The Rudest Question

So I’m having lunch and the server brings my bill, which amounts to $10.75. I put $20 in the folder, with the money showing at the top. The server picks it up and says, “Do you want change?” I bite my tongue to keep from saying, “No, honey, I mean to tip you a hundred percent, even though you never filled my water, never checked to see if everything was all right, and spent time playing kissy-feely with the busboy.”

Gently I explained to her that money sticking out means the guest wants change. I also say gently, I hope, “That’s a really rude question. The only proper response when a person is ready to settle up is ‘I’ll be right back with your change.'”

I waited tables and tended bar for many years and never, ever would have dreamed of asking such a question. It’s like the server deciding how much I’m going to tip. And it sounds like that person should be “flying the sign” on the corner with the other panhandlers. It diminishes the dining experience and casts the staff member as greedy, lazy and/or clueless.

When I’ve called servers on their rudeness I’ve had some tell me, “The management trains us to say that.” Then I, maybe not so gently, ask for the manager and ‘splain to him/her, Lucy, that I won’t be back and will not recommend the establishment to others until it changes its training procedure. I get a lot of defensiveness, but I’ve also been thanked because they’ve had no idea how people resent the question.

I may be tilting at windmills with my campaign to bring civility back to social interactions but I don’t care. I’ll keep doing it, and Sancho Panza’s got my back, baby.

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