Two nights ago I went to a meal and had some of the most absurdly bad service I have ever encountered.
Instead of yelping it I've decided to spew about it and my anger over America's tip policy.
As they say in the Sound of Music (which I've never seen in it's entirety because the end of the first VHS tape has them running from the Nazi's and I was always too scared to go on... I was also too scared to see the movie Twister until I was like 18... whatever) "LETS START FROM THE VERY BEGINNING!!!!!"
I got a blackboard eats coupon for this place Bombay Talkie, "Indian street food", whatever that means. But I had JUST been talking to a friend about how she loves Indian food and never has it so I decided to e-mail her and set a date to go. I made a reservation and everything, I wasn't fucking around. Reservation for 5 people. 8pm. Monday... The story continues...
One of the 5 calls in sick to dinner. It's ok. We forge on. Two of the now 4 arrive about 10 minutes early. Are seated and served some water. I would say they were not offered cocktails to start before the rest of the party arrived, but that is merely an assumption. But considering after I arrived it took approx 15+ minutes for any sort of wait staff to approach or table, I think it's a pretty safe assumption.
Then we had someone with allergies. So she asked our waitress, who was blonde and not really English speaking (in an Indian restaurant), if there was yeast or dairy in one of the dishes. Well, this woman did not understand the word yeast, so we had to spell it for her. And then she just basically didn't come back to the table to advise on what she found out in the kitchen re: the allergens and we had to ask her again.
Seriously, thank God that a. I was in good company (starring Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace and Scarlett Johansson?) and b. I wasn't that hungry... because the entire dinner ended up being over 2 hours. We put in our order and did not get our food for at least an hour.
The fact that in our society I still have to tip this person is just not OK, and it's a completely ridiculous aspect of America. Hanging with some Australians a few weeks ago I got a glimpse into how ridiculous outsiders think our tipping system is. And it really is.
So I'll be straight with you, I was no way no how giving this woman a 20% tip. It's one thing if it takes a long time to get your food. Waitresses aren't in control of EVERYTHING. But asking if we want more wine after we've been done with our first glass for 40 minutes is insanity. And you can at least check in once every 10 minutes to see if there's anything else we need instead of never doing that ever. Doing things like THAT is how you get a 20% tip.
Another thing that bothered me about this was that I had made a reservation. Like, if you're going to give poor service because you're too crowded (and it was crowded but not like insanely so) then do it to the people who showed up without giving you any warning. I told you we were coming. You better be fucking ready for us.
I've read Nickel and Dimed, I know that it's somewhere along the lines of humanly impossible to live on what you make being a waitress at most restaurants. But that doesn't mean you can go into work with complete disregard for your "trade" and still expect to take home full pay. It's ludicrous and I refuse to deal with bad service. And conversely, when I get good to great service I either leave extra money (if I'm in a restaurant or tip setting) or send e-mails praising people for their customer service. There are few things that make me feel better than an encounter with truly amazing (customer) service when I don't expect it.
We ended up giving like a 14% tip. If I was with people who weren't such good souls, I would have had no problem with leaving a 10% tip. And if I was with some foreigners (or anyone who would do it with me...), I would have gone straight 0% tip... And then ran out of the restaurant and continue running for at least 2 avenues.