A tip from the service industry: be kind, unwind

From yelling to tipping, remember your resto etiquette

We all have a story about annoying or hopeless restaurant service. From lack of service to just straight-up bad food, there are a whole lot of things that can go wrong when you try to have a good time out.

In those dreadful moments, people are often awfully quick about releasing their wrath on the head of the server. Now, have you ever put yourself in this person’s shoes?

It may seem simple—and somewhat innocent—to ask people to use a bit of empathy when going to restaurants. However, there are numerous things we may or may not realize when tasting a not-so-delicious crème brulé.

As with anyone in any work environment, restaurant employees are sometimes stressed out, overworked and in a rush. It may not only be the food service industry and it is true that nobody’s life is likely to be on the line, but you’d be surprised at the pressure put upon the shoulders of most restaurant employees.

That does not mean that rude behavior is justified.  And it is true that working with the public means accepting the unpredictability of our fellow demanding humans.

Still, when asking for more ice in your drink, an extra napkin or their opinion on the current weather, it is necessary to realize how this person may not be able to satisfy your demands in a split second. As a customer, it is important to get that we are rarely the one and only client asking for our server’s attention.

Also, yelling at the person serving you a plate a food will not necessarily correct every wrong that you had to suffer through. Yes, you are the paying customer and yes, you are entitled to decent service. However, this person dressed as a penguin is not to be considered your personal butler. It may sound stupid, but servers are people too.

Another hot topic is tipping. Some people have the habit of leaving no tip when experiencing a bad moment in a restaurant. Showing your discontent is in your rights, but by leaving nothing on the table, you are punishing those restaurant employees much more than you would think.

Talking about the specific situation of Quebec, the tip is often split between the whole staff. Did you notice the young busboy running to get you a clean plate? Or the barmaid having to produce the drinks of a fully-packed, thirsty restaurant? Even the kitchen often gets a share of the tip of some establishments.

Also, by leaving no tip, you’re actually making your waiter pay for serving you. It is a rarely-known facet of the tip system, but the government asks waiters to declare a minimum of 8 per cent of the employee sales. So, following this rule, a waiter that would receive no tip whatsoever would have to pay 8 per cent of what he sold to his customers. Does it seem right to you that someone serving you ends up paying to do so? It does not mean that you should be happy and complacent with any bad restaurant employees you meet; it just means that 8 per cent should become the new norm for minimum tipping, especially when it means simply putting one more loonie or two on the table.

In the end, in restaurants as well as in life in general, putting ourselves in another person’s shoes always helps.

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