I’m going to talk about some stereotypes servers deal with everyday. Now, I might not come off as politically correct, but the human mind isn’t politically correct, and sometimes habitual thinking gets the better of us. Let’s go over the typical stereotypes first, then we’ll talk about ways to get around them.
Disclaimer: Don’t be a racist. You will probably get fired.
1. White people: You will serve mostly white people, at least if you live and work in Las Vegas like I do. The problem with white people is that they know the menu better than you do. They’re also stuck up, believe they are your only guests, and will rarely tip you over 18%, even if you gave them awesome service. Also, when you bring food to the table, they will look at you like you’re a fucking idiot before they realize you’re holding what they ordered. Then they’ll stare at you blankly while you patiently wait for them to make room in front of them so you can drop off their plate. They will then inform you that they asked for no cheese on their cheeseburger, and the garlic mayo instead of the regular. Also, two sides of ranch, please? You will inevitably walk away from a table full of white people wanting to strangle them in front of their children.
2. Black people: Strawberry Lemonade. ‘Nuff said. If you’re establishment offers flavored lemonade of any kind, they will order it, drink it like it’s the last drop of lemonade on earth, and then ask for a refill. Black people require free refills on anything they drink, and will never order anything that doesn’t have free refills. They also tip like shit. 5% is common, no matter how well you treat them. They will monopolize any time you have left after dealing with the demanding white people table with their endless refills alone. The same goes for food. If your establishment offers endless anything (ribs, shrimp, et cetera), they will order it. Then they will proceed to eat your restaurant owners out of house and home. Black people are some of the best tables to bullshit with, and are almost always in a good mood and have a lot of fun with their servers, but they simply don’t know how to tip.
Asian people: Asians like to share. They’ll order individually, then ask you to drop their plates in the center of the table so they can share. That shit is annoying, because then they’re going to need share plates. Also, Asians never drink anything but water, driving your check average down. The good news is, they will rarely try to alter menu items or make special orders, but like black people, they don;t know how to tip.
Europeans: Just like white people, they will monopolize your time and send plates back to the kitchen at the slightest discrepancy to what they believed they told you they ordered (then punish you with a garbage tip if it’s a kitchen error), but they also tip a lot worse than American white people, because traditional tip percentages in Europe tend to be lower (between 8 and 12%).
Latinos: Latinos are great. If you speak a little Spanish, they get really excited because they know they’re going to get what they’re asking for. They are also the most stoic of guests. If their food is running a long ticket time, they don’t really make a fuss. They rarely, if ever, alter menu items or make special orders. But for fuck’s sake, leave at least half of your 20 kids at home please? Much like a late night trip to Wal-Mart, Maria’s 20 kids create all sorts of problems. Do they simply not beat their children south of the border? Because they need to learn how. Seriously.
I don’t aim to offend anyone with this post, I’m simply giving you an insight into the way your server thinks. I’m not a racist person, but it is just too easy to assume things about a table when I’m walking up to make a greeting because in my experience, 100% of everything I’ve said is true about 80% of the time. I get surprised all the time, and that’s great. The good news is, since I know these things, I’m never disappointed when a table acts exactly as I’ve described.
So how to deal with stereotypical guests? Let’s examine them individually.
White people: Read their order back to them. Do this 100% of the time. Run your own food. Food runners and other servers don’t give a shit if something went out wrong. You have to own white people tables from start to finish, every step of the way if you want to get a good tip.
Black people: Suck it up. Get those refills out in a timely fashion, and engage them in conversation as often as you can. Get them talking. Learn and use their names. If they ask for anything special or off-the-wall, especially if one of them is celebrating a birthday, do it cheerfully.
Asians: Be polite as possible. Most Asian cultures are very structured, so politeness is a must. Speak clearly and succinctly, as many Asians you serve are not speaking English to you as their first or even second, but fourth or fifth language. Pre-buss their tables as best you can to eliminate the clutter caused by all the food sharing they do.
Europeans: See white people. Duh.
Latinos: Speak to their children directly, especially during the ordering process. It lets them know they’re being watched not just by their parents. It also builds repoire with the kids, which means they’re less likely to cause problems and create messes, since they’ll literally like you. Simple Child Psychology 101.
In the end, as a server, don’t be a racist. You’ll get surprised by people who don’t follow the stereotypes you’re used to, and end up in trouble for it. Treat everyone the same, and let the chips fall where they may. No matter what color someone is, no matter how much of an asshole someone is being, their money is green. They pay your bills, and the restaurant’s bills, so take a breath, count to ten, strap on that fake smile you’ve gotten pretty good at wearing at work, and get to it.