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How to Eat Out for Dummies (and everyone else)

"The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese." ~G.K. Chesterton How to Eat Out for Dummies (and everyone else)

With my recent return in to the arena of competitive food service I've realized that the world needs me to write a postabout how to eat out. This is an easy step by step guide for you, yes you. Because at some point in time, you have undoubtedly left a %10 tip, ran a server's ass off, forgot your server was a person, told a host she was bad at her job, decided you only wanted a side salad, or gone out to eat without actually eating. I'm here to remind and explain to the world of sustenance connoisseurs that servers are, in fact, people with emotions and feelings and don't deserve the sub-human treatment they receive from the "guests" they so willingly bend over backwards for. So here's how you do it. Read closely.

1. Eat

This step should be self explanatory but unfortunately it's not. When you go out to eat it's a basic assumption that you will do just that. It's important that people understand that servers are working for the money that they are (potentially) making from your tips. I have yet to meet a server who waits on tables just because they like the way it makes them feel. That said, 97% of a $0 ticket is still $0. If you go out to eat and you don't eat, your taking up space that the server would be using for a paying customer. Your ignorance is not only frustrating, it's also costly. Which brings me to my next point.

2. Tip

Tips are those things that you so desperately avoid at the end of the meal. They are the awkward endings to an otherwise enjoyable evening where you decide that the money in your pocket was never meant to leave its safe haven right next to your ass. Now I understand that you work hard for your money and that you don't always feel the need to give the person who served your meal a triple digit tip. But while you were gorging yourself on endless amounts of rolls and extra ranch, that server was working his or her ass off trying to make sure that you didn't want for a thing. How much do you make per hour at your job? Servers make $2.17. That's right, less than three dollars an hour. This "pay" is more of a joke than anything because all it really does is cover the taxes placed on the tips that servers earn. Now you get it, your tips account for the salary of the person who just refilled your diet coke for the umteenth time. And considering that most servers are college students, single moms, college grads in between jobs, etc. it's safe to assume that these people do in fact have bills to pay. The LOWEST that any person should ever tip is 15%. If your server was a terrible human being who spat on your food in front of your face, then tell the manager because they shouldn't be serving. Other than than, be nice to your server and...

3. Remember that Servers (and hosts) are People

That's right, that human like being running around the restaurant like a mad man trying to find your son chocolate milk is a person. I know you're shocked, but try and contain yourself enough to finish reading this post. Most people forget that their servers have souls when something goes wrong.  Instead of bitching to your server about she needs to learn how to do her job, think about the last time you made a mistake at work. Did your boss tell you that you were a sub-human pile of dirt when you put the wrong paper into the copier machine? To give you an idea as to the kind of abuse that servers (and hosts) suffer, try and think of the worst mood you've ever been in, then multiply that by about 16 for the amount of people that most servers are simultaneously helping, then try to convince yourself that you could smile in the face of someone who just shook their empty glass at you as if you were a Beagle being trained for a dog show. In short, when servers bring you something say "thank you." When placing your order say "please."

4. Relax.

As much as it sucks to have a steak undercooked, the wrong order, or a forgotten side salad, it's just food. Chances are, if you're eating out then you're in no immediate danger of starving to death so please chill out. I have received more abuse waiting tables then the rest of my life combined. I would like to suggest that scientists examine the possibility that humans might just de-evolve when they walk into restaurants. You're going to get your food, you're going to eat. No one's forgot about you so chill out and enjoy your company. Oh and by the way, if you didn't bring company worth enjoying then that's your fault.

"Food is an important part of a balanced diet." ~Fran Lebowitz

So there it is, now you know. You can no longer claim ignorance although I'm sure some of you will try. For those of us who have waited tables this post should make total sense, and I can only hope that I accurately expressed the troubles and challenges of those who choose to indulge in restaurant eating. Hey servers, did I miss anything?

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