When I first started serving, I was ecstatic about any dollar bills I’d find left on the table after the customer had left. Something about the varying amount of money I could make fascinated me, but reality caught up pretty fast. While a lot of people are kind and do a really good job with tipping, the people who aren’t so nice are always the ones who stand out. When it comes down to it, your server is not bringing food to you just for the fun of it. It’s all about the money.

But what is the right amount to tip? It might (or actually, might not) be surprising that most of the people I come across at work don’t have a clue as to what is an acceptable amount of money to leave someone who has provided good service and pretended to laugh at your jokes. Servers make a whopping $2.13 an hour, and the idea is that we’ll make an acceptable wage given that we have customers and do a good job.

For some people who live in the stone age (sometimes I think that’s Bartow County), tipping 10% should make a server drunk with delight. But it’s not so. Tipping closer to double that is more acceptable in the 21st century, and really it’s not that much to ask for. As an employee of Cracker Barrel, it’s hard to expect the fine patrons to always adhere to a fair percentage tipping policy. It makes it easier and less depressing for me to set a goal of receiving $2 per person given nothing out of the ordinary happens, and most of the time it evens out to 18% of my personal sales.

At many restaurants, the server’s goal is the upsell. The higher the tab, the higher the tip. Upselling at Cracker Barrel really isn’t the way for an individual to make extra cash, because there are a lot of “guests” that tip the same amount every time, no matter how much they order or the amount of their checks. It really ends up being more work for less money, and that’s not economical.

At the risk of sounding redundant, your server is providing you with (you guessed it!) a service. While you may only see them taking your order and hauling back to you what you asked for, it takes a little more effort than that. No, it’s not rocket science and it’s not a really complicated or elaborate process, but it is work. I’m not saying reward a bad server with a good tip, but take things into consideration. The server can’t really help it if the kitchen is backed up or if the restaurant is out of something that you really wanted. (People act as if their lives are ruined if there’s no meatloaf.) It’s nice to tip based on things that your server could actually control. If they were friendly, efficient, and knowledgeable, that’s a good start. If your bill was $70 and you had 5 guests, leaving $3.50 on the table is not a good way to show your appreciation. Leaving five dollars in pennies and dimes for your server to pick up isn’t great either.

Published in: on November 11, 2009 at 8:11 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You know, I’ve never been a server, but I greatly respect how stressful the job is. Having worked in retail, I fully understand the tendency for lovely patrons to be completely out-of-touch with the most common of etiquette. My dad is one of those tight pocketed idiots who thinks 10% is a great tip. It drives me nuts and I’ve even found myself sneaking back to the table to change the bill after he’s left the restaurant! You deserve it!

  2. My first job was waiting tables, so I know all about the “regulars” who think .50 is a good tip. Because my husband and I spent our first few years living off tips (I waited, he delivered pizza), we tend to stick to 20% unless the service just absolutely sucks. (The *service*, not the food, not the wait for a table, etc.)

    Except, and this probably left over from WH and Denny’s, I really don’t like to give less than $3, but sometimes my bill is only $3 so I end up tipping 100% and then I feel like an idiot.

  3. I completely understand, haha, I have tipped 300% on a small bill just because I feel guilty! I figure karma might take care of me, though :).

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