Sunday, February 6, 2011

Dear Bitchy Waiter

It has been far too long since I have answered a question but today is the day. Also, since it's Super Bowl Sunday, I know that nobody is reading this bullshit and this is easy. Here is the letter, edited a bit because the person is long-winded. You can email me here if you have a question that needs attention. Or you can just say hello. That's nice too.

Dear Bitchy Waiter,

I'm European. I've been in University in America for the last year. Three recent incidents have suggested to me that I have perhaps missed some crucial aspects of American tipping culture.

Firstly, there was the hairdresser: I'm female, this guy gave me an amazing cut, so I went back to him the next time I needed a cut; he gave me a hideously lopsided cut and refused to talk to me the whole time. I have learned that Americans tip hairdressers....who knew?

Then, there was the cup of coffee... I went into an empty cafe-bar. There was only one waitress on duty. She immediately dashed over with a menu and asked me where I wanted to be seated. Since this was essentially a cup of coffee, and the bar was completely empty, I just said 'that's fine, I only want coffee', thinking to save her the work. I went to the bar, took a stool, ordered a coffee, and sat reading a book for a while. A couple of hours later, the bar began to fill up so I left. The cost of the coffee was $1.50, so I didn't tip. An American acquaintance later told me that I should have tipped at least a dollar. A DOLLAR? for a coffee in an empty bar?

And then there was the 'wrong order'. I ordered tuna rare, got salmon well done. High class restaurant, expensive, I expect my order to at least be of the same fish type...I sent it back and when I got the cheque, didn't tip. Next time I went there, dinner took next to five hours because of interminable delays between services. When I questioned my waiter about the delays, I was told that it was a European tradition to 'digest between' courses., I know when I'm being jerked around. What I don't understand is why, since I paid $90 for a $7 piece of fish (hello, I know frozen fish when I taste it) that they didn't (a) cook right, or (b) even get in remotely the right species..... It's not that I don't understand that I'm doing it wrong. I've worked as a waitress for years in Europe. What I don't understand is why? Why should I tip for terrible service? I would not expect to be tipped for the wrong fish or carrying coffee...

Wuffles (and no, it's not short for 'luv waffles' ><)

Dear Luv Waffles (whatever the fuck that is ><), I cannot even tell if this letter is real because you sound so clueless. Are you trying to bait me just to get a response? First, the hairdresser. Yes, we tip them. Now you know. So you are saying that you think when you went back a second time he intentionally gave you a shitty cut because you had stiffed him the previous time? Maybe. But he didn't talk to you either? Hmmm, sounds suspicious. And you couldn't tell that he was giving you a lopsided hair cut? Why the hell didn't you say, "uh, my left side is like three inches shorter than the right side, can you fix that?" So I can only assume that you didn't tip him again, this time because of the lousy haircut and the first time because you plead ignorance.

Second, we have the coffee incident. Yes, you should have tipped a whole fucking dollar. You sat there for two hours reading a book? Did you have your coffee refilled at all? If you want to sit somewhere for two hours while reading a book and you don't want to tip, here are a few suggestions for other places that may be better than a cafe: a library, a Starbucks, a bench, a bus, a park, the mall, a Barnes and Noble, your living room, your bedroom, your bathroom, a busy highway... not a cafe. And just because it's empty doesn't mean you don't have to tip. Jeez.

Thirdly, the "wrong order." So you got the wrong entree and you sent it back and then I assume they took care of it and brought out your rare tuna, but you still didn't tip, is that it? Because they only had one chance to get it right and since it was wrong they get nothing? And you think that since it wasn't "remotely the right species" it was even worse. So if the tuna was just cooked little more than you wanted it to be, that wouldn't be as bad as bringing out a completely different fish. That's dumb, Wuffles. And you were so upset by this that you decided to go back again? Why, Wuffles, why? Weren't you scared that you might order a steak and they would bring out chicken? Or the horror: lamb! And you paid $90 for what you say was clearly a $7 frozen fish? Again, why the hell did you go back? And who the fuck pays $90 for tuna? That tuna better arrive at my table and give me a handjob if they think I am paying $90 for it. And you say you waited five hours for your meal the next time you went? So they did that out of spite, right? Let's say you got there for an 8:00 PM reservation and you didn't get your food until 1:00 AM? Bullshit. First off, they would never want to keep someone in a station that long and secondly, if you are so easily irritable, I don't buy that you sat there for five hours and waited for your food that you knew was going to be frozen and overpriced.

Wuffles, I realize you are from another country (Whatthefucklandia, perhaps?) but now you know some of the tipping procedure in the United States. You tip a hairdresser. You tip for coffee in a cafe even if it's empty and especially if you stay for two hours to read some annoying ass book. You tip your servers at a restaurant even if they bring you the wrong dish first. You can then tip less, but you never stiff them. And another word of advice: if you ever wait for your food for five hours again, you may have been roofied and you just don't know it. The food may have arrived hours earlier but you just didn't notice it because you were too busy being date-raped.

