The Rain in Spain: V

A Recurring Study on the Etiquette of a Gentleman Through Examples in Modern Cinema
Lesson #6: A Gentleman Respects His Waiter (or Waitress).
Over this most recent of holiday seasons (which I again hope was delightfully memorable for all of you by the way) I was given the "privilege" of an introduction to what was quite frankly some of the most outlandishly rude behavior I could have imagined. A particularly prickly relative of mine (whom shall remain anonymous in name and physical description) I discovered, possesses an absolutely uncanny ability for making any individual involved in a service industry completely despise them with a burning hatred typically found nowhere this side of the fifth level of Hades. The behavior was astonishing. Snide comments, infinitesimal tips, and an utter disregard for feelings that would surely be admirable to the likes of Stalin or Machiavelli.

Unfortunately, we all know someone guilty of this heinous behavior--an arrogant, detestable attitude of ignorance that presents itself as nothing short of bigotry towards anyone in the service industry merely trying to make an honest living. Of course, the truly refined gentleman would rather die than be marred by such a pathetic, self-important image.  The man of etiquette always treats others with the utmost respect, even if their behavior is far from praiseworthy....


So to help, here are some things to remember while you're interacting with your next waiter, waitress, valet, customer service agent, or retail employee:
  1. Actually acknowledge and make eye contact.  There are very few things that would inspire someone to dissolve a bit of cyanide in your soup, but being made to feel invisible and unimportant could certainly be one of them.
  2. Use the person's name in the conversation. Whether you spot it on their name tag, or they write it on the table with a crayon (I do love Macaroni Grill), use the person's name throughout your interaction.  This instantly brings an air of friendliness and charm to your brief relationship--which in turn makes the person exponentially more likely to go out of their way to help you should an issue arise.
  3. Tipping is NOT optional. Unless, of course, the individual is unforgivably rude or the service was genuinely horrendous.  Otherwise, never opt out of a tip.  People in the service industry often have hourly wages far below that of jobs outside of the public eye and therefore rely on tips to make their livelihood. And if you're like me and always wondering which is the appropriate tipping amount, check out this easy breakdown I stole from the American Gentleman blog
  • Waitress - $1/drink or 20% of your total tab
  • Cab Driver - 15-20% of the fare
  • Valet - $1/bag or a $2 minimum
  • Waiter/Waitress- 20% of your total bill
  • Barber - 15-20% of the cost of the cut/shave
  • Hotel Front Desk - typically 20 bucks can score you a room upgrade 
      4.  Pick up after yourself.  You're a blasted grown man, right? Then the least you can do is moderately tidy up your table before you hustle out the door.  And take it from a former retail associate, nothing makes you the most hated customer in the solar system faster than your filthy, tornado-like customer hands all over the freshly-pressed rack of sweaters on which I've just spent 3 hours of my 12-hr. Black Friday shift folding.
      5.  And, of course, ALWAYS say Thank You.

Respect for others is the habit of the gentleman.  And if the above list has yet to persuade you to abandon your pompous, aristocratic ways, might I suggest you find and watch a copy of the film WaitingI think you'll find it good for your soul, but probably not for your appetite.


  1. As a waiter fresh off of a shift (it's 1:05 AM by the by) I would have to say this is all accurate (especially the Tipping/Thank you portion). Also remember, your exceptional tip made up for the last rube who stiffed your server---
    and kudos to "A Bit of Fry and Laurie"!