About a year ago I was in a bar with a friend and a bunch of his friends, who were strangers to me. One of them immediately struck me as the kind of person I would not associate with voluntarily. He was nice enough to broadcast the fact that he was an an insufferable asshead by being incredibly rude to the bar staff.

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If you're in any kind of social setting with someone who is a dick toward service industry employees, you may safely leap to the conclusion that this person is terrible. In every way. Without fail.

Let's call him Chad. Chad was the typical ex-fratboy in his late twenties, all spray tanner and tacky Ed Hardy shirts covering his now-ample gut. A few years out of some undoubtedly expensive MBA program, Chad carried himself like a Very Important Person. But he clearly wasn't one. The conversation (he loved talking about himself, naturally) indicated that he had some sort of low-level, demeaning job that he considered beneath him. His manner of speaking to the bartender and waitress was a combination of how you'd picture Mitt Romney speaking to his lawn maintenance workers and how Maxim magazine would recommend sizing up one's next rape victim. When the bartender suggested he knock it off, does anyone care to guess what Chad did next?

Yes, he loudly demanded to see "the manager."

He complained to this gentleman for several minutes about the staff's failure to meet his high personal standards, and the manager, clearly used to this sort of thing, politely mollified him with soothing words that made him feel important. He turned to our group, many of whom he did not even know, and said, "You see? That's how you get the kind of service you deserve."

Mind you, we're just in some hotel bar. This isn't the Waldorf-Astoria or Windsor Castle or any other place where one might expect, however unfairly, hand-and-foot service from staff. This was just a bar/restaurant with a bartender and a couple of servers who probably had day jobs and a hundred other things going on in their life of more significance than Chad's drink order.
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I've never worked in the service industry. I got a job doing janitorial work at the park district when I was 15 and skipped the McDonald's/Chili's/Fast Food rite of passage. Accordingly, I have no first hand experience with how awful people can be in that environment. Watching Chad was an important revelation for me. I saw him and understood immediately all of the stories I've heard from service industry employees over the years. I realized how many Chads there are in this country – self-styled Important people who aren't important at all. He's spent his whole life envisioning himself as one of the big shots, one of the people who hires and fires and takes orders from no one.

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But now that he has entered the real world he's not hiring or firing anyone, and he takes orders from everyone. He's nobody and nothing.

The service industry becomes the outlet for his own frustration and impotence; here are some people he can boss around for a while. Here are some people who are beneath him, whom he expects to be kissing his ass. There certainly isn't anyone else doing it. He even gets to reward and punish them with a tip. It's almost like he's the boss! But not really at all. He's just a supreme d-bag basking in the momentary thrill of bossing someone around.

Every time I have been in a tipping situation since then I've thought about Chad. Putting up with people like that is worth at least 17%.

86 thoughts on “NPF: BIG SHOT”

  • I'm pretty sure the staff at Auschwitz-Birkenau was made up mostly of the 1940s German equivalents of Chad.

  • Those who are insufferable such as Chad make service industry life Hell. My Dad taught me many things – one of which was "You tip not ONLY for the service and tip well for that, but if you intend to return, you tip to be remembered." No, you don't have to tip way over what should be … a couple of percentage points work well.

    And as to the managers response? One incident at a bar I was at one night sums it up pretty well… the "chad" who was "hanging" with us, pulled that one night. The Manager – who actually had a few other more important things to solve – listened politely for a few moments, then turned to the bartender and asked: "Is he tipping? Is he being rude?" The answer to the first question was no, the second yes. Let's just say chad was NOT happy with the manager's response from that point onward. (probably wasn't helped by those of us around him laughing… I'm just saying … )

  • What's ball-twistingly awful about the Chads of this world is how often they win. There's a big discrepancy, for instance, in the way in which managers will deal with Chad if he (or she–there are a fuckton of female Chads*) complains about a bartender as opposed to a server, particularly a female server. Unless Chad has a lemon-peeler protruding from his eyeball, managers will invariably back up the bartender, or at worst, tell him/her to "go into the back and wait for me." The manager will then tell Chad that the bartender will receive what-for. Then the manager will go in back and say "OK, the asshole's gone–you can come out."

    But servers–and I don't know why, exactly–don't always get this kind of support. Often Chad gets his way–the manager will force an apology out of the server, and tell her (usually her) to go home, she's suspended. Or even fired. This happens because the manager has been told by his bosses that Chad–the customer–is of greater value to the establishment than any employee. That the customer is, in fact, always right–and in a world in which waitresses are often queried as to what they'd charge for a parking lot hummer, or ordered to flash her breasts "so I can know what to look forward to tonight," such a policy is so utterly and laughably wrong-headed that one doesn't know where to begin.

    I tended bar as several places–some high, some medium, some privately owned, some corporate. The smaller, privately owned places were good, because the manager either *was* the owner, or reported directly to him–in those places, the staff came first. But, significantly, those places are no longer open, having been bought out by, you guessed it, the corporate chains. And the corporate places were the worst, because the manager was no allowed to use his or her judgment in any instance–s/he had to follow the corporate playbook, which always always always favored Chad, and so, from behind my bar, I got to watch cruel men try to make young women cry, occasionally succeeding.

    Chad puts money in the till at the end of the night, and the corporate chains only care about that. Like Ed, I tip heavily, and when things go wrong, and the staff starts to apologize, I always smile and say "Look, I've been exactly where you are, and I know that of all the things that are going wrong behind the scenes, you're responsible for none of them. Don't sweat it–I'm on your side."

    Shockingly, I often wind up with free drinks, desserts, and an amazing level of service when I go back. What the Chads of the world really don't get is that, in the service industry, it's the customers who show patience and sympathy who get waited on hand and foot, because we make the job bearable.

    *It is perhaps contemptibly Freudian of me that I identify the characters of Male Chad and Female Chad by the sex lives I imagine them both having. You know you're dealing with a Male Chad when you realize that the dates he considers "successful" are those which his female partners commemorate with a long shower and an internet search on the precise legal definition of "rape." You know you're dealing with a Female Chad when you realize that the only reason she stopped wearing the Purity Ring was because, past 30, it stopped being an excuse and started to be a joke.

    I'm really pretty awful for thinking these things, I know. But nobody ever finished her shift in tears of rage and humiliation because of me.

  • "His manner of speaking to the bartender and waitress was a combination of how you'd picture Mitt Romney speaking to his lawn maintenance workers and how Maxim magazine would recommend sizing up one's next rape victim."


  • Great story; I predict this comments section is going to be filled with more.

    I spent only two weeks working for a fast food joint once(unless you count ISP tech support as the service industry). It was a Japanese fast food place and our most popular product was the chicken teriyaki bowl. One day Whitey McBleachedwhite comes in; middle age, white-collar type. He wants to get an extra portion of teriyaki sauce but that was 50 cents, if I remember correctly. So I tell him the cost of the extra sauce and he gets all upset and asks, "Is that your policy?" I reply, as best I can in this dumbfounded condition, that this is the restaurant's policy(Thinking: restaurants put prices on food products? HOLY SHIT!). He gets even more upset and asks, "But is it YOUR policy?!" I was in a shock and couldn't understand why he thought that the guy behind the cash register could have a "policy" on things. He paid for his food and left in an angry huff.

