7 Ways To Ensure An Enjoyable Dining Experience, As Told By Your Hardworking Server

7 Ways To Ensure An Enjoyable Dining Experience, As Told By Your Hardworking Server

I thought this was all common knowledge, yet I am surprised every day at work.
Livia
Livia
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Mind your manners people! Don’t be that table that all us servers talk about in the back. If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant you know what I’m talking about.

A shift is typically 5-6 hours of standing on your feet filled with (forced) smiles and dealing with the general public. My job is always interesting and I am very lucky to work where I do, it just becomes comical with the stuff I see on a daily basis.

So with that, I’ve created a little list of things that I think everyone needs a refresher on for when they go out to eat.

1. Tipping

Just tip, people! Always 20%. A tip isn’t “extra” added to our paychecks. In fact, we don’t even get a paycheck, we work off of tips. The smart comment written on the receipt or the two dimes that you left on my table, unfortunately, will not pay my rent this month. Another aspect that I don’t think many realize is that it took a team effort in order for you to eat today-- the busser, food runner, and bartender need to make money, too! When a customer tips 20% (If that’s you, you rock, keep it up) the server will only get about 15-16% of that tip after tipping out the rest of the support staff. So, if your drink tasted great and a cute little high school boy cleared your dirty plates for you, remember that when signing the tip line. Okay, so tipping is covered, we are all tipping at least 20%, got it?

2. Cell Phones

Yes, it’s the year 2017 and most people have their cell phone tied to their hand. But if you’re out to eat at a restaurant, you are probably supposed to be enjoying time with family or whoever is sitting across from you, I think you can put the phone down for 45 minutes. When customers talk on their phones at the table, not only is it rude, but the tables around you really don’t want to hear your conversation when they are trying to enjoy a nice dinner. Take it outside, people! And if a busy server is at your table trying to take your order, look at them! Please don’t have your head down scrolling through Facebook, I just need 30 seconds of your time to figure out what you want to eat, then you can go back to your very important phone gazing.

3.“Well, I know the owner”

That’s nice, Mrs. Johnson, I know him too, he’s my boss actually. Just because you “know” the owner does not mean your wait time for a table will be shortened, you will be getting a free drink or can order things that we don’t even have in the kitchen. “Knowing” the owner is not an excuse for anything. Quit acting like a celebrity and come back down to reality, please.

4. Children

I love kids, I really do. But if your kid isn’t well behaved enough to sit through a dinner without throwing a tantrum, maybe it’s not time to go out to eat. And babies, boy are they precious. But if your baby is screaming bloody murder and the restaurant is full, you should probably take it outside so everyone else does not have to listen to the screaming child while you try to inhale your dinner. I will happily put your food in a To-Go box for you. Lastly, regarding the kids' menu, its say “12 and Under”, if you look 18 and are trying to order off the children’s menu so you can eat for five dollars and not tip me, please go to McDonald's.

5. Stop Trying to Recreate the Menu

We have a menu for a reason and a wide variety of one. The restaurant does hundreds of meals each night, it is amazing enough that they are able to process a number of orders that they do. I work at a steak and seafood restaurant, so don’t be shocked when we don’t have a Greek Gyro or Italian lasagna. I’m all for accommodating, but when a customer tries to add this to that and then wants to substitute everything on their plate, maybe they should have gone elsewhere. I want to make the customer happy, but the kitchen simply does not have enough time or resources to customize each and every plate. And if they happen to do that for you, don’t complain that your food is taking too long, you have no idea what goes into changing around meals when you have 20 others to make in the next 15 minutes.

6. Trying to Get Free Meals

It happens at least once a night. After the food comes out I ask to make sure everyone is happy and satisfied with their meals and then check back periodically while the customers are eating. Don’t wait until after you have eaten every scrap on your plate and the check has been dropped to tell me that your steak “wasn’t really cooked the way you wanted it, and it should be taken off your bill”. I’m sorry, if it was that terrible then why didn’t you tell me the first 5 times I asked? Or how on Earth were you able to be a plate cleaner if it tasted so horribly!? I know what you’re trying to do here, no, you’re not getting your meal for free.

