Sunday, March 23, 2014


I had dinner last night at a French private kitchen that I had heard a lot about. The food was good but nothing amazing and I have decided not to say the name of the place, not because it wasn't an amazing experience but because I want to hide the fact that I was in the large dinner party, in case anyone was at the venue also. We were invited by a friend of the organizer and at least can say that we didn't know the others, which is more than our friend can claim. SB and I are still flabbergasted that our friend would associate with half of the attendees.

Having worked in the service industry I can assure you that it is not easy to serve large groups.  Cooking that much food so that the dishes arrive on time is a feat and then there are a bunch of people wanting refills all at different times. Two ladies in the group changed their orders well into the first course.  At the same time,  the server was pretty bad. He was inattentive for a place that charges what they do, and he told us a few things that weren't correct. On top of this, when someone complained to the manager, he was a bit strange, calling her 'sweetie' and sighing instead of behaving in a more serious manner.

But nothing the manager or server did was deserving of the disdain and rudeness shown by several members of our group. They complained about the prices, announced to the server that he wasn't getting a tip, and by the time dessert came around, two of the couples were making fun of the food so loudly that I wanted to flee. My instinctual flight response kicked in strongly and it was all I could do not to leave SB alone at the table with another equally mortified couple. Instead, I suffered until the bill arrived and then I couldn't get out of there fast enough. Wealthy, privileged brats and they were arguing over pricing and trying to withhold the mandated 10% service tip. SB and I weren't the only couple to throw money down and run off. It was an awful experience.

That was something that I hated about the US service industry: reliance on tipping for wages. How is it fair that if the food was bad, your avenue for showing displeasure is to punish the server? And let's say that the service was poor. Does that make it ok to not pay the server at all so he/she was essentially working for free? At least in Hong Kong the staff get paid real wages so that a tip is truly a bonus.

And isn't it interesting that the people who can most afford to tip are the ones that don't? Is it lack of awareness or something else?

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