In California all servers make the state minimum wage of $8.00 so the claim that we're stealing from their paychecks is nonsense. So no, I don't tip a $1 for someone who opened my beer because I know that person is earning a decent wage. It's not a king's ransom, but when you start at $8.00 and add tips on top, I'm not really interested in a misleading lecture about how I should contribute more to my server's wellbeing.
In a world where servers make less than minimum wage before tips, I agree completely, but here in CA, servers are already earning above the poverty line before they get a penny in tips. Seeing as their wages are paid by my food bill, I'm already compensating them for their service. Above and beyond gets a tip, less than that gets my gratitude and my hard earned money pays the bill that pays the wage.
I no longer live in Humboldt, but I tip according to the 5 rules. One of the worst dining experiences in our neighborhood BBQ restaurant was a server who was obviously very new and proceeded to share her pitty party personal story with us and every subsequent arriving party in this small dining room. About the 3rd time into her story, I was ready to scream or walk out. I did neither, but TMI is not part of good service. Good servers are all about the guest experience, not themselves, their kids, their woes, etc.
The issue of whether to tip or not hinges on a person's sense of entitlement. Some people feel entitled to keep, others to share. This sense is predicated on an individual's values, upbringing, politics, surrounding culture etc. When this society can successfully motivate it's people to share this will undoubtably be a better world, but this is a tall order, especially in a culture that paradoxically celebrates individualistic, boot-strap lifting achievement while constantly working to homogenize us into a society of consumers, scrambling madly over the perception of limited resources. From a Darwinian perspective why should someone share their limited resources with another, limiting their own chances of survival while increasing another's? While the fact that we are social animals predicates that reciprocity should play a role in this social exchange: quality service=quality tip. But honestly, I'm complicating this- some people are just assholes and won't tip no matter what. As someone who used to make a living in the service sector I got to the point where I stopped taking it personally and that was the only thing I could do that made any difference.
Humboldt's restaurant staff treat their customers as though they are doing you a favor by being mediocre. I acknowledge the the quality of the food is not their fault, but as my server it is their job to be my advocate to the kitchen, to do their best to assure that my entire experience is worth the extra money for a tip.
For a tip of 20% I want my toast served with my eggs, my coffee before my eggs. I want my fish fresh, my rice hot, the glasses clean, etc. I want my waitperson pleasant but slightly distant, (not my chum), clean, articulate, and light on their feet. I want the people who work in the place I am dining, to be focused on the work they are there to do, not on standing in the doorway to the kitchen sharing snark about the diners, or gossiping with the next table about their kids art projects while my meal sits where I can see it, getting cold.
This is a common experience in Humboldt. I will return to the places that run well, and avoid the ones that aren't. Yes the county is full of restaurants that want my business, but they have got to do better if they want a better tip than 15%, which is the custom for so-so service and food.
Perhaps I'm wrong but my impression is that splitting up the tips varies from restaurant to restaurant. In some establishments the tips are put into a common pool and divided up between the entire staff so reducing the tip because you're unhappy with the food does impact the cooks. That being said I always try to tip generously and express any dissatisfaction in service or food by simply not returning. As Jennifer correctly points out, "Humboldt has no lack of other restaurants and bars that would love your business."
Wow. You & your husband sound like really awful people. May you find hair in every bite of food from now through the end of the decade.
"the amount of time it took to arrive? That's likely not the server's fault."
Sorry to burst your bubble, but here's why you are wrong:
Ask yourself these questions as a server:
1. WHEN do you put in my order? Do you wait or do you go put it in immediately after taking it? If you are double sat or triple sat, you can still go put in each order into the computer after taking each table’s order. By not doing that can result in a much longer wait and that would be YOUR FAULT.
2. FORGETTING to put in an order. My husband and I have experienced this for REAL that servers ADMITTED to our faces they have FORGOTTEN TO PUT ORDERS IN. All of them were appetizers, bar drinks, and a cup of soup.
