Camping Anyone?

| July 9, 2012

Summer in Annapolis always has the town packed to the brim with visitors. Especially with the recent storm, record high temperatures and elongated power outages, most people have felt the need to get out, or rather, get “in”, to an air conditioned restaurant. Let me be the first to remind you though, that even though you are cranky and miserable because of the weather, check your attitude at the door. For some reason everyone and their mother finds it necessary to treat the service industry staff like crap when they’re having a bad day. Just from a personal observation, I would never treat anyone poorly who is handling my food and/or beverages. Just saying…

On that note, I recently worked the Fourth of July, like I have for many years, and it’s always a toss up on how busy we might be. This year was hands down the busiest I have ever been. Most people could walk in to a restaurant and see that they are slammed and understand that it might take a little bit longer than usual to be served. Others decide to show their disdain in the form of crappy tips. I understand that if I do a poor job in serving you, I deserve a poor tip. However, if my establishment goes out of its way to seat your party of seven in a section that normally isn’t open during the day, you get decent service given how busy we are, you ask for the check to be split five ways and you didn’t have one complaint (at least that you voiced), and you tip me less than 10%? That makes you and, all of your friends, terrible people who will probably go to a hell where you are forced to wait on douche bags just like yourselves all day long.

Maybe I need to run a refresher course again on tipping etiquette. As a server, I want to know if I’m doing something wrong. I also want to know when I’m doing a great job. Being passive aggressive and leaving me a terrible tip just makes me angry, and don’t think I won’t remember you the next time you come in. If you thought my service was bad the first time, I’ll definitely be sure to show you what 10% service looks like the next time you come in. This evening I had a couple come in, order some drinks and an appetizer and they proceeded to sit for hours. I have no problem if you want to camp out at a table, especially if we’re slow, but there are definitely rules to camping.

  1. Don’t camp at a table with four seats if there is only one of you
  2. If the restaurant starts to get really busy, think about finishing up so that they can use your table for other customers
  3. Try to order something at least every hour to let your server know that you’re not just a squatter

This particular couple received outstanding service and didn’t want for anything. I got a 10% tip. Really guys, really? You know what 10% says about you? “I’m a cheap SOB who has no regard for how hard you are working.”

My restaurant offers free wifi so it’s not uncommon for a customer to sit for hours doing work. Again, not a problem if we’re not too busy. Restaurants offer wifi so that customers will come in and spend money on things like coffee and sandwiches, but remember–you are basically renting that table for the day so leaving fifty cents for the one bottomless cup of coffee you drank is not a good way to make friends with the wait staff. I’ve said this before and I will say it again… I make $3.63 an hour and most, if not all of that, goes toward taxes. My paychecks are for $0. All of my money comes in the form of tips. I am good at my job and that’s why I am in this field. What I don’t appreciate are people who don’t understand that by tipping 10% for no reason other than the fact that they can, are preventing hard working people all over the country from making an honest living.

After speaking with a friend of mine who works the happy hour shift at a local bar, I also feel the need to remind my fellow readers on how to tip on a discounted check. Just because the bar offers a 50% discount on food and drinks, your servers and bartenders are still working just as hard, if not harder, than they would if everything was full price. So when you get your bill at the end of the day and you’ve ordered $100 worth of food for $50, TIP YOUR SERVER ON THE ORIGINAL AMOUNT.

Ah, it feels good to vent sometimes.

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Category: COLUMNS

About the Author ()

I graduated with an Art degree from a small liberal arts college, did a bit of traveling and moved to Annapolis from Baltimore about seven years ago. I currently manage a well-known Annapolis restaurant, serve and bartend. I live downtown and I like sunsets and long walks on the beach :)

Comments (5)

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  1. FormerCharthouser says:

    Amen BB. Thankfully I left this sometimes thankless work years ago. I always wanted to share the same sentiments you have here with those ignorant of my industry pet peeves. Hope at least one clueless camper has an awakening from this essay. Keep up the good work. -PK

  2. Drew says:

    I agree with your rant about the campers, but tipping more for happy hour prices I do not. Basically, you want customers to pass their happy hour savings on to you in the form of a tip. $20 on a $50 check?! C’mon! If the $20 I saved on HH pricing gets passed on to you then why should I even bother going to HH?

    You cannot base your tip amount on the value of a check one day, and then base it on how hard you work the next becasue it’s happy hour and benefits you. If I based my tip on how hard some servers work then I’d be tipping a lot less than I normally do. I don’t and use check value as a guide.

  3. John Frenaye says:

    On a Groupon yes, tip on the full amount. But on HH, no way!

  4. mich says:

    I always tip between 18-20% unless it is clear that I am getting super poor service. I am curious at a restaurant where the are no servers and the baristas make pretty good $. Should I tip them to make my $4.50 cup of coffee?
    I agree, HH should be tipped on the acutally costs, but if I have a coupon or other discount, I tip on the undiscounted total. However, I was at a bar and received superior service during HH and tipped 20% on what the acutal cost would have been. I need to go back and see that bartender….. today, I think. :)

  5. Mike Myers says:

    Ella (if you’re still attentive to this blog):

    I tip about 1/3 of the bill and I am well known and remembered by servers whether meals or just drinks.

    But if your establishment takes 90 minutes to serve me cold food, well excuse me, but your tip will reflect that. If the service is great but the food is horrible, that’s not a good experience for me, and my gratitude (read tip) will reflect that. You’ll be in the 10-15% range. I reward an overall pleasant experience accordingly. If the back of house is causing harm to the front of house, you are the person on the front line and it’s your duty to communicate with management and get it fixed. You are a professional and you are expected to be able to identify these problems. If you know of it and you fail to take reasonable action to correct it, you have failed me, your customer. If they won’t fix it, move along and find another job because it won’t be long until they’re out of business anyway. This is an unfortunate reality.

    When it’s happy hour or I am comped a drink, I do not tip “extra”. Exception to this being an all you can drink event. I’ll usually tip $20-$50 depending on how long I’m there, how many people in my group, etc. and for that I’ll tip early on because there is no check coming. I know all you can drink is not common in Annapolis but it is in some other areas. And I do hear complaints from wait staff that when people don’t pay per drink, they don’t tip – it happens and I don’t have the solution to that.
    It’s unfortunate that your legislature thinks you’re only half as worthy as other employees. Those law makers like to have their drinks and meals too so I don’t see them changing it. Maybe a tipped employee industry association could lobby the issue. If you do it on your own, you’d be the first one fired and blacklisted from the industry.

    Your headline is about length of time at a table, but the body of the story is more about tipping which are seem understandably passionate about.

    There’s another factor involved, and this is attitude of server. That is as critical, if not more critical, in determining whether to leave a big tip or not. It seems you may have been angry when you wrote the story. Try smiling next time you write, and when you serve!