Mind your manners, and your server


Every weekend, I spend an average of six hours a day waitressing at a local restaurant. While working late one night, a male coworker ushered me over to take a look at what a table had left him.

Sitting on top of the table was a credit card slip with a zero written in the tip space, a dime and a phone number. Placed carefully in a half empty glass of water was the plastic applicator for a female hygienic product. I was disgusted when I found out this “joke,” if that’s what you could call it, was not played by a group of immature high school students, but three college students. By the time we were off work, the only thing in their generous “tip” that came in handy was the phone number.

This has always been a problem in our society: people fail to realize the person on the other side of the register, tray or drive-thru window is on the same level as they are. To be fair, it is a rather subordinate position to be in-when you work in any type of service industry, your job description is to be at the beck and call of your customers. But college kids are often the worst people to serve. Our generation is one of eye rolling, talking or texting while being addressed, discussing personal issues at loud volumes and throwing fits when things don’t go exactly our way.

In Michigan alone, there are 404,900 people working in the restaurant industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that more than one-fifth of all food serving and related workers are between the ages of 16 and 22. So the chance of your waiter or waitress being someone you know, or at least have seen around campus, is pretty high. With numbers like these, it seems young adults should have automatically been trained on restaurant etiquette by now. But still, some people can’t comprehend the simple act of respect.

Traditionally, we’ve been taught to respect authority figures and our elders. When it comes to our peers, we’ve moved on from the no bullying or teasing stage. Now, we’re all on the same page – college students trying to graduate with as little debt as possible.

Servers know it’s their job to keep you happy, but really, they’re just like you. While they’re serving you, they’re probably counting down the minutes until they can go have a drink witht their friends. So when customers they think can identify with them are rude, it’s a slap in the face.

I would take a customer who stiffed me (and my $2.65 an hour salary) over a table who made me feel 3-inches small any day. A point comes when it’s not about the money anymore, but the complete disregard for manners and consideration that really hurts.

The only thing separating you from your waiter or waitress is that their feet hurt, they’re covered in other people’s food and they have to pretend to like you no matter what, at least if they want to keep their jobs. So let’s all take a page out of our younger years and treat people as we ourselves would like to be treated. And if you really can’t do it, at least don’t leave your phone number.