for the customers!
(This is a reprint of an article I had written for a magazine years ago--still holds true.)
I am starting this off being politically incorrect as at about the same time customers became 'guests' waiters and waitresses became 'servers'. Strange, I always thought a guest was someone you invited and paid for--but I digress.
In "A Chorus Line" Cassie, pleading for a job, says that the one thing she doesn't want to do is go back to waiting tables while Paul said that he had to be a waiter because he dropped out of high school. For whatever reason many people look down on servers and consider the profession demeaning. Yes, I said profession and an honorable one at that.
Many a lawyer, doctor or scientist waited tables on their way to getting a degree and, yet, they are some of the worst tippers. A not so funny joke in the restaurant business is that the worst tippers are early birds, French Canadians, pipe smokers, doctors, lawyers and scientists so imagine the nightmare a server gets when he/she is waiting on an early bird, French Canadian, doctor/lawyer smoking a pipe.
(An aside--and don't flame me for this--the list has changed a little with Lesbians, middle class Blacks and Latins now near the top of the list.)
Whenever you see a list of stressful jobs you will notice that waiting tables is very high on the list. A server not only answers (and takes abuse from) to customers but, also, to chefs, cooks, bartenders, managers, host/hostesses and busboys. When anything goes wrong the server gets the blame. They are blamed for bad tasting dishes, long waits for the courses, where they have been seated or any other reason a guest wants to find to avoid tipping. We either serve food too fast or too slow. The food is either too hot or too cold. We are accused of being overbearing or neglectful. The one thing we are not is right. Considering the public's attitude toward servers it is amazing so many good ones stay on the job.
Okay, let's look at the other side of the coin: how servers see customers--oops, guests. Following are servers major complaints about guests:
1) Lack of manners, particularly acknowledging the server's greeting and never using the words "Please" and "Thank you".
2) Asking the server to do things they should be doing themselves, such as cutting their children's food.
3) Not mentioning a mistake or that something is wrong with the food until the meal is over (or they ate everything!)
4) Not ordering properly.
5) People who get drunk at the table or come to the table drunk.
6) People who resent the server waiting on other tables.
7) People who tip a bad server as much as a good one.
8) Not tipping more for exceptional service.
9) The attitude that the guest is always right.
10) Tying up a server's table for an unreasonable amount of time and not compensating them for it.
11) Coming in 10 minutes before closing time and taking their time ordering, and eating, their meal.
12) People who order an extra item or more of something and are surprised when a charge appears for it on the check. (That includes asking for a piece of cake or some dessert for a special occasion.)
13) Last, but certainly not least, is failing to tell a server that they are in a rush or would like to take their time.
(Part 2 will talk about how to get excellent service and things the customer should be aware of when they eat out and, yes there are bad, incompetent servers out there though I am glad to say I haven't had too many but I also know how to fix that to get better service.)