3. Did you put in the order CORRECTLY into the computer? Have had many times servers ADMITTED to our faces they did not do that correctly. Have had wrong entrées before due to our server putting in the order wrong. Have had wrong bar drinks too due to the server putting in the order wrong.
4. Did you FORGET ANYTHING I ORDERED such as a SIDE DISH? We have had this happen a number of times as well.
5. Did you DROP anything I ordered? Luckily, we have not had this happen, but I have seen a server once drop some fries from a plate before and I did have a waiter spill some margarita martini when pouring into a martini glass. In other words, it is possible, not likely, but very possible.
6. Did you remember to GET my food? We have had a server do that before. Also, we have had a number of servers forget bar drinks.
7. Did you bring out my food obviously correctly if you bring my food out? Do you realize how many times OUR OWN SERVER brings out DUH mistakes like the side dish is wrong, the entrée is wrong, something obvious is not correct bacon that isn’t covered up isn’t extra, extra crispy when you can clearly notice that it isn’t without touching anything, etc.? Every DUH mistake you bring out is YOUR FAULT I am waiting for what I did order by you wasting my time bringing me the wrong item or wrongly prepared item or forgot something. While we all make mistakes, I would have to say a good 90% of the time, servers NEVER COMPARE THE WRITTEN ORDERS TO THE FOOD, because they are TOO LAZY and DON’T CARE!!
8. Servers DO wait to put in entrée orders when appetizers, side salads, or cups of soup are ordered. THAT *IS* THE GOD’S TRUTH! Sometimes it’s TOO LONG THEY WAIT! If it’s another server, it still doesn’t make it the kitchen staff’s fault I have the wrong side dish for example since that is something that’s obvious. It’s either my server that didn’t put in my order correctly or this other server that didn’t compare the ticket to the food or that this other server did compare the ticket to the food, but just missed it(HIGHLY UNLIKELY, but possible).
9. WHEN do you come to GET MY ORDER? That part is covered in #2 below.
10. WHEN do you DECIDE to LET ME ORDER? That part is covered in #4 below.
11. WHEN do you decide to DELIVER MY FOOD? That part is covered in #1 below.
12. Do you, because they are out of something, decide to assume everyone wants the closest thing so you do the ordering for me? That part is covered in #3 below.
1. Once, we had a Red Lobster waitress had our 2 entrées on the tray as well as 2 side salads that were for a couple that wasn’t even there when we ordered. Anyway, instead of bypassing their table to hand us ours first since WE DID ORDER FIRST(common sense would tell you that it takes more time to cook food than it does to fix a side salad anyways even if it wasn’t our server that delivered our food, but it was our waitress that delivered our food), she decided to hand them theirs first off the tray. THAT IS SOMETHING THAT IS IN THE SERVER’S CONTROL TO HAND OUT THINGS OFF THE SAME TRAY IN THE ORDER IN WHICH IT WAS ORDERED IN!!
2. Once, we had a waitress that greeted us which we ordered an appetizer as well as our drinks when greeted. I saw she tucking in chairs at empty tables and pretty much doing everything but coming back to get our entrée order. Well, I found out what happened. She brought out our appetizer and when I asked she said that she wanted to wait to put in our entrée orders. The thing is, that delayed us more by not at least coming to GET our orders. That way, when the appetizer was ready, we wouldn’t have gotten delayed eating our appetizer since we then had to give our entrée orders when we could have given our entrée orders WELL BEFORE THAT and we would have gotten our entrées faster due to that she could have just left to put our entrée orders into the computer after delivering our appetizer instead of taking time to order when our appetizer was sitting in front of us. The point is, SHE delayed our entrées as well as to be able to start eating our appetizer because she could have at least TAKEN our entrée orders and then when our appetizer would have been brought out, could have immediately gone to the computer to put our entrée orders in.What she did was make us wait while our hot appetizer was sitting in front of us, we couldn’t touch it, because we had to order our entrées and could have done that wayyy before that. She also delayed our entrées because we had to spend extra time AFTER our appetizer arrived to give her our entrée orders when we could have done that wayyyy before that.
