I just finished a shift at the bar. Being cheap wings night, it was CRAZY busy. It felt like the whole town showed up to gorge on boiled animal appendages while drinking a side of their yeasty favourite.
Hundreds walked through the door, and a total of five employees were tasked with accommodating the hungry masses.
I’m a food-runner and busser, so my job is to sprint from table to table like a madman—frantically attempting to satisfy the dining needs of every customer while also cleaning up after the full stomachs who leave mountains of chicken bones and eating utensils in their wake.
With only three servers working (the fourth front-end employee being a bartender) one girl was left to serve the family section single-handedly.
If you’ve never worked in the restaurant industry before…imagine facing every biblical plague at once.
No matter how hard she tried, a cruel symphony of countless families threw order after order in her frightened direction. It was hard to watch her become more and more overwhelmed, eventually breaking down and tearing up after one lady complimented her work—then paid the bill with a big ol’ ZERO where “gratuity” is indicated.
She’s a good waitress, but she’s only ONE waitress.
By the end of the night a huge amount of customers failed to provide her any tip whatsoever. That really sucks.
Which brings me to the point of this blog entry: does the tipping system work?
Obviously, a ton of variables play into this discussion. I don’t know the answer—but I’d like to hear what other people think.
One buddy suggested that we offer servers a living wage and diminish the importance of tips. This way servers would show up to work knowing they’d be pocketing at least $16/hr—rather than the $8/hr pittance that’s labeled as a ‘serving wage’ in my neck of the woods.
I understand the tipping system can change from bar to bar, from restaurant to restaurant. I wonder if a higher wage would ensure that servers wouldn’t work as hard…or if the guaranteed compensation would raise employee morale and cause servers to work harder.
Personally, I like working hard. It means the shift goes by faster and I feel as if I truly earned the tip-out allotted to me.
But that’s just one guy-on-the-inside’s opinion.
The point is: try to empathize with your servers. They’re characteristically hard-working people (at least most of the waiter/waitresses I’ve worked with are) who are operating at a mile-a-minute pace.
So next time you’re at the local watering hole and things are hectic, try and be fair while gauging how much you think that server’s efforts are worth.
I usually go 10% for bad service and 15% for good.
And if I get a feeling that she and I are destined for to be, I might go as high as 17%.
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(Insert witty and equally thought-provoking sign off here)