The server/customer relationship has always had its fair share of tensions and awkward moments. This is in part due to the fact that different people expect different standards of service. Some customers desire a friend as much as a server, whereas others desire a conversation as dry as “I’ll have a coke” and ends with “I’ll take the check.”
Point being taken, anyone who has dined out qualifies as a restaurant critique. On the other side of the table, many people have not waited tables and so, do not recognize the decorum of fine dining. In spirit of this fact, the following list contains basic guidelines to follow upon dining out. A spike in a server’s blood pressure is sure to occur upon violating any of the following. So digest the Decalogue with care, dear reader. These moral truths stand the test of time.
Commandment #1: Thou shalt not break thy bill at thy restaurant. In less archaic language, do not pay a five dollar tab with a one-hundred dollar bill. While it is true that servers are required to carry a modest bank, this is not intended to be utilized as a personal cash withdrawal. To be terse, restaurants are not banks, restaurants are restaurants. Although both industries have drive-through windows, expect a narrow look upon requesting a bucket of fried chicken at Security National Bank.
Commandment #2: Thou shalt not dine if thou cannot tip. This is perhaps the most overly stated commandment within the listed Decalogue; nevertheless, it deserves to be repeated. It is a lesser known fact that servers make their income based upon tips rather than hourly wages. In fact, one would be lucky to find a waiting job that paid minimum wage. Of course, not all servers fulfill customer satisfaction. These short-comings should be reflected in their tip. Nevertheless, if one cannot afford to tip a minimum fifteen percent prior to dining out, then don’t dine out. In short, don’t be cheap.
Commandment #3: Thou shalt treat thy server as a human being. Servers are not dogs dancing for treats. Ignoring a server upon being greeted is the height of rudeness. Although one can emphasize with the strenuous task of deciding whether to order Coke or Pepsi, do be a doll and acknowledge the server as a being of intrinsic moral value—or at least pretend to. The feeling of indifference is likely mutual.
Commandment #4: Thou shalt not choose to dine a minute before closing. In an arrangement of moral hierarchy, violating commandment #4 is the most vexing. After a long day of catering tables, a light near the end of the table fades over the horizon as a customer walks in a minute before closing. An extra five dollars is not worth a server’s time. If dining just minutes before closing is an absolute must, in terms of tip, go big or go home.
Commandment #5: Thou shalt not split a huge tab among many. Splitting a $1,000 tab among fifty people splits a server’s hairs. Conceptually balancing “who had what” is a tedious task that requires a mental flexibility on par with mathematicians. Not all servers can undertake the challenge. Those who are not capable can usually be found on the bathroom floor, rocking back n’ forth next to a shattered mirror and half-empty bottle of gin. Who said waiting tables is without occupational hazards?
Like Moses’s two tablets of stone, feel free to take these moral imperatives to go. Just make sure to not accidentally leave this to go box on the table. They’re on the house.
Editorial by Nathan Cranford