By JENNA WOS, Copy Editor
Never have I ever taken to the internet to complain about my job, because even when it’s bad, it’s not that bad. However, after working this past weekend, I couldn’t contain the urge to post a Facebook status informing the public about what happens all too often at restaurants and to ask them not to contribute to the stress of servers by being blatantly rude.
As I said, my job is usually not that bad. When it comes to tips, I average about 15 percent of my sales each night I work, as the suggested percentages on the bottom of the bills are 15, 18, 20 and 22 percent. Most days there are nice guests who will leave larger tips; just yesterday I started off with $25 on a $125 bill, and towards the middle of my shift I made $20 on an $80 bill — a 20 percent tip and a 25 percent tip, respectively. When people tip me this well, I get a rush of joy that somebody took the upperside of the suggestions, which doesn’t happen too often where I work.
Please, keep in mind that servers make only about $3 an hour, so we rely on tips as our income. A lot of us don’t decide to casually wait tables on the weekends for some extra spending cash; we need this money to pay for our bills, gas, food, etc., just like anyone with an hourly wage or salary.
Sure, the 20 percent tips are nice, but the tips I get from the generous guests only average out with the crappy tips I get, or the tips I don’t get at all, from the not-so-generous guests. Just before I made the considerate $20 on $80, I made $15 on $130 (about 11.5 percent), $4 on $61 (about 6.5 percent), and $.88 on $24 (just below 4 percent). In such cases as the last one, I am actually paying for these guests to dine at my restaurant, as explained later.
However, that wasn’t even the worst of it. On Friday night, a coworker and I split a party of 17 people. On what would have been a $390 bill, we made MAYBE $25 off of them (just below 7 percent). Yes, $25 is a decent amount of money to make off of a table, but not when their bill is that high, when you have to split it and when you have to give almost half of it away.
What a lot of people don’t know is that servers don’t get to keep all of their tips. Where I work, 10 percent of a server’s bar sales goes to the bartender. On this particular bill, there was $20 in alcohol, so $2 of the $25 tip went to the bartender.
On top of that, 3 percent of a server’s total sales goes to the back waiters for running food and stocking ice, bowls, glasses, etc. That’s where the problem is. It’s 3 percent of SALES, not TIPS. For example, at the end of the night, if my sales are $1,000, I owe the back waiters $30, even though I may not have (probably not have) been tipped properly throughout the night.
On Friday night, in particular, my sales were $790. I gave $10 to the bartender and $21 to the back waiters, leaving me with $79 total, or 10 percent of my sales. Does that number coincide with the suggested 15, 18, 20 or 22 percent tips on the bottom of the bills? No, it doesn’t.
After serving each guest — answering their questions, getting their drinks and food exactly how they ordered them, getting refills, boxing up their food for them, delivering their bills and leaving them with a pleasant “thank you” — it’s extremely discouraging to pick up a checkbook from a table and see less than what you were hoping, or nothing at all. I wonder why it is too much for guests to leave a suggested tip of even 15 percent, for a service they knew they should be paying for when they decided to dine out.
On top of the stress that servers endure while simultaneously dealing with multiple guests’ requests, on top of starving because they haven’t had time to eat all day, and on top of an 11 hour shift where their ankles are throbbing from not sitting down and their back is aching from carrying heavy trays, it’s hard to count their money at the end of the night, knowing they didn’t make the average amount the restaurant claims they were supposed to.
All I ask is that when you go out to eat, take all of this into consideration and please, be kind and tip your server.