I, like many other people, enjoy going out to eat on a regular basis. I’m not talking about grabbing a happy meal at the local McyD’s or a sandwich at Subway here. I’m talking about sitting down and eating food that has been made to order for me according to the specifications that I requested.
Of course there is a middleman in the process-the waiter.
Maybe I have grown more impatient as I age, maybe my glasses are getting a little too dirty, but somewhere, somehow, I believe that the service these waiters and waitresses provide have become less than adequate.
Lately, it seems as though I am greeted (more often than not) by someone whose main purpose in life is to push me out of the seat as quickly as possible. Their attitudes have become curt, impersonal, and even (at times) rude.
This being said, there are several ways of me addressing the issue of Server Performance. I can choose to complain – however this is not my style. I can also choose to not return to the establishment – however this seems not to provide the sense of “closure” that I sometimes need in life.
So the way I choose to express my pleasure (or displeasure) with service happens when the time comes to leave the tip (or lack there of).
I believe that tipping is not something that should be considered a certainty. In my mind, a tip becomes a reward for service. Not great service, not amazing service, but at this point in life, just adequate service. When I go out, adequate service receives a 15% tip. Less than adequate service receives from 0 to 10%.
All things considered (believe it or not) I tend to be a generous person. Notice that adequate service received a 15% tip. Should I think to myself, “Self, this was good service,” I generally leave at least 20%. If for some reason the server is attentive, friendly, and/or otherwise turns a dining experience into a great incident, I leave at least a 25% tip.
I think this is fair. Personally, I think this makes me a good person. But I know many disagree. I know this, because I tend to eat out with them. Several of my friends apparently at one point in their life (for whatever reason) used to wait tables and have chosen to move away from this career. Unfortunately, they hold a soft spot in their hearts and expect that I should leave tips on the basis that the server “must be having a hard day.” And of course, “I don’t know what it’s like to wait tables.”
You know… I don’t know… and more importantly… I don’t care. I know what it’s like to be friendly when you’re not in a good mood. I know what it’s like to pretend to be nice to someone that certainly doesn’t deserve it. And at the very least I know what it takes to be professional when you’re “on the job.”
So the question remains… why should I reward someone for not being friendly? I don’t care if you spill a drink on me. Be friendly about it, and that’s still good service. Accidents happen by, well for lack of a better word, accident. Rudeness, however, is always intentional.
Now don’t get me completely wrong… there are many, MANY great servers out there who seem to take pride in their job and make me feel as if my patronage is extremely important. I love these people. These are the servers that ensure my return to the establishment on a regular, routine basis.
To illustrate, my favorite Chinese restaurant (Kanton Kanton) provides excellent service. Although service sometimes is slow (because they are busy) this does not distract from the staff making sure that you are always greeted with a smile and friendly conversation.
They have taken the time to learn my name – and to remember it.
Although I go to Kanton Kanton at least once a week, I try to take my parents there at least once a month. One time, Mom was feeling a little under the weather and asked if I could pick up the food and bring it to their home. “No problem,” I said and called in the order.
When I went to pick up dinner, the staff asked why I was choosing to take out rather than eat in. When I said that my mother wasn’t feeling well, I was given (without charge) a soup (not listed on the menu) to help my mom feel better. And to this day… they always ask about her.
Am I saying that all servers should be like this?
Only if they want the 35 – 45% tips that Kanton gets…