Warning: Lots of words in this one. Sort of boring. No interesting photos. If you're new to this blog, you should probably scroll down the index page and look at something else.
I've been thinking about this topic for days. And here I finally am. Because...
I REACHED SEASON SIX OF LOST! Last night. Around 4 a.m. Which in the scope of human accomplishments is about on par with managing to break the vacuum seal of a stubborn jar lid. Just think about all those hours, poured into a show that makes little sense...[single tear rolls down cheek]...but in my mind, that's part of the fun of watching it. At least I know the end is near. I would've gotten frustrated with it a long time ago if I had tried to watch it from the first day it aired.
So. Back to food. Ish. Related things.
You may have noticed that I rarely talk about the service I receive when I eat out. This is a combination of having low standards and luckily rarely encountering bad service. As Al said at lunch last weekend, I'd probably have to get stabbed by a waiter to think, "Man, that service was sort of subpar. And gosh, look at this mess I'm making, spurting blood all over the floor. I should clean this up. Oh nevermind, I just fainted."
For as far back as I can remember (circa 2004; my mental cogs aren't in the best condition), I could count the memorably crappy restaurant experiences independent of food quality on one hand. I usually tip around 20% no matter what service I get when I eat in New York City. Methinks this practice came from regularly reading Waiter Rant and books by Anthony Bourdain, except they would probably tell me to tip more for exemplary service, and I rarely do that, nor do I tip less for just okay service. My tipping practices are on autopilot. Ideally I'd be a more generous tipper when the situation calls for it, but hopefully I'm fair.
What I left out of my recent post about Village Tart was that the service was iffy. Out waiter was super attentive—perhaps overly so—for most of our stay, until the very end when we wanted our check. That part took seemingly forever. I think we ended up asking another waiter for it. The place was much busier when we left than when we got in, but still; it's not a big place, and bringing a check shouldn't take more than 15 minutes, right?
But I'm so used to waiting for stuff that it didn't stick out in my mind as crappy service. "People forget stuff; whatever. Not like he stabbed me in the chest." Maybe I'm too laid back.
Back to the "super attentive" part. This was another, "This is sort of annoying, but whatever," thing for me. The waiter came to our table more times than average to ask if we wanted anything. We probably looked like we wanted something else, seeing as all we started off with was a tart and two pots of tea and we held on to a menu. But how many times does it take for the question, "Would you like anything else?" to turn from "attentive" to "holy jebus, stop being pushy"? I don't know; I didn't count. At some point we did order something else: the disappointing $9 arugula salad that I mentioned in my previous post. Hooray. Fail.
Maybe it was the question "Would you like anything else?" that was annoying, the underlying message (whether intended or not) being, "You should order something." This past Monday I ate at Rub BBQ with Greg and we were asked by at least three different employees how we were doing while eating dinner. That didn't feel annoying; it just felt like we were being taken cared of. (The waitstaff at Rub are nice. And I love their burgers.) But it's not like we would've wanted any more food considering Greg had a Flinstones-sized beef rib and I had a burger and fries.
I don't remember how much we tipped on the final bill at Village Tart, but safe to say, less than 20%. My friend paid with her credit card and we left the tip in cash. Unfortunately, she found out that they charged an extra $3 to her card. Ruh-roh. (That's "uh oh" said in Scooby voice. Why? I dunno.) In all my years of eating out and paying by credit card, that has never happened to me. Could it be chalked up to human error? Sure; humans make mistakes. But the other explanation is someone wanted a bigger tip and didn't think she would notice. (She called the restaurant and got her $3 back.)
I always lean towards giving the benefit of the doubt, but no matter the reason for the error, make sure to save and check your receipts, if you don't already.
So that's the full recount of our Village Tart experience. Maybe I should've written that in my last post (although I didn't know about the extra $3 charge until after I wrote it), but I'd much rather focus on food unless there's some terribly shitty service going on.
I've been thinking more about tipping practices since reading David Sax's curmudgeonly New York Times article "Hey, Waiter! Just How Much Extra Do You Really Expect?" and Waiter Rant's response. Two very different looks at tipping, of course, with lots in between if you read the comments. I don't feel like delving into their posts; I just wanted to point it out in case you were interested in reading way more about tipping than you may have thought about before. You should probably do something else though since it's a Friday night.
And after reading all that...I honestly still don't know what to think. And I don't really feel like talking about it anymore since I used up my Friday night writing this rambling post when I should've been shoving food porny photos in your face (next post!!!). I've never been a waitress, nor do I ever want to be one after hearing about how much it potentially blows. I preferred the system in France where the tip was usually included in the bill and you could leave a few Euros behind if you really wanted. Here, I'll probably continue with my fixed 20%. Until I get stabbed.