Dining out is meant to be a fun and pleasant experience. We show up, we sit down, we order, we eat, we pay, and we leave. But while that may sound like a rather straightforward experience, there are actually a host of unspoken rules that you really should be playing by.
A restaurant worker's job is a lot more difficult than it appears. Hosts don't just wait for a table to open up and then seat people there; they follow a complex system to make sure that reservations are honored, servers share the workload equally, and everything keeps moving. The servers aren't your servants; they need to be doing a constant and seamless juggling job while standing for hours on end, all the while making sure that everyone gets what he or she orders, and all with a smiling face. The bussers' and runners' sole job isn't to bring you ketchup; they need to make sure that the right food goes to the right person, water glasses are filled, and dirty plates are cleared.
There's a lot that needs to happen in order to allow restaurant service to go smoothly, and while guests are obviously paying customers, there's no excuse for them to act like jerks. It would seem like common sense to simply be nice, but for a lot of people, impatience and self-centeredness flips on the moment they enter a restaurant. There's obviously an issue when it takes an hour to receive your food, and in certain situations it's okay to bring problems you have to a manager. But don't assume that the root of the problem is the server, and don't take it out on him or her.
Some things that you should never do in a restaurant are fairly obvious, but others probably don't come naturally to some people. So the next time you're at a restaurant, put yourself in the staff's shoes for a little while, and follow the Golden Rule: be nice to them, and they'll not only be nice to you back, you'll have made their day a little better. And don't just tip, tip well!
-Dan Myers, The Daily Meal
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