    Now there were several lessons I could have learned from this and I regret that I didn't realize these concepts at the time.

    1. A man who is by all means "successful" according to the social conditions of that time can in fact be such a complete idiot that he, in an emotional fit, fails to realize that the cashier of a fast food restaurant cannot set prices on merchandise.

    2. This man saw the world from a vastly different perspective than me, most likely because he lived his whole life getting what he wanted. Behind told he had to pay for teriyaki sauce was a slap in the face.

    3. A man who obviously had considerable personal wealth balked at paying 50 cents for some sauce.

  • My first job was at an ice cream store. As far as things go it wasn't so bad (a few years later I worked in a factory and that was really, really bad).

    I was a 16 year-old puke from a comfortable family, and there was no question I'd be going off to college in another year. But my dad did a good job of reminding me how lucky I was to be doing this just for some extra cash and not for any extended period of time, i.e., a service industry career.

    Anyhow, I had more than a few Chads. In particular, I had a Chadette. This woman would come in and order, say, a medium-sized ice cream. Then she'd say it wasn't big enough, so I showed her the scale we used (measured by weight in ounces). So she ordered a large and I went to scoop the medium ice cream into a large size cup. Oh no, it has to be "fresh." Ice cream has to be fresh. Then she'd ask where the manager and I'd give her the manger's phone number.

    Thing is, the manager was the woman who owned the store, and basically her father had bought it for her and she didn't give two shits either way. I was one of the few workers who came in on time, or even at the last second if there was an emergency, so there was no way I'd ever get fired from there.

    During the warmer months Chadette came in about once a week, and I'd perform the kabuki service ritual before she stormed off.

    tl;dr — Chads of the world exist, and in some cases it isn't just that they're pathetic losers who need their egos stroked. In fact, there are many Chads for whom this is literally the only thing they have going for them. And they are legion.

  • My least favorite customers when i worked as a server were the Christians. Even as a Christian myself. One particular guy talked very pervertly about my female coworkers, was impossible to please, left a Bible track for a tip, and stole my pen. If I can't afford to tip 20%, i won't go out to eat.

  • Middle Seaman says:

    The world has Chads. There are getting services at the bar, restaurant, city offices and academic dept secretaries. Chads are either frustrated or run of the mill assholes. Since I spent the last 30 years at school, I know the zero quality faculty who scream at the secretarial people, or treat their fellow faculty as 2nd class or, and that is the latest, the 6'8" assistant prof who is rude to full profs. (He'll get tenure in hell not in my dept.)

    Get your kids to be secure in their skin. Believe me, a flexible skin is 90% of life.

  • I come from the bit of Maine where a lot of rich people have summer homes so you get some interesting stories. My favorite from one of my high school classmates:

    Martha Stewart came in and asked to use the employee phone. She got told no and started complaining so the guy behind her in line told her that it was the rule and that they "didn't let me use it either." He turns around and says, "do you know who I am? I'm Martha Stewart."

    The guy behind her in line was David Rockefeller.

    I've always avoided anything that puts me into too much direct contact with customers. The worst I've had was the asshole visiting prof who made me photocopy all of the books he interlibrary loaned when I was doing work-study in college. He probably mailed more stuff than the rest of the department put together (free for him). Terrible teacher too.

  • One of the first clues I got that my marriage wasn't going to turn out well sas observing how badly my wife treated service people. Cab drivers, waiters. waitresses, counter-people, she treated them all like shit. She turned out to be a liar, a thief, and a drug addict. I wish I'd taken my observations for the warning that they were…

  • Number Three says:

    I'll second the observation that often the worst customers are (evangelical) Christians. Somehow, the belief that witnessing for Christ is the MOST important thing in life translates to being a bad tipper . . . that tithing 10% means that tipping 15% is out . . . and I understand that many of these people are just in mental defense mode for the fact that they are struggling, financially . . . .

    Have you ever seen the "$20 bill" that's really half a bill (so not really one) and half a Biblical tract? If you waited table in Nashville in the 1990s you saw those. Often left by someone with a large table (and bill). Tip: He saved your eternal soul! Worth more than a few measly dollars, no?

  • It's always the quiet polite regs who get served before everyone.

    Of **all** the insults I hate the most it is "scrubber".

    It's got this wonderful Victorian industrial revolution nouveau riche classism to it. The first time I heard it, I nearly punched a guy for using it. I may not have known what it meant, but I *knew* what it meant, as it conveyed everything that I hated about Chadwick. It conveyed everything "sin nobilis" about a Chad whose daddy had bought him into Eaton.

  • @What and #3: sadly I know the people you're talking about. Though Aussie culture isn't based on a tipping system — wages are liveable if you can get the hours, and why Aussies are universally hated — it's still polite. The issue I had was after making up for the short fall from my own pocket… well there went any tip. Driscoll has a few segments on the topic and buying one soda and six straws.

  • Hm. I still prefer living in countries where you either don't tip service staff or tip them something between 5 and 10% because they get, you know, decent salaries, like most other people.

    But I assume that is out of the question, just like getting rid of all the guns, scrapping the electoral college or writing a new constitution that reflects the moral, political and economic development that has taken place since the time before the Napoleonic Wars…

  • Ehrenreich observed in Nickle and Dimed that the worst restaurant customers were what she called VCs, visibly Christian.

    I never saw that in my couple-month stint as a server, but since then my rate is 20%, rounded up, $3 minimum. And I'm not sure if the minimum is enough.

  • Comradde PhysioProffe says:

    FYI: 17% is a shitty tip. For good service, you should leave a minimum of 20% and as much as 25%.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    I never worked in the fast food industry.
    But I was a bartender in bars, pubs, and restaurants.
    And, to all the Chad's in the world, let me tell you, there is a line that workers in those places draw.
    And believe you me, you DON'T want to cross that line.

    Having said that, sometimes the workers can be assholes, too.

    Especially in high-end joints.
    I know – I've tended bar in places like that, where the employees love to find a rube to abuse. Often for the slightest of reasons.

    During an all-day seminar, my company took a bunch of us out to lunch at a really high-end Northern Italian restaurant in… a major Southern city… I'll leave it at that.
    I ended up next to some young Technical Trainer who was a really nice, sweet, country kid, about 27 years-old – and as green to the world of high-end restaurants, as a domestic beer on St. Patrick's Day in some rural Midwestern bar, miles away from the nearest Irishman.
    We we were a large group, about 25 in all, and there were only about 4 things that were on the menu available to us. So the kid asked me what to order, since he knew I had a bit of a reputation with the others about knowing a bit about food.
    Having ascertained his personal tastes, and with no surprise from him, recommended the grilled steak, since Northern Italian places know how to get the best out of a piece of beef.
    I also ordered the steak.
    I wanted mine rare, to medium-rare, the rube wanted to order his really, really, well-done, which I had told him was not the best idea in a place like that, since they pride themselves on the quality of the beef they serve (as well as any expensive and well-known steakhouse). I told him to get it medium, to medium-well, or at least "well," but leave out the "really, really" – but he insisted that he liked his meat damned-near burned to a cinder.
    When the kid ordered, and added a third "really," the waiter, as I knew he would, looked down on the rube, and shook his head.

