“If you’re not showing love…toward other people, you’re being stingy with your money,” said Brandon Simmons, junior business administration major by day and TGI Fridays server by night. “I don’t think it’s a good way of being a steward.”
While leaving a tip at Fridays—or perhaps Applebee’s for the Half-Priced Appetizers treasured by so many—may not feel like an act of Christian love, Simmons, with his own share of customer experiences, would beg to differ.
“Sometimes when I work on Sundays, you’ll have the church-goers come in, and it seems like the older people…run you around more, and they don’t tip as well as they should,” Simmons said.
Congregants aren’t the only offenders of this kind of dining behavior. Sophomore history major Chandler Craddock, a server at Red Lobster, says thrifty customers will often cut corners when tipping.
“You’ll get parties of like four to six people, and you can tell that they come in with gift cards and things like that, so they don’t want to pay extra if they don’t have to,” Craddock said. “And they’ll just leave you whatever’s left on their gift card, whether it’s a dollar or…they won’t leave you anything, which is really frustrating.”
Simmons has experienced similar frustrations at Fridays, seeing tips that often do not reflect the service rendered.
Simmons said, “You have times where you’ll have a whole family leave you like three or four dollars and you can be waiting on them hand and foot. It really just depends on the people, I guess. You can have the same amount of service from customer to customer, and they may tip you totally different.”
So, what makes a good restaurant customer? According to both Craddock and Simmons, patience, respect, and generosity are virtues that customers should quite literally bring to the table.
“Be respectful of the server and understand that they do have other tables and other customers to take care of,” Craddock said. “They’re doing their best to give you good service and get you what you need.”
Simmons said that there is an element of mutuality in the customer-server relationship.
He said, “Just be patient with [servers], because there’s other stuff going on too. Be mindful of them, but at the same time, don’t be afraid to ask for something too. And leave a tip that you see fit for the job that they’ve done.”
In addition to acknowledging how much servers truly have on their own plates on a given night, it is important to recognize how much tips factor into overall pay for this sometimes thankless job.
“Tips are mostly everything you get,” Simmons said. “And you’re tipping out the bar, and other people on the floor…you take out a chunk of your tips at the end of the night too, and give it to them.”
He also said, “I get paid $3.95, which is less than minimum wage. Then you get taxed on your tips and your paycheck. So, my paycheck will be like, thirteen dollars sometimes, and you can work like 70 hours in two weeks.”
Junior public relations major Madison Schuler worked at the famed Quaker Steak & Lube this past summer and had varied experiences.
“I think the people, when they go into restaurants, already have an idea of how much they’re going to tip,” Schuler said.
However, it is important to look compassionately on the customers, even when their tips seem stingy.
“Remember that they’re human,” Schuler said. “They have bad days too. And you never know what somebody’s going through.”
Schuler said that there is a great deal of generosity among customers who are unexpected to behave as such by restaurant staff.
“There’s a lot of stereotyping that goes into tipping,” she said. “There were stereotypes about [socioeconomic status among servers]. If they had name brand clothing…then they might ‘tip better,’ but I actually found out that some of my best tips came from people who I didn’t expect.”
There was one couple Schuler served whom she and other staff members had feared would struggle to pay their bill. But the two ordered heartily and gave over a 40% tip, which Schuler said is the largest tip she’d ever made.
Tempting as it may be to put only extra pocket change toward gratuity, perhaps considering the livelihood of servers and the often disproportionate nature of their paychecks will cause a much needed wave of generosity and stewardship.
Hope Samblanet is the opinion editor of The Aviso AVW.