Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It's the holidays. Here's a tip.

Make someone's day.
It's the holidays.
When I was in college, I was a server at the legendary Durgin Park restaurant in Boston.  I only worked twice a week, but they were fourteen-hour days and it was excruciating to look at the clock at 1:00 and know I had nine hours left.
I tried hard, but I was terrible at it. I had trouble yelling, "Hot behind ya!", I couldn't deal with the sulky bartender's insults, and I couldn't do that stacking of plates thing on my forearm. The night I tried, one of the prime ribs I was carrying tilted, dumping au jus into the lap of a business guy who became furious and made me cry in the bathroom.
It was the penultimate serve of that long day, and the bill for the large party was sizable. My tip, of course, was $0.
The last party of the day left without paying and my boss took it out of my pay. 
It was the first and last time I quit a job without notice. 
A couple of years ago, I became writer-friends with Jacqueline Tierney DeMuro who maintains a blog called Ambling and Rambling , about the things and people she encounters as a restaurant server. Her writing is casual and comfortable and though her blog is sprinkled with posts not related to the serving industry, when they are, I read and think about her experiences. 
I only needed that one year at Durgin Park to develop a lifelong appreciation for restaurant workers. They work hard, they deal with countless aggravations, in the kitchen as well as on the floor, and even if most people are gracious and nice, one self-important jerk, one short-staffed evening, one wobbly prime rib can send a day toppling. 
Jacqueline's observations have only affirmed my respect for all servers.
It's the holidays. It's time to say thank you.
I'm proposing we all do something for our server community and for ourselves too, and it is this: pick a restaurant and take someone to lunch or dinner. Order as usual, and then, leave a 100% tip on the total. Then leave. Don't lurk, or wait by the door to be thanked.
Peering from the sidewalk is permitted, as long as you're not seen. If  you're the commenter type, come back here, report on your mission and get your praise coin.
I challenge everyone reading this blog today to do that, for two reasons:
You'll lift the spirits of whoever has served you, and who knows? You might be putting a small financial woe to rest for him or her. Equally important, you'll lift your own spirits to know you really are as gracious and nice as you tell your own kids to be. 
However and whenever and wherever, write out that amount, total it, draw a little picture of a heart, or a snowman or whatever, and be on your way.
But do it. 
It's the holidays. Say thank you.


21 comments:

  1. OMGOSH YES.
    always
    thank you
    needed or not and, well, always needed ;-)

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    1. Thank you Carla. And don't forget to come back for your praise coin if you do this :)

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  2. Beautiful post! Having worked in a service industry when I was younger I can certainly appreciate all that they do for us. I think people should be generous, and not only during the holidays.

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    1. I agree. I have a policy of never tipping less than 20% no matter what. I just can't do it.

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  3. I was a server for years and it is probably one of the hardest jobs I have ever done. I love reading Jacqueline's posts. I have had some of the very same experiences. I think every one should work in the service industry at some point in their lives, it is a real eye opener. I think this is a wonderful idea!

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    1. Agree, Rena. You can pretty much assume when you're in a restaurant and see someone behaving like an ass, they never did this job.

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  4. Yep! They are even more difficult at the higher end establishments. One doesn't deserve to be a jerk with the higher food bill. One also has the responsibility to be a good customer. Great idea and blog. I will do this today.

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    1. Wow, you are so right about the level of jerk-ness sometimes rising with the price of food. And I want a full report, Dale! THAT'S the spirit!!!!

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  5. Now here's a challenge I can get behind :) While I knew you were writing about the service industry, I had no idea you were going to suggest this type of "paying it forward" thing. Oddly enough, my husband and I went out to lunch yesterday and, as I often do, I left a rather generous tip. That always makes me feel like I'm "giving back" to the industry, to the server, to the community. Thanks so much for supporting those of us who really do work ridiculously hard for our money, as do many other fine Americans in and out of the restaurant industry. Being appreciated is always the best possible gift one can bestow upon another human being :)

    I've got plate stacking down to a science. If you ever need a lesson, I'm your girl. I promise you'll never drop a prime rib again!

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    1. You're the best, Jacqueline. Thanks for writing and if you get a minute, share with us your own drop in the lap moment.

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  6. I've always wanted to do this; thanks for the push. My husband was a big tipper even on our retirement income. I just returned from a trip and was appalled that folks/men don't tip the shuttle driver, the skycap, the bellhop! So I try to compensate with 10s and 20s when I can....especially at holidays. I do tell my grkids because little sponges soak it up and hopefully it'll stick! Great piece....made my day!

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    1. Lovely response from you, Joan, thank you so much. I'm already plotting my own outing.

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  7. Wonderful blog and even better idea! I know a certain server that could use a snowman with a heart. :) We will definitely do this!!! and Yes, you'll get a full report.

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    1. I will really look forward to that, Jan. And yes, that server (I believe I know him too) is as deserving as they get.

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  8. From a former server this is awesome! Especially after dealing with fifty Japanese business men who want all of their lobster bibs tied for them.

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  9. Wow, the chat in that kitchen must have been rich. If you haven't posted about something that hilarious, you should.

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  10. This is a wonderful idea and I am going to take you up on it.

    I was a server too..many many years ago. It's hard ass work.

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    1. Hard ass work but good lessons. For example, always pay your parking tickets so you don't get to your car after a fourteen hour day, exhausted and smelling like a grill, to find a Denver boot attached to the front tire. Don't forget to come back and tell us your tip story.

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  11. Well Susan, I/we did it! Last night my brother and I went to dinner at a restaurant close to my home which we do every Thursday. You can say, we're regulars. Well, after dinner when we got the check, Richard and I paid the tab and tipped our bartender/waitress 100+% and left. Chrissy came RUNNING out after us thinking we made a mistake (were too tipsy to count) and wanted to give our money back. I told her that we were completely sober and that we were giving her a Christmas bonus and wished her a Merry Christmas. Richard and I got in our car and left but in the rear view mirror I could see she was crying. You see, Chrissy is a single mother and is also helping take care of her ailing mother and I know she really could use the extra cash. No need to send a "praise coin" Susan, as you were right, my spirits were lifted beyond my wildest dreams. Thank you for the inspiration and nudge.

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  12. Restaurant AND bar??? Jan Watson, you are a Christmas angel. I have no doubt she'll pay this forward in whatever way she can, you might even have started a local trend. Good for you and everyone you touched.

    I'M VERY PROUD OF YOU!!

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  13. I took my son to a local restaurant where we left "Sean" a 100% tip. From outside, we could see him return to the empty table to bus it and wipe it down. He glanced at the check, stopped wiping, looked around, picked it up and looked at it again. He had a "this must be a mistake" face but only for a few seconds. What's even better is that I think he was new, and couldn't have been more eager to do a good job.

    This is better than shopping and there are no lines.

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