Imagine you’re at work doing whatever it is that you do. You’re an ad exec, a CEO, a teacher, an actor, a dog washer, sandwich artist… whatever. So you’re at work and you’re doing your job, and for some reason you make a teensy mistake (I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that the reason is because you’re a human being and occasionally human beings make boo-boos, but that’s just an opinion). For the sake of the story lets say you told your boss you can make it to a meeting on the 28th, but then you looked at your calendar again after replying to the email and realized you were looking at the 28th of next month and this month you’re booked. You send another email to her and apologize, explain the situation and ask if there’s another date that works. It’s kind of annoying, but it doesn’t really mess up her day and if you’re not a repeat offender, no one says anything. I can almost guarantee you that you don’t get called into her office for it. And I will venture with 99.999999999999% certainty that no one threatens to dock your pay because you screwed up. Guess what? This happens ALL. THE. TIME. in food service.
I’ve got a section of four tables and they’re all full of hungry/tired/anxious people. Table one has menus and hasn’t ordered yet. Table two and three are waiting on their food to finish cooking and reach the table, and I’m dropping dessert off to the table four. I notice that a gentleman at table four needs a refill, so as I leave the table I say, “I’ll be right back with your iced tea.” I head over to the table one and take their drink, appetizer and entree order and make my way back to the kitchen. I make table one’s soft drinks, put their order in, pick up their other drinks from the bar, get bread, and let the chef know what my “See Server” is on the ticket. As I head out to the dining room with a tray full of beverages in one hand and a basket of bread in the other, I realize I forgot the iced tea for table four. I could just ignore it and come back with it in a moment, but since they can see me out there - clearly without the refill - I stop by after dropping off the bounds of bead and beverages at table one. At table four I say, “I apologize, Sir. I forgot your iced tea. I’ll be right back with it.” Some people just nod or smile. Some say, “Thank you.” Some don’t even acknowledge my existence. But some try to crack a joke and say, “Don’t worry. I’ll take it out of your tip!” They smile. I attempt to smile back but it isn’t funny.
I get that I’m working for commission and that my service and attitude are directly responsible for my income. I understand that you’re being inconvenienced by having to eat your cheesecake without iced tea to sip on. However, there isn’t another job in the world where if you make a single mistake (obviously I mean one that isn’t detrimental to the success of your company) that your income gets docked. If you’re a repeat offender, maybe. Let’s say I never refilled the iced tea at the table from the start to the end of the meal despite being asked several times and all I could say was, “I’m sorry, I forgot.” Yeah, go ahead and take it out of my tip. That’s the beauty of gratuity - you get to reward me based on how well I took care of you. But please, please, PLEASE, don’t joke about it. It’s not funny, I promise. Even if I was the worst server in the world, there’s no need to belittle me by telling me you’ll “take it out of my tip” because I made a mistake. It makes me feel small. It’s demoralizing. I’m left a lot more stressed out wondering whether I’ll be able to pay my bills because I’m such a terrible server, DAMN IT I have a college degree and a mountain of student loan debt and I’m concerned about forgetting an effing iced tea, I have GOT to get out of this bullshit job, I HATE PEOPLE. One comment. Total disillusionment with life and now I hate you and I hate my job.
You might think I’m being overly sensitive. Just be considerate. Think about what you’re saying before you say it. It’s the polite thing to do.