Gut Rumbles

August 16, 2004

working for tips

I played for tips only a few times in my life. In fact, that's one of the ways I earned a lot of jobs. I would walk into a bar, offer my services as a musician and agree to audition for tips only. If I played well, brought in customers and sold some drinks, I wanted a salary after that. Most bar managers LOVED that offer. Free entertainment.

I had an old brass spitoon that served as my tip-bucket. I was not one bit shy about telling people that THEY were paying me that night, and most people responded well. I also told the waitresses and the bartender: "Hump that bucket for me. I need the money tonight, but if I get this job, you'll get half of everything in there from now on." And I upheld my end of the deal.

I usually made between $50 and $100 dollars every night in tips, and sometimes it was a LOT more. Every night after closing, I emptied the tip-bucket on the bar and took half the money. I gave the rest to the people who helped me MAKE that money. I learned to appreciate people who work for tips.

Ladies and gentlemen, the next time you're in a bar or a restaurant, REALIZE how hard your waitress or waiter works every day. REALIZE how many assholes she or he has to deal with EVERY DAY. They get paid slave wages and depend on tips to survive. If you get good service, then TIP THEM. Show some got-dam gratitude.

That could be your daughter or your son doing that job some day. Get off your wallet and PAY them.


I came to realize just what you're talking about when I had a roommate in college who worked as a waiter. Those tips are what truly constituted his pay, since the restaurant was paying hardly anything (something like $2.70/hour if I remember correctly). For him, several good tip nights made the difference between barely scraping by and being a little more comfortable.

After that I always made it a point to tip well, unless someone just royally screwed the pooch with horrible service. I usually leave 15 or 20 percent. I also like to leave it in cash if I can, since that leaves them the option of deciding for themselves whether to report it or not (or decide how much to report, since reporting nothing might be suspicious).

Posted by: Aubrey Turner on August 16, 2004 12:35 PM

I try to tip around 15 to 20 percent too,as several of my friends over the years have been waiters or waitresses.........The best T-shirt on the subject I've seen said "Waitresses see more a**holes then Doctors". I"ve always tried to behave accordingly after watching real sh*theads perform in a restraurant. I can't believe the way some people were raised after watching them treat servers .

Posted by: big al on August 16, 2004 02:16 PM

These days I tend to target about 20% give or take, and depending on various factors. For instance, service, size of meal/bill/party, how long you held up the table and kept it from turning over to the next customer/tip, and perhaps an "it" factor that's hard to define but can include level of friendliness and enthusiasm.

Posted by: Jay Solo on August 16, 2004 02:28 PM

i waited tables for a while so i definately appreciate what you're saying. but here's the thing, if i get some punk that doesn't give a shit about me and my extra side of ranch or my refill on water then i don't give a shit about his tip and i'll leave a real digger for him. that being said, when people are great, i'm not afraid to leave 25-30%.

Posted by: jason on August 16, 2004 03:05 PM

My first serious (meaning longer than 2 weeks) girlfriend was a waitress. She learned me good on tipping well for good service.

If I receive shitty service, I leave 10% (yeah, I should probably leave nothing, but my thought is maybe the server is just having a bad day). For good service, 20%. For exceptional service 25% and up.

I even tip the UPS, USPS and gas station guys during the holidays. I have respect for people who do hard jobs and have to put up with the assholes of society.

A few months ago, I even tipped the waitress of the table next to mine. She put up with 2 old codgers that bitched and complained about everything and generously left her a $2 tip on a $45 meal. I fucking hate cheap people.

Posted by: rightisright on August 16, 2004 05:33 PM

This thread reminded me of a great quote:

"A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person."

-Dave Barry

Truer words...

Posted by: Ernie G on August 16, 2004 05:36 PM

I consider 20% to be the default tip, 15% for mediocre, 30-50% for really good service. Once I was putting down my Dr. Pepper with no ice, which I was just finishing with an ample gulp, and just as my empty glass touched the table, without my asking, another Dr. Pepper with no ice was placed thereon by the waitress--and it was busy. She got a 100% tip. I forgot to leave a tip at a place on I-80 in Ohio in 1990, realized it the next day while in Nebraska, and still remember the debacle with embarassment.

Posted by: Chris on August 16, 2004 06:32 PM

Jason, let's be honest here, you don't pay for the ranch (dry salad for me thanks), and you sure as hell don't pay for the water. I have bought syrup before in large quantities and restaurants are not losing money if you refill my soda a half dozen times. If a server doesn't refill my water/soda/coffee glass/cup at least once (if I drink it all) the server will be lucky to get 10%. I worked in the service industry before as a dishwasher, server, cook, and manager. So stop the bitching.

Posted by: Brendan on August 16, 2004 09:25 PM

My wife was a waitress in college. She taught me that if you cannot afford tip for good service, then you cannot afford to patronize the restaurant. We make sure that good service is rewarded the way it ought to be.

