How Not to be a Dick When Eating Out

I’m going to go on a waitress/waiter rant—one that would’ve actually helped me a lot before becoming a server at a restaurant because now I feel guilty for all the times I was a dick about tipping.

(c) allaboutcabo
(c) allaboutcabo

Although I’ve had a myriad of customers, there are generally two ways to categorize them: those who get it and those who do not. I was Camp Oblivious and now I’m Camp Ashamed.

The general rule is this: unless your waiter/waitress has been sucking ass at their job, you tip them 15% or more. Always. If they completely rocked it, you should give them 20% or more. I’m serious here.

Do you want to know why?

For servers, there isn’t anything like minimum wage. If a server is receiving minimum wage from their restaurants, that’s almost 3X more than what a typical server makes per hour. Some restaurants don’t even provide an hourly wage—it’s pure commission. I’ve had slow restaurant days where I would leave with $22 for the 5-6 hour shift that I just put in. That’s barely $5/hour. 


On top of making most of our money through tips, we have to take out the little that we do make for tip-out. What is tip-out? Glad you asked. Hosts, kitchen people, and bussers (the people that clean and clear your table after you leave) also get a certain percentage of our tip based on sales for my particular restaurant. Some restaurants base it on tips, which would be nice.

Our restaurant takes 2% of total sales: the amount that customers spent on the restaurant, pre-tip. Say you have a $400 net total of sales. That means $8 are taken away from what I made in tips. If my customers were generally bad that day (this happens) and only tipped an average of 10% ($40), that means I walk away with only $32 that day. Again, for a 5-6 hour shift, that went from $8/hr to $5-6/hr.

I’m one of the lucky college students: I have financial backing. However, many others are depending on your tip to pay mortgage, feed themselves, and afford their textbooks.

I used to be upset when sitting at a packed restaurant and our server would let 10 minutes pass before attending our table. Now, no. I understand that a server can have up to 7 tables. At the same time. Sure, some of these tables may only have 1 or 2 customers sitting there, but it isn’t uncommon for a server to have a party of 8 or more on top of their other tables (which may or may not also contain large parties).


And we have to look like this all the time even though you may be a huge douche.

Don’t give us snappy remarks about how it’s been 5 minutes since we’ve walked past your table and you’ve been waiting on a drink. Look around you first. If it’s packed, your server is probably busy running food, the bill, or taking orders from another huge-ass table. If it’s not, then you can question them.

A friend of mine was serving for a table of 10 once and was taking orders in a clockwise direction. By the time she reached the last person, who was sitting next to the first person, the first person asked her rudely why his food hadn’t arrived yet. What?? She’s been taking orders for your table, dumbass, she hasn’t had time to get whatever you want yet!

Another common thing that happens is a misplacement of blame. No one is to blame. Servers are not the ones that prepare your food. We just deliver it to your table when it’s ready to be served—usually when everyone’s food is ready. If it seems like you’ve been waiting for your food for the longest time, it’s not because your server’s just letting it sit under some heating lamps to torture you. It’s genuinely because your food is not ready yet. Either the restaurant is insanely busy and the cooks are swamped with food orders or someone in your party was that person and had to order the one thing on the menu that takes 5 hours to cook.

Same with drinks! If you’re there later in the night and you’re like “dude, it takes 2 seconds to make a margarita” think again. Restaurants generally work on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you took 5 hours to order, don’t you dare tell them to speed things up because those 2 hours of indecision put you 500 spots down on the order list. If you’re in a rush, come in knowing what you want. The internet these days is a wonderful place. Most menus are already online!

And another thing: keep your fights at home. Serving is already awkward enough since we’re basically spying on you the whole time in case you need anything, but witnessing a family disintegrating before our eyes just takes the cake.

So the next time you go out to eat, remember this: be understanding and tip your servers well! 

We sure would appreciate this :)

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  • Clara

    This has been so enlightening. My mom has been telling waitressing-stories for my entire life. Y’all deserve serious respect.
    One question: If I’m at a restaurant, and I’ve ordered something minor (like bread or something), and I genuinely believe the server has forgotten about it, what’s the least-dickish way to ask again? Like, it’s a totally minor thing and if they did forget I wouldn’t blame them, but if they didn’t forget and just haven’t gotten around to it, I don’t want to sound like an impatient brat who is like, demanding ANOTHER GLASS OF WATER RIGHT NOW DID YOU HEAR ME?? Does that make sense? How do I not-sound-like-a-brat?

    • Michelle

      Thanks, Clara! Haha, all you have to do is a) either ask like it’s the first time (whenever I accidentally forget something, this is definitely a DO IT RIGHT NOW reminder. I always kick myself for forgetting and I feel really bad!) or b) something like “hey, whenever you get a minute”… and then ask whatever it is you’re asking.

      It always makes my day when someone uses the latter one, because it sounds really considerate and understanding <3 … even when you’re getting impatient.