UnderCover Waitress: Dear Abby

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dear Abby

This is great -- all the way back to December 14, 1965 in the Pittsburgh Press. Waitresses writing to Dear Abby, the famous advice columnist, about how customers seem to think they are stupid because they can't read minds.

Perhaps back then the rules had not yet been cemented. Today, if you want separate checks you ask for them. Don't ask, don't receive. These waitresses in the 60's were dealing with ambiguity. Some people thought that it was silly to bring one bill to one person when lots of people were dining at the table. Others expected one single check. What is a waitress to do?

Separate checks these days will cost you. In our little restaurant, when a table asks for separate checks the manager sticks an 18% tip on the pre-tax bill. This is for two reasons: 1) the extra time and work for the waitress maintaining separate checks, and 2) the fact that many people who want separate checks are penny pinchers. It comes down to if "I don't want to pay for your drink when I drank water," then "I probably don't want to tip, either."

Three cheers for Abigail Van Buren's words of wisdom: "Waitresses are not mind-readers." Word to the wise today: ask politely for what you want.
Dear Abby

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