    Well, the first course came out – a nice salad of young greens with a balsamic dressing.
    The kid takes a bite, and says to me, "I'm not sure, but I think these might be the lawn-clippings from when I mowed last night."
    He was making a joke for our end of the table, but the waiter overheard, and I heard him mutter what were probably some derogatory remarks to the busboy who was with him. The waiter should have ignored it, because the rube wasn't directing the comment at him, or to the other people dining at nearby tables, but rather was trying to highlight to the rest of us, how a rube like him was out of his rube element.

    Next, came the entree.
    The steaks looked great!
    And they came with some pototo's, grilled, with some sauteed seasonal veggies.
    He and I took a bite of our steaks, mine, dripping blood, his, a hunk of grilled dark-gray meat. He pronounced it was the best piece of steak he'd ever had. The waiter was nearby, overheard this remark, and walked off shaking his head.

    Then, the kid looks at me, and says, "I need some ketchup for these 'taters. I can't eat 'taters without no ketchup. I'm going to ask the waiter for some."
    I yelled, maybe too loudly, "NO!"
    I explained that the chef in the kitchen had carefully seaoned everything, and that this was an expensive Northern Italian restaurant, not some Waffle House.
    But the kid insisted, so I told him, "OK, but it's your funeral."
    The same waiter was walking by, and the kid says, "Excuse me, Sir, can I have some ketchup?" And the waiter stares at him, pridefully gathers himself up, and say, "Ketchup? KETCHUP?!?! We don't even have any butter, Sir!", and stormed off.
    I tried mine, and they were terrific.
    The kid says, "I can't eat this without ketchup, but they look really good."
    When we were walking in, I had glanced at what the regular patrons were eating, and seen some kind of tomato sauce. Now, I really didn't want the kid to do it, but I said, jokingly, "Why don't you ask for some marinara sauce?"
    A second later, the waiter walks by, and the kid says, "Hey, Sir, can I have some tomater sauce, since y'all ain't got no ketchup?"
    The waiter pulled himself together, stared at the rube, and said, "I'll see what I can do, SIR", and stormed off.
    I told the kid I was kidding, and that he shouldn't have done that. But the kid said that now he'll have something that at least looks like ketchup for his taters.

    The waiter came out a few minutes later with a small bown of marinara sauce, put it down in front of the young guy, and stormed off.
    The kid starts drenching the sauce on his potato's. I looked at him, and said, "You're not really gonna eat that, are you?"
    And the kid looks at me, and says, "Why not?"
    I said, "Look, you broke some rules. I told you not to ask for ketchup, and I was kidding about asking for marinara sauce. The waiter clearly hates your guts, and he probably had the third-world help working in the kitchen stir that sauce with their dicks."
    The kid almost hurled the piece of steak he'd just eaten.
    "What do I do?" he asked.
    I told him one thing you don't do, is eat the damned, now drenched, grilled potato's – and the other, is don't make it look like you hadn't touched the damned things, either.
    So I recommended moving them around, and burying a few of them in his napkin, to make it look like he ate some. Maybe that would appease the asshole waiter.
    The kid does exactly what I told him to do, but the waiter came out at the moment he was putting some of the red mess in his linen napkin, and stormed off.

    The kid finished off his steak, which he'd loved.
    The second he was done, the waiter came and took his plate, and stared at the kid when he was walking back to the kitchen.

    Dessert time!

    We had ordered dessert at the same time that we'd ordered our entree's, and I'd recommended the cheesecake, since maybe the only thing better than the nicely grilled steak on the limited menu we were offered in the Northern Italian restaurant, might be the cheesecake.

    So, out comes the waiter with this enormous tray with slices of cheesecake. Since most of the table had overheard me making my recommendations to the kid, the waiter must have had 20 slices on the tray – and one slice in his other hand.
    Which he carefully put down in front of the kid – and distributed the other pieces to the rest of us. A busboy came out a second or two later with the couple of creme brulee's and tiramisu's a few people had ordered.

    The kid looked at that piece of cheesecake in front of him like it was a naked long lost lover.
    He said he was still hungry since he hadn't eaten much of the salad, or any of the potato's, and dug his fork into it, and was about to put some into his mouth, when I looked at him and asked him, "You're not really going to eat that are you?"
    The kid looks at me, and asks, "Why not?"
    I looked at him, and said, "Well, it's white. And it's CHEESEcake. And remember what I said about the waiter and the help in the kitchen? Their dicks can do more than just stir."

    I gave the kid my slice, and covered his with his napkin. I was fat enough, and full, so skipping dessert wouldn't kll me.
    The waiter came out with the busboy to clear the table, and they were both disappointed to see that the slice of cheesecake was still sitting there, near the kid – the only dessert dish that wasn't clean as a whistle.

    As we were leaving, the kid thanked me for looking out for him. I took the time after the seminar to explain how to behave, and how to order, in high-end restaurants.

    And, I also told him my "Plate Rule."
    Which is, if you haven't been to a restaurant before, as you're going to your table, look at the plates in front of the people already dining there.
    My "Plate Rule" is, the bigger the plate, the less food you'll actually get on it.
    This lets you know whether or not to split an appetizer.
    Or, whether or not you'll need a slice of pizza on the way home, because you're still hungry after spending an arm and a leg for 5 medallions of veal the size of quarters, two grilled baby red potato's, and some lawn clippings, covered in some fancy-schmancy dressing.

    Having said all of that, most times, it's the customers who are assholes, and not the employees.
    But sometimes, like customers, the employees take themselves too seriously, as well.

    You have to practically insult me to get less than 25%.
    Usually, I'm from the school of 33-50% – especially if I plan on coming back.
    And then, if I do decide to come back to your big-plate/little food dining establishment, damned if I don't get more, and larger medallions, a ton of baby red potato's, and a enough greens to choke a horse.

    So, remember this, Chad's of the world:
    Not only do you get what you pay for – you get back what you tip.

    And be nice to the staff, because, if you're an asshole as a customer, they can be assholes with what you eat and drink.
    Digest that, for a moment.

  • Something that I think applies across the service industry, but especially in "corporate", chain, or high-end situations, is that everyone appreciates a compliment.

    In addition to tipping in restaurants and bars, when I get good service, I always try to talk to a manager and tell them that their employee is doing a great job and makes me want to spend more money there. I try to do this with over-the-phone customer service, as well.

    "Dive bars" generally don't care about this sort of thing very much, but when the employer is a high-end restaurant, or AT&T, or something, I have been assured it makes a difference.

