Alright so I am a musician living in Nashville which means – you guessed it I have tremendous experience waiting tables. There is an old joke that goes: How do you find a musician in Nashville? Waiter, Waiter! And in all honesty it is not even a joke it is true (well when you call your waiter you also get a number of english literature majors as well but that’s another story). I have waited tables at a place that Grills Macaroni, a Country Club in Brentwood, a restaurant owned by a Mr. Alexander first initian J., and a place called Jeffrey’s Grille (they are no longer in business so I don’t feel the need to be cryptic).
There is one thing that holds true in every restaurant. I have talked to over 100 other servers, most I have worked with, some I have not. Sunday lunch is the worst shift of the week! Sunday’s suck plain and simple. Let me share the sentiments of every other server I have worked with or talked with, SUNDAY LUNCH SUCKS! Here are the quick and most commons reason why. The general lunch crowd on Sundays is the most self centered, high maintenance, low tipping bunch of people a server comes across all week. Sunday crowds are generally rude, demanding, and leave the server questioning why they got out of bed at all that day. The people on Sundays who are friendly, caring, and nice (again speaking in generalities) are normally some of the worst tippers. Speaking completely as a former server, my judgment of you as a person is solely based on your tip.
As a Christian who was serving, I even hated the church crowd – and I claimed and association with them. It’s amazing the number of servers I talked with who wanted nothing to do with Church or Christianity because of these encounters. Sunday lunch was their only contact with those who claimed the Love of Christ and honestly they rarely saw it. I realize I am not the first person to point this out and there have been a number of churches who have produced tip calculators for their congregants to take with them to lunch after church. But I hope my experience as a server for so long can help bring a new perspective. Tipping is great but so many other things need to be considered.
Here is a quick guide to your Sunday lunch experience. (written from my experience as a server)
- TRACTS ARE NOT TIPS!!!!!!!!!!! – plain and simple unless there is a large green bill on top of the tract there is no chance of a server reading it. And even with a Benjamin as a tip the likelihood of a server reading it are still slim to none.
- You did not leave my tip to Jesus – you are just cheap. Seriously? Tithing is a discipline of giving back what has been given to you (hmm sounds like definition of worship too).
- If you tell me you are a good tipper then I know…. you are a crappy tipper. Sorry but experience shows that if you tell me you will tip well then you’ll leave like 12% (which is not a good tip to any server)
- Anything below 15% is a crappy tip and 15% is just barely acceptable. This is just how a server sees it. If you want to leave a good or at least acceptable impression then TIP.
- You will be judged on how well you tip within the first 20 seconds of a conversation with your server. A good server knows who’s gonna tip and who’s not gonna tip. (and again its not the people who say they are good tippers).
- There is a right way and a wrong way to tell me something is not cooked properly. Seriously a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down easier. The server has a lot of say on how fast something can get fixed – trust me being rude doesn’t grease the wheels. If you have ever heard horror stories of how food is treated in the back, believe them.
- People screw up – it is a fact. Get over it. If I messed something up (I will probably blame the kitchen regardless) I want to get it fixed. I want things to be right when they come out for you to eat. My tip is based on my performance but at times I mess up. I want to do everything I can to correct the mix up.
- Patience is a virtue. I have no control over how quickly something is cooked. When it is busy it takes a little extra time. Being rude will not make me care any more how quickly you get your food.
- If you come with a group larger than 5 it will take a little longer to get your food. The goal of a good restaurant is to have all the food arrive at once. The more people in a party the trickier.
- Don’t order wine and ask for it to be brought in a coffee mug so your church friends don’t see you. This happens more than you think and is a terrible witness.
- Most of all just try to be pleasant. You don’t necessarily have to carry on a conversation with me or ask about my life. Just understand that when you are pleasant it makes serving you more pleasurable.
- UPDATED: The longer you sit at your table after you’ve eaten, the bigger your tip better be. I make money per table so mo tables mo money
- UPDATED: If you pay with a giftcard, tip on the original bill not the adjusted balance
- TIP, TIP, TIP regardless of what Dave Ramsey says or any other financial guru below 15% is unacceptable. I get paid $2 an hour to do this job. You could be the nicest person in the world but if you tip like a chump then I will not care about anything that took place during the service. I will write you off.
Check out these useful links to learn more from a servers perspective (I apologize for some of the content if you click around the site – but it is full of great information.
Next time you go out for lunch or dinner (especially on a Sunday) remember that you may be the only “Church” table showing your server the Love of God that day. There is a lot more to write on this subject and I am thinking about writing a book. I have so many Sunday Lunch horror stories it makes me cringe to think about it. The whole world is a mission field and we need to start acting like it. The Love of God is something grand and wonderful and there are few servers who see anything of the sort during a Sunday lunch rush.
So what are your thoughts? What are you doing to change the paradigm of the Church crowd at lunch? What horror stories do you have from waiting tables on Sundays? What guidelines am I missing? I would love to hear from you.