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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Tipping Point

Well judged inclusion by the editor of a letter from the grandly-named Theodore Eberspecher, hoping we "Don't forget to leave a nice tip".

In fact, I rather pride myself on nicely judged tips which is why my eye was drawn to read this impudent - not to mention slightly imprudent - offering.

But first a bunch of thorns in the direction of the Metropolitan Grill on whom so much praise is lavished.

For my brother's first visit to Seattle, he wanted to dine at the best so, seeing as how he was paying, I mentioned that the MG was highly spoken of among purveyors of steak.

It was among the most disappointing - nay, angering - insolent experiences either of us have had, starting with an unconscionable hour's delay in being seated (despite a phone check before catching the ferry). In fact, we got the distinct treatment of it being an honor to even wait, let alone being granted a table.

As we waited, we were treated to a highly inappropriate comment by a waiter on a passing lady guest, the evening capped by a disgraceful and audible telling off by our waitress.

When my brother finally decided to call it quits and have them bag the excellent steak to take home, he catalogued for the waitress why he was leaving no tip. In full voice, she explained how her tips were shared and how she would now have to pay out of her own pocket to reimburse the back room staff. An extraordinary outburst that also caused other diners to look away in embarrassment.

The same mealy-mouthed attitude oozes from Eberspercher's letter, and i have a mind to take up pen again and challenge him in the same arena.

TE's stance is that these promo coupons lower the price for us punters which then lowers the end sum on the total bill on which we are said to be used to calculating our "standard 15 percent" pourboire.

"Your server did the same amount of work for the total of the bill before the coupon as they would do without the coupon." Thank you for that lesson in observation.

He then gives us a lesson in mathematics, ending with the snotty reminder that, "It's simple restaurant etiquette that an unfortunate percentage of our community does not follow."

This is some nerve and his own words rebound on him more than any comment I can make.

But I will say this, that I am perfectly capable of judging when and what I want to tip and that I usually go *above* "the standard" when I meet good service.

I certainly don't need a lesson in etiquette from the likes of master Eberspercher and he is lucky he did not name the establishment where he himself practices this attitude.

If I find myself being served by a bouffanted coxcomb whose badge proclaims "Hi, I'm Theo" I shall be torn between asking to be moved to another station or staying put and enjoying his expression when I leave zero tip.

I suspect I would be justified and that the attitude in his letter is reflected in the calibre and attitude of his performance at the tables.

But she deserved a tip: 1ยข.

I had a friend who had a first date with a woman he really, really liked ruined by the waitress. He penny-tipped her. She chased them out into the parking lot and threw the penny at him yelling, "Here's your tip back."

He responded with, "Here's a tip for you: take your life, you dizzy bitch."

Perhaps the waitress in question this time will somehow end up reading this post and comment and also be the recipient of his wise words.
I know there are exceptions out there when we're talking about customers. But I and most the people I know are thrilled to pay a server more for excellent service. As for the waiter who wants to give us the math lesson, let me remind him that you don't serve your cause well when you alienate the people who weren't jerks in the first place.
Busker, I can only guess that you are from California, if you have mentioned that somewhere in one of you other blogs then I apologize for not putting on my hip waders and trudging through your filth to read it.

The reason I guess that is because you write with the same arrogance, pretension, bigger-than-god attitude that most other Californians come with whenever they move from their original cesspool to our (once) peaceful homesteads.

I also guess that because you said this was your brother's 1st visit to Seattle and because of the audacity he displayed when he explained to your server why you weren't leaving a tip. That is ridiculous, chances are it wasn't even her fault that things were going wrong, its one thing that he decided not to leave a tip, its another to try to look down your nose at someone else and belittle them because you are "too important" to wait for food. And who cares that you had to wait one hour to be seated? Restaurants get full in the 50 minutes it takes to board the ferry, sail across the sound and walk up to the Met. Are you so special that you should be whisked to the front of the line and seated right away...? Because you are some important twit from California? You are the kind of people who go out not because you are hungry, but because you want the power trip of dangling that tip in front of the server, to you its a reward system for "tricks" performed (did they call you sir/ma am enough? did they laugh at your jokes? Did they go get you something when you asked for something new every 2 minutes? Did they ignore their other tables to pamper you, because you are super-important?) to the server its income.

I have been a server/bartender all of my professional life until I got into managing, which I have done successfully at several restaurants. Its a modest profession but I try to make the most it, sometimes I try to help my staff by giving them the tools they need to be successful, including coaching them and by educating the public.

The article I wrote only referred to how people tip when they use cupons, in light of that most educated diners know how to tip and don't even use cupons, so if you fall in that category you can pat yourself on the back.

Since I wrote that article I decided to give up restaurant work, there are 3 reasons for that: 1)The hours are terrible 2)You meet some great people but most customers (especially now that the Island has been overrun with Califs) are rude snobs. 3)You never have anything to show for your productivity. In summary its one of the most unrewarding professions out there.

If you think service is bad now just wait, all the good restaurateurs that I know have long since left or are leaving the business, mostly due to patron's attitudes, which is too bad because the patrons who are decent people suffer too. So as the customers get snobbier the service gets worse, diner's always control the level of service that they receive. And busker, I hope that server at the met got a big raise for embarrassing the likes of you and your arrogant brother.
Thanks, TEB, for going into such flattering detail.
Calif: close but no cheroot
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