Saturday, September 4, 2010

the serving and the served

I was a server for the 1.5 years that followed college graduation. It was at a steakhouse, where we wore blue jeans, yee-hawed for birthdays and listened to an endless stream of Rascal Flats, Steppenwolf, Shania Twain, Sheryl Crow, Garth Brooks, Tom Petty and Carrie Underwood. In that order.

We served steaks, potatoes, ribs and peanuts. And just in case you’ve ever wondered whether the peanut shells got swept up at the end of the night, the answer is yes. You can thank your servers for that.

You can also thank your servers for heating your brownie; scooping the ice cream for your Mudslide; cutting your child’s chicken breast into bite-sized pieces; rolling your silverware; serving your beer in a room-temperature mug; baking your rolls; begging the kitchen staff for one more side of sour cream; slicing the lemon wedge for your beverage; brewing fresh coffee; taking extra time to make and shake your chocolate milk; talking the manager into substituting a half order of mozzarella sticks for fries because your kid simply must have them; moving you to a table closer to the fireplace; agreeing that your perfectly-grilled medium well steak is actually closer to medium; climbing over an old man to close the blinds because the sun is in your eyes; not correcting you when you order a 9-inch sirloin with rice pilf and onion peals; picking out the green leaves in your iceberg lettuce; making your side salad with no cheese, no tomato, extra bacon, and thousand island and ranch on the side; not freaking out when your party of twenty decides to begin switching chairs after you’re all done eating, but before the bill has been split; and then not saying anything when you leave a 10% tip.

I was a freaking good waitress. I never minded doing all of the little things that came with the job. I was there to serve, after all. It was my job to make sure people had a good time.

But I soon came to find out that no matter how many babies I complimented, drinks I refilled before the hearing the slurping sound, jokes I told and butts I kissed, my tip could only go one direction.


It’s just how it is. People go into a restaurant with a percentage (or sometimes a flat out dollar amount) in mind. That amount only applies if the server does a great job. But for every mistake, every minute that they are made to wait for their FREE rolls and every time they have to actually ask for something, the amount goes down.

The amount never ever goes up.

Despite the fact that servers make an hourly rate of $2.14.

Despite the fact that they also have to tip out the bus boy and the bar and sometimes the food runner.

Despite the fact that they’re usually single moms with lots of debt or college students who are trying to avoid debt.

The amount just doesn’t go up, and jobs well done are rarely rewarded.

This isn’t a post to get you to tip better or run your server less or find a happy balance between the two. But if there must be a theme, let it be this:

The answer is no. A gospel tract does not count toward your tip.

And the server will never read it. Unless you were really sweet to her, and she sees that it’s accompanied by a 20% tip.

Then, she may consider it.

Because even though a server's actions may not count for anything, yours do.

1 comment:

  1. My mom worked as a waitress in college as well and has told me many horror stories. The most disturbing thing was that Christians gave her the hardest time. In fact, none of the staff wanted to work Sundays or Wednesday nights because of rude Christians that never tipped.

    I don't think people, including Christians, give servers enough credit. It's a tough job! Servers deserve respect, which includes a decent tip. Kind words & patience are a much stronger witness of Jesus' love than a crumpled tract left by an ungrateful customer.