This Waiter Had Balls...

So the two of us went to dinner.
Chinese restaurant we go to about once a month.
New waiter we had never seen before.

Tonight the service was slower than usual, but also as usual, the food was good - had Kung Pao Shrimp and General Tao chicken, with two ice-teas; total with tax came to $31.24.

Waiter came to pick up check and I put two twenties ($40 for the math impaired) on the table.

Without missing a beat, the waiter said, “Do you want change?”

Now mind you, I am a pretty generous tipper - but $8.76 on a $31.24 tab? For mediocre service to boot?

“Yes, I want change.” I said, equally quickly.

He gave me a look like I was some cheap-ass, low-life from the street.

That little prick pissed me off.
Why ask if I want change?
Is the 15 steps to and from the cash register too far to walk?
Was the calculation of change going to be too difficult to do without a Pentium 4 computer chip?
Was his bookie waiting for $8.76 in the back alley?

Or did he think I didn’t look at the check and would just wave it off?

I left him $4.76 - a little less than I normally would have left him, but not the overly generous tip he seemed to feel he deserved.

Now I almost wish I had just left him $1.00 - enough to show I didn’t forget, but enough to show him I didn’t like his sly maneuver to snap up the entire amount.

Why do people take tipping issues so personally? And funnily enough, I see far fewer waitstaff venting about poor tippers than I see irate customers appalled that some unreasonable expectation has or may have been put on them.

(For the record, “unreasonable expectation” is a blanket term, covering all aspects of the custom of tipping. I’m not convinced the waiter in the OP was unreasonable, or that he intended to express expectations. You said he was new on the job. Perhaps he hasn’t yet learned the phrase, “I’ll be right back with your change.” I wasn’t there, so I can’t verify the “look,” but if he did have such a facial expression, perhaps he was responding to tone?)

At least he asked. Some servers just assume that you will let them keep the change and never bring it back.

Personally I have no problem if the server asks if I want my change. If the service was good and the change is close to what I’d leave anyways, then I’d tell them to keep it, but at least they asked first.

I hate the “do you need change” question, it’s just plain rude. I was a server for years and wanted to slap any trainee who tried that phrase.

Saying “I’ll be right back with your change” allows the customer the chance to wave you off with a “no, that’s yours, thanks!” type of reply if they choose, but requires no tipping intent declaration on their part. Especially galling are the servers who ask without even looking at what they’re picking up, I might be breaking a fifty for a bill of $27 or whatever.

Pick up bill and cash, announce that you’ll return, cash them out and make sure they’ve got small denominations available in their change, give it back to the table and that’s it. Any other quirks and that tip you’re working so hard to get is rapidly dwindling.

This is a pet peeve of one of the guys who works with me. He maintains he has never seen this behavior outside of PA (he is from Chicago.)

I often think it is done when a server is busy. If you know you don’t need change, it helps save him a few steps. I also think it is rude, busy or not. And presumptuous.

I do make a habit of saying “no change” if I know I don’t need any, to help save the server some steps.

I have had servers ask this question on a 12 dollar charge with a 20 dollar bill. 66 percent is a huge tip. This shows me that the server didn’t even check and probably has no idea what I owe, since he has so many people to serve.

Rude, yes. But I let it slide. Serving is not an easy profession. I couldn’t do it (again.)

A good waiter will ask if you want change then pleasantly bring the change to your table no matter how busy the restaurant is or what the tone of the customer is. IT"S YOUR MONEY! Any tip is a compliment to the service. No tip should ever be expected. Wait staff know that the amount of the tip tells them how well they served the table.

He’s either lying or goes to different restaurants than I. I’ve seen it in Chicago.

I don’t mind it if the bill and the money are hidden inside one of those folder-like bill holders. It means it’s a question of convenience, not greed. “Do you need any change?” can be interpreted as, “I can’t see what you’ve given me, do you need any change or should I say good-bye-and-have-a-nice-day now or make an extra trip back here?” If they can see how much I’ve given them, though, it’s clearly trolling for tips, and I don’t like that.

It’s a (admittedly small) pet peeve of mine, too, and I was a waitress and bartender for 17 years. Tipping is customary here and expected. Restaurants take advantage of that, paying their employees less than the minimum wage established for non-tipped employees, with the assumption that the tipped employees will earn at least minimum wage per hour from tips. And if you’re halfway decent as a server, you can earn a fair bit more than minimum wage.

However - “do you need change?” is, to me, rude. Saying, “I’ll be right back with your change” accomplishes the same thing more politely. And as a former server, I am of the opinion that, once a customer has his or her check is about when they start thinking about your tip… so it would be a good idea to make sure you give them the best possible impression during the settling-up process.

Add me to the Pet Peeve list. I’ll decide if and what you get tipped, boyo, not you. You will bring me my change, and quite promptly. If the extra steps are too much for you, or you feel this cuts into your time schedule, then get another job!

