Culture

Dear Servers: I'll Tip Extra if You'll Stop Interrupting My Dinner at Inopportune Times

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What if, and this is crazy big thinking, the waitstaff at restaurants didn’t interrupt the conversation at the table?

I will tip extra — perhaps double — if the server will not interrupt.

Here’s the thing. I was a waitress for six years, and I know the job well. It’s a lucrative business for those who learn the science, and it’s a highly respectable trade to balance orders and timing and trays of food. In fact, I think everyone should have to wait tables before they can ask for anything at a restaurant. It’s a hard job with long hours and tired feet. And it’s surprising how easily people get angry when they’re hungry.

I respect waiters, waitresses, hostesses, servers and waitstaff. Seriously, heaps and gobs of respect. Hear that.

But when I’m out to dinner, be it with a friend, my parents, a date, I came to spend my evening with that person. I actually didn’t come to spend the evening with the server, though I am deeply thankful for his/her role in the evening.

Instead of walking up to the table and diving in with tonight’s specials, what if you waited just a moment to let the guests finish their sentence?

Instead of asking if I need a refill, what if you simply brought a freshly filled glass?

Instead of paying zero attention to the fact that my son is crying over a hard day at school, what if you took the social cue and walked away to give us a moment?

Instead of talking every time you come to the table during the meal, what if you just make yourself available, check in silently, and know that every single one of us will ask you for something if we need it?

I can’t count how many times a dinner companion and I have arrived at a climactic part of the story, or the great punchline, or perhaps we are having a very serious conversation that involves low voices and eye contact, and the server plows in with, “How is everything? Can I get you a box? Would you like one box or two? Can I take your plate? How about yours? Any dessert tonight? Leave any room, hmmm?”

Here’s the deal, sweet server and food transport consultant, just be aware. There’s a lot you can deduce about the condition and needs of the guests by just observing. Please don’t interrupt every, single time. You just don’t know what might be happening at this table, and you might have seriously changed the dynamics in an unfortunate way.

I’m not trying to be disrespectful or to sound even remotely unappreciative of those who serve me when I dine outside my home. I tip well for their service, as a rule, every time.

I’m starting a campaign. Spread the word.

Servers: make it less about you, and earn twice as much in one shift. I, for one, will thank you generously.

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