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Let Everyone Have a Happy One

December 6, 2011

This is half holiday advice, half something I’ve been thinking about writing for a long time.

People, you have to learn how to tip at a restaurant.

First of all, it’s not my dream to be your waitress, but it’s the easiest way to make enough money to live my life while still pursuing something else, and most of your servers, especially in big cities, are pursuing another path that just isn’t paying their bills yet. So, since we’ve covered the fact that we want servers to serve us when we go out to eat it’s time to discuss how this server makes their money. It’s pretty obvious that tips are a major part of this, but let’s cover the basics:

In NYC I got no hourly wage at several restaurants, it was simply tips only. Which meant that if you didn’t tip me at all, I would basically be taking your order, pouring your wine and carrying you your dinner for free. I’m not your Mom and you don’t have the flu, so that ain’t gonna fly.

Here in LA, restaurants are required to pay their employees the minimum hourly wage. So while I make something like $8/hr I have to declare and pay taxes on my tips and tip out roughly 10% of what I make in tips to the busboys, food runners, and bartenders. So this means that if all of my customers tip me 10% or less I might end up owing the restaurant money at the end of my shift. OWING money. The whole “tip before tax” or “don’t tip on alcohol” rules are bullcrap, by the way. Because if you don’t tip on your alcohol, I’m still tipping out the bartender, probably out of pocket then, and if you tip before tax I still have to give the restaurant the tax money, and the little amount of your tip that’s left, well I have to pay taxes on that too, so think about that. I’m not saying that you should be leaving me your whole paycheck, I’m just saying, if you can’t afford to tip at least 18% on your meal when the service is good, then you should think about ordering less food or cooking for yourself. Budget it in, people.

Also, I’ve never worked at a coffee shop, but the next time you get a latte, or order a panini, cappuccino, and a cookie and have it all brought out to your table, think about throwing a dollar in the tip jar. It is my understanding that those jobs pay roughly $10/hour, and that tip jar is there for a reason, every once and awhile throw some change in there, or a buck. You won’t feel the loss nearly as much as they’ll feel the gain.

What I’m trying to say is that the holidays are a time for giving, and not just giving to your friends and family, but to everyone. I can’t buy presents for my family unless you people start leaving me better tips than these:

I can't read the name on the card...but if its you, you deserve this

I blurred your name...trying not to add to the stereotype

I should add: I’m not some bitch of a waitress. I some great tips too, and I remember those too, but I do my job and generally with a great attitude (and I know most people can sit at their desks being miserable all day if they want and it has very little impact on whether or not they get paid) so I don’t know what’s going through someone’s head as they pick up a pen and write a $3 tip on a $52 check.

I don’t mean to sound preachy, I just felt the need to share these words.


PS: I saw The Muppets last night and it was literally the most fun I’ve had at the movies since I was a child. If you haven’t gone, go. If you don’t think you want to go, go.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2011 3:08 PM

    Oh Adria. I feel your pain. I agree whole-heartedly with your post because it’s the story of any server’s life. I aggressively overtip wherever I dine, unless the service is downright awful. There are a lot of people (especially the very wealthy) that seem to “forget” what proper tipping is. I’ve got a book you should read–“keep the change” by Steve Dublanica. I’d be happy to send it your way 🙂 xoxoxoxo.

    PS-Saw the muppets on Saturday. So flippin’ fun.

  2. December 7, 2011 11:34 AM

    Rachel- I read Steve Dublanica’s “Waiter Rant” book!!! And yes, I thought about that the whole time I was writing this!

  3. December 9, 2011 9:08 AM

    I always tip 20 percent no matter the service and then bump it up from there. Never less than that even if the service was awful. Unlike my mother who would leave a zero percent tip if she could. She should never leave the house.

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