After reading the recent great post at Orthonomics about tipping for religious services, I'm going to post about an arena where tipping is more traditionally expected. Restaurants.
Now, it has been quite some time since we've been to a restaurant, and even longer than that since we've been to one with our kids. RaggedyDad and I probably eat out an average of about 3 to 4 times a year, though there's no shortage of kosher places in the NY metro area.
I'm also not a big fan of taking small children (ours are 3.5 and almost 1.5 years old) out to restaurants. It's usually not fun for the parents, the kids themselves, and the kidless patrons, who usually don't need any more fuel for the kid-hating fire that burns within :)
But, yesterday we were urged to join in on a last-minute family celebration. My brother and sister-in-law (with 3 young-ish kids of their own) wanted very much to take my parents out to celebrate their birthdays. My parents' birthdays fell out last week, and are within three days of one another. How I managed to survive being brought up with two Aquariuses as parents really baffles the mind, but I digress.
My parents are also going away for about 2 weeks in a couple of days, and this was an opportunity for us all to see them. The restaurant was very nearby. And the reservation was not particularly late. So off we went.
Overall, it was a lot of fun. We had a great time, and it was more or less a family-oriented place (hey, this is Queens, not Manhattan!) so there were no issues as far as having the kids there. Six adults and five relatively calm kids. It was fine.
But one thing really irked me, and still does. At a table next to us sat a middle-aged couple who just had this angry, farbissiner (bitter) look on their faces the whole time. If a comment about our (quiet) kids had been made, it would have come from them, and I sort of braced myself for the possibility.
Instead, the husband of this couple chose to trounce on the waitress. You see, the owners and staff of this restaurant are Israeli. The couple in question were not. The husband apparently asked for black coffee with (for?) dessert, and the waitress misunderstood. She came back saying it was not something they serve, and suggested espresso, capuccino, or whatever instead. It seems like in her mind, she translated to 'cafe shachor' which might be something else in Israel.
Whatever the mixup was, the man obviously thought it was ridiculous that he couldn't just get a cup of black coffee, and made a fuss about it. He explained what he wanted in a haughty way, and the waitress apologetically said, "I'm sorry, I don't think I understood what you were asking for."
At that point, the man coolly replied, "Well, understand this. You're in this country now."
The waitress took it like a pro, and left to get the man his coffee. But I was so appalled by what he said, having heard the whole exchange directly to my right (crowded place).
This type of rudeness to a service person is so low and base because he knew full well that he could get away with it. She was not about to risk her job and answer back over something so trivial. But it was so condescending, so nasty, and so upsetting to me. I knew that if I didn't say something to the waitress it would bother me later on. I've worked in food service, and gotten my fair share of nasty remarks. But a kind word from someone who sees it your way can help.
Soon afterward, as we were leaving, I discreetly approached the waitress to tell her, derech agav (by the way), that I thought it was totally rude and wrong the way that the man had spoken to her. She kind of shrugged it off, and made light of the incident (I realized she was thicker-skinned than I am!), but still gave me an appreciative smile.
Let's hope I don't come across Mr. and Mrs. Rude again around here anytime soon. Ugh!