To tip or not to tip: Restaurants dish up gratuity grumbles
There's a lot that can ruin your night out when going to a restaurant in Bermuda. Is the food going to be good? Am I going to get good service? Will I pick the right wine? Are the people sitting in the next table going to be loud and obnoxious? And the list goes on.
Despite all the risks, I enjoy going out to a good restaurant but here a few things that really leave a bad taste in my mouth.
When arriving at a fine eating establishment, the first person you come across is the maître'd. You know? The one standing behind the pedestal with an open book that looks like he's Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates, and if he finds your name in that book you shall be allowed to enter the kingdom. So when you arrive, you say to the man in the bow tie 'I have a reservation' and with that, the maître'd looks you up and down appraising you and with a condescending expression he replies 'You... have a reservation.... here?' He then looks down on the holy document, 'Ah yes sir, it will be one moment' and with that you move to one side so that others might also go through the same ritual.
It isn't long before your name is called. You look around with a smirk on your face, glancing at the other waiting peasants, as if to say, 'I have been chosen. My name has been called. Watch as I enter', and as you do so, you also look at the patrons that have already been seated, hoping that you recognise someone, so they too can see that you have been selected.
Once seated, the first thing I always do is grab my napkin, 'cause I know if I don't get first dibs on this piece on cloth, some strange man will grab it, give it a shake and place it between my legs and the reaction on my part will be punching him in his face for getting too close to my private space. Sorry, it's just a reflex.
"Would Sir like to see the wine list”? Well yes, Sir would, because Sir needs to check what the cheapest bottle is, and if Sir leaves it up to the man dressed as a penguin, it's going cost twice as much as the meal.
So after the wine ritual, I'm presented with the menu. This is the part that really gets my blood boiling. At the bottom of the menu, and usually written in very small italics, as if that makes it sound posh, are the words 'For your convenience a 17 percent gratuity will be added to your bill'.
Well … um, no it's not convenient to me at all, thank you very much! First let's look at the word 'gratuity' in the dictionary; it means a gift of money over and above payment due for service such as to a waiter or bellhop, something given without claim or demand. Now you see the bit that says 'something given without claim or demand', well on this menu, it's actually demanding, it's telling me I'm going to pay the 17 percent whether I like it or not and that I have no say in the matter. Which is not what the word 'gratuity' means at all.
I was always told the word 'tip', as in giving a waiter a 'tip', stands for 'To Insure Promptness'. It's money that you give to the waiter at the end of the meal, and the amount is decided by the paying customer without being dictated to. If I have a good meal and my waiter gives me great service, so much so that I know I will return, I will give the waiter"a tip as if to say 'I was pleased with my dining experience here, and I will be back but look after me the next time I return'.
Picture this if you will, a Mafia boss goes into an Italian restaurant and fills up with wine and pasta, and as he walks out he calls the waiter over, and says 'Heya Luiggi, youa dida gooda tonighta yes? Heresa leetle somethin' for youa. Go buy your woman somethin' nicea okay?' And pinches Luiggi on the cheek followed by a slight tap on the face. You see, it's not that Luiggi gave Don Juan great service (because if he didn't, Luiggi knew he would be 'sleeping with the fishes'), it's because he knew he would get a little extra from the Godfather for a job well done. My thinking is that this should also apply in Bermuda's restaurants. We should have the right to determine what the gratuity should be, not the restaurants.
Anything getting your knickers in a twist? E-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org
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