To even the most lightly experienced server, the only thing worse than a guest who doesn't leave an acceptable tip, is one who purposely refuses to leave one. Frankly, they have a legitimate gripe. Being a server can be tough sometimes.
Depending on where they work, most servers must deal with what is usually excessively long hours (it's normal for a server to work 12 or more hours), in which you must do 100-yard wind sprints to and from the kitchen and this is without ever sitting down during those 12 hours. There's also the 'small' obstacle of dealing with chefs who rant, yell, scream and berate you as if they'd invented food, not just some keen recipe. Even worse, depending on how bad a complaint is received, the server could be one table away from unemployment. There simply is very little job security most of the time. Combine those factors with the task of having to deal with the overly whiney "guests" who spend more time complaining about their experience and haven't grasped the idea that they must actually pay for what they receive by leaving an acceptable tip, being a server can downright suck. There are two types of bad tippers: those who don't know that they should tip at least 15 percent of their bill and those who simply refuse to.
The first kind, the much easier one to deal with, simply doesn't know that around the U.S., servers make around $2.
80 an hour if they don't receive a tip. They are generally friendly, hard working types who haven't had the opportunity to enjoy a nice night out regularly. Either they are too tired after work, or too financially strapped to experience what it is like to know things like: what a steak looks like when it's cooked medium, or what a good tip looks like. They have no ill-will towards anyone. In fact, they are just trying to enjoy a meal outside of the house with their family. They are the easier to take, because at least they weren't complete "jerks" during their dining experience.
Moreover, when they eventually do find out what the average server makes hourly, they tend to become the biggest tippers, while being the easiest to please in the long run. The "tip ignorant" guest is simply a good person who is misguided as to what should be done. Still while being happily ignorant is easier to accept, it doesn't help pay the electric bill for a server. If a person goes to Rome, slaps someone on the street and doesn't know that slapping another human being on the street is a crime that usually gets a person a public flogging, they must still face the consequences of slapping someone.
Not knowing the crime doesn't make you exempt of it. Thus, when a person doesn't know what a good tip is, just like that "flogging" recipient, it's a good idea to know what you're getting yourself into. The other type of bad" tipper," is the one who knows that at least 15 percent is an acceptable tip and still refuses to give a reasonable amount. These are the sludge, slime and vermin of the earth. They tend to complain, fuss and whine about everything from where their table is placed, to the amount or lack of alcohol in their drink.
It often appears as if they've strategized by reading "how to sliver your way to something free," practiced it in the mirror and are keenly using it in restaurants, usually on Saturday nights. These are the people that have servers running after them, throwing their measly tips back at them, because apparently "they needed it more." "The bad tipper on purpose" is the one who "fronts" like he or she has a mansion, a yacht and two houses in the Hamptons, but would've never tipped or for that matter, paid in the first place if that emergency exit didn't have that "pesky" alarm on it.
Indeed, the "bad tipper on purpose", probably has an extra pen or two in their pockets after work everyday, and can be seen at home putting salt on their food from a salt shaker that looks similarly like the one that was sitting at the lunch counter that they frequent regularly. Unfortunately, all of these actions to them are not only acceptable, but most of them enjoy it. Let's be real here? Refusing to tip an acceptable amount for good service in a restaurant is a slap in the face to anyone who has ever actually worked for an honest dollar. More than that, it flies in the face of simple common sense. Are there situations where a bad tip is warranted? Of course there are.
As in any job, there are people among us who do not deserve to be compensated as well as others because they are simply incompetent. There is the arrogant or rude server who's had a bad day, and doesn't realize that the good people who are in that very seat are actually PAYING for their meal. There is also the server who cannot seem to chew gum and think at the same time; who for whatever reason put EVERY order in wrong, and cannot understand why the guests at the table are now upset that they got mashed potatoes instead string beans. This is especially insulting if the guest has informed the server that they have a starch allergy. Again, just with any profession, there is a good and bad to every job title. The one major difference is that people have a unique opportunity to penalize a server in a restaurant for a job poorly done.
Try telling one of your co-workers in an office building that work production was awful and that they are simply not getting paid for that day. That reasoning simply will not "fly." Why become a server ("waiter"), you ask? In reality, just like anyone else with a job, the bills must be paid, the kids must be fed and college tuition isn't getting any cheaper. More than that, it can actually be a very rewarding job.
Everyone has to eat, even the famous people in the world, so the opportunity for human connection from all walks of like is pretty high. And most importantly, if you have the pleasure of serving guest from the "tipping side of the world," it can also be lucrative. It's the ones that do not tip that make it hard to bear. Now, there are indeed options for you if you do not like to, or cannot afford to tip. You can always get your food "to go." Also, staying home and ordering from one of those delivery services is another good option.
That way, your favorite restaurants can still generate money for having a good product and you don't have to waste the server's time and energy by not actually paying them. But if you are still insistent on going out to eat and not providing an acceptable tip, please understand that the servers know who you are: you are the person that has criticized everything from the carpets in the restaurant to the menu, yet you still found a way to sit down in that very same restaurant. You're the person asking how much everything costs, even thought more times than not, it is printed on the menu.
You're the guy who attempts to order the cheapest thing on the menu, while "fronting" to your date, pretending to have endless amounts of money to spend, but whatever she orders, you don't recommend it. Unless of course, she gets that small salad, then you can do nothing more than rave about it. You're the person who inquires if it is ok to split a "petite filet mignon" six different ways. You've probably plotted out all of the emergency exits and seem too sidetracked to order because you are strategizing a way out of paying the bill itself. And sadly, you're the one who's blamed the waiter because it took 'forever' for the cook to prepare your food.
Yes, they know who you are because your act is not new. Still, the best way to approach things when you want to enjoy a "night out on the town" is to simply take enough money so that everyone can enjoy themselves. Not just the guest, but the server as well. If you can make sure you have enough money for food and that special drink that you heard about, you can make sure that you have enough to take care of the people that take care of you. The job is hard enough without someone refusing to compensate them for doing it.
After all, the food and drinks that you ate and drank last night didn't just magically appear at your table.
Greg Coleman is the founder, editor and lead writer for ThinkPhillySports.com