  • I was working at a lumber yard twenty years ago. It's focus was contractors, builders, the trades, landlords, anyone that would spend several thousand dollars a year, every year. I had commission and bonuses to make, so I honestly did not give a shit about a can of paint or a pound of nails, and neither did my boss. On occasion, if a homeowner wondered in, and I had time, and if they were pleasant, I would help them.

    So one day I pissed off this woman, I mean female yuppie scum, pretty good. She has me just as pissed. So she tells my boss on me. My boss comes over to me and says 'just stand there and pretend I am yelling at you. during the next three minutes of arm waving, kabuki, he tells me he doesn't care about her either.

    Another time, a little old lady walks in the lumberyard and asks the guy that I am working with if we have any floor tile, he says 'yeah, your standing on it.'

  • My nephew is a server at an Olive Garden. We had a get together for my mother in law, his grandmother, for her 80th bday. Lots of her friends who are mostly evangelical types. Michael had just come from work and when he got to the party he realized about half of the group, 15-20 people, had just been to his OG and he had served them. You guessed it, no,tip. The gratuity had been added to the bill, and it was near $200 but they ignored it and just paid for the food. No drinks since evangelical types don't generally drink. It was beauty when the group figured out Michael was their waiter. Stammering and saying thing like,"if I knew you were a Christian I would have tipped,you something". These aren't poor old folks, many of them have a lot of money. One of them felt bad enough to go and slip Michael a 20. Which was only 10%, any way.

  • Beautifully written.
    And J. Dryden has it—the maddening thing is that Chad rarely gets his comeuppance. The world's far from fair; despite our greatest wishes that it was, Chad probably makes out pretty well…

  • "if I knew you were a Christian I would have tipped,you something".

    WTF? Do they just assume that waitstaff are Jewish or something? The excuse is even more offensive than the failure to tip.

  • It seems the manner in which people treat servers and animals reveal a lot about what a person is really like.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Hazy Davey,
    Trust me on this one, Chad has ingested plenty of precious bodily fluids, and some cleaning ones, too, I'm sure.
    And had more, MUCH more, than his share of upset stomachs, stomach bugs, and/or "food-poisoning" – literally.

    Years ago, bartenders and waiters used to "Slip someone a Mickey," short for Mickey Finn, which would incapacitate some asshole of a customer.

    I never did it, but rumor has it, that a couple of drops of Visine pretty much does what the Ol' Mickey did.

    Karma doesn't allow me to be an asshole, as I learned the hard way when I was a lad, myself.
    And if I ever am, I'm usually the first to know, when Karma gives as good as I gave – or better. Or, rather, I mean, worse.
    So I try never to be an asshole.

    But Chad should know, that if his server had red-eyes when he insulted him/her, if they come back out with clear eyes a few minutes later, he should probably just get up, not touch nothin', pay his bill, tip well, and leave.
    And never, ever, come back.
    Chad may not remember his server if he comes back. But believe me, that server remembers Chad – and told his/her pals about him.
    If there's one thing kitchens and bars have plenty of, it's precious bodily fluids – oh, and most owners like their kitchens and bars kept clean, too.

  • >>"FYI: 17% is a shitty tip. For good service, you should leave a minimum of 20% and as much as 25%."

    I'm willing to believe this might be true in some regions because who knows. But as a general rule? No. There actually is a general rule. It's 15% and always has been in living memory. That makes 17% generous. It's nothing to celebrate, but it's generous, and the recipient who views it as "shitty" is just as bad as the patron who tips 10% or less. Both are ruining what should be, at worst, a routine social transaction and, at best, one of life's simple pleasures.

  • Putting up with people like that is worth at least 17%.

    Go 20%. The math is easier, and they are totally worth it.

    As for "service you deserve," Chad is completely wrong. As a traveler, bar patron, customer in a restaurant, you will nearly ALWAYS get what you give. I've enjoyed servers, bartenders, mechanics, gate agents, going so far above and beyond that words fail (though in several instances, letters were written complimenting the employee and the company for excellent service).

    Chad will suffer a disappointing life of poor service for no other reason than being a dick.

  • The bartender that filmed the 47% video, said that he handed Romney his Diet Coke, Romney just took it and did not even acknowledge him or say thank you. If Romney had some manners, the bartender said he may have not released the video.

    Karma 1
    Douchebag 0

  • Many of my coworker's worked 'service' jobs to get through college and have told me stories that confirm what cund gulag is warning us about. If their stories are to be believed (and I do) then the Chad's & Chadette's of the world are getting their comeuppance in the form of a flem ball, or worse, buried somewhere in the food.
    Here's something that really pissed me off reacently; I submitted an expense report for a business meal where I had tipped my waiter 25% which resulted in an email from our finance dept telling me that our corporate policy is that we only "allow" tipping at 15%.
    I responded "If you need to deduct the amount I exceeded policy by, from my calulation, $2.23, in order to make our corporate betters happy you certainly won't hurt my feelings".
    Slightly off topic I know but I had to get it off my chest.

  • My job involves dealing with "customers" (other departments) and what's become abundantly clear to me is that the more useless the position/person-filling-the-position, the bigger the ego and the more entitled that person feels to act like a prima donna.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Sally's Dad,
    Yeah, back when I worked for a large telecommunications company, all of a sudden, this one time, I got pulled into the beancounters cubicles and read the riot act about not exceeding 15%.
    This was some new company policy – for a company making Billions in profits every year by ripping people off with their expensive cable, internet, and phone services.
    I laughed – but only after I'd left. NEVER, ever, if you don't want to wait forever to be reimbursed, let the beancounters see you laughing. They can't, so the don't want you to, either – particularly not when you're laughing at them.

    So, what I did afterwards when I got the bill, was write-in the 15%, and then put that total on my personal credit card – and then left another 10-20+% in cash.
    Sure, it cost me money.
    But hey, just cause I worked for some cheap-sh*t MFing company, didn't mean I had to be a cheap-sh*t MFer, myself.

  • c u n d gulag—that does make me happy, to know.

    My inner childishness has always whined about the inequity—that a-holes don't get theirs.

    FWIW, I've never been a server. When I was 16, I *tried* to get a job at Jack-in-the-Box and at a frozen yogurt shop, but was denied (one, theoretically, because I wore a suit to the interview…the other, explicitly, because I was not physically attractive). Ended up working as a telemarketer ('cause my voice was baritone before it changed, and I'm not afraid of talking).

    I seem to have had the opposite experience that I hope for Chad. Around the country, I've been given things, gratis. (Example: when doing some corporate training in Atlanta, GA…I stopped by a cupcake shop, and after a brief conversation about the genius of combining chocolate with cayenne and cinnamon, the shop owner insisted that I—who would certainly not return, since I live in California—take one, for free.) Perhaps, some people can sense that I actually appreciate things?

