Before SoCal

What I Hate Wednesday #1

I’m starting a new [sporadic] feature on this blog.

I know some bloggers like to highlight what they eat on Wednesday.  Since my meals are less than exciting (I tend to eat the same thing everyday), I have decided to, instead, highlight a pet peeve or something I strongly dislike on Wednesdays.

This week, I would like to talk about tipping your server when you’re out to eat.

I’ve waited tables at a number of places.  When I was 17, I started out working lunches and banquets at a nearby country club.  Since then, I have worked at a less-than-great chain restaurant and a high end Italian place.

In Massachusetts, servers make $2.63 per hour.  Before taxes.  That means, if you choose not to tip, the server makes nothing.

If the server does a poor job, show them with a smaller tip.  Ten percent, maybe less.  I understand if you don’t want to tip a lot–or at all–if the server is not attentive, indifferent, and seems to not care about how you are enjoying your meal.  After all, you go out to eat not just for the food, but for the experience.

But, if the service is good, why not leave a tip?

True story: One night at less-than-great chain restaurant, I had a table of three.  They all got large alcoholic beverages.  They all got their own appetizer, their own meal, and two got their own dessert.  Their bill was close to $100.  For absolutely no reason whatsoever, they left me nothing for a tip.  They literally wrote in $0.00 on the credit card slip.

Another true story: One night at high-end Italian place, I had a table of eight.  They ordered two–that’s right, two–$98 bottles of wine.  Their bill totaled close to $400, including the almost $200 spent on wine.  They left me $25 on the $400 bill.  Even if you didn’t include the alcohol on the bill, that is less than 15% of $200.  And, I know some people don’t tip on alcohol, but that’s another thing.  Most places make the server give part of his or her tips to the bartender.  This, combined with the fact that I was decanting the bottle of wine, and filling and re-filling glasses all night, means that I should have been tipped on alcohol.  If you’re going to spend that much on wine, at least be willing to give a decent tip.

Exhibit C, if you will:  My uncle will tip 18% if the service is good, but will not tip 18% of the bill including taxes.  He will calculate 18% from the pre-tax total.  “You’re not supposed to tip on tax,” he says.  But, if you are going out to eat and you’re already tipping a certain amount on the pre-taxed bill, why not throw in another two or three bucks for a bill including tax?  This is also frustrating because my uncle is a well-off lawyer who can afford to tip more.

Most of the time, people tipped well at the high-end Italian place.  I learned to expect below ten percent tips at the chain restaurant, because it was in the ghetto of Worcester and the restaurant was sub-par.

This Wednesday, this is what I hate: when people don’t tip the server when the server has been busting his or her ass for far less than minimum wage.

What’s bothering you today?  Anything you want to rant about?

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