Do you have to say 'thank you' to waiters?

When Sass was a Lass, the parental units forced me to say ‘thank you’ whenever the flair-bedecked TGI Friday’s servers dropped off the latest faux-tex-mex fajitas on my plate. And indeed whenever a sever delivered something to us at the table, I was forced to say “THANK YOU”.

Yet I wondered, since waiters are not your friends there to do you a favor, but making money by the hour and by tip, that there is no need to say ‘thank you’ to a server for doing his job. Rather if you want to say thanks, what they would want more is a fat tip instead. It makes me feel lame to say ‘thank you’ in such an artificial situation, but i am unsure what the proper thing is. (ANd i don’t want spit salsa with those fajitas either)

So am I supposed to say it or not?

This seems like more of an IMHO thread, but yes, absolutely.

Yes, unless you are in the midst of chewing or talking.

It has nothing to do with it being a “favor” or a “job.” It has to do with acknowledging the presence and humanity of people around you.

Uh, you don’t have to say thank you to anyone if you really don’t want to.

It’s a manners/etiquette thing. You never say thank you to strangers? You might not be aware that that can come across as quite rude.

I don’t think you have to, but acknowledging that someone serving you is a fellow human being and you’re grateful for their service is not a bad idea.

Someone bringing you something is an “artificial situation”? And it makes you feel “lame” to thank a person who has done something for you? Can you explain these statements a little more?

Waiters, like everyone else you encounter in your daily life who may or may not be your personal friends, are thinking, feeling human beings, not robots or slaves. Of course you should thank them for small services and acts of kindness.

Phrases such as “Please,” “Thank you,” and “Excuse me” are social lubricant. They make the world just a little bit nicer place to live. We need all the help we can get.

Thank god. Think of all the money you save by not having to say “thank you” to mere peons.


Is this really that hard? Just because they are doing their job doesn’t mean you can’t make it pleasant for them.

I’ll even go so far as to say “Thank you very much.”

I don’t think I was ever forced or even taught to say “thank you” to servers; it just came naturally, as far as I can recall. I would feel weird *not *saying it to someone who is waiting on me, even though that person is “just doing their job.” I’ve never done the job, but working as a server in a restaurant must suck big time. You have to deal with trite corporate greetings, douchy managers, lazy coworkers, and infuriating customers day in and day out for a pittance. The way I see it, if I can make their job a bit more bearable by being polite and treating them as equals, I’ll do it. A lot of times it pays off; servers are usually quite nice and accommodating with me, and I think I have less of a chance of something gross ending up in my food when I’m nice. Plus, being nice may have karmic effects, in that servers who were treated nicely by me might be more willing to be nice to others.

In sum, I think being nice to servers has only benefits and no drawbacks. How many things in this life can you say that about?

You don’t have to. You’re just a dick if you can’t afford a nod if you’re eating or a simple “thank you” if you’re not. Politeness doesn’t cost you anything.

I try to follow a basic rule: always be polite to people who handle my food.

Well, Ayn Rand would say that it is a hypocritical courtesy that is not done out of any true desire to be nice, but rather with the expectation of something. Who knows what Hitler would do?

I don’t think it is required at all, or everytime, such as if you have a full mouth or are in the middle of a conversation, but I do it as often as I can and with sincerity. But I have a couple of secret motives. First and foremost, I want the server to have a genuine thanks in his/her busy day. It’s the same reason I smile and say hi like I mean it to the toll taker at the bridge. Second, and sneakily, I take note of how people treat servers. People who treat servers poorly, but me nicely, are not nice people, but rude people who only suck up to me in hopes of getting something. Hopefully it is only as innocuous as attention, but treating servers as if they aren’t there is a great sign of the inner douche. Now, as many of you know, I’m a douche myself, but I know enough not to give the game away that easily.

How else would you acknowledge the presence of someone and indicate your acknowledgment of something they just did like set a plate down on your table or refill your beverage?

Middle finger?
Ignore completely?

I might nod with eye contact if my mouth is full, but really since I’m not a social misfit for the most part, a simple “thank you” is the least weird thing I could do.

No, you don’t have to thank anybody for anything. It’s just a social norm.

I am a total weirdo, though. I thank bus drivers when I disembark, too. Since they’re human. And they’re doing something for me. Yes it’s in exchange for fare, but that’s still another person sitting there.

A couple of weeks ago, a member of my team at work stayed until midnight working on a last minute project that had come up. I considered saying “Thank You”, but I then remembered that he was not my friend, there to do me a favor, but was making money by the hour. There was no need for me to thank him for doing his job. It would have really made me feel lame to say “thank you” in such an artificial situation.

Quite often, if I happen to be leaving the office at the same time as my boss, he will say something along the lines of “Thanks for you work today”. I’ve always found that a bit odd, feeling that the paycheck that I receive every other Friday was thanks enough for my showing up every morning.

But he does it to be polite, and I suppose to make me feel better about working there than I might otherwise, and it’s a nicety that he doesn’t have to offer, so I appreciate it.

As others have said, you don’t have to say “thank you” to anyone, for anything. But it makes the world just a tiny bit nicer place to live in every time you do.

Actually, AFAIK, the etiquette of formal table service (in homes or restaurants) in bygone days used to expect that the diners would NOT speak with the servers except for actual communication about the service (“Sherry or hock, sir?” “Excuse me, may I have another fork?” etc.). You would no more say “thank you” to a waiter as he unobtrusively changed your plate between courses than you would say “thank you” to a hotel chambermaid as you pass her in the corridor on your way to your room.

Diners were not supposed to be rude or oblivious to servers, of course, but they were expected to let the servers get on with their jobs as much in the background as possible. For one thing, in formal service a la russe the servers were so numerous and so omnipresent—refilling wineglasses, clearing plates, putting down place plates, serving plates of food, presenting platters for guests to serve themselves from—that it would have seriously interfered with the diners’ conversation to verbally acknowledge every little thing that the servers did for them.

I think nowadays it’s much more acceptable, or even expected, to briefly acknowledge servers whenever they show up at your table, but you don’t need to make it more than a quick nod or smile or murmured thank-you.

If you were a co-worker, I’d be okay with this. But if I reported to you or this was your company this would have been the equivalent of asking me to look for work somewhere else. And I would, and when I found it I would give you two weeks notice. I’m okay with working longer hours for it, but if you ask to take my personal time for work, whether I’m paid extra for it or not, you had better say thank you. My staying late because you could not plan for a last minute project that came up is a huge favor.

Expecting someone to do something, not telling them, and then getting mad when they don’t doesn’t make the someone else a dick.

I thank waiters, but not out of some obligation not to be a dick. I also don’t do it because they deserve it. I’m just honestly thankful that I’ve got my food, drink, or whatever.

It never seems to be a mistake to express appreciation when given the chance.

Frankly, I do appreciate when people care to do their job well and properly if only because it makes my life a little bit better. Expressing that appreciation seems like the right thing to do.