For the last six summers, my daughter, JM, has worked at a local Gulf front seafood restaurant, first as a hostess and later as a server. Having worked as a server myself during college, I empathize with how difficult this job can be.
Long hours, unpredictable customers, low wages, and physically demanding, working in a service industry is not easy. With my own experiences, and listening to my daughter’s stories, I have great respect for restaurant workers, and am both an appreciative customer and a great tipper.
Unfortunately, not everyone is like me. This is a story JM shared with me a few years ago. Also unfortunately, it is not an uncommon occurrence.
I’ve been working at a local tourist trap restaurant for the past two summers. We get some characters. Of course, the ‘I have young kids demanding to sit immediately during a two hour wait’ parents and my favorite the ‘too drunk to find the bathroom’ sloshes. But the other night we had a new character…
A boy walks in and stares at my fellow hostess and exclaims ‘YOU’RE HOT!!’ and then tells his mom that he’s going to the t-shirt shop to check out the hot girl in there too. This seems like a nice enough compliment, but it was too strange. This kid was about 10, grown out of the cute young stage, but still too young to be hitting on 19 and 20 year olds. We think we’ve heard the last of this kid, well until his server comes up.
Server: Thanks for sitting the Beverly Hillbillies at my table!” (I’m not sure why all my stories involve Southern accents…?) And after taking their order Server comes back. ‘You’ll never believe what this kid said to me!
Boy: ‘Can I have a Bud Light?
Server (Thinking this is a joke): ‘No, not tonight.’
Boy: ‘Miller Light?’
Boy: ‘A glass of wine?’
Boy: ‘Ok, a martini? You got those?’
Server: ‘Maybe in another 10 of 12 years, kid.’
Boy: ‘If you don’t bring me one of those drinks in the next five minutes, I’m gonna punch you right in the face!!’
Server (stunned silence): ‘Look kid, you know what we do with trouble makers here? We tie cement blocks to their feet and throw them into the ocean with the sharks.’
Boy: ‘I’d like to see you try and pick me up! I weigh 120 pounds!’
Server: ‘With rocks in your pockets!’
Boy: ‘You know what, just bring me some fucking cheese sticks!!!’
Server (Angry stunned silence)
Now Server comes back to the hostess stand and relays this to us. I remember it was a big party split at two tables.
JM: ‘I bet he’s showing off for all the kids at the table.’
Hostess: ‘A mom is sitting at the table…’
Stunned silence from all.
I guess it’s kinda like when a baby manages to repeat a cuss word. It turns into a parlor game. Maybe his redneck family thought it was funny. Maybe some one else’s mom didn’t reprimand Boy. Maybe Boy was copying dad. I don’t know what it was, but I just couldn’t believe it. But I guess karma comes around a little quicker for some.
JM: ‘How did your table turn out?’
Server: ‘It was all worth it. The idiots double-tipped me because they can’t read!’
(Sidenote for non-restaurant people: In tables of 7 or more you typically have an additional 18% gratuity already added to your check. Some servers forget to mention that when they drop the bill off. This often results in a larger cash tip for the server. Oh darn!)*
People raise your children to follow social norms and function out in public. It’s financially beneficial.
*PSA – Since she told me this story, the restaurant she works for has changed its large-group gratuity policy, as have many other higher end restaurants. No longer are tips included in the final bill. Please, if in doubt, ask your server if the gratuity has been added, and if it hasn’t, leave an appropriate tip – typically between 15-20%.