Thursday, July 16, 2009

When is 20% not enough?

I thought I'd have more to post about my second day of doubles, but I don't. Saturday was karaoke, but that didn't start until 10. I tended bar from 11 am until 6, and then waited tables until close. Between 6 and 10 I had 2 tables. Thrilling.

At around 9 a table came in and sat at a high top near the bar. I served them drinks and some appetizers. Shortly after the food was gone a few left and the remaining 4 men went out to the patio. One of the three had a tab with the bar, but asked to keep it open. I figured this meant that he would be sitting at the bar majority of the night. I was wrong. He remained sitting at a table, ordering rounds for his friends, and then closed out his tab at the bar before he left. He tipped the bartender 20% and me nothing. Very nice.

His friends spent the evening flirting with me. Since it was not busy I chatted with them, even spoke to them about school and my degree. I try and keep it superficial with customers, but the older man told me that he was a Sociology major so I figured we'd have something to talk about. Boy was I off my game that night. The Soc major began telling me that my degree is a waste of time and money. That I would be better off continuing to waitress all my life. This last remark was accompanied with a snort and a loud laugh, like he had made a great point with his remark. They were happy with their service and kept telling me how fast I was in getting their drinks. They even tried to order me off the "special menu". I laughed at this remark, in the way we do when humoring someone. I rarely do this. My usual reaction is a deadpan "No" while I continue to wait for their real order. The reason I have stopped humoring people? Because it gets me nowhere. I don't make more in tips when I humor them, nor are they nicer or more fun to wait on. If anything, they become more obnoxious after. I actually get a better reaction from people when I don't humor them, but that is for another post.

I should have remembered myself. These "gentlemen" ended up staying for a total of 5 hours and running up a tab of about $75. After running the credit card of the Soc major I sat at the bar and chatted with the bartender since we were both bored. Soc major came in and handed me the book with the cc slip in it and walked off to the washrooms. Upon opening the book I realized his card was still there and the slip was blank save his signature. I waited for him to emerge from the washroom and then brought him the book. I handed him his card and said "I need you to fill out the tip and totals for me." He said OK and I walked off. When they left I picked up the book to find that I had been given a $15 tip.

Not sure if everyone agrees with me here, but for bringing drinks to a table for 5 hours, that's not really a good tip. After a certain point, you need to add to that 20%.

***EDIT*** I realize I perhaps worded this last bit improperly. My meaning in this instance is simply that for the amount of running for this table, the being hit on and lectured, and the comments from the men saying that I was "so fast" in bringing their drinks, I would have expected more than 20%. It is my experience (and understanding) that a 20% tip is given for average service; good service. According to these men, my service was above this level and their expectations.


Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Yes you deserve more for listening to asshole's lecture on what you should be doing.He was full of hot air. Good point on befriending a customer. Once you become like a friend to them there goes your tip accordingly.

cd0103 said...

I absolutely agree. Yesterday I had jury duty. I had three hours off. I walked into a restaurant for lunch at 11. I told the waitress I wanted to hang out for awhile, since they were slow, but when I saw it filling up, I would leave. She told me she had 5 other tables, sit there as long as I wanted. I noticed other sections were getting seated, probably because I was hanging out, so after about an hour- and a free coffee, I left. My tab was $17, I left her $10. I was hoping to make up for the table or so she didn't get because I was hanging out there. 20% would have been about $3.50. Didn't seem appropriate.

Eric said...

20% is more than enough in that situation. You gave good service and you were rewarded appropriately for it. I work in the industry and i would be more than happy if that was the tip given to me just for bringing them some drinks for a few hours.

Lone Waitress said...

Eric- I'm assuming you have never been a cocktail waitress. It's a lot more than bringing someone drinks for a few hours. It's the being hit on, having your arm grabbed, being talked down to, and finding someone after they order a drink and then move to another seat without telling you. Being a cocktail server is a lot different. If they had been eating dinner for a few hours, 20% would have been good.

Anonymous said...

I have been a cocktail waitress [3 years]and a restaurant waitress [5 years] and I have to agree - the 20% was appropriate.

No offense, truly - but it is the nature of the job all the things you mentioned. If you find yourself questioning your tip because of what you perceive to be different then a [food service] waitress then perhaps you should try serving food instead.

It has been my experience that the f/s waitresses put up with just as much, if not more, than you and your beleagured colleagues in the bar area, often times for lower tips.

cd0103 - that is awesome! I know your waitress appreciated that. I would've done the same.

Lone Waitress said...

While I respect your (Anonymous) opinion, perhaps my perception of the situation is a reflection of the place I work or my location.

At my bar, and others I have worked in the area, it is typical to receive a larger than 20% tip for cocktailing. I didn't mean to offend anyone with this post, or start a debate on the topic. Perhaps in another post. It is simply a vent of my frustration at the specific situation. I know all of us in the industry have had those tables where we feel we performed better than the tip reflected.

And, as a side note, I am a food service waitress regularly. My job frequently requires that I cocktail at the same time I am serving dinner customers. I am aware of the differences between the two "positions" and have to float between the two on each shift I work.