Hi, everybody! I am so sorry that it has been so long since my last blog post. I am also sorry that I said I was going to get the blog back up and running last time and then failed to do so. Apologies aside, allow me to say that it is with the most sincerest hope that I actually do keep my word this time when I say I want to keep this blog alive and flourishing. I also wish to eventually start a podcast, but I am going to save that prospect and energy for a time when I have a decent microphone and the time to do so. With that, please enjoy the following post!
Earlier this evening I went out to dinner with my family at the local IHOP. We had a lovely young server named Shelby that we later found out was relatively new to her job. Whether this was her first time serving or not, there were definitely a few things that she needs to improve to be a great server. Now, I don’t want to pretend to be the best server, nor do I want to pretend to still know what it is like to serve at IHOP. I worked at this IHOP around five years ago, but with new management, new interior decor, and a somewhat new menu, the way they train the servers might be completely different now. Let me start with a few observations that I had about my family, the server, and the interactions between the two.
First, three of my family members ordered one of the dinners off the menu. When I worked there, ordering a dinner meant you got a soup or a salad before the meal. Even though I ordered breakfast, I checked the menu to see if the soup or salad option was still viable. Shelby did not ask which option they wanted, and the menu confirmed that it is still the way dinners are served. As she walked away, I said, “I think she’ll be back in a moment when she realizes she didn’t ask for the soups or salads.” My family nodded their heads in affirmation. I watched the server as she ran food to another table and then walked into the back of the house where she remained for a little over ten minutes. She had yet to visit one of the four computers to ring in the food. After about fifteen minutes, she finally visited the computer situated next to our table. I happened to look over while she was ringing in the food, and she grabbed a menu to look at something on the dinners page. She kept glancing at our table and eventually asked another server something I could not hear. I assume it had to do with the soup or salad, but I could be mistaken. A few moments later, she came to the table to grab refills for a few people, and my grandfather asked her if they were supposed to have a soup or salad. I didn’t hear what she said, but she got her book out and the three people that ordered dinner said what they wanted. They got their soups, and it had been over thirty minutes since our orders were taken.
Second, all of the food eventually arrived, and everything was correct with the exception of two things. My hashbrowns were overcooked when I asked for them to be lightly cooked, and my sister was lacking dressing for her salad. My sister asked for dressing, and the server said, “Of course, what dressing would you like?” Granted, she should have known that a salad should come with a dressing, but let’s pretend she got behind and forgot. My sister asked for some ranch, and Shelby immediately went to get it. My sister was irked that the menu said ranch but the server still asked what kind she wanted. All complaints aside, this was a fairly simple fix, and it didn’t take long to solve. The next time I got her attention, I asked her for some new hashbrowns, and she complied and delivered them in just a few minutes.
Now, even though there were a few problems, the server managed to fix most of them. Unfortunately, many people fail to see the good side of things and only focus on the negative. Like many things in life, it didn’t seem to matter what kinds of positive aspects the meal carried, only the negative truly seemed to matter. So when the bill arrives, my grandfather looks at the total and asks me what the tip should be. I tell him 20% which would have been around $18.00. He says, “I’ll do $15”, and my sister says, “She’d be lucky to get $5 from me.” This irked me beyond reason. Allow me to explain why.
Let us assume you work for a bank. You’re a teller that works the window every day. A customer comes up and wants to deposit a check and make a payment towards a loan. You go through all of the steps and give them the receipt. About an hour later, you receive a call from the customer saying they checked their online statement, and it says you accidentally subtracted the money from the account instead of depositing it. You apologize for your mistake, fix the problem, and the customer thanks you and goes about their day.
At the end of the day, you will receive the same amount of money for your hours of work whether you made that mistake or not. You are not subtracted pay for accidentally performing the wrong action. You didn’t even know you made the mistake until he or she called to inform you. If your boss said, “You’re losing your pay for that hour of work because of that mistake” you would probably file a grievance, become upset, and complain. When a major league baseball player makes an error on his throw to first, he doesn’t get fined. When a cook under cooks a steak by mistake, he or she doesn’t lose money for that under cooked steak. Yet when a server makes a mistake and rectifies it, why should they lose money?
You can make the argument that it isn’t your place to tip because restaurants should pay their servers more. You are correct that restaurants should pay servers more money. Unfortunately, they do not. When you go out to eat at a restaurant, you are signing an unwritten contract that you understand the server is only making $2.13 an hour and will need to tip after your meal.
I ended up hanging back so I could give another ten dollars to the server. I told her when I handed her the money that I appreciated her fixing the few issues we had at the table. When she sincerely looked shocked that I did this, I explained to her that serving was not an easy job and if she was new, to keep working towards being great. I would never want somebody to be punished for their hard work, regardless of their mistakes, and I think it is important to let servers know this as often as possible.