3. Once, we had a waitress that assumed that because they were out of raspberry topping for a cheesecake slice when we had ordered dessert that she’d bring us strawberry. Turns out, she knew when she put in the order that the computer had it the manager told us. So she did it on PURPOSE to be so lazy and uncaring as to not come to ask if we wanted the next closest thing. We didn’t, we sent it back, so she had MORE WORK. Also, she didn’t even think about what if someone is allergic to strawberries. I just honestly can’t believe someone would do that. If they are out of something, common sense would be to come to see if the next closest thing is ok. Not everyone wants the next closest thing. So it wasn’t like it was just getting the order wrong by accident or by not verifying the written order with what she was bringing or putting in the order wrong by accident, this was on PURPOSE to be LAZY and to ASSUME. I didn’t know at first that she did that. I thought at first she just was that stupid(or truly just messed up(highly doubt it)) to bring us strawberries on top of a cheesecake when we ordered raspberries.
4. Your server delays coming to get your order or delays you ordering due to personal conversation. We have had that before as well. Once, we had a waiter that we didn’t know after waiting 15 mins. for a table on Mardi Gras day ask us BEFORE we ORDERED ANYTHING “How’s y’all’s Mardi Gras” “Go to any parades.” See, I don’t mind chit chat with a stranger, but be considerate to do it AFTER we have our orders into the computer so you don’t take up our time.
We have also had servers not come to get our order due to playing around. Sometimes taking a long time or a longer time has A LOT to do with the server:My husband and I have had 3 TIMES where servers FORGOT to put food orders into the computer. We also have 4 times servers forget to get bar drinks from the bar. Once a waitress forgot to put in a bar drink into the computer. Two of the 3 times it was an appetizer and the servers ADMITTED doing so. The third time was a cup of bisque which is normally served before a meal just like a side salad is. My husband and I also have had delays due to that the servers delayed putting orders into the computer when they COULD have such as deciding to buss a table first or decide instead of a mini-greet(I’ll be right with you all), one waiter I saw decided to take a party of 6 people’s drink/appetizer orders instead of putting in our food orders into the computer. I can understand if they call you over, but if they don’t, you should be putting that order into the computer not delaying our food. The longer you wait to put in orders, the LONGER WE WAIT!! So truly think about that MOST of the time when you wait a LONG TIME for your food or bar drinks even, it could be the server’s fault. 9 times out of 10, your server had *SOMETHING* to do with the delay in most cases! That’s the GOD’S TRUTH!
"Even when the experience is truly bad, angering the people who are making and serving your food is never a good idea, at least if you want to eat it. Just be a decent human and tip."
If it's really horrible service, the server may get fired. I helped 3 servers over the years get fired. Not only did I stiff them, but I also REPORTED them to managers and corporate. Being a decent human being is not letting someone take advantage of you. It's not fair. All I do when I go back to the same restaurant is to ask for someone I do like or if they aren't there, ask not to get certain servers. The ones that are good the word gets around we tip well 25%-30% and more. So YEAH, it DOES HELP to stiff if the service is bad enough.
One of the servers that got fired stole $9 refused to give back my friend's change just said "I don't have a change bank" and then gave me the empty gift card of (2) $20 gift cards on a forty something dollar check. She did other things wrong throughout the service as well, but what stood out was that she did something illegal by STEALING. Especially $9, that's a lot to steal. She got fired. This was a restaurant I go to on a regular basis and what's weird is the 1st time we had her we gave her 26% tip. I think what maybe threw her off was that we had 5 people, me and my husband's check, then my other friend and her husband's check, and then the guy friend we have that he was dining alone had his own check. So I guess she was pissed even if we told her at the GREETING BEFORE we even started to order drinks that we were having our checks split 3 ways for our party of 5, which honestly could have been worse that some people want it split each person. Anyway, she got fired and DESERVED all what she got. Stealing is morally wrong. You just don't do that. I can't go to a store and ask for $9 nor can I go into someone's purse or wallet take $9 out of their stuff without their consent nor if I were a cashier couldn't just keep someone's $9 without their consent.
