I am breaking my posting principals regarding posting about bad tips, but I have some questions I would like answered. First off I understand that tips are included as a standard service fee in Europe. The system there is totally different than it is in North America, both in the wage/tip system and in the social stigma attached to working in the Hospitality Industry. For those who don't know, serving in Germany, France, or many other European countries is considered to be a respected trade. Many Europeans complain about the poor standards of service in North America, and I agree. I think that the social attitude taken towards those who choose a career as servers perpetuates the whole system.
In Canada and the US, most servers are seen to be unskilled labour, students, and flakes. Can't cut it in the real world, well you can always be a waiter. I have done my time working in fine dining popping $6,000 bottles. Often the people I served made less money than me, and yet they still felt the need to demean my occupation.
So here is the impetus for this post; I served two English couples last week. That alone is enough to make most servers cringe and reel with terror. I usually don't mind serving Euro's for this reason. They understand the steps of service and even though they tip like shit, at least they will listen to you while you recite the night's features, they will not ask you for a desert menu while you are clearing their dinner plates, and they will order appropriate wine for their meal selection. A French couple will never remark at the white Chardonnay you bring to the table and say, "Oh, we wanted the red Chardonnay."
This table of Brits was my lynchpin, the best table in my section. They had the highest bill and were the a pleasure to look after. The owner sent a round of Amaro digestives to them on the house, and they left happy. The gentleman who paid the bill shook my hand on the way out and thanked me for the great service, he indicated that he had left a little something extra for me on top of the bill. I smiled and shuddered. Upon further inspection, the "Something Extra" was two ten dollar bills. Less than 5%. Clearly like most Euro's, he had assumed that gratuity was included in the charge, and that leaving cash would allow me to keep those tens all to myself. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Nudge my ass.
So here is my Question, I would love to hear from some Europeans on this;
"After weeks on vacation, dining in many fine establishments, and leaving little or no gratuity, is there an AHA! moment, an epiphany? Does someone explain the system to you, and are you suddenly racked with guilt for all those great servers who you utterly stiffed, screwed, and actually cost money? Or do you just not give a shit?"
I am genuinely curious.
My tip-out is roughly 6% of after tax sales, so that table cost me money to serve. Even still, I have a hard time discriminating and lowering my level of service based on race or origin. I suppose I will just have to deal with the Euro factor forever. I just want to know if they care.