Monday, July 23, 2012

The Server's Curse

You guys, I loved loved LOVED my waitressing days. For real. Best job of all time...{at least for this post...} The restaurant fosters a unique environment. Usually a younger crowd working to make money on the side as they're trying to figure out what the heck they're doing in life. Sprinkled with the veterans who have made this their career.

In my days I would show up to my then-current restaurant of employment- Casa Gallardo, UNO's, a couple hotel restaurants that I can't remember the name of-- Anyways, I would show up, tie my little black apron around my waist, find my pad of paper and a million pens that were bound to magically disappear in the next 6 hours, plaster a genuine {I'm for real- I told you I really loved waitressing} smile all in preparation to go out and chat with people while serving them beverage after beverage- always hoping they opted for the alcoholic one- and a meal of choice. When you only have to have a relationship with a person for an average of an hour, it's usually pretty easy to just enjoy them and like them. And then....onto the next, ya know.

And while you're in and out of the kitchen with your food and drinks, you get all kinds of good intermixing with the other servers. You got all your good inside jokes, you get to make fun of your lovely diners even though you LOVE them and are ENJOYING them for that one hour, you get to flirt with that one person who you have absolutely no interest seeing outside of work but he sure livens up each shift, and you get to hope that when you ask the bartender to hook you up with a virgin daiquiri...that she really gives you the virgin one. I promise, I'm not looking for a favor...I really just don't drink! Imagine that.

And to top all this off, each night you walk out...with a wad of CASH. Straight up paper money.
The life of a server is a good one. At least in the employment department.

But the goal for most of us servers is to move on and up from being a server. Dang it, where's the loyalty? ...not in the restaurant industry, sorry! And maybe this disloyalty ignites the server's curse that's bound to haunt you for the rest of your life.

Because when I ditched working in a restaurant, I didn't ditch restaurants all together. I became a faithful restauranteer. What's a restauranteer, you ask? Oh just someone who eats out a lot. Soy yo. And what I could have never imagined to expect is that every time....yes EVERY TIME...I walk into a restaurant, I have my imaginary score sheet that I'm ready to fill out and then scientifically slash mathematically calculate their tip based on the results.

And we know the number one criterion for this score sheet: keep my dang Diet Coke filled. And refilled. At all times. Period. That is your number one responsibility. People want a filled beverage. And if my beverage is getting close to running out, I am carefully looking around analyzing the situation: are you busy right now? Did you just get double-seated? Do you have a snobby customer demanding a disproportionate amount of time and energy? Did people's food just come up? I am taking all these factors into account to decide how harshly I'll be judging your promptness.
I do this same analysis after I've been seated and am getting ancy when it takes you too long to greet me . And too long to come back and take my order. And too long to bring me my check when I long ago finished my meal and me and the four hoodlums are ready to get the heck out of here and you're nowhere to be found. I go through the same checklist of possibilities before making a rushed assumption and putting a FAILING mark on your score card.

And I must admit, a lot of times servers don't pass the test. I see a lot of lolly-gagging and looking around and talking in the corner with their co-workers. All the while there is plenty of legit work they could be engaging in. And this is when I start tilting the tip gauge toward the lower end. Huh uh. I worked HARD for my tip money and I'm not about to throw dollar bills at you just because it's expected. I reward good service...with a good tip.

When the check finally comes, it's the put my money where my mouth is {is that how the saying goes?}

And there I sit, nodding my head in disapproval, hand shaking in my hand, wondering why I can't just come sit in a restaurant and not be disturbed by all this conscious/subconscious score keeping. Because the truth of the matter is they don't deserve the best tip.

But I've been there before, depending on that tip, desperate for that tip. Now enters the servers' curse...where regardless of their half crap job...I reward them with a solid 20%. I'm afraid that I just may be a sucker for life.


  1. Why am I just nodding my head at every point you just made. I am the worst critque out there. I will count how many tables they have, and if they aren't prioritizing. They don't know I am watching their every move. While I am not to the point where I am missing the restaurant business yet... I can look back and appreciate the apron and the book where I kept the goods. It is a job that everyone should experience, because the second you understand what goes into serving, the whole concept of tipping is revealed. You did it again. I am just loving the bloggy.

  2. Lol good stuff. I work in an industry where I recieve tips and I call it tipping Karma. I always overtip

    1. So Brent, do enlighten. What is tipping etiquette at hair salons? 20%? nI always struggle bc I don't quite know what the expectation is ya know.


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