabbie, all in an effort To Insure Promptness – hence Tip. Now not only is it right out there, but it is expected, in fact in many establishments it is already calculated into your bill. While I don’t like the system, and would prefer one whereby restaurant owners paid waitstaff a decent wage to begin with, and tips were relegated to their old role as bonuses, I would never hold that against a waiter or waitress by withholding their tip. I understand they work very hard and rely on tips, and they didn’t create the system.
But enough about tipping, let’s take a look at things from the opposite end of the telescope. Now that we know how to be good patrons, here are some ideas, I won’t say tips, on how to be an even better waiter or waitress.
“Hi! I’m Becky/Sam, and I’ll be your waiter/waitress tonight.” Becky/Sam, I don’t want to be mean, but we’re not going to be friends – and if we already are, I know your name. I’m going to politely order food, you’re going to professionally bring it, I’m going to enjoy it and pay. We can accomplish all of this without knowing each others name.
With all due respect, I don’t care what you like.
Please don’t say things such as “What I really like is the pork chop with basil stuffing”. That’s fine, why don’t you go have one. I’m not in the least interested in what you like or how you like it. In a similar vein, when I inform you of my selection, please don’t say “Good choice” as though I were a child having just mastered shoelace tying.
Did I mention I am polite?
As a polite person, during the course of our interaction I will, no doubt on several occasions, say ‘Thank you’. There are but a few proper replies, among them ‘you’re welcome’ and ‘my pleasure’. ‘Un-huh’, ‘Sure’, ‘Not a problem’, and ‘okie dokie’ should be avoided!
Please don’t impose the inner workings of the restaurant on me
While the phrase “It’s not my section” has become a joke, there are still some waitstaff who don’t get it. When we customers enter a restaurant, we enter the entire monolithic establishment, not one or another section thereof. How you choose to divvy up the tables and chores is entirely your business. As far as we patrons are concerned, all wait staff should be attentive to all customers. It will work out in the end.
Please don’t impose the inner workings of the restaurant on me – part two
Every now and then I like to drop in for a beer or two on my way home from work. Sometimes the waiter or waitress will, mere moments after bringing me my beer, reappear with an unrequested bill and payment machine. Have I been thrown out, am I barred, cut off, did I take a nap on the bar? They inform me that they have finished their shift and are leaving. So? Have a nice evening. Oh, I get it, you want me to pay and tip you for the beer(s) you brought me, then your replacement will start another tab. Why don’t you just let the bill run, I’ll pay your replacement when I leave, and you can get your portion of the tip from him or her next time you see them? But I guess it’s easier to download this bit of payroll administration to the customer.
Please don’t hover, but don’t disappear either
Once things have arrived, within a few moments the customary check to see if everything is fine is much appreciated. Assuming all is well, there’s no need for you to hover, but by the same token, please don’t disappear, as I will no doubt need your services again. Strike a balance between being available and leaving me alone.
Now that the meal is done
When it comes time to remove the plates from my table, if someone appears to still be eating, please don’t a) remove all the other plates and utensils, this just makes the remaining diner feel uncomfortable and rushed, when they should be enjoying their meal. And, b) should you not be certain if someone has finished their meal, never, ever, ask “Are you still working on this?”. I don’t know where this comes from, but I have heard it several times. We aren’t working, we are dining. If it entailed work to get through the meal, we wouldn’t be eating in your restaurant. I imagine a chef would not like to think his meals had to be worked on.
These few suggestions will make this restaurant patron happy, which will probably result in an above average tip.