7. You Are Not the Only Table in the Restaurant

Typically, a server will be responsible for between 4-6 tables at a time and a large party could be in the mix of that. Personally, I want to give every person that I am waiting on, a great dining experience, but sometimes customers make that difficult. *Flags me down from across the restaurant* “Oh miss, miss, don’t go anywhere we are ready to order”.

I can normally gauge just by body language and nonverbal cues when a table is ready, this table does not look ready, but hey I’ll go check on them. When I get to the table, it’s a task just to get everyone to stop talking and look at me, and nobody knows what they are having and keeps pointing to the person next to them to “go first”.

I stand there awkwardly waiting for 60 seconds before I tell them that I will give them more time and will be right back. Here’s my next favorite: I am talking to one booth and the booth next to them decides to yell over “Hey, come here I need more water!!” In my mind, I think “Didn’t your mom teach you not to yell at someone and not to speak when someone else is talking?!”

The current table that I am at looks baffled and I shake my head and continue to take their order before heading over to the man dying of thirst who is chugging waters faster than I can bring them. “Is my appetizer ready yet?”

No, ma’am, you ordered it two minutes ago and I have not even had a chance to go in the back to enter it. I could go on and on. Next time you are out to eat, please remember there are many other people than just you at the restaurant.

At the end of the day, my job is great. The shift normally goes by fast, I work with awesome people, and I encounter some very funny situations along with meeting tourists from all over.

If you take anything away from this, please just be courteous and treat your server like a normal human being when you are out to eat at a restaurant!

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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I Wasn't Always Lactose Intolerant, But Now That I Am, I Can Confirm — It Sucks

I see all of my friends eating ice cream and drinking bubble until their heart's content, but I can't say the same thing about myself.

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The thing is that I wasn't always lactose intolerant. In fact, before college, I was able to eat as much ice cream and mac and cheese as I wanted, and I was able to drink a glass of milk and have milk with cereal. But ever since coming to college, for some reason, my body decided that it was time to start rejecting dairy, and it picked the wrong time to do so.

Last semester, I went to get breakfast, and I decided to get a bowl of Fruit Loops, and I poured some milk into it. While I was eating, there was no problem, and I went about everything as I normally would, but it was when I went back to my dorm that my stomach started feeling...not so right. My stomach was hurting and I felt bloated. I was hoping that it was only because the cereal may have been old or the utensils that I was using may not have been cleaned well enough, so I stayed optimistic (for too long, in all honesty).

The following weeks, I had cereal a few more times, and I also ate some ice cream and mac and cheese, and every time, the same thing happened, and I had to convince myself that deep down, I knew what this meant. I sort of panicked because it was all so sudden. I was perfectly able to tolerate dairy right before college started, but now, I can't even handle a cup of ice cream.

I have to constantly monitor how much dairy I consume because if I consume more than my maximum amount, it's not going to end up well. Sometimes, I see my friends' iced milk tea whenever we're on the train, and I envy them because I try to avoid anything with dairy when I'm taking any sort of transportation. I think the worst part is that every time I pass by the Chatime truck, I have to fight the temptation of getting a cup of boba, especially during this time of year on the warmer days. I always walk by the crowd huddled around the cart, wishing I was them. It sounds kind of sad because it is.

Now, I may be lactose intolerant, but that doesn't mean that I don't consume dairy at all. There are days when I get out of chemistry lab, needing to treat myself to something for standing and stressing out for three hours straight, so I order myself a large Jasmine green milk tea, completely ignoring the consequences of my actions. There are even nights after dinner where I'll get two or three cups of ice cream, and I'm not going to lie, I regret it afterward half of the time.

My body may not thank me, but quite frankly, I can't go forever without eating dairy because...do I even have to say it?

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