My parents never taught me how to tip. For years I was either under or over tipping based on the day of the week, color of the server’s hair, etc. If you have kids, teach them about tipping. As a big boy, I generally stick to the standard of 20%. Okay, that was a lie. I typically start at 20% unless the service was a joke and I could ascertain without a doubt it was the server’s fault. The 20% is an unspoken contractual expectation between the server and diner. If a server knocks my socks off in some way, I will always leave a 30% or higher tip.
So what knocks my socks off? I know what you guys and gals are trained to do and most of it is all good, but there are a few things we could do without.
The Chatty Kathy
Be it nerves, boredom, genuine interest, it doesn’t particularly matter, but customers typically do not want to have an extended conversation with their server. I had a young lady once provide an extremely detailed account of her trip to the dentist earlier in the day. She even showed everyone the tooth that was repaired.
If we ask about the food on the menu, we really and truly want your opinion. If you feign neutrality with, “Oh it’s all good,” you have failed us. You will not pass go and you will not collect $200.
The Invisible Man
Like I said, I’m always polite and patient with servers. It’s not the best job and people can be complete jerks. When you meet someone like me, I kind of expect you not to sabotage your own tip by disappearing at some juncture. If I haven’t seen you ten minutes, I’ve already called the police to report a missing person.
This one is baffling. I get seated by Tom who promptly brings me water, menu, etc. and comes back shortly for the order. Food comes, but is brought by Alice. I can see Tom serving at another table while Alice is now pretending to be my waitress. Did I upset Tom? He didn’t even say goodbye. Do I give half of the tip to Tom and half to Alice? I’m so confused.
Every once in a while you meet a server that for whatever reason feels compelled to come to your table every minute or so. There is a not so fine line between being attentive and acting like a toddler.
The awkwardness of young waiters flirting with older women cannot be measured. Same goes for young waitresses and older men. I know, I know, they tell you to be a little flirty, but not with your mom and dad okay.
Pretty simple stuff above and most of it is more about just not doing certain things. It’s a tough job and most people know that. They want to tip their servers well. Don’t give them reasons not to.