    [And at restaurants? I usually tip 17%-25%. But 40% isn't out of the question. And once—only once—have I tipped < 15%. I tipped $0.05 on a $25 bill, once, at a restaurant I've never been back to. It had taken 40 minutes for the food to arrive, and when it did it was not the items we ordered. In the meantime, the server spilled water and another person's food on me. Every table in the restaurant cleared through while we waited. And when we questioned whether the dishes were meant for another table, he rolled his eyes and said, "well, do you want me to put in another order…it'll take some time." After I tipped $0.05, and we left, he ran after, shouting "A NICKEL?! F*** YOU, man" I've never done it since, even with bad service…]

    Also, I suspect I work for c u n d gulag's former employer. And I always tip 15% on the company card, and the rest in CASH (which is better for tips, natch.)

  • I realize that this thread is mainly about food service, but I have to give a shout out to all my retail brothers and sisters, too. I was a bookseller for 15 years (a pretty good gig, for retail), and believe me: when you open your doors to the public, they *all* come in, and I witnessed some shockingly bad behavior in our stores. Oh, the parenting / stalking / stealing / flashing / hygeine / verbal abuse stories I could tell….

    On the flipside, I saw some beautiful customer behavior, too — and some of "the help" could be real assholes sometimes (no group is immune). A little empathy in both directions goes a long, long way. Just remember that your server/clerk is working nights, weekends and holidays for peanuts, so that shopping's more convenient for *you,* and you'll be in good shape.

  • I worked as a bartender for three years. I did put Everclear in one customer's drink after this guy would not stop complaining about the pour. Which was always generous at our bar. But generally, I would say that anyone who considers him or herself a professional server would not spit or otherwise alter food with bodily fluids. It's not worth the trouble–if you're caught you are immediately fired. It could be a bit more prevalent in the fast food industry, but in fine dining, not really. C U N D, while your story was somewhat entertaining, it almost seems as though you were egging that young man along just to annoy the waitstaff, who you perceived to be snobbish–and maybe even to see just how rube-ish that young guy could get. If you had really wanted to help the young man, you would have intervened in his interactions with the waiter and maybe asked the waiter if he had anything he might suggest for the potatoes. Instead of making the suggestion to the young man and sitting back to watch the fun.

    I used to be a bicycle tour guide in Europe. Americans. Fancy schmancy. We dined at Michelin-starred joints. Believe me, I had to do a lot of "finessing" between customers, who hadn't eaten anywhere but Olive Garden or maybe the best steak joint in their small town, and professional fine-dining waiters. I got a lot of absurd requests, which I conveyed to the wait staff with an "I feel your pain" look or intonation. I didn't care, the waiter didn't care–I didn't have to eat what the client wanted and neither did the waiter. One time, which was priceless, we were at restaurant in the Loire. There were some kids on the tour with us and one was ADHD and had nearly died during that long, fancy meal. In nicer restaurants in Europe, at the end of the meal, after the main dish and before dessert, the wait staff will clean the table of crumbs. Sometimes with what I call the table hokey and sometimes with a table crumber. This kid, who had been fidgeting the whole night was intrigued by this process and jumped up to watch. He then asked the waiter if he could try. Now, this is a Michelin-starred restaurant. VERY much not permitted to have the customer crumb his own table, but the waiter had felt the kid's pain throughout the meal. So he let him try. Kid went crazy, crumbed the table and asked if there was more. It was priceless.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Believe me, I wasn't egging him on. I liked him.
    The waiter was the one who copped an attitude the second he heard the kid order his steak "really, really, really well-done."

    And the line about the salad being like lawn clippings, was just gasoline on his fire.
    He had what I've heard described, as "rabbit ears." And there wasn't much I could do, from that point on.

    And if the lawn gag was gasoline, then the ketchup question was a napalm filled nuclear bomb.

    But you're right, and maybe I should have asked the waiter what he would recommend, but I forgot myself, and instead, jokingly mentioned the marinara sauce – and then didn't have time to stop the kid from asking, because the waiter came into the room literally a second later, and the kid blurted out the line about the "tomaters."

    At that point, having worked with some really unsrupulous scumbags in some really expensive places in NY City, and knowing what some some managers, and even some well-trained and respected "chef's," either allowed their staff's to do, or were oblivious, I knew my job was to protect the kid – real threat, or imagined.

    By the way, when I was working in a place, and if someone did do something horrible, and I knew about it, I always told the manager/owner.
    If I saw something that wasn't done on purpose, but was wrong, I told the manager/owner.
    I quit one bar gig in a fancy restaurant across the street from the UN Building, because the manager there didn't really care that the raw chicken blood was dripping down into the salad greens below them in the walk-in fridge.
    He complained he already didn't have enough room in there.
    I quit on the spot, called the Board Of Health, and the place was closed within a few weeks.
    That was a potentially lethal violation, and it was beyond inexcusable to not care enough to correct that situation the momen it was brought to his attention.

    Some people who shouldn't be allowed to directly deal with real live human beings, end up for some reason or other, working in restaurants and bars.
    I can tell you some stories.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Ok, a quick one:
    My buddy in college got me a job bussing tables in a, for the Mid-Hudson Valley at that time, pretty expensive steak & lobster joint.
    He had worked there for couple of years, and got me an interview, and I got the job.

    I was going to college full-time, and working at Sears in Customer Service part time, but that semester, I was interning at a reperatory theatre company, acting, and couldn't work as much as I usually did. (Btw – back then, in the late 70's and first years of the 80's, Sears, was very good to me, because they let me work as many, or as few, hours as I wanted and needed, AND, had some benefits! Sears was a GREAT place to work, if you were a college student, back then! But, since I was interning, I needed a job later at night).

    So, anyway, I needed some cash, and my friend gets me the gig, and, on the 2nd night there, I pick-up a plate where the customer had eaten all of his steak but only part of his lobster. It had obviously been cracked open, and partially eaten, but I guess the "All You Can Eat Salad Bar," had served its purpose.
    So, I take the plate with the partially eaten lobster, and threw out said left-over lobster, into the garbage.
    At which point, the manager, who was in the kitchen, starts screaming at me, "How can you throw that away?!?!?!"
    I looked at him, and said, "Uh… Because it was partially eaten, and what else would I do with someone else's left-overs?"
    And the manager screams at me, "What the fuck do you think we make the fucking lobster bisque out of, you fucking moron! Pull that out of the garbage and give it to the cook. Whose friend are you? Never mind, you're fired!"
    "Fired," says I? "No, motherfucker, you're not firing me! I fucking quit!!!", yells I, at the top of my lungs.
    My friend comes running in, asks WTF happened, and I told him, "Thanks for the fun. But I'm done."
    If they take half-chewed lobster, cut it up, and put it in the bisque, I couldn't work there.
    He told me, "I should have told you, that's my fault."
    I looked at him, and said, "You know about this, and you still work here?"
    "Hey," he said, "It's a job."

    I'm still friends with him, over 30 years later, but I still can't get over dumpster-diving into the garbage, to salvage half-eaten lobster, to serve again in a bisque.