You can email me here if you have a question that needs answering. I'm usually nice to the people who write letters but this one sounded like a twat.

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ChiTown Girl said...

I'm with you, that letter was made up bullshit.

However, I WAS thinking about this the other day after one of your other posts - tipping in Europe IS different than it is here. But, first and foremost, the main reason is because they don't pay their waitstaff two-freakin'-dollars an hour! You've had several assbag comments left here saying (essentially) "Hey, it's your JOB, why I should I pay you extra?" or some kind of bullshit close to that. Well, you know what? That would fly overseas, because they actually DO get paid wages that above the poverty level!! That's not the case here.

The last time I was in Italy, I apparently was 'offensive' with my tipping. I tipped a standard 20% (more if the service was better than average) whenever we went out. A family friend later told me that I came across as a 'big shot American, throwing my money around.' (just for clarification, my parents' villa is in a VERY small town, not a big city) That's when I found out about the salary difference.

I guess my point is, if someone is visiting from Europe, I suppose we should cut them a break. BUT, if they now LIVE HERE, they need to get with the program! (I just remembered what made me think about all this. It was your Jean Claude Van Damme (sp?) post)

Holy crap, this was long-winded and boring!! I won't be offended if you delete it after you read it! ;-)

Bunny said...

This was definitely made up.

Would they really have remembered her well enough to make a scheme to have her wait five hours for her meal next time she came into that restaurant? It's doubtful she'd even have the same server.

And you know what? Many hairdressers make shit money and rely on tips too so it is highly doubtful that the hairdresser would risk his job by purposely messing up her hair cut out of spite.

The only part remotely feasible is the coffee shop, but's all bull shit. And if it's not, hopefully she learned something. But probably not.

Mary A. said...

Funniest. Post. In. Ages.

I am still laughing about the tuna giving you the handjob.


Practical Parsimony said...

Why would anyone keep a deadbeat waiting for five hours when the person being hurt the most would be the waiter? She needs to learn to write more convincing fake letters.

holly said...

I'm with Mary A. The handjob comment was priceless. Oh, and this Waffle luver is clearly not bright.

Anonymous said...

You are hilarious! Glad to have found your blog!

BTW, check this out:

Anonymous said...

Can somebody please tell me what servers make in Europe, the UK wherever? And apparently they don't have to claim 10% in taxes. More when it is credit cards, cause I pay the credit card fees. Yes this person is totally oblivious to American culture but damn how do we get that here if it is better there.

The British Lady! said...

I'm European, well British to be exact. I hope this letter is bullshit!! Speaking for myself, friends and family we tip 10% to waiters, hairdressers and beauticians. Even tip the newspaper boy at Christmas and the bin men (to keep them on side!). Wages in europe are much better and tips are a bonus on top of a fairly decent pay packet.

If you give bad service don't expect a tip! And most places put on a service charge if groups bigger than 6.

Jen Cormier Anderson said...

That letter did seem rather contrived. If she "suspected" that failing to tip was the source of her woes, then she might have tried educating herself instead of simply writing an indignant letter to an unassociated party. Even Europeans know how to Google.(I kid here, I have no hate for Europeans)

I used to be an RA for Japanese college students in Boston. It seems tipping is unusual in Japan. The students attend an entire seminar upon arrival that addresses tipping for a variety of services.

Even so, I found myself covering the remainder of a tip for a meal that my 12 students attempted to pay IN PENNIES. We had gotten 2 servers completely to ourselves the entire afternoon we were there. They were very capable, patient and friendly. They deserved much more than a scant %15. I was horrified when I saw the coins piling up. I was utterly mortified when I realized that our attentive servers had also seen it. I took the pennies home and upped the total to %30. They deserved at least that much.

I tried to hide my aggravation from my students, they didn't really KNOW what the problem was. They quickly asked one of the Japanese fellows who had been in the US for a number of years and realized their mistake. They profusely apologized to me and never missed a tip again when I was with them. :)

Sorry this story is so long!

Eden said...

This made my day.
"The food may have arrived hours earlier but you just didn't notice it because you were too busy being date-raped."


Corinne said...

I agree. That letter was made up crap.

Anonymous said...

"And you know what? Many hairdressers make shit money and rely on tips too so it is highly doubtful that the hairdresser would risk his job by purposely messing up her hair cut out of spite. "

You'd be surprised, I've done a client for longer than 3 hours (still in school) and was stiffed on the tip. We don't get paid period for doing hair in school, a tip, albeit small w.e would be nice. Next time she came in, it was time for my break.

Cajun Queen said...

I really ReAlLy REALLY laughed out loud....great writing..