Monday, March 19, 2012

Handy Tip Guide ©2012 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     One night a few years ago I waited on these two nice Scottish ladies. They’d just been to Graceland™  and were on their way to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame™  , or maybe it was the other way around. It was toward the end of the shift, they’d shared a bottle of wine and, while far from drunk, the Blackstone® Merlot had made them kind of loquacious and I got a lot of America-related questions from them. They were  nice and I didn’t mind talking to them. They wanted to know about a lot of stuff and I was glad I could help out a little. At some point they asked about the North American custom of tipping.
     They knew they were expected to tip something, but that was about all. They were really confused and wanted me to clear some things up for them. I showed them the ticket they’d already run up, it was about 50 bucks. I told them to get out one of their $100 American Express® Traveler’s Cheques™, fill in the name of the restaurant and sign it in my presence. Then all they had to do was hand it over to yours truly, smile, thank me ever so much and insist I keep the change.
     I didn’t really do that. I wasn’t fishing for any tips; they’d brought it up. I thought about other servers that might wait on them here in America. Except tor their chattiness -------- which I imagine they’d dial down a little if someone real busy was waiting on them -------- they were pretty low-maintenance. The ladies had a vague idea about percentages, so I went with that. I didn’t go into a lot of subtle nuances, like if they got a discounted meal or if they bought an expensive bottle of wine, except to say that if they were exceptionally well-cared for, they tip a little more than usual. They’d be going home soon and I didn’t see the point of confusing them or anything. I just wanted to help them not hideously mistreat anyone. So I mostly focused on tipping 15 %.
     They weren’t stupid or wasted, but for some reason they had a hard time with that. So I talked about ten percent. It took me a minute but I got them to agree that it was pretty easy to cipher out ten percent of any financial amount, be it pounds or dollars or euros or whatever. Then I asked if they could figure out half of that amount and add it to the ten percent already arrived at. Bingo! They finally understood.
      One of them had heard somewhere that you only tip on the amount the bill would be if there was no sales tax. I put a slightly stern look on my face at that one and said whoever had told them that was lying. Whatever percent someone tips, that gratuity should be calculated based on the total ticket. “Besides,” I appealed to their math-phobia, “just look at the bottom line and tip based on that. Make it easy on yourselves and don’t worry about the different sales tax ordeals you’ll run into in various American jurisdictions.”
     The ladies shared a dessert and got their check. They gave me the presenter and told me they didn’t need any change. I thanked them very much and wished them a good trip. I left the server book on the table for awhile and did something else. When I returned, their bill for just under $50 was in there, along with three crisp American twenty-dollar bills.

     That’s a very minor incident that I haven’t thought of in years. What brought it to mind was something that’s going on at the weediest restaurant in America, where I wait tables at night. They have added to the checks the customers get a “Handy Tip Guide.” Yeah, I’m fucking serious. There was no forewarning. It just was not there ever and then one day about a week ago it was. I don’t like that shit one little bit and I tear it off of every ticket before I present it. The only check I’ve presented that I didn’t do that on was the other night when I waited on some big executive with the company and his family who get comped anyway and on that one I just folded over the offending information (I got a good tip). The handy tip guide shows 15% and 17.5% (yeah, really) and 20%. Upon further study of this bullshit, I sussed out that these percentage amounts are based on pre-tax amounts. The weediest restaurant in America, when they suggest 15%, are actually encouraging their clientele to leave substandard tips! This is at a restaurant that does not allow an automatic gratuity to be added  to any checks, no matter how large a party is. I realize we operate in some areas other than here, where millage rates might be slightly different, but with the amazing arithmatical capabilities computers have nowadays, that’s no excuse. They shouldn’t be putting shit like that on their checks in the first place, but if they’re going to, at least do it right. I’ve got to get the fuck out of there.

     Have you ever heard of anything like this and how do you feel about it?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Heinously Bad c2012 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     I missed out on a golden opportunity that'll probably never come again. I could've posted an episode of These American Servers  with the unusual date of February 29th on it, but I didn't. Events kind of conspired against me; I worked a double that day, I misplaced the charger for this computer and the material in the on-deck circle wasn't quite ready yet. But really, if I'd of had my shit together a little more, I could have made it happen. And the scintillating story I'm serving up now isn't what I was contemplating for that last day of February.That one'll probably show up here soon, this one's about a really bad Saturday night at work.
     Heinously bad weather was forecast for Friday night but it never happened. Sure, it rained a little and there was a lot of gusty wind and it appeared a lot like how I’ve been led to believe tornado weather probably looks, but thankfully, the threatened devastation never happened.. I realize a lot of bad weather did take place in the United States that day and my heart goes out to its victims. But all it did to us here was cause our business to be a lot slower than expected that evening. It really wasn’t that bad a night. I closed and waited on a good amount of folks, made pretty nice cheese. It was just slow enough to where I was a little less weeded than usual and could at least pretend to delude myself that I was taking good care of my clientele. Things were a little different on Saturday.
     I had this whole big room with ten fourtop tables in it all to myself. I think everybody showed up for work and the fault was probably with the schedule maker and maybe the Manager on Duty. I know a lot of servers that would love a ten-table station on a busy night but not me; I like quality tips better than quantity tips. Anyway, I conversed with the hosting professionals about it and was promised that they’d try not to kill me. They did kill me a couple of times but, I gotta be fair here, not nearly as bad as I expected when I saw that floor chart.
     I got pretty busy right away. My first couple of tables were low-maintenance and things went pretty well. The door whores kind of started loading me up pretty heavy, with some folks who were indecisive and/or persnickety, and it wasn’t long before I had the familiar feeling of weeds nipping at my heels and threatening my ankles, which is only appropriate, since it is after all the weediest restaurant in America. Most everybody  was pretty nice and I kept smiling and  managed to hang in there OK. Then ticket times started taking a little long. After that they started taking a lot long. I had several tables with 40-minute ticket times and some of my co-workers had chow take even longer than that.
     I think a lot of customers who stayed home on Friday due to weather concerns went out on Saturday instead. Our new GM, Desmond, was expediting. I don’t blame him for the kitchen’s meltdown. He actually held it together pretty well, all things considered, and I think he did a pretty good job under very difficult circumstances. The manager on the floor that night was Dale, assistant manager in charge of the waitstaff, and I got him to pay table visits to most of my tables that had food take a long time, which got to be pretty much all of them. I always make a concerted effort to never take the rap for shit that is my fault so I sure the fuck wasn’t going to take it for some slow chow that wasn’t. Dale comped a lot of product.
      The worst people I waited on that night weren’t all that bad. One of my booths was apparently located in a spot that was a little chilly and more than once people wanted to move from it.. A lot of my co-workers said that  they got some shitty tips but then enough good, possibly sympathy, tips to make up for it. A couple of the female employees were brought to tears because of some verbal abuse heaped upon them by some disgruntled customers who ought to be ashamed of themselves. I on the other hand walked with $100 on sales of only $400! I had a guy bring in some kids and leave me $30 on $39. Then another guy who works in a competing restaurant found me at a side station and give me $30 after the host of the table he’d been part of left me ten bucks on a $70 tab. I thanked dude very much and told him it was more than I deserved. I would have liked to have made a little less money in exchange for enduring a lot less stressfulness, but oh well.