Until today, I did not know who Carolyn Hax was. She is an advice columnist for The Washington Post and she has zoomed to the top of my list of favorite people in the world, right behind my husband, Jose Cuervo and Mindy Cohn (not necessarily in that order.) When a woman wrote in for advice after her daughter informed her what shitty restaurant customers she and her husband are, Carolyn reached down into her purse and grabbed a big ass handful of shade. It’s awesome and I can only aspire to be as wise as Carolyn is.
Dear Carolyn: My daughter and son-in-law live an hour from us, and we meet once a month or so at a midpoint restaurant for dinner. I always enjoyed this time and thought it was a nice custom.
Recently I caught my son-in-law talking to our waiter, giving him an extra tip and saying something about how sorry he was for the table. The next day I called my daughter to see what that was all about, because my husband and I have very hurt feelings over the exchange.
She told me she doesn’t think my husband and I realize it, but our restaurant habits are not very thoughtful. I demanded specifics, and she told me that we split an entree and order water only, so the bill is really low. She also said we are demanding of the wait staff, which is especially bad because we aren’t giving the establishment much money to make up for it.
I am insulted by this. I don’t see how splitting an entree is rude. I also don’t see why I shouldn’t do what I want, that’s the entire point of a restaurant, to serve their customers. The customer is always right.
She also told me 20 percent is a standard tip. My husband and I tip 10 percent for normal service and 15 percent for good, maybe 20 percent if they washed our car while we were eating or something.
My daughter said she is sorry I overheard the exchange, but they didn’t know what else to do.
My husband and I don’t feel like we are dining incorrectly and that it’s rude for my daughter and son-in-law to correct our behavior behind our backs. I don’t want to meet up for dinner with them anymore and I can’t get over my bad feelings about all of this. Where do we go from here?
— Bad Restaurant Guest?
This is when Carolyn becomes a true hero, because the first line in her response is this:
Yes. You are bad restaurant guests. I’m sorry to have to redeliver an unwelcome message.
BOOM! And she goes on to cut this woman down to size with other 5-star advice like:
The wait staff makes next to nothing per hour and so the livelihood is in tips, and 10 percent is seriously — decades — outdated.
And I suggest that, instead of harrumphing over this couple’s “rudeness,” you take a moment to appreciate their sensitivity both to the staff and to your feelings.
Carolyn Hax is the Dear Abby all of us servers need in our lives. You can read her full column here. Thank you, Carolyn, for reminding this world that we servers deserve respect from customers. And as for the bad restaurant guest who sought advice: careful what you wish for.