So to end this, PLEASE STOP LYING TO THE PUBLIC that it's likely not the server's fault. That's a bunch of BS and you know it. It's more than likely the server's fault most of the time when you wait a long time for your food.
There is something called bad service. I once went to the fish eatery with all the abstract art on the exterior walls. The owner hired a group of waitresses, who he had once worked with at some other restaurant, probably the Eureka Inn. They waited on people on the basis of whether they knew you already. We had to wait at the back of the line, for more than an hour. I don't think the place went out of business because of "bad art". I did make a small tip, but I never returned to the place.
You know, as a long-time member of the service industry, I agree with just about everything you said. But then you had to mention Humboldt, specifically.
I have never seen the overall poor level of service ANYWHERE else in the country as I do here. I'm not sure if it's the easy availability of trim jobs ("Why should I have to actually WORK, when I can make $15/hr trimming?"), the stoner mentality of people that get burned out before they graduate, or just a lack of self-pride, but when McDonald's in Fortuna is the least likely place to get your order wrong, that should say something.
I was trained to believe that dining out is an experience people pay for, not just an obesity training program. Anyone can cook food for themselves, but when you go out, you want more than just sustenance. I expect smiles from my server, even if they are just polite. You don't have to get all obsequious and deferential, but just stop scowling at my eggs! If you're THAT unhappy and it permeates every part of your being, go get your life right, first. Hell, we all have bad days, but F.F.S, people, here in the land of the eternal stoner, you would expect to see a lot more happiness, or at the least, blissful ignorance.
On the other hand, sure: Cannabis is available here, but while you may have a need for it, a prescription, or even a legal RIGHT to it, it does NOT excuse improper use of it. Some people work more smoothly with a toke, but no one works more smoothly after getting so fucked up you can't remember if I said I wanted coffee or a Harvey Wallbanger. If you need to get so blazed that you can't interact with the rest of us, just GTFO. Seriously! Obviously you have medical/psychological issues, and if they need so much treatment, it can't be healthy for you to be straining so hard to just half-ass the job. Nothing wrong with having problems people! We all do, but if you can't deal with YOUR problems, please stay out of the way of the people who are helping me solve my problem of hunger satisfaction.
My tip reflects the quality of service. My jobs in the Service Industry gave me a sense of understanding and generosity, in fact, for those that work the field. But I will be damned if I tip well for poor service just because Lazy Shits can get away with it at the few worthy places to eat in this county.
Long overdue & well done. Thanks.
Thanks for the feedback, Louisa. You're absolutely right about the fact I wouldn't have wanted to ask any male surf guide anywhere about needing tampons, including the Texan ex-pat running the B&B where I stayed in Taiwan – even in Arcata I'll always pick the checkout line with a female clerk. (I could digress into a long discussion about the generational/social factors influencing women's comfort with their bodily functions.) My point was, I can be forgetful and shy and end up in ridiculous situations because of those flaws, but hopefully someone, somewhere, will learn from my mistakes.
I live in Mexico when I'm not in Humboldt and I find Jennifer's comment about buying tampons in Mexico irritating and racist. Most women wouldn't want to mention their need for tampons from their Thai surf guide, either. Mexico has enough media problems without inventing false ones in a forced and ineffective attempt to be funny. The only difference between buying tampons in Mexico vs. the U.S. is that pharmacies in Mexico are not self-service, so unless you're in Costco or a supermarket, you have to ask for the tampons from a clerk behind a counter (usually a young woman, by the way). Some people find that disconcerting. Other than that, there's no difference at all.
Wow....this is true, and lovely. I'm reading it to my teenagers....
oh, I so love this...thank you for reminding me why I still live here.
In Print This Week:
Jul 3, 2014
vol XXV issue 27
Faces of Humboldt
The North Coast Journal Weekly
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