I’ve got a lot of respect for waiters.
They’re on their feet for long hours doing back breaking work and dealing with jerk customers. At the end of the day, they go home with minimum wage and if they’re lucky, a few good tips.
When I was away in college, I did a stint as a waiter for an Italian restaurant in Buckhead, Atlanta called Brio. It was a second job and I figured I’d be rolling in dough courtesy of my winning personality. Wrong.
No matter how polite I was, how much I smiled and how quickly I served my customers, there were just some people who didn’t bother to tip. They were always the customers who had you jumping through hoops, customizing orders to the nth degree.
After a week, I quit. The money wasn’t worth it.
To this day, every time I sit in a restaurant, I think back on my time at Brio and it completely shapes my behavior.
I make sure that I am polite to the waiters so that the experience is enjoyable for both of us. I also have a practice of starting my server off with a tip. That means, whoever is serving me is automatically going to get a tip as long as he or she works to keep it. The server doesn’t know this, of course.
I don’t expect my waiter to jump through hoops for me. Never that. But, I do expect him or her to be polite and professional. I also expect that person to anticipate my needs and strike a delicate balance between attentiveness while respecting my privacy. Translation: don’t disappear for 45 minutes forcing me to have to ask another server for assistance and don’t take too many liberties with me and my companion.
The Bahamas isn’t exactly known for its stellar customer service. Despite the fact that we are a tourist destination, Bahamians don’t always put forth the best effort, especially in the service industry.
Many have great difficulty distinguishing service from feelings of servitude. Compounding the problem is the automatic 15 percent gratuity that is placed on the customer’s bill. It makes for lazy service.
I have had many bad experiences over the years and I’m never shy about letting the server or the manager know about it.
I remember one waitress being so bad that when she brought me my bill, not only did I not leave a tip, but I deducted the automatic gratuity that was included. I paid for my food and drinks. When she told me that I was short on the payment, I explained to her why she wasn’t going to receive the gratuity. The manager was brought in and I explained the same thing. He agreed with me.
However, if the service is great, I am quick to offer my praise to both the server and manager and that server will see my gratitude reflected in my tip.
I want all of the waiters out there to know that it’s expensive to dine out these days. More people are eating at home or buying fast food. So, when a patron walks through your restaurant’s door and is willing to spend money with you, treat them like your rent depends on it, because it does.
To all the customers out there, be the type of patron you’d like to have if you were a waiter. Don’t treat your waiter like he or she is a slave. Some of them are hardworking people earning an honest living and they don’t deserve to feel belittled by you because you have a little more money or are on an ego trip.