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Behind the Scenes: Restaurant Etiquette Edition

I was hired into the food business when I was a junior in high school, and let me tell you guys: it is not a walk in the park at all. The bathroom at Ole Piper Inn has seen a lot of tears, simply because some people are assholes. Some people really have the audacity to think that we are paid too well to tip 20% each time they go out. And the nerve that some people have to treat us less than the human being with feelings that we are baffles me. Even though I am not personally a server yet, I am a hostess and a dishwasher when needed, so my job is to help out the servers and kitchen staff. Everyone at the restaurant I work at now is basically my second family; if it wasn’t for them, I would’ve lost my mind each shift.


From what I’ve heard, serving is hard, so I am not going to sugar coat it. You never know what to expect at each new table because however that customer’s day went, they might take it out on you. While serving, you will run into a variety of tables good and bad. No matter the circumstances, you have to keep a smile on your face and swallow any attitude you have because, well, people out there believe the customer is always right. Crazy, I know.


Sometimes, you manage to keep your cool the entire time and everything goes smoothly. However, when you pick up a few tabs and see a $1.00 tip written under a $44.00 total, you wanna lose your sh*t—but it’s not worth it to get mad because the good tables usually outweigh the bad. There are always bad days and good days in the serving world. Servers are paid minimum wage, which I believe is $9.86 an hour in Minnesota—not enough at all if you’re trying to support yourself and/or a family and a house mortgage, let alone some luxurious things, like a camper or boat. So, for the love of cheese, please tip at least 20% or simply stay in for the night and cook up your own dinner.


Another unfortunate behind-the-scenes fact is that if you don’t tip the servers well, the hosts, expos and dishwashers also don’t get tipped well either. It’s a whole chain effect. Being a host can suck sometimes, guys—especially when a hockey mom named Karen is yelling at you because their whole hockey team of 13-year-old obnoxious boys can’t sit at a table without an adult to keep them controlled. IT ISN’T FUN AT ALL! But, sadly, the customer is always right.


Crappy tips don’t just affect the servers, hosts and expos, though—it also affects delivery drivers. Now, you all may think the delivery fee (which is around $3.00) is the tip and goes right to the driver. Wrong. The delivery fee goes back to the restaurant for insurance purposes. So again, it’s polite to tip at least 20% (but if it’s me, tip higher) because they drive in the crappiest weather conditions just for you to eat. Consider tipping even 20-30% because you only live once, so why not be a good person!


At the end of the day, some people are still going to be heartless and treat their servers like sh*t regardless how it makes them feel. If it wasn’t for my coworkers, I wouldn’t be able to turn those tears into smiles; they helped me become a mentally stronger person. Even through all the caddy drama, they are my rocks, and being away at college sucks because that means I am also away from them!


Being a server can be a very difficult job with busy nights, difficult people and kitchen-related mistakes. Although all of these things can happen, believe that there are more good days than bad. Having a better attitude going into the job can really change your outlook on certain situations. It’s best to not take the bad tables to heart, and to move on to do a really good job on another table that is respectful. Also, if you are continually having a bad experience with your tables and the restaurant, consider finding a new restaurant to work at! I promise, they are not all bad, but some of them can be. Overall, having a positive outlook in any position is the best way to go.


Although serving food is one of the toughest jobs, anything in the restaurant business really is one of the hardest things to do. It’s especially difficult when tips dictate whether someone’s 10-year-old daughter can be in the school play or if their 15-year-old son can try out for football.


Every decision you make can alter your life, as well as someone else’s.


Here are some other tips for my tippers out there:

  • The next time you decide to eat out: please, please, please be nice to your server and tip accordingly.

  • Don’t decrease your tip when the food takes too long because sometimes the restaurant is really busy and it’s out of your server’s control!

  • Everyone makes mistakes, even experienced servers.

  • Be kind and respectful to your servers because they work really hard so that you have a good experience.

  • When you order delivery, consider how much work the driver is doing and please, please, please tip at least 20%, regardless of the delivery fee.

  • Tips help servers support themselves and their families (because unfortunately they are not paid a living wage hourly).

  • Overall, just be KIND to people.

My name is Katie Rodmyre! This is my second year in Her Campus as a sophomore majoring in English. I hope that one day I am shaping the young minds of high schoolers teaching English. I fill my time studying in the library, working as a nanny & a waitress, and lastly hanging with friends. I really hope you enjoy my thoughts, and experiences.
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