Saturday, 10 July 2010

Waiting Professionally

Something that strikes me when skim-reading some blogs of American waiters and waitresses is the frequency with which they mention tips. Something else I have noticed is the distinct lack of blogs from waiters and waitresses in the UK. I have a feeling the two facts are linked.

The American blogs are filled with stories and information which all let their readers know the frequency and amount of tips which they receive. They do their job well, they are rewarded with a tip for good service. In America being a waiter is regarded as a profession. In the UK it is regarded as either an in-between-jobs job, or just a general shit job for anyone that is willing to accept such a dismal wage. This is why there are very few English blogs about how to be a good waiter - no one cares. We're not getting tipped regardless. Good service is expected, as it should be with all jobs. Tips should not be expected.

This would be absolutely fine, if it weren't for the meagre wages. Myself and my colleagues are on 2p above minimum wage. We work ridiculously hard. It seems to me that the harder you have to work in a job, the less you get paid. Our wages are low to anticipate tips. However... and this is a massively fucking stupid however, not only is tipping not customary in the UK - we are not legally allowed to accept tips. This is because of tax or some other stupid reason. So we get the worst of both worlds: we get paid badly, don't get tipped to compensate, no one respects us, and we have very little motivation to care.

I receive tips sparsely. I'm a damn good barmaid and waitress if I say so myself, but I don't expect any tips. I'm not saying that waitressing is my profession of choice, but I do take pride in my job regardless.

Foreigners and families are the most likely to tip. Unfortunately being on the night shift most of the time leaves me with the after-work contractor blokes and the students. Neither are particularly pleasant to serve, and neither tip unless it's a hilarious joke in which they allow me to keep the 1p change. "Oh thank you so much, now I can pay off my student loan!!" Wanker.

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