It’s a cruel, cruel summer

Summertime means trips to the beach, family reunions and cookouts with family and friends.  For a server, it means that you’ll get fairly abnormal shifts until fall returns and brings back a sense of normality (i.e. predictable shifts).  The following are my “pet peeves” of being a server during the summer.

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1 – It’s hot outside.  And because of the fact that it’s hot outside, it means that it’s also hot inside for your server and your chefs.  Which is why the a.c. is set to a comfortable 74 degree temperature.  If you are the type of person that gets cold easily, bringing a light sweater or jacket is recommended.  No, I will not turn OFF the a.c.  That is the most ridiculous request I’ve ever heard of, and I cannot believe that you think so highly of yourself that you think everyone else will be comfortable with your demands.

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2 – Parties of 15+ that don’t call ahead.  Especially on a busy shift, and demand to be seated asap because “we have things to do”.  Getting a 12-top together is pretty difficult as-is, so really, anything greater than a 12-top is strongly encouraged to call ahead so that way the restaurant can accommodate you with ease.  It also allows the possibility of calling in another server or two to maintain normality within the rest of the restaurant.  It’s just a freaking nice thing to do.  Think about it: you’re at home and you are aware that a few of your friends are going to stop by for a cookout.  But what they didn’t tell you is that they are bringing FIFTEEN of their super closest friends ever!  Not only do you not have enough plates and cups, but they will have nowhere to sit or even stand because you live in an 800 square-foot apartment.

Ok, ok, that example is a little extreme, but I feel like it really expresses my feelings about the whole thing.  Even for a friend’s birthday last January, we made sure to call ahead for a table of 6 because it was a Saturday night and it was assumed we would be waiting for at least an hour.  But because of the fact that we called ahead, they had our table ready and we were able to sit immediately.

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3 – Coming in 5 minutes before close.  Everyone that works in a restaurant HATES THIS, not just servers.  The managers hate it because it means it’ll be at least another 30 minutes before they can do their closing things.  The chefs hate it because they had just finished cleaning for the night in hopes that they can still make last call at a local watering hole.  The servers hate it because they just finished setting up their section for the next day.  This is not just a summer-thing, but it does seem to increase during the summer.  Regardless, this does happen.  And it is the worst thing about a server’s day.  And the chef’s.  Because 9 times outta 10, you all have some really bizarre requests so close to closing time.

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4 – Arguing over who will pay the bill.  As it is summer, there is an increase of lifelong friends that haven’t seen each other in ages, so that also means an increase in people arguing over who pays the bill.  Here’s a newsflash for you: I DON’T CARE WHO PAYS, just as long as someone does!

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Instead of arguing over it while I’m standing right there, just let me drop of the check and you can calmly work it out quietly amongst yourselves because you’re freaking adults, so act like it.  Every so often, I try to make this exceedingly uncomfortable situation less uncomfortable (for me) and make up a fake game like, “I’ll just throw it in the air and whoever it lands closest to gets to pay”, or “I’ll hide the check behind my back and whoever guesses the correct hand wins the prize!”  But, you guys don’t seem to find that funny.  Just like how I don’t think that you acting like children over a $20 tab is super adorable.

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5 – An increase in people that do not (or do not know how to) tip.  I’m looking at you, high school kids that have just come back from an exciting outing, doing summer-based activities, and now you’re making spit balls and instagraming your cheeseburger.

I’ve had customers that haven’t left a tip simply because they didn’t follow directions.  If you take your credit card receipt with you, you know, that one that you just left me like a 62% tip on? I HAVE NO WAY OF PROVING THAT YOU LEFT ME A TIP!  You unintentionally stiffed me!  Or that one time when you left a tip on a gift card, but it was more than what was on your gift card?  Thanks for that one, that was a great 3% tip for the three hours you sat in my section.

But then there’s the summer culprits:  the out-of-towners that apparently live on Mars and don’t know how tipping works, teenagers, and those that are in such a hurry to go to the pool that they just bail out on their bill altogether.  This is when I wish there was an occasional public service announcement on all media (including stupid instagram), that tells everyone what the standard pay is for servers and what it has been for about 22 years:

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Like I’ve said before, I’m not really a fan of venting about tips, but it does seem that tipping decreases over the summer for a variety of reasons (one that I received the other day: “I just don’t have enough money to tip you, SW.  I am so so sorry 😦 You were great though!”).  Here’s a great rule of thumb: go into a restaurant with an idea of how much money you have and how much you are going to spend.  Go in expecting spectacular service, and calculate that 20% tip into your mental total.  Ok.  Do you have your total in your head?  Add an extra $5 in case you want dessert or one last beer.  Or just in case you need like a gallon of gas to get home because you forgot you were driving Billy and Bonnie to summer camp.  Ok.  Now you have enough money to eat at a restaurant.  If you didn’t pass the test, I would recommend the following suggestions:
– go to a fast food restaurant instead.  They are paid at least minimum wage and do not rely on tips to pay their bills.
– go to the grocery store.  Some grocery stores even have a deli where you can get pre-made entrees so you don’t even have to make them yourselves!

Ok, I think I’m done being bitter for now.  I’m gonna go enjoy the gorgeous weather and try to not think about work!

Sweaty hugs,
SW

*all crudely-drawn pictures were created in Paint by me!  So if you borrow them for any reason, just drop me a line below and let me know 🙂

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