    And, that's nowhere near as egregious a thing as I saw, or heard boasted about.

    Still want to dine out?

  • @Hazy Davey, I had the equivalent of your "nickel tip" experience years back. It's lunch time in a business area, very late food, messed up orders, water that never came, and a general "well, what can I do?" attitude from the server. We sat there for something like fifteen minutes debating the tip issue (four or five of us, IIRC) and ended up leaving the monetary equivalent of a quarter (on upwards of 50$ table). But we took the time to write down what we felt went wrong, and how we could imagine things getting better. I don't know if they remembered us or just had a bad day that day, but we never had anything less than excellent service in that restaurant afterwards.

    Another similar experience with a very different ending- I was eating out with my wife on a weekend lunch, in a place we were kind of regulars at (enough that some of the staff could recognize our faces, but not enough for them to know names or favorite dishes). Again- late food, botched orders, asking three times for a glass of water, and as we were getting our main courses served, we asked the server if we could talk to whoever is in charge. The shift manager comes along a couple of minutes later, pulls up a chair to our table and opens with "I understand we didn't have the best of luck with you today". She was really great, didn't try to make excuses for anything, and we said that we really like the place and come there often enough (as well as ordering take outs), and hate to go back home with a negative experience. So she says "You know what? The botched entree is on the house, and we'll give you your drinks and a dessert for free as well." Needless to say, we added the balance of the "free" orders to the tip, and tipped 20% on what would have been the bill (standard tip around here is 10~15%). It ended up being more than 100% tip on the actual receipt, but I think all sides were happy with the end result.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    EVERY one has a bad day, and makes, mistakes.
    The way YOU handled it, was, just right.
    Sometimes, responsible people don't show up, because they, or their kids, or whoever, are sick, and throwing a temper tantrum is NOT the right approach.
    And, too many owners, don't give their "help," benefits, like sick or vacation days.

    We all need to realize, that the people who serve us, in any and every capacity, need, and deserve OUR respect, until they prove, repeatedly, that they don't.

  • For some reason people checking into a hotel that I worked thought it would be a good idea to be a total ass right from the start.
    They didn't much like the rooms they got next to the elevator or ice machine. Which people who weren't asses never got. I saved those rooms for the asses.

  • I once went to the UK and Sweden with two local foot ball players masquerading as serious business people. I have never been so embarrassed to be an American citizen in my life. They treated all European staff as they did in America with the biggest complaint that there was not enough bread during meals with all the ignorant comment to go with it. To this day I tip all servers over 25% because I can not .imagine working for the money they do and eating the crap they have too,

  • @CU: My cousin had a similar experience working for a posh restaurant in New Orleans. He came back from the floor with a bunch of oyster shells. As he was binning them he was told to give them to the dishwasher. The place used canned oysters.

    Something that I learn by working in hospitality is that anyone who says, "People are fundamentally 'good'" has obviously never worked in hospitality.

    Cops have a jaded view of people, but they're seeing people at their absolute worst.

    In "hospitality" you're seeing people as they are. You see everyone, and you get to see a cross section of moods. Sober, drunk, hungry, rushed, chilled, munted… you name it.

    I've come away with a sense that people people *want* to do good for themselves and for their immediate people, but that can mean being a nasty piece of work in the process.

    No, people are *not* fundamentally 'good'.

  • I've worked in the service industry. Restaurants and bars. It really does take skill to work these jobs. Be it a bartender, waiter, cook, or doorman. They all require a fine touch that if you cannot just walk in and do. I've did it when I was younger and refuse to ever do it again. I do not have the temperment. The general public tends to be 20% asshole, and 30% cheap asses. Always tip 20% minimum on bills and at least $1 a drink or keep your ass at home! Always treat your bartender/server with respect that you reserve for family. It may be the aunt you dislike, but all the same. Randomly tip your neighborhood bartender $20 on a beer and a shot if you have it to spare. I'm not super altruistic, I just want my pour to be a double while I pay for a single. That and I have never ever been kicked out of one of my local haunts. Praise the people who have the patience and kindness to let us have what we ask for.

  • @Xynzee: People ARE fundamentally good, but the right parenting and environment can take it out of you in no time.

    @CU: Thanks. I try to do right by any and all people that cross my path. But that's just me- obviously the Chads of this world try to do right by themselves, using any and all people that cross their path.
    Oh, well.

  • I think that treating servers poorly is a huge red flashing warning sign in a person, because it's an object lesson of how they will exploit a power imbalance.

    I think there's a pop-anthro book to be written about tipping, and what its practice means about national attitudes to class identity, labour and wages. Certainly, in my limited experience of reading US progressive blogs, on the introduction of the topic of dining or drinking out the commentariat falls over themselves to explain what lavish tippers they are. Most of the comments make clear that that's only partly related to them wanting to be remembered by the waitstaff as a mensch, and consequently being treated well next time they dine or drink there.

    Perhaps you are all, in tipping, expressing solidarity with the working poor, and compensating the serving staff for the fact that the true cost of their labour (in the form of a living wage) is not being priced in to the cost of your food. I got an unexpected look at my own motivations, though, in the form of brunch with my husband in Manhattan a few years ago. When the waiter brought the bill, it had added to it a service charge. It was less than I was intending to tip, but I queried it anyway. The waiter sent over a colleague, one of my own countrywomen (kind of), to explain that Europeans didn't tip enough to cover the taxes employees paid, and so they added it to make sure that waiters weren't stiffed. I paid it, and added an extra tip, but I realised afterwards that the money hadn't been the issue. In adding a service charge, my perception of myself as a seasoned international traveller, who knows how to behave in a bunch of local contexts, was bruised. It wasn't about the server at all, to whom I was no doubt one of an endless stream of polite but timewasting fools she had to deal with in a day.

    In my limited experience, the US has the most servile waiting staff in the western world. Some of that must be attributable to the fact that they depend on noblesse oblige to enjoy such frivolities as housing, clothing, and healthcare. (If you haven't ever worked in hospitality, then I can recommend Nickled and Dimed as a salutory introduction.) In countries where the serving staff are paid a more liveable wage, then service is something very different. I was especially entertained by the waiter who served my colleagues and me at a dinner in Geneva, who suggested that I should just eat the dish he'd brought me, rather than the completely different thing I ordered, because it would be kind of annoying for him to take it back to the kitchen and start again.

  • $2.13 – that's the federal minimum wage for tipped workers in the US. It hasn't been raised for inflation in over 20 years. Yes, %15 has been the traditional tip, but until the assholes in the restaurant lobby allow a raise, I think it falls to us to pay the servers. Personally, I do the math for 20%, and round a bit either way. Or tip 25% for great service. I don't feel generous about it either.