Posted by: Gary Kitts on August 16, 2004 09:38 PM

If you want to dance, then you will have to pay the band. If you can't afford it, then stay the fuck home.

Posted by: Catfish on August 17, 2004 12:24 AM

Rob, I'd wait on you or Catfish anytime... any time at all.
I've been a waitress off and on since I was 17. It never ceases to amaze me... you can bust yer ass for one table and get dicked, then, barely have the time to take the order of another table and they'll tip the hell outta ya... lol.

I try to give my best every time, but if I get stiffed once, I WILL remember you (and, most likely, your squalling brat child who just fucked up half a restaurant with one pack of crackers and irritated the shit outta everybody in the room and I will NOT take your table again...)

I've NEVER gone as far as SOME servers do when they get stiffed. Ya start getting into that, the servers are no better (worse even) than the slobs who ripped them off... *shudder*

But... like I said, I'd wait on YOU any day, any meal and honestly, just the fact that it was you would be tip enough... (And, that does NOT go for the rest of the population of the planet... okay? *lol*)

Posted by: Stevie on August 17, 2004 04:34 AM

Stevie, you'd like Catfish. You think I'M a grouchy old bastard? You need to meet HIM.

I've known Joe for a long time and he never ceases to amaze me.

Posted by: Acidman on August 17, 2004 06:29 AM

Last week I got the hell out of town and did lunch at the little cafe on the lake instead of the fast food zoos.. It was really busy, but one of the two servers asked if I'd like to sit outside at a picnic table. "Sure". I helped her carry the stuff out, and held the door for her.

About the time I finished my beer, a cold mug and bottle appeared. She said, "it's on me, honey". I said, "really, what for?" She said, "cause you were really nice, instead of like all those folks inside". Think she got a good tip ?

I've seldom gone wrong being nice to regular people.
And I've never felt sorry for being nasty to shitheads.

Posted by: Dan Pursel on August 17, 2004 10:55 AM

Sitting in a restaurant that I used to frequent I couldn't get a refill of my coffee. Another waiter noticed and brought me a refill. I left a moderate tip for the waitress that wasn't doing a very good job and slipped a few bucks to the guy who noticed and brought me the coffee.

After that when I went in there he made sure I was at his station and I got the best service in the joint. He, of course, got the best tips too. We were both happy with the arrangement . It paid off for both of us until the place shut down.

Now I'm reminded of another one that I insisted on getting a certain waitress's station. If she was full I'd wait until a table opened up. They even set up a table one night because I wouldn't sit anywhere else and told them wny. She was the only good waitress in the joint.

"Even the best food in the world cannot survive lousy service." Or something like that.

Posted by: StinKerr on August 18, 2004 03:19 AM

Ernie G is ab-so-fuck-ing-lute-ly 100% correct.

Scott is a 100% ass-fucking-hole.

Always tip more than you think you should, because A-Man is right: what if it was your daughter or your wife waitressing that table?

Posted by: BJK on August 18, 2004 07:34 PM

Wow. I'd agree with you.

I just started my waitressing jobs, and I have to say to all of you out there:

If you get a new waiter or waitress, please make sure you're friendly and put yourself in their shoes. Realize that if the resturant is busy, its a very stressful situation; you have to worry about the customers, the other waiters/esses, the owners, and what you're doing. If they forget something on the menu and do nothing, they deserve nothing. If they apologize profusely and put it up on an ASAP ringer, assume they're nervous and while you dont have to tip, please be kind.

My second day, first table of the day, was.. horrid. I got 6 "regulars", but they were not open. They were quiet, and if I happened to walk into that section of the resturant, they all looked at me as if I were an idiot and needed to talk to them. I could understand if they made eye contact for refils, but I had just asked 2 minutes ago. I'm just going into another section of the resturant, because my boss yells at me if I "stand around" [aka, take a drink of my drink and take a deep breath]

Needless to say, I ended up goofing their order and missed a man's meal completely. I do not wish to gain your sympathy, but I did happen to basically break down into tears because
A. What is the customer going to think about you completely forgetting their order?
B. What is the owner who's watching you like a hawk going to think?
C. You just feel horrible because you forgot a man's food!

Much to my .. happiness? the people didnt mind and still tipped me well. Talk about feeling like the biggest goof-up in the world.

Oddly, I met the nicest couple and had great conversation with them, yet they lacked to tip me.

There is no point behind this, other than to say, if your waiter or waitress messes up your order, they most likely did not mean to. Not to say there arent nasty people who hate their job and take it out on customers; for them I apologize.

even 5% tip can change their mood so they dont do the same thing to someone else as they did to you.

and if they seem uptight, while it is NOT at all your place to do anything about it [besides, its their job, they should leave their personal issues elsewhere] dont forget that sometimes bad days just pop up. Be friendly. We arent here to give you a hard time. We're here to pay the bills by helping you as much as we can. Some people dont do enough, some people do more than necessary.

There's a quote I like to use.
Its called.

"Shit happens."

Posted by: Amber on September 6, 2004 01:21 AM
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