You Are Not Better than Your Waiter
In my mind, there are two types of people in the world: those who have worked in the service industry, and those who haven’t. By service industry, I mean waiters, bartenders, bussers, barbacks, line cooks, strippers, or anyone else involved in you having a good time when you go out to eat, drink, or have sex with a stranger. Those who have worked “in the biz” know a lot of things that those who haven’t do not. For instance, they know that when you order Grey Goose 9 times out of 10 you’re getting Svedka.
But those of you who went to college on your parent’s dime and then were thrust immediately into the corporate world probably never had to learn the terms “86” or “First Cut.” The word “sidework” does not send you into the corner in the fetal position and you just assume the person giving you your drink/food/lapdance is getting paid well to do it and is there to serve you. But they are people too, folks, and when you’ve worked in “the biz” there are a lot of things you learn that can make the lives of those serving you better. Remember, you are not better than these people, and at nicer places they probably make more money than you and have a lot better time. So here are some things to keep in mind the next time you head out that can improve the quality of your service through your own actions:
- Tipping – Not sure if everyone has picked up on this yet, but 15% is now considered a bad tip. I know, when I was a kid mom told me the formula to figuring it out, but now pretty much anything under 20% is considered “cheap.” Call it inflation, or call it the good tippers ruining it for the cheapskates, but whenever you get a meal, look at the total, double it and move the decimal one place to the right. That is an decent tip. Incidentally, should you ever get a discount or anything free, you ALWAYS tip on the original amount, if not more since you got hooked up. And for the love of fucking Christ, open bars do not include gratuity. I was once at Opium and saw a bartender pull back about 5 drinks at an open bar because the guy didn’t throw down any cash, yelling “Gratuity not included!” So don’t think when you go to a club just because it says “open bar” you’re drinking for free. A dollar drink isn’t too much to ask.
- Lingering – You ever have one of those nights where you and your I-banker buddies sat outside a bar bullshitting and smoking cigars until well after close? You ever look inside that bar and see the entire staff sitting around with nothing to do? Well, guess what? You and your jackass friends are the reason these people are not currently at home smoking weed. Nobody, and I mean not even managers, like the people who hang out after closing, forcing every employee to stay late so you can smoke your cigar. Finish your shit and go home. Close your check out as soon as possible so your server can get out, and when it’s closing, get up and fucking go. You have a balcony at home, sip your scotch and smoke there. If you choose not to, you must make it worth their time, at least to the tune of $25 an hour.
- Fancy Drinks – There was once a time when I would sooner insult a bartender’s mother than ask for a Mojito. They are, without a doubt, the biggest pain in the ass drinks to make and the people who order them are typically girls and/or guys trying to look cool. Neither of which are exactly the bartender’s favorite. But I have come to accept Mojitos and other stupid, floofy drink orders as a fact of life Not everyone can love Hennessey on the Rocks. Should you order something that requires the bartender to do more than pour a liquor and a mixer, the MINIMUM tip is $2 a drink, If not, don’t expect any more Mojitos. At least ones lacking Visine.
- Calling Out – Servers and bartenders are busy. Sometimes they just can’t get to you. One thing they do not appreciate is being whistled at or called out to. Perhaps saying “’Excuse Me” or “Sorry, but my friend just needs some more flat water with lemon” is the appropriate way to go. But whistling or snapping fingers is degrading, and saying ‘Hey, can I get another Red Bull and Vodka” to an obviously harried bartender is not getting you jack shit any faster. In fact, if may automatically disqualify you from anything under a 20 minute wait.
- The Restaurant isn’t Paying Them – That’s right. Strippers have to pay to work. Servers and bartenders get what’s called “Restaurant Minimum wage” which is usually around $3 an hour. So basically they work off your tips. The harder you make them work, the more money you give them. That $3 an hour doesn’t even cover taxes on tips, and a typical paycheck in “the biz” is for about two and a quarter. So remember that next time you order 8 Mojitos, 9 modifications on your food, send it back three times and then order a table full of Cappuccinos. Your tip needs to be in the 25% range or you are officially an asshole.
I’m sorry if some of you will point to this and say “See, that’s why