  • I'm all for eliminating tipping and paying servers a living wage. That said, restaurants would really need to train their employees. Anywhere but the highest end restaurant it's almost always mediocre service, and this is for a tip! I remember going to Europe, and I've never been treated more rudely or with more disdain. Now, I'm not an asshole so I don't think this is an argument against a living wage. I just think I, a mild mannered person and heavy tipper, would lose my shit if a waiter "suggested that I should just eat the dish he'd brought me, rather than the completely different thing I ordered, because it would be kind of annoying for him to take it back to the kitchen and start again." I'm glad that the lack of tipping makes him so bold, but that's unacceptable. But I like cooking my own stuff so no big deal.

  • One thing about restaurants and moods. Not a high end place but more the places where the riff raff such as myself go (and oboy, places in touristy areas). People are fucking cranky when they're hungry. My wife and I both have most of our arguments when one or both of us is hungry.

  • I've never understood someone that doesn't treat waitstaff, bartenders, etc. at least a little decently. Partly because I'm not an asshole, but secondly, you are trusting these people with things you are about to consume. They also have a lot of power over if you are going to enjoy your experience or not. Being a d-bag is begging for a less than pleasant experience. A couple of "thank-you's" and a 20% is well worth being able to trust your food.

    Of course this also comes down ridiculous our set up for the food industry is. Why we think someone who can barely make ends meet and may be working through some sickness because they don't get sick leave and health insurance and may have a terrible boss that is cutting back hours to avoid the horrors of Obamacare to cover some of that and is looking at this as a long term career because there isn't anything else will result in a pleasant dining experience is beyond me.

  • I can't say that I've ever had what I would call poor service in Europe.

    I've had mixed experiences same as anywhere else, but on average I didn't think it was bad – even in supposedly rude Paris.

  • I just think I, a mild mannered person and heavy tipper, would lose my shit if a waiter "suggested that I should just eat the dish he'd brought me, rather than the completely different thing I ordered, because it would be kind of annoying for him to take it back to the kitchen and start again." I'm glad that the lack of tipping makes him so bold, but that's unacceptable.

    I thought it was audacious, and of course I asked to be served the thing that I had ordered. I don't think a career in the service sector was the right one for him, but there was a small piece of me that was glad that he wasn't being (as far as I could tell) economically coerced to defer to me.

    I've had mixed experiences same as anywhere else, but on average I didn't think it was bad – even in supposedly rude Paris.

    I've never really understood why Parisians have a reputation for rudeness, but I adore Paris and its food, so may be partisan. I think that the service, particularly in the places with more formal dining, can be less than user-friendly. Rattling through a forty cheese cheeseboard in rapid-fire and very colloquial French is not immensely illuminating to anyone but a native, or very fluent non-native, speaker.

  • Doctor Rock says:

    Oh of course I would've tipped the guy in America. I'll tip anyone as long as they don't spill stuff on me and call me a kike. Can't say I offend easily.

  • I did have a waiter in Italy (in perfect English) request that I stop attempting to speak Italian.

    My butchering, no better make that murdering, of the language was probably hurting his ears.

  • RobNYNY1957 says:

    A few years ago, I had just ordered take-out from a neighborhood Indian (actually Sri Lankan) restaurant that has a very good reputation, reaching far beyond the bounds of the neighborhood. A young woman came in, announced that she was Elton John's personal assistant, and that she wanted to order food for Elton John and his entourage, which is Elton John's entourage. All of the food was to be prepared in advance and served simultaneously, appetizers, main dishes, desserts, drinks, for 12 people, and Elton John and his entourage would pay afterwards. The hostess, tried to explain in words of one syllable, that Mr. Elton could order just like any other customer, and if Mr. Entourage wanted to order, he could order like any other customer. After a couple of rounds of that, the personal assistant said something nasty and went away.

  • I was told that 'TIP' stood for 'to insure promptness'. It wasn't for the current service, but for service in the future.

  • Mt wife and I owned a small bar/restaurant in the resort area of Northern Michigan. As was mentioned up-thread the "Chad's of the world are legion."

    During the first couple years of ownership we accepted reservations, but we soon came realize that the "Chad's" of the world would make a reservation, be late, and if their table was given to another would become indignant. Regardless of the fact they were late in their mind they had a reservation. The reservation was a tool to show they were important and as such we should have waited for them to arrive no matter how late they were. We eventually decided that it did not matter who you are we did not prorate the price of our meals based on your social status or ability to pay. As business people we could care less who was buying a meal from us, the goal was to sell the meal while making the everyone enjoy the service, food, an ambiance.

    I can honestly represent I never dressed down a member of our waitstaff for how he or she treated a customer. at least not on restaurant floor or in front of any of their co-workers. In fact when I had an employee complain about a customer I would go out of my way to let the customer know that my employees are not paid to be treated poorly by them, but that I however was and so if they had a problem that should address it to me. If they were wronged, in my mind, I would make it right. If they decide to harangue or mistreat a member of my staff then no matter how what their beef was they were told that their behavior was not acceptable or appreciated. My job as owner/operator was to protect my staff, provide good meals and service, while making a profit. And you know what, it worked.

    One more quick story. One night, all 100 seats were filled. It was the middle of summer and the wait was 45 minutes. People were packed around the bar, and at the out side bar, as well as standing in the lobby. A man came in and wanted to know how long. I said 45 minutes or so. He said, "No, how long really?" I said " Forty five minutes or so" He used the old line "Do you know who I am?" My response was quick and simple. I took about a eight steps into the main dining room and walked to the closest table. Excused myself and grab a glass and spoon. I clinked the glass until the patrons attention was focused on me. I set the spoon and glass down and motioning to the man who had asked the question I said " Does anyone know who this man is? I don't know, and from his question do you know who I am, I am not sure he knows?" He left as my patron laughed and clapped. I never did find out who he was, and I often wondered if he knows who he is. The Chad's of the world need not be encouraged or rewarded.

  • I agree – I've been all over France, and spent many days at various times in Paris, and the rudest person I ran into was a perfume saleswoman in Galeries Lafayettes. I've had good service out of all our wait persons there, including one very patient woman serving us at a crowded lunchtime in the Rue Claire whom I asked directions from. And I am not a big spender.

  • What the hell? I wrote a whole long thing, and this fucking thing at all but the first line. I had a feeling as soon as I hit the button that I should have copied it, but I didn’t.

    Oh, so, fuck, I’ll write the whole damned thing all over again.

    ANyway, as you can see from my one line post, I never worked at a restaurant or bar, but I did work at my school’s law library. I sat behind a desk and checked books in and out, and got students things from the reserve shelves behind the desk, told them which floor things should be shelved on, things like that. I was just some lameass undergrad working two nights a week so I could earn enough money to buy a few beers every weekend.

    And I knew who the assholes were among the incoming students within a week of the beginning of the school year every fall. And if an asshole came up and told me that there was a book missing from the shelves and asked if somebody had checked it out, I’d look it up on the computer, and if it was indeed out, I’d say, “Yeah, it’s out.” That’s it. If they asked when it would due back, I’d answer, but only if they asked. If they asked me to recall it, I’d do that, too, but, again, only if they asked.

