Saturday, September 16, 2006

How much do you make?

Late last night I had what I would term a "good" inner-city table. Good because they clearly were working to change their lives for the better, but had not yet broken through from some conversation we had while they were dining. I took very good care of them and throughout the meal the gentleman at the table repeated that he would "take good care of me" as far as a tip. It was 2 adults and a child, bill was nearly $55.00. Mid-way through the meal the man tipped over his beer and made quite the mess of the table. Being the ever ready waiter I quickly moved their food plates (they had only had their food for a couple of bites) and speedily soaked up the beer before it worked its way onto their laps. This took a whole of about 1 minute start to end, and other than the strong smell of evaporating beer residue you'd never know anything happend. Again he thanked me profusely, and I had their food back in front of them before it even began to cool. The end of the meal came and mother and daughter made their way to the bathroom to clean up. The check was on the table, and the man calls me over and hands me $4 (which I didn't know the amount, as it was folded up) and says:

"Here's four bucks, that's a good tip right?"

I knowing the bill is $55ish, reply "Sir, it is not for the waiter to determine the tip."

"No really. What do you make? 5% on most tables?"

I assess his question, he is looking at me with a genuine curiosity. Dillema.

"Do you really want to know sir?"

"Yeah."

"Honestly sir, since you asked me sincerely I'll answer you. But first I want to say I'm not pandering for a larger tip. You asked an honest question, I'll give you an honest answer."

"Sure." he says.

"I average more probably than many of the other waiters in this store, I am more experienced than most are. On an average night I will range from %13 to 20%. There are a lot of factors in that, but that is generally where I am at when I go home. I do have to tip out from that to our bar tenders and bussers."

"Oh damn" he says.

"Sir, that was not my point, you asked, and I'm sure what you gave me is an appropriate tip." I say pretending he didn't brag that it was $4 a couple of minutes ago.

The two ladies show back up at the table at this point, and I thank them again for coming and leave it at that. I leave the table, and am standing towards the door when they leave. The man, woman and child all thank me again (the child was very polite throughout the meal in spite of it being very late). They remark I am the best they have had at this store. I thank them and say goodbye again. When I return I find he has left me $2 more dollars for a tip.

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4 comments:

Laynie said...

you did a good thing for that young man, and he clearly demonstrated that he appreciated your advice. What a nice story that goes to show how many people really do want to be better than they have been. Tipping should be something taught in schools as a part of "independent living." Along with other ettiquete that is often neglected by overworked/overwhelmed parents.

Good job! (by the way, I love your blog, and have been lurking about form months!)

Brad said...

"Inner City"? Is that a code word for something. No matter; I think we all know what was meant.

The problem with those people (did I say "those people"?) is that they just don't know. They have no breeding, no education, or no experience to direct them towards appropriate behaviors. At least this one customer meant well so I won't fault him for that, but if he thought 8% was a good tip and then bumped it to 12% when he found out it wasn't, he has a long way to go.

The Girl with Moxie said...

The problem with those people (did I say "those people"?) is that they just don't know. They have no breeding, no education, or no experience to direct them towards appropriate behaviors.

And how would you suggest they learn, then? Or is there no way to teach them? This man did the best he could in that moment, after LB told him about tipping, and I will bet that the next time he goes out to eat, he will make sure he has enough to cover at least a 15% tip. But I tend to believe in the inherent goodness of humanity, and that people can change if they are willing to do so.

I have known plenty of people who have "breeding, education and experience" who are rude, arrogant, and cheap. They will justify a 10% or less tip on a bill of $50 or more with the weakest of excuses. I also know people who don't have what society would refer to as "good breeding", much less education or experience, that tip generously, give to charities on a regular basis, and treat servers with respect and dignity.

It's called compassion. Learn it, live it.

reds said...

I think that it sounded like a great experience for them, waiter and customer alike. Just having the child as polite says alot for what they are trying to do with their lives.
I was at a fast food resturant this past weekend and my 2 year old knocked over dad's soda. I had her apoligize to the woman who came out to clean it up. It was the proper thing to do.