Meeting up with someone new, who’s basically a stranger, can be really nerve-racking. But so can being a server on a Friday night who’s really counting on tips to make ends meet. As someone who’s worked in the industry (and still misses a lot of things about it), I’m here with some helpful hints that will benefit not only your server but you and your date as well.
On any given night of the week, a server with a four- or five-table section is looking to turn their tables at least three times. This means that they’re hoping to serve at least four sets of customers at each table. It’s how they’re going to make their money that evening. Once the check comes, you pay, leave your tip, and leave so that they can seat another party at their table and repeat the process. But what happens if you’re having a great conversation and just want to sit there and enjoy it? What happens if you’re super nervous and feel the need to combat nerves with alcohol? What happens if your date is a jerk and puts you in a foul mood, ready to punish the next person you come into contact with? I’ve got you covered.
1. Try to order quickly
Alternatively, let your server know when they come to greet you that you’ll be taking your time before ordering and would like to sit and chat for a while beforehand. This will help you and your date by giving you some space in which to get a conversation going without being interrupted by your server, and it will help your server by saving them the time they’ll be taking to constantly come back to check on you when you’re not ready to order and they’ve got other tables to look after. Either way – whether you order right off the bat or ask for some time to be left to your own devices – awkwardness will be avoided all around!
2. Do not overindulge!
Oh my good gracious! No one wants to refuse service to you! This is not a personal affront to you. But it is a legal liability. When I was in the industry, both as a bartender and as a server, I luckily didn’t have to do this too many times – but the times I did have to refuse service to someone were never, ever fun. I remember a man actually tailing me through the restaurant, begging for me to take his drink order after I’d said I couldn’t serve him anything because he’d been way too intoxicated when he sat down. Think someone seems like a kind, jovial individual? Tell them they can’t have another drink.You know who it is embarrassing for? You. Click To Tweet
Y’all will go from being best friends to having them tell you that you deserve to die real fast. But if I can tell within 20 seconds of talking to you that you’ve had too much to drink, you need to thank me for not giving you more alcohol, not harass me. Look, I know it’s embarrassing, but it’s not really embarrassing for me. You know who it is embarrassing for? You. Also, your date – if you care. By the way, we have other things to take care of without coddling your infantile feelings and entitlement to get THE MOST WASTED EVER. And being too intoxicated is a very easy way to ruin a conversation. Do yourself, your date, and your server a tremendous favor and keep the drinks to a minimum.
3. If your date isn’t going well, don’t take it out on your server.
A combination of rattled nerves and bad conversation can put anyone in a sour mood. I know it’s not easy meeting up with someone for the first time. Will they like you? Will you like them? Will they turn out to be a Trump supporter?? Good grief, I certainly hope not. No one can know for sure how the date is going to turn out before it runs its course, but please, don’t take out a shitty interaction with your date on your server. I promise, 99 percent of the time it’s not their fault. I know they make an easy target because chances are you don’t have a personal relationship with them and probably could go the rest of your life avoiding seeing them again, so the consequences for lambasting them are minimal to you. But for one thing, it’s just not nice. For another thing, it will likely make things worse. Do you want your date seeing you treat people like garbage just because you’re feeling miffed? This isn’t going to diffuse any tensions at all. It’s going to make you look like a jerk to both your date and your server, and could potentially ruin everyone’s night. We’ve got feelings, too! Please consider them before you take out your negative feelings on us!Do you want your date seeing you treat people like garbage? Click To Tweet
(note on this one: we’re also aware that sometimes people will actually go out of their way to condescend or mistreat people in order to impress their date – DON’T DO THAT! NOT ACTUALLY VERY IMPRESSIVE, DEFINITELY NOT WORTH IT. Find another way to show off for your person!)
4. Keep it moving.
This is probably the most important one. Like I said, the servers are depending on tips to make their bills this month. So, let’s say the average bill for two people is $50. At a rate of 20 percent, this means your tip ought to be $10. But remember, your server is hoping to turn that table a few more times before the end of the evening.(Dear Lord, you sweet thing, please be safe - sorry, that's the mom thing, I can't help it) Click To Tweet
Not only this, but they usually have to tip out other restaurant employees from bussers to barbacks, which is going to cut in to the cash they get to take home. Rather than staying put, gazing into each other’s eyes (with adoration or enmity – can’t say which!) try a change of venue. Going to a new location for dessert or another post-dinner activity not only frees up the table so that your server can make the most of their shift, it also offers opportunities to keep the interaction with your date from becoming stale.
5. If you decide to set up camp.
Let’s say the conversation is just too riveting for you to consider pulling up roots and risking a disruption in flow. Let’s say you’ve found a really cozy spot that’s great for people watching. Maybe the ambiance is just right. You can’t put a price on good lighting, am I right?? Should you decide to stay put, consider tipping your server for the amount of time you’ve taken up space in their section. I had customers do this sometimes and it was incredibly helpful. I distinctly recall a couple from Germany (important to note because tipping is typically not practiced in Europe, since, you know, people just get a living wage there – I know, so weird) sitting in my section for over three hours one evening. They were just there to take their time and relax. They really didn’t order much, just a few appetizers and drinks. And let me tell you, on a busy Friday evening I was definitely starting to sweat around the two hour mark. At one point when I’d stopped to check on them – again – one of them smiled at me and said, “You know, we’re fine, we’re just taking our time and chatting. Don’t worry, we know you work for tips.”You can't put a price on good lighting, am I right?? Click To Tweet
Their bill wasn’t high, but they tipped according to the amount of time they’d spent in my section rather than based on the total of their bill. It more than made up for me not being able to turn that table, since in addition to being paid commensurately for my time and energy, they were also quite pleasant and extended treatment to me that made me feel human (which can unfortunately feel rare at times in the service industry). If you don’t feel like moving it along, that’s fine! Just keep in mind that the server needs that table and time as an opportunity to earn.
6. Don’t fight over the check.
No one wants to hang back in the shadows trying to figure out whether or not you’ve finished this conflict. Like, please don’t. If you’re hell-bent on paying the check whether the date goes well or poorly, leave your card with the host/hostess or give it to your server at the beginning of the meal (a trick I learned by going to lunch and dinner with my lovely sister who is always reluctant to let me pick up the check – haha, gotchya baby!). You won’t even get a chance to argue over this. If you’re not entirely certain you’re prepared to foot the bill, ask or suggest that you split it according to what each of you have ordered or ask the server to divide it evenly between you. Also, if you’re not committed and your date offers to pay, maybe suggest splitting it and if they insist, go ahead and take them up on their offer – if they didn’t really want to pay, they wouldn’t insist upon it (um, right?).
This isn’t meant in any way to discourage or dissuade you from going out and meeting people. By all means, swipe to your heart’s content! Swipe until you don’t have fingerprints anymore! (That last part could actually come in handy at some point!) It’s just that there are millions of people out there who are being plagued by inconsiderate behaviors like those mentioned above (and worse) every day at their jobs.You won't even get a chance to argue over this. Click To Tweet
And in case you didn’t get this part – you’re fucking with their money and when someone fucks with your money that really, really sucks. So fire up those likes and superlikes and whatever the hell else y’all are doing these days, go in with your game face on, and keep in mind that you and your date (oddly enough) aren’t the only people involved! Happy dating. (Dear Lord, you sweet thing, please be safe – sorry, that’s the mom thing, I can’t help it).