Through the eyes of your waitstaff
Staff Writer - Boston Attitude - May 10, 2016
People often wonder, “Why do they work in the restaurant business?” if they come across a server who forgot something, or is frustrated, or seems a little off. People assume that servers walk away with all of this money and don’t care about anything else. I’m here to tell you what it’s like from the opposite side of the table.
To be honest, you sell your soul when you agree to take on a job at a restaurant. You sign on to rarely having weekends off, never having the days you request off, missing pretty much everything, and having to hustle for all of your money because you don’t get a paycheck. Sounds easy when you get tips all the time, right?
It’s around 7 pm. A party walks in, get sat, and they begin looking at the menu. The server approaches them, greets them, and shares her name and the specials. Someone says, “yeah… I’ll have <insert drink here> please”. The rest of party does the same. And the waitress says she’ll be back in a minute and walks away.
Stop. Note. Nobody even looked up from the menu, never mind give a simple “hello”.
The server returns with drinks and proceeds to ask if there are any questions or if you need time with the menu.
The group carries on with their conversation. Nobody responds.
Your server says, “I’ll give you guys another minute and come back!”
Little do you know, she has 2 other tables waiting for their drinks to be delivered, one table that is finished with their food and their plates need to be cleared, and 3 more tables with credit cards on the table. On a slow night.
Your server returns in 5 minutes. You’re frustrated because “it’s been like 15 minutes” since she’s been at your table.
Your server takes your orders, grabs your menus off the table and runs goes on her way.
Seeing how busy she is, you assume they are going to money and a 20% tip is far too much for bringing over some drinks and taking some orders for food.
A food runner delivers your food, and within 2 minutes your server is at the table to check on you. You tell her everything is fine and send her on her way.
While she’s checking on you, her mind is going a mile a minute. “Table 52 needs ranch. How is 50? When was the last time I went over there? What did table 54 need again? Another drink. Right. Need to ring that in and grab it from the bar. And he wanted it with lime. Don’t forget the lime. I wonder when table 51’s food is going to come out. I’ll have to check and see when I rang that in. But they did get a steak. It’ll take a little longer anyway. DON’T FORGET TABLE 52’S RANCH. And a water. They wanted a water too. Okay, this table is all set, I’ll let them eat and get these done and I’ll come back.”
Again, on a slow night.
At this point, your server either comes back to check on you about half way through your meal and she’s annoying, OR she lets you eat in peace and she’s neglectful.
Either way, once you’re through with your meal, your plates are cleared, and you decline desert, your waitress drops your check.
You glance at the bill. $57.80.
Two drinks each (four total), an appetizer, and two meals.
20% of $57.80 comes to $11.56, but most people will call it $10, only considering the first number. Off the bat, servers lose $2. But we’re not greedy. We’d be happy with the $10.
From here the thoughts about how your server “wasn’t overly friendly” or you “didn’t see her much” or “she forgot to bring a 3rd ice water” run through your head. You leave her an $8 tip, and you go home.
This happens more frequently than I care to admit, and I know I’m good at my job.
Why? Was it because the customer had a bad day? Or maybe it was because they’re low on money?
We’re low on money too. That’s why we work till 1 or 2 am every shift. And sometimes we have to be back in at 10 am the next day for a lunch shift, and possibly even work a double.
Maybe that’s why we’re a little off.
We don’t sit all night. We don’t get a meal break. We usually can’t even get a bathroom break. We don’t see a paycheck, EVER, but we do choose this job. Not because we have to, but because we like it, and we truly aim to please our customers.
Think twice before you decide 20% is too much.
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