Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

Surprisingly, unlike the clip above I am FOR tipping. My problem with tipping however is that there is no way to accurately judge a waitress/waiters performance other than the tip itself. Certainly if someone does a horrible job you can refuse to tip them but that just makes you/I look like a cheap insensitive clod. In addition, the sensitive souls among us will harbor guilt for having to withhold money that someone else may rely on. If the waitress messes up and you/I remove a dollar from the tip, they again will just think us cheap. Should we give an extra dollar for great service they might deduce that our math skills are poor or decide that we just didn't want to lug 93 cents in change home with us.

More importantly though tipping (In North American culture) is essentially built into the dining out experience. The fatal flaw with the entire tipping construct is that there is no clear way to communicate good/bad service so that a server knows when he or she is being rewarded/punished accordingly. Certainly one could write on the bill: "terrible service, I hope you choke on a bread stick and die." But you'd probably just get categorized as a "Drunk unruly customer who is no longer allowed at any Olive Garden in the state of California." This in my mind defeats the entire purpose of gratuity because there is no way to decipher gratitude (or the lack of it) through any concrete means.

So I thought on this problem (as all geniuses do) and I came up with a solution...The server scorecard. The principle of the server scorecard is simple. Calculate what the average tip is in your area. In the state of California it is about 17%. Next compose a list of 17 things that you expect from a server at a restaurant. For each task that your server does not perform or performs poorly deduct one point (or 1%) from their tip. In addition, you can also add a bonus section for those servers that go above and beyond the call of duty to earn additional gratuity. If you are too lazy or lack creativity like me then simply round up to 18% and make up 9 things worth 2 points each.

In the interest of science I went out to dinner and took some notes to get a better idea of what the public at large might expect from a server. Below I will present some talking points that you might want to include in your own list.

1) Attitude

A server should proceed on the assumption that you/I have come to their establishment to celebrate a special occasion. I don't require an entire brass section of trumpeters to announce my arrival or an overly exuberant waitress gleaming at me with her jackal-like fangs. A modest recognition of my presence without a long exhausted sigh or a drag ass walk to my table will suit me just fine.

2) Order Taking

Arriving within the first five minutes of me being seated to take a drink order is not a sin. Secondly, we are not BFF's so please reserve your jocular tone for a little later in our dining experience. Also, please stand to take my order. I'm not a child, you don't have to squat down to my level and help me to point to the picture of the food that I am ordering. In addition, No sitters. Unless you are picking up part of the tab or buying us a round of adult beverages the empty seat at our table is not reserved for you. Please write down my order. The memorization magic trick impressions no one. If a trick has a 100% who gives a s*%t response when it works and a 100% complaint response when it fails why bother?

3) Serving Food

Remember, serving me food/drink is your number one job. Because of this please take special care not to serve me someone else's food from another table and likewise please do not serve my food to someone else. However, mistakes do occur and I won't judge you harshly if you correct the mistake and/or are apologetic about it.

4) Attentiveness/Pestering

Every once in a while when I am gobbling down a juice splatterin' bacon burger I might need a napkin or two to sop up my zombie like meat crazed face. Also, why bother asking me if I want a refill if I'm drinking soda? Fill the glass. Worst case scenario you have to dump 6 cents worth of coke zero down the drain. Also, I'm aware that I just ate a gigantic meal fit for two people but perhaps I'd also like to cram four pounds of molten lava cake down my gullet as well. It doesn't hurt to ask if I'd like dessert considering that a portion of every dollar I spend goes to you.

On the flip side dining out with friends or family often serves to motivate important conversations. Should you (the server) witness that someone at the table is visibly upset an/or in the midst of a misogynistic tirade perhaps you could do another lap around the restaurant before inquiring about about the jalapeno poppers.

5) The Check

Don't bring it too soon (like when I'm halfway through eating). I know you'll say "Don't feel rushed" but that's like saying "Don't notice the polar bear behind you that's about to tear into your trachea." Once the image (or fear) has been implanted I feel rushed. More importantly once you do drop off the check don't disappear for an hour. Further, please don't take my money/card and keep it for so long that I think you are across the street filling up your gas tank with it. Our final exchange is the most important one because the last thing that you do is the last (and sometimes only) thing that I remember. Poor change service could sully an otherwise great waiting performance. I know I don't speak for the rest of the world but once I'm done eating I'm ready to leave and the quicker that someone can facilitate my leaving the greater the gratuity.

But enough of my belly aching. Please take the template which I will provide below (pending the link works) and go out into the world and rate some waitresses and waiters. 

Server Scorecard  <-- Click Link


  1. I hate it when waiters try and take your debit card away from the table. I always insist that they bring the machine to me, or I'll go over to the till and pay.

    The reason I do this is because my brother once got caught by a scam where he gave his card to a waiter, they took it into the back room and made a copy if it, which they then used to buy a load of goods online.

  2. The best thing about tipping is I get to get rid of the annoying small coins in my pockets. I always have loads, and worry that one day I'll fall into a canal and drown because I have too much loose change - but tipping solves that problem.

    The most annoying thing I find is when the staff decide to use your meal/cocktails/whatever to train the new guys, and they get it wrong, over and over - and you just sit there waiting, thinking what the fuck, until they get it right. I know somebody has to train them, but this has happened to me a couple of times.

  3. oh the rusher. i've actually had them deliver and say, "There's a line up, so whenever you can leave would be great."

    i never went back.

  4. Great post, scorecards printed and in wallet. The only thing you may want to fix on this post is the link. Links usually include the word "Link" and possibly also want to underline it.

    That is all.