On the desperate hope that some people read, and that some of those people live in Topeka and that those same people may read the Washburn Review and inform their less literate friends, I am going to do the entire server population a favor. These are the 10 things every restaurant/bar customer should know. Sometimes, the bouncers are there for your safety.
1: If you read no further than #1, the most important thing to know is that in most places in America, servers receive about $2 per hour. Tips aren’t an added bonus; they are what we pay the bills with. Without tips, we don’t eat.
2: Our names are not “baby,” “sweetheart” or “honey.” Any variation on these is similarly unacceptable. As far as miss vs. ma’am goes, every woman, from 16 to 85, is a “miss.”
3: Full parking lots equal less than impeccable service. We would like to be able to be at your table just as you take the last slurp of your Bud Light, but when there are eight other tables we must mind, and people standing in between them, whatever you expect of us is irrational.
4: If you can’t pronounce your drink of choice, you probably shouldn’t have one. Good servers know that you are trying to say “vodka red bull,” but when it sounds like “vakkabedrull,” we’ll be a little more reluctant to serve you one.
5: When we ask if you have everything you need, we are expecting an honest answer. Go on, take a minute. It’s nice to know if you will want extra ranch, more napkins, a clean fork, water without ice, more butter, and a different kind of sweetener all at once instead of making a trip every time you remember an item you simply must have.
6: If you are standing in a place where servers regularly pass while holding trays of liquid, do not suddenly begin dancing or otherwise waving your arms wildly. We will have to restrain ourselves from hurting you.
7: While it is important to evaluate the service you’ve been given and tip accordingly, it is never never never okay to not tip. The waitress does not make the drinks or the food or the restaurant policies. Thus, if your drink is not strong enough, the onions are too oniony, or an unsatisfactory item is not removed from your bill, this is not a thing that the server should be penalized for. If in fact, the service was under par, a 10% tip will make us wonder what we did wrong.
8: Do not try to talk to your server while eating. It is disgusting and rude, and the reason many of us have trouble eating after a shift, even when by ourselves in our own homes with the curtains drawn.
9: If you are with people who are being discourteous, it is your duty as a decent person to try to control them. Even a quiet, “I’m sorry about my friend,” can make us feel exponentially better about any snide comments they might make.
10: Sometimes we have bad days. Our dogs run away, our bosses yell, our research papers are due in twelve hours. Sometimes we are not at our best, and it is hard to keep smiling or to control the eye-rolling reflex. When you make an effort to be compassionate, we notice. Sometimes, it can even cheer us up a little.