How to make your server’s life easier

Alayna Howard, Reporter

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Are you thinking of going out to eat to celebrate this holiday season? That’s great! The holidays are a great time to visit your favorite restaurants, try something new, or take the opportunity to show friends and family some of your favorite dining spots. And since it’s the holiday season, and everyone likes being nicer around the holiday season, I’ve made a list of a few things you can do to help the people who’ll be making your dining experience possible.

  1. Be aware of yourself and your surroundings.

Obviously, the wait staff is going to work with you. Even so, it’s always helpful to be aware of traffic patterns in a restaurant. Make sure that while you’re heading to your table, or removing your coat before you sit down, you’re aware of the space and people around you – getting distracted by a TV and hanging out in the aisle makes it difficult for servers to get to and from tables and impeding a walkway might also block a server as they try to deliver someone else’s food to their table. Keep your surroundings in mind when you’re navigating a restaurant to avoid spills and generally make everyone’s dining experience a bit easier.

  1. Don’t be afraid to communicate.

Are you in a hurry? Would you prefer to dine leisurely? Do you have any food allergies? Often, your server will be able to read the pace you’d like to dine at, but don’t be afraid to politely inform your server if you have a movie to make soon or if you’d like to sit and take your time with your meal. Communicating with your server when you have a timing preference will make them able to customize your dining experience a bit, as well as ensuring that you leave happy and on-time. Additionally, if you have a food allergy, be sure to express that – servers often have a way to let their kitchen staff know about allergies so that proper health measures can be taken. Your server wants you to leave happy and healthy, and communicating helps them ensure that.

  1. Let your server know early on if you have a problem with your meal.

Keep in mind, there is very little chance your server had any part of making your meal. However, sometimes mistakes happen, and sometimes you might get a dish that’s not quite what you expected or not as tasty as you’d hoped. Let your server know as soon as possible so they can do their best to improve your meal. Your server wants you to be happy and enjoy your food, so let them know if you think something could be improved. It doesn’t help anybody out if you wait until after the meal to let your server know, and making a server feel guilty after you’ve finished doesn’t make your meal better. Give your server the opportunity to help you out.

  1. Give your server your attention.

When your server is at your table, they are taking that moment to devote their attention to you and your needs. Therefore, it’s courteous to do the same for them. Your server isn’t intentionally trying to interrupt your conversation; they’re simply trying to attend to your needs in a timely manner. If the server is describing the specials or telling you about the drinks they serve, they’re providing that information so that you know what’s going on and can decide how best to spend your money. Additionally, if your server takes the time to introduce themselves, don’t interrupt – they’re just trying to personalize the experience for you a bit, and interrupting someone is always rude. Things happen and if you do this accidentally your server might not even think twice about it – it’s part of the job – but keep in mind that the person in front of you is a human; your drink order can wait a moment.

  1. Remember that your server is almost always busy.

You’re the customer, and you deserve to have your needs met in an efficient and timely manner – no one would argue that. But there are ways to make sure your needs are met without being rude or inconvenient to your server. Never interrupt your server while they’re at another table because you likely wouldn’t appreciate the same thing happening while they’re at your table. Additionally: When is the last time someone snapped at you to get your attention at your job? If that happened you’d likely be incredibly offended, right? If you need your server for something, try to make eye contact or maybe a small wave to get their attention, but never, ever snap at someone. Your server is an adult trying to do their job, and being snapped at is degrading.

  1. Tip as you see fit, but maybe consider a few things.

Little-known fact: It’s very likely that your server is not being paid what’s usually considered “minimum wage.” This means that, at least in the state of Missouri, it’s very likely your server is being paid less than five dollars per hour by the restaurant. 15-25 percent of your bill is considered an average-to-slightly above average amount to tip, so if you have especially good service, try to keep that in mind. It’s your money, and how you spend it is up to you; some people simply don’t leave a tip, and sometimes the service might be bad, so make your own decisions on that. But keep in mind that your server likely has a lot going on and that they aren’t getting paid a very high wage to take care of you, so supplementing that a bit with an adequate tip is a great thing to do.

Now, serving is a job, and dining is an experience. It’s not on the patron to ensure they’re making someone else’s job easier, and it’s part of being a server to deal with inconveniences. But being empathetic, understanding and aware of your surroundings can make a world of difference to your server, which will often result in an improved dining experience for you. Happy eating!

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Student newspaper of Park University
How to make your server’s life easier