It is becoming more and more clear to me every day that people simply do not have a grasp on good restaurant etiquette, so I have decided to outline it in hopes that this might enlighten even a few people who genuinely don't get it. Here are some good rules to follow (written from a somewhat personal perspective):
1. NO OUTSIDE FOOD/DRINKS
Do not bring your own food/drink items into a restaurant. The smell may be unappetizing to other diners (or to me), and it is not the job of the waitstaff to clean up food that you did not purchase from them. Leave your birthday cakes at home unless you plan to tip for the services (keeping the cake during mealtime, bringing the cake to the table, providing any utensils or plates, etc) that allow you to enjoy your little public party.
2. CONTROL YOUR CHILDREN
I am not a babysitter. It isn't my job to worry that your kid will slip and fall while racing across a slippery floor. It also is not my job to scrape his macaroni off of the floor. I don't allow my child to trash your workplace. Don't allow yours to destroy mine.
3. WHEN YOU ARE FINISHED, PLEASE LEAVE
This is a restaurant. It isn't a convention center, a coffee shop, a hotel lobby, or an airport terminal. Restaurants are for eating- not visiting. When you have finished eating, drinking, and paying, kindly leave. When you sit at my table for an hour, you are costing me an entire other tip from the people who didn't sit there because you were STILL there. Unless you plan to tip for two parties, get up and get a move on. You are officially delaying productivity.
If you can't afford to tip, you cannot afford to eat out! Period. Tipping is not optional. It is not a bonus. Oh my goodness! Surprise! I don't make minimum wage. I don't make half of minimum wage. I make a whopping two bucks an hour. Do you know why? Because you are supposed to tip me- and well.
Speaking of tipping well, here is a news flash! 15% is no longer the standard rate of tipping. 18% is the standard rate and 20% is, obviously, better. 10% is a slap in the face. If you don't like percentages, then here is an easy way to do it (For you Tennesseans). In our great state, sales tax is 9.5%. If you look at your ticket and double the tax, you are leaving a nice tip. If the service was excellent, throw in a couple of extra dollars.
A pat on the back, applause, or verbal compliment does not pay my bills or feed my children. Do not tell me that I provided you with great service and then leave an average tip. Not only did you just contradict yourself, you also just wasted more of my time.
5. DON'T ASSUME
Don't assume that you know me. I have a life outside of these four walls. I have friends. I have a family. I might have kids. I might not. You don't know. If I seem like I am in a bad mood, then guess what? I probably am. I am human. Aren't you? Don't take it personally. Have a heart. Who knows, you being nice could turn my day around. Karma, my friend.
I hate to quote the movie "Waiting" because that movie paints all servers to be nasty and ill-spirited, but they said it best:
"Don't f*** with the people who handle your food!"