Attending a summer boys camp for the second year, I remembered watching the boys who had become waiters in the dining hall the previous summer. Knowing that they got paid for serving three meals daily, and thinking the job looked quite simple and easy, I applied for a spot on the team and got it.
Within a couple of days on duty, I learned that my fellow campers were not always pleasant or patient. I’d hear:
“Why is the food taking so long? Can’t you speed things up?”
“Wish you’d check back on our table more often.”
“We keep asking for water, and you haven’t brought it.”
“You forgot the bread.”
Ever since those few weeks of waiting tables, I’ve had special appreciation for servers in the food and beverage industry, whether I was eating at the most expensive restaurant or the most moderately priced. These people work hard. They smile when customers complain. They somehow manage to serve large groups effectively. They tell us that day’s specials without reading a list.
As we know, their jobs got tougher during Covid. Temporary shutdowns and permanent closings put them out of work for weeks, without compensation. Afterward, many returned so that people could enjoy dining out again.
Recognizing how much pleasure the wait staff and bartenders give us, I have a seasonal suggestion. In this traditional month of generous giving, I recommend that we go significantly above our usual tipping percentage. A few dollars more from each customer will let these hospitality kings and queens know how much we appreciate them year-round. And remarkably, as we leave the dining establishment after exceeding our usual gratuity level, we will have enjoyed the meal, place and people more than ever.