Get some Bitchy Waiter in your email!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Miracle of Pity Tips

Ah, the pity tip. Have we all received these before? It's when you get an outrageous tip and you know it was only because your customer felt supremely sorry for you. It usually happens when a situation spirals out of control and there is a perfect storm of "of, fucks." Like you get triple sat, two or three orders in a row are all cooked wrong and then your nine top wants nine separate checks. Things just pile up and you end up so far in the weeds that you can't see past your station and as a result your customers think, "give this boy an extra dollar, he's in sad shape." This happened to me the other night.

The show I was working had reservations for about 70 people which is at the cusp for needing three servers instead of two. But the two of us are both really strong so we felt like it would be okay. It would have been okay if thirty more people hadn't shown up who didn't make a reservation. Suddenly, I had about 60 people in my station all needing a drink before the show started in twenty minutes. Panic and acid reflux began their way up my esophagus. My station was filled with one and two tops so the number of checks I had was staggering. People were clawing at me to get their second required beverage before I had even greeted half my station. Ordinarily I would be pleased as punch that people were on their second $15 martini before the show had even started, but I really needed to get to those people in the back of the room to see what they wanted. "Seriously? A hot tea and a Pelligrino? And you want a Pelligrino too? And you also? Wait, am I about to bust my hump for a bunch of five dollar Pelligrinos?" Yes, my hump was indeed busted for a bunch of five dollar Pelligrinos. My hump was so busted, I looked like a tired ass camel prostitute who had been ridden so many times that my hump was no longer a hump. It was just a of soft fleshy mound of "I just got screwed." I spent the whole 75 minutes of the show struggling to stay afloat. I had so many orders in my head that I couldn't remember who got what and I was wading through my station with a tray of cocktails just waiting for someone to raise their hand when they saw what they had ordered. I could picture my tips going down the drain faster than Charlie Sheen's career. (Lame topical reference, I know. Winning...) I felt really bad when the last song of the show was starting and I was just barely setting down booth 5's second round of Cosmos and wine. I was a bad waiter. I felt shame deep within my soul for not meeting the expectations of my guests. That may sound facetious, but I genuinely felt bad. Technically, it wasn't my fault. It was the fault of the 30 people who didn't see the need to make a two minute phone call to make a fucking reservation.

As I distributed the checks to the table, I felt the need to apologize to every single one and let them know that we were clearly understaffed. And my apology was sincere. When I started to pick up the checks to run credit cards and make change, something wonderful happened. "Keep the change, you deserve it" was the mantra of the people in my station. I saw 20-25% tips. It was like a miracle. I think out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jesus turning water into wine and then I saw Moses parting the Red Sea, so I guess God felt like throwing in some kick ass tips for me as well. I know they were all pity tips. They felt bad for me. But I'm okay with that. Now if only I could figure out a way to get pity tips when I am not slammed. It will be difficult, but maybe God has a plan.

Click here to follow The Bitchy Waiter on Twitter.
Click here to find The Bitchy Waiter on Facebook.


Tony Van Helsing said...

You aren't being facetious, it shows that you care about your job and your customers no matter how bitchy you reckon you are. And the fact that the customers gave you pity tips is a nice touch. Glad to be alive, so I am.

Bonnie G said...

My experience with pity tips has been more dramatic. For instance, the time I somehow ended up lying flat on my face, prone in the middle of my section (still no clue why I fell on my face), or the time my coworker busted through the swinging doors of the kitchen just as I was heading out with one of those big ass trays and 6 plates of food went flying along with my poise and dignity. Now THOSE were pity tips. (But I've totally experienced the type you got last night as well!) Brava, and glad your wallet is extra full today!

Sperls13 said...

Ahh, the pity tip. Back in 1995, my first big weekend night of serving, I flipped a tray end over end with two honkin' steaks sitting on one side. Stupid gravity! Needless to say, I was embarassed and deeply upset - next thing I know, my section is just throwing money at me. My manager goes, "Welcome to the Pity Tip."

Waiting said...

I get the worst tips when business is slow. People like to see that you work hard for the money that they give you so if they see you have time to stand around, they don't feel like tipping as much. It's one reason I hate working when it's slow.

Practical Parsimony said...

Ha! I got pity tips all the Once, I put my knee in a chair to stop and talk to a flirty guu. flirty in a nice way. As I put my knee on the chair, the flimsly seat split and I fell with a full tray of drinks. Guys were catching me and the drinks. Mostly, there was chaos, and I was embarassed and a little bit physically hurt. I was brave and smiled.

But, the nice, flirty guy gave me a $50 tip and gave me even more when he left that night. I argued that I could not take the last amount. He insisted. I received more than a 100% tip. Every night after that, he gave me tips approaching 100%. However, I never again fell through a chair for a tip.

When I fell face-first into chicken poop the other day and got it into my mouth, my hens gave me no tip.

World Famous Dan Shields said...

The Pity Tip.

Dude I lived on that.

I would say that I was the worst waiter in Ottawa, a large metropolitan city in Canada, for almost two decades. Yet the only way I could have made more money would be if I had boobs. Which may not of worked either considering I am an XY not an XX.

Almost spilling stuff, nearly falling, bumping into stuff, OMG, if you can perfect that in a place that doesn't have a ton of regulars, it is gold.


Kara Hoag said...

Those customers are the ones that make you feel better about being there and having a terrible night.

I'm glad it turned out good for you in the end. Now spend it on cocktails to make the memory of the night go away.

visions unto myself

Mary A. said...

awww . . .

what a shitty night! here's a virtual $20 & a big hug!

wait -- that reads sarcastic but I'm going for supportive. Sorry.

Surviving the Journey of Life said...

Just came across your blog and LOVE it. I was a server for many years and so much of what you say brings back those memories! I am a new follower for sure!
While my blog isn't quite as entertaining (yet) I hope you check it out!

dirtydisher said...

OMFG! Anyone who orders hot tea when the place is swamped should not be allowed out in public! What the hell is wrong with people???

Anonymous said...

I had a great night full of pity tips when I lost my voice after a cold. Even though I couldn't talk, people were leaving me between 20 to 30%.

Felt like crap after work though. lol

Angry Nerd Server said...

You guys use more than one server for a large party? I walked in one day, and before I even clocked in, I was thrown into a party of 100. Rocked it out by myself, and got a 295 tip. Boom shakalaka.

Angry Nerd Server said...

And to reply to the actual subject of this entry, I have received too many pity tips. Once, a girl flagged me down and ordered a drink. I was already holding a tray of 6 tall beers. I was pissed, but I asked for her ID. She got all huffy, grabbed her ID and thrusted it up towards me…right into the fucking tray, which proceeded to dump all over the front of my uniform. The beer was ice cold, by the way. This twat was still high and mighty, and asked if I could bring her drink. The table that the beer belonged to gave me a huge pity tip. Oh, and it was too busy for my manager to run to the bar closet to get me another shirt, so I spent the rest of the night in a soaking wet, cold shirt.