    If one of the nice ones came and asked the same thing, I’d answer, if it was out, “Yes, it’s out but it should be back in three weeks. Would you like me to recall it for you?” If it wasn’t checked out, and should have been on the shelves but wasn’t, I’d go back behind the desk and look to see if somebody had brought it back but it hadn’t been shelved yet, and I’d go over to the bookcart where the students left things after making copies and see if it was there. And all this without being asked.

    And all it really took was a little respect. A few little words like, “Thank you,” or “Please,” or “Hey, are you busy right now?” or “Hey, how’s it going?” go a long way. A little friendly chatting, a smile, a few words asking about how my classes were going–in other words, treating me like I was as worthy of respect and thoughtfulness as they were, even though I was only a lowly undergrad, and I’d go out of my way to help them. And when they were rude or snippy or behaved like I was something they’d just stepped in, then I’d do the least I could get away with doing for them and still be doing my job. The assholes never learned that.

  • I'm a cab driver and at the end of the ride I take the payment (usually only bills) and immediately stuff it in my messenger bag without counting it — because the job itself is stressful enough that I really don't want to give myself more agro by associating a crappy tip with a customer like Chad. The psychology of tipping is kind of twisted. But there's nothing worse than someone who's a jerk and then reinforces it by being a cheapskate.

  • Paul Gottlieb says:

    I don't know if it's any consolation, but you can be pretty sure that any restaurant or bar where "Chad" is a regular, someone regularly spits in his food or drink

  • This specific situation was a tough one: you are there with a friend and his friends, who are strangers to you. So you don't want to make things rough for your friend and maybe ruin the whole evening.

    Still, at some point the non-Chads at the table have to intervene, don't they? "Chad, dude, you're doing that asshole thing again. Knock it off." "Chad, jeez, we can't take you anywhere! Just chill."

    Years ago, I went out to dinner with my uncle and his family in San Francisco. The occasion was a rare visit from another uncle and his wife (my uncle J was the older brother; Uncle W was a big shot regional sales manager from Missouri). We got to the restaurant, and to Uncle J's embarrassment, it was closed that day. So we walked a half block to another restaurant, but they were getting ready to close. They still had customers, but they were shutting down.

    So my visiting Uncle W commenced to unleash a great big noisy hissy fit. "Missouri people would never treat guests like this! This is outrageous! I won't make my wife walk any further! I demand service."
    Blah blah blah. To my permanent astonishment, none of the rest of us told him to STFU. We just wilted with embarrassment. The restaurant manager relented, most of the menu items were sold out, the staff was courteous but not cheerful, and everyone except my Uncle W was really uncomfortable.

    I was pretty young then. I've worked at a lot of service-type jobs since, which has adjusted my attitude a lot. I don't think I'd have let my Uncle W rant for longer than 15 seconds these days.

  • I refuse to eat at restaurants with two of my relatives. My brother-in-law is a sales manager who would be a CFO if he weren't such an incredible asshole, and my niece-in-law, who has worked for years in the food service industry. The former takes huge pleasure in abusing the service staff (the word "asshole" is thrown around with abandon), but the most interesting is my niece, who has made no real income in the industry, but thinks that gives her the right to abuse the wait staff when we eat with her. I won't go into the details, but … my God.

  • I am wondering if I should feel guilty… I just went to an applebees with a friend. the waiter was always hustling, but never coming to my table, and never getting anything right. free soft drink refills never got refiled until we flagged him down, which was tough since he always seemed to be looking the other way… we asked for extra blue cheese and celery with the apetizer (wings) didnt get that. he didnt give us plates for the appetizer, again, hot wings and no drinks was annoying… he never came and asked us if everything was okay, never came over, waited inordinately long to bring drinks and our meal, and disappeared for 10 minutes after desert was over. the table next to us cleared before out meal came and they came in at the same time as we did. at one point a manager came over. she was friendly and got us drinks. we really wanted to tip her. in the end we left no tip since the manager disappeared. my friend thought the waiter was on drugs or something becouse he was always moving around but never getting anything done.

  • @Elle: never thought about it from the "power imbalance" perspective. But does make sense from a traditional marriage pov for women. Which of course could be a real threat. I just thought that it gave you a clue into the very nature of a person. If someone is nasty to service staff, then it won't be long before they're nasty to you. But it's something to bear in mind about the female perspective.

    What I think rankles me about the "service charge" you described is a feeling getting stung for a hidden cost. Like I do when I feel I'm being had by a mechanic or some other hidden charge. I don't feel so annoyed when either the "service charge" is stated clearly that it will be added on the menu, they build it into the cost structure or I'm adding a "voluntary" gratuity/tip. But that little bonus surprise not so much.

    @USMar70: can I come work for you?? :) You were purchasing something that no tip or pay packet could ever buy from their staff. Morale. Funny how few business owners do not get that treating the staff well and as important an asset as any they have will do wonders for their business. Happy staff who want to come in, makes an enjoyable place for the customer. That more than the menu and prices is what can keep a business afloat even in rough times.

    A good manager/owner won't reward the Chads. In the long run, they're bad for business.

  • @Xynzee

    I think it can be a way of getting a sense of the cut of someone's jib, with regard to the way they navigate power and authority. It's similar to asking what the receptionist thought of candidates coming for interview, because a lot of the same types of people are shockingly rude and dismissive to staff who are administrative assistants.

    I'm sure a huge proportion of women have stories about being mistaken for administrative assistants, having some guy be incredibly rude to them, and then watching him do a complete about face as he realises she's not in his meeting to take the minutes. I can forgive the ones who are just a bit patrician and patronising. The ones who demand coffee, or thrust bits of paper at me to photocopy because they assume women they don't know are there to do their scutwork, go on my Avoid Avoid Avoid list.

  • Elle:

    Many moons past, when guiding a new-onsite consultant, one of the very first lessons was, ALWAYS BE NICE TO THE RECEPTIONIST. Receptionists, admin assistants, the guy answering the phones, these are the people who are going to save your ass at a client site when your ass needs saving most. If you've been respectful of their position and capacity, they will do backward handsprings to help you.

    If you've been disrespectful and rude, that blade sticking out between your shoulder blades is probably there for a very good reason.

  • Management scholar and professor Bob Sutton wrote a book a few years ago called the "The No Asshole Rule." One of his quasi-empirical quick-and-dirty tests for evaluating the asshole factor was the way the person in question treats those with less power, especially service workers and subordinates. It's a nice little book, full of actual research insight into those insufferable fuckers we call "assholes."

  • The other danger is drinking with these types. These asshats are the kind that get you into situations in a bar where violence and/or threats of violence happen more often than not.

  • Some of these stories remind me of the Mexican restaurant in the movie Anchorman that's called "Escupimos en Su Alimento." That's Spanish for "We spit in your food."

  • Seventeen percent is exceptionally low. Twenty percent should be your baseline and go up from there depending on level of douche baggery.

  • I used to work as a Bouncer, it would only take a simple hint from one of the bartenders where I worked and we would throw him out.

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