It has been far too long since I have answered a question but today is the day. Also, since it’s Super Bowl Sunday, I know that nobody is reading this bullshit and this is easy. Here is the letter, edited a bit because the person is long-winded. You can email me here if you have a question that needs attention. Or you can just say hello. That’s nice too.
Dear Bitchy Waiter,
I’m European. I’ve been in University in America for the last year. Three recent incidents have suggested to me that I have perhaps missed some crucial aspects of American tipping culture.
Firstly, there was the hairdresser: I’m female, this guy gave me an amazing cut, so I went back to him the next time I needed a cut; he gave me a hideously lopsided cut and refused to talk to me the whole time. I have learned that Americans tip hairdressers….who knew?
Then, there was the cup of coffee… I went into an empty cafe-bar. There was only one waitress on duty. She immediately dashed over with a menu and asked me where I wanted to be seated. Since this was essentially a cup of coffee, and the bar was completely empty, I just said ‘that’s fine, I only want coffee’, thinking to save her the work. I went to the bar, took a stool, ordered a coffee, and sat reading a book for a while. A couple of hours later, the bar began to fill up so I left. The cost of the coffee was $1.50, so I didn’t tip. An American acquaintance later told me that I should have tipped at least a dollar. A DOLLAR? for a coffee in an empty bar?
And then there was the ‘wrong order’. I ordered tuna rare, got salmon well done. High class restaurant, expensive, I expect my order to at least be of the same fish type…I sent it back and when I got the cheque, didn’t tip. Next time I went there, dinner took next to five hours because of interminable delays between services. When I questioned my waiter about the delays, I was told that it was a European tradition to ‘digest between’ courses. Ok….so, I know when I’m being jerked around. What I don’t understand is why, since I paid $90 for a $7 piece of fish (hello, I know frozen fish when I taste it) that they didn’t (a) cook right, or (b) even get in remotely the right species….. It’s not that I don’t understand that I’m doing it wrong. I’ve worked as a waitress for years in Europe. What I don’t understand is why? Why should I tip for terrible service? I would not expect to be tipped for the wrong fish or carrying coffee…
Wuffles (and no, it’s not short for ‘luv waffles’ ><)
Dear Luv Waffles (whatever the fuck that is ><), I cannot even tell if this letter is real because you sound so clueless. Are you trying to bait me just to get a response? First, the hairdresser. Yes, we tip them. Now you know. So you are saying that you think when you went back a second time he intentionally gave you a shitty cut because you had stiffed him the previous time? Maybe. But he didn't talk to you either? Hmmm, sounds suspicious. And you couldn’t tell that he was giving you a lopsided hair cut? Why the hell didn’t you say, “uh, my left side is like three inches shorter than the right side, can you fix that?” So I can only assume that you didn’t tip him again, this time because of the lousy haircut and the first time because you plead ignorance.
Second, we have the coffee incident. Yes, you should have tipped a whole fucking dollar. You sat there for two hours reading a book? Did you have your coffee refilled at all? If you want to sit somewhere for two hours while reading a book and you don’t want to tip, here are a few suggestions for other places that may be better than a cafe: a library, a Starbucks, a bench, a bus, a park, the mall, a Barnes and Noble, your living room, your bedroom, your bathroom, a busy highway… not a cafe. And just because it’s empty doesn’t mean you don’t have to tip. Jeez.
Thirdly, the “wrong order.” So you got the wrong entree and you sent it back and then I assume they took care of it and brought out your rare tuna, but you still didn’t tip, is that it? Because they only had one chance to get it right and since it was wrong they get nothing? And you think that since it wasn’t “remotely the right species” it was even worse. So if the tuna was just cooked little more than you wanted it to be, that wouldn’t be as bad as bringing out a completely different fish. That’s dumb, Wuffles. And you were so upset by this that you decided to go back again? Why, Wuffles, why? Weren’t you scared that you might order a steak and they would bring out chicken? Or the horror: lamb! And you paid $90 for what you say was clearly a $7 frozen fish? Again, why the hell did you go back? And who the fuck pays $90 for tuna? That tuna better arrive at my table and give me a handjob if they think I am paying $90 for it. And you say you waited five hours for your meal the next time you went? So they did that out of spite, right? Let’s say you got there for an 8:00 PM reservation and you didn’t get your food until 1:00 AM? Bullshit. First off, they would never want to keep someone in a station that long and secondly, if you are so easily irritable, I don’t buy that you sat there for five hours and waited for your food that you knew was going to be frozen and overpriced.
Wuffles, I realize you are from another country (Whatthefucklandia, perhaps?) but now you know some of the tipping procedure in the United States. You tip a hairdresser. You tip for coffee in a cafe even if it’s empty and especially if you stay for two hours to read some annoying ass book. You tip your servers at a restaurant even if they bring you the wrong dish first. You can then tip less, but you never stiff them. And another word of advice: if you ever wait for your food for five hours again, you may have been roofied and you just don’t know it. The food may have arrived hours earlier but you just didn’t notice it because you were too busy being date-raped.
You can email me here if you have a question that needs answering. I’m usually nice to the people who write letters but this one sounded like a twat.