Here’s some food for thought that might be difficult to swallow — you’re probably rude and difficult when you go out to eat.
Maybe you don’t realize those annoying little habits of yours at the dinner table — texting, refusing to eat anything that’s touched tomatoes, complaining about pricing to an entry-level employee — but it makes people’s jobs way harder than it needs to be.
So what?, you might be thinking.
You’ve probably never waited on tables if you’re thinking that. It’s not as easy as it seems. Servers are often serving up to 20 people at a time and constantly running around trying to keep everyone satisfied. Those who are exceptionally demanding — and especially rude about it — well, their demands are often put on the backburner.
There’s the cardinal rule some often forget: don’t mess with people who handle your food. (Ever seen “Waiting?”) The better you treat your server, the better the server will treat you. And a dining experience with good service is what you went out to eat for anyway, right?
Here’s some tips on how to love your server, so you can get that love right back.
1. Treat your server as a human being.
If your server says “hello,” and you say “Coke,” you’ll probably get a subtle cold shoulder for the rest of the night. Remember your server is not a robot or computer taking your order, he or she is someone working — to pay bills and/or support a family. Treat them as such. That includes being patient, understanding you are not the only table in the server’s section and yes, like Mom always said, treating them how you would like to be treated.
2. Communicate what you want.
“Oh, you wanted a booth?” Don’t wait to be taken to the back of the restaurant to a table with chairs — say something. If you tell your server your preferences ahead of time, the chance of them being met are more likely. It’s common sense really, but you may be surprised that people who don’t like pickles get upset when they show up on their burger — when they didn’t communicate that to their server. (By way, at that point, don’t send the burger back — if you’re not allergic, take them off yourself and enjoy the burger. No one likes a fussy person!)
3. Tip accordingly.
$5 on a $25 or $30 check is acceptable. $5 on a $120 bill is a slap in the face. As previously mentioned, servers are working to support themselves. They are often paid minimum wage — less than that in some states — and usually the tips are what pays the bills. Unless your service was downright horrendous, leave at least a 15 percent tip. Loved your server? Repay him or her with 20 percent. Remember this important fact: a server’s sales are considered when he or she has to pay taxes, with the assumption that he or she is not receiving 5 percent tips. If you cannot afford a 15 to 20 percent tip, there’s probably a Subway down the street where you should go. Don’t go out to eat if you can’t follow this rule.
If your table was more demanding than the usual — small children, a lot of modifications to the order — reflect that in your tip.
4. Don’t camp out.
Of course, you can sit there and let your food settle, but don’t sit at the table for an extra hour after finishing your meal. An employee can serve another table within an hour and possibly make a $20 tip. For these servers, often college students or just another person trying to get by, that extra table can make their night. Don’t take money away from them.