Here’s a penny. Kiss my ass.

(Disclosure: I am usually a good tipper, and my wife over-tips all the time. But presumption bugs the snot out of both of us.)

Maybe because tipping is a lousy system.

Merchants should pay their help a decent wage and add the extra cost to the bill. Then you know in advance what a meal, for example, will cost. Hard feeleings then are transfered from being between customer and waiter to being between management and labor where they should be.

Agreed. Tipping is a way of deceiving the customers. Oh, it would be fine if it were a bonus offered for good service, but why do we maintain this silly pretence that it is voluntary? It’s not. We all know that if customers don’t tip, wait staff can’t pay the rent.

But it’s so simple, isn’t it? We see the menu: “Cheeseburger $3”. Except it’s not $3, it’s $3.60.

i dont know if you are being sarcastic, or if you actually think this way, but:

i was AMAZED at the number of people who came into the restaurant where i worked as a server with exactly this attitude. yes, i am wearing an apron, but this should not give you license to act like a jerk. i dont know if some people were just never taught manners, or if they think that their good manners shouldnt be wasted on somebody wearing an apron, but really, so many people are rude to their servers it blows my mind. (and i mean rude without having any good reason to be rude: not because i spilled a drink on your grandma and put cat fur in your soup; rude from the first moment i walk up)

and it really doesnt matter if you are a big tipper or an overtipper. if you are an asshole, it doesnt matter how much money you leave me. (of course, if you are an asshole and you stiff me, i will hate you even more, but a nice tip after the fact does not excuse your rude behavior).

i kind of feel like, if you need to go into a restaurant and order the waitstaff around and act like a douche while they wait on you hand and foot, then you have issues deeper than the need for a meal, and probably the only thing that would make you truly happy is if you built yourself a time machine, went back to 17th century russia and got a job as king of the serfs, where you could have people kissing your ass and hating you for it all the time, instead of just when you went out to dinner.

silenus, i’m not saying this is you - but you expressed that attitude so perfectly, you should print it up on tshirts and hand it out in restaurant parking lots.

anyway - at the restaurant i worked at, we were taught to say “i’ll be right back with your change.” we were specifically told NOT to ask if the guest needed change, but just to assume that they did. but i agree with Whynot: i would never open up the check presenter and count the cash inside while standing in front of the table, i just pick it up and go, so if i HAD asked “do you want change,” someone with a secret waiter decoder ring would have understood me to mean “i dont know how much money you gave me, do i need to come here again to give you some back?”

He’s new–maybe he was taught to say that?

Either way, he shouldn’t have given the dirty look, but you shouldn’t have quasi-stiffed him, either.

I also hate the gratuity system-it’s demeaning to the workers, let’s management off the hook wage-wise and either excuses bad behavior on the part of the customer(he brought my iced tea with too much ice!) or guilts them into tipping more than they are comfortable with(well, the service was slow, but they’re underpaid, so…).

yams!!, I am the Soul of Politeness when in a restaurant. The staff are often harried, always underpaid, and do have to put up with the total assholes that you describe. But they are in the service industry, and their job description is quite specific about service to the customer. Waiters who cop an attitude with me get extremely short-shrift. I’m polite, but I am the customer, and that makes every decision my call, not theirs.

As far as I can tell, *everything *about Chicago is infinitely better than PA. I can’t imagine why he continues to live here. :slight_smile:

i’m glad you are polite, silenus. i totally agree that it is a service industry, and by wearing an apron, i am signifying that i am going to provide service to you. i just have beef with people who seem to be operating under the notion that being served somehow entitles you to act like a jerk. you are the customer, and so every decision is your call, but should you decide to request, for example, a refill on diet coke, there are two ways you can ask for it, you know?

(above paragraph contains all general ‘yous,’ not ‘you specific person’ yous.)

in any case, when i was waiting tables, as long as the table was polite, they could do pretty much anything - diet soda made from crushed beetles and the eyeteeth of a comely virgin? served in a crystal goblet? no problem. as long as you say please, it is my pleasure to get it for you.

and silenus i agree, a waiter copping an attitude for no reason is just as obnoxious as a table copping attitude for no reason.

Rude, yes, but nothing to get totally worked up about. He was probably new and serving is a tough job.

I personally hate the way tips work here. I’m not their employer, I shouldn’t be responsible for making sure that they go home with enough money at the end of the night.

What you said. I worked ten years as a server and have been running a restaurant for the last 8 years and this has always annoyed the hell out of me.

Hooray, another tipping debate. Maybe this time we’ll create a solution for the dilemma.

Though I always tip 20% except in cases of truly terrible service, I always respond to “do you need change?” with a quizzical look and “…of course.” It’s a completely gauche thing for a server to ask.