Monday, February 28, 2011

Tipping, gratuity: good service should be rewarded when you go out to eat

It's the end of the weekend and it's tax season, meaning that chances are, you went out to eat recently. Not at McDonalds or Wendys or even out for pizza, but at one of the many sit-down restaurants around the country. It could have been at Waffle House or Denny's after a late night. It could have even been at Applebees, Olive Garden, or Chili's with family, friends, or that significant other. It could have even been at Ruth's Chris. Either way, when you dine in at one of these sit-down restaurants, you are expected to give your server (formerly called waiter or waitress) a tip for their service.

These aforementioned tips vary anywhere from 0 to even 25-30% of the total bill. A minimum of 15% is suggested for adequate service. One must also bear in mind that servers only get paid around $2.13/hour for their services. They basically live off tips. Being that I enjoy a sit-down meal somewhere at least once/week, plus the fact that my mother used to be a restaurant server, I know all too well the importance of tipping for a job well done.

Now how would you define a "job well done" in the restaurant business? Well you have to consider the factors that the server can control. For example, they have no control on where or how long it takes to seat you, how long your food cooks, or how much the total bill is. A server should be friendly, courteous and genuine, present you with a menu, their name, and ask you what you would like to drink. They should give you a few minutes to order (no more than 5 minutes). The typical meal takes anywhere from 10-25 minutes to cook. They should check in on you at least every 5 minutes. In short, consider it the "rule of 5". After your meal is served, they should also continue to check in on you every 5 minutes, no more than 7 minutes. And if you don't see them for 10 minutes or more, that's unacceptable, even on a super-packed evening. A member of management or a co-worker should at least check on you during this time period. If the server fulfills all of these requirements (and are cordial at least), they deserve a tip of anywhere from 15%-20%. Calculating the tip isn't that hard. Simply multiply the bill by .15, and round up the amount. For example, 15% of 19.35 is 3.35. It shouldn't hurt you to simply tip $4. Outstanding service should not, depending on the size of your own budget/wallet, be less than 20%. Sometimes you may just wanna simplify things and follow the rule of 5 and tip $5. If your bill is $25 or over, the tip will usually be around $5 or more anyways. Restaurants such as Hooters typically have different unwritten rules. Tips of 25% (or even 110% if you're with the fellas and balling) is usually recommended and expected of patrons.

Now of course bad service doesn't earn a tip. I don't care if you're 18 or 80, YOU ARE NOT obligated to reward poor service. You can either give a reduced tip (less than 15%) or not tip at all if the service was that bad. It's almost like servers are working on commission. If you don't make sales/production in a commission-type job, you do not get paid, point blank. I believe that the same rules apply in being a server, or even a bartender. Another thing I've done before and I'm not proud of was tip a penny. I was extremely angry because my server basically paid me NO attention whatsoever, did not fill my tea hardly any. I mentioned in my very first blog how much I love sweet tea, and I consume quite a bit in one sitting. She also had an awful attitude. It was the absolute worst dining experience I've had as an adult. I even told a manager afterward how dissatisfied I was. I do know folks that will tip only a penny when the service is that awful, but I believe that's unnecessary and rude. Just simply leave no tip and be sure to find a manager after the fact if things went that far south. If the manager doesn't give you any satisfaction, go above their heads, to corporate if need be. There is a right and a wrong way for getting justice.

Also, here's a little known tidbit if you're paying with a debit or credit card. Even if you're tipping with cash or gratuity has been added in (typically for parties of 8 or more), write something on that receipt anyways. There is a blank space on the receipt between the meal total and the actual total after tip or gratuity. If you're not tipping anything, write a "0" with a line drawn down the middle. Failure to do this can often cause dishonest servers and such to write whatever they want in that line. Do not become a victim of that sort of crime.

Black folks, for a variety of reasons, tend to undertip or not tip at all. I encourage black folks (even with Black History Month almost at an end and ESPECIALLY with CIAA tournament festivities in Charlotte, NC coming up this week) to please at least tip your servers 15% for adequate service, and 20% if you can. It's good practice, and shows being grateful for a job well done by the servers.

You have to also put yourselves in the shoes of those restaurant workers. They often work 8-10 hour shifts, constantly on their feet, often no breaks, and can feel worthless. Showing a little kindness (and an adequate tip) can make a difference in their day and performance.

Finally, you don't want to be the person whom they recognized from your last visit and they "accidently" drop your food on the kitchen floor and put it back on your plate and serve it to you. Karma is real, and it doesn't hurt to be kind to folks.

Monday, February 21, 2011

There is a season, turn, turn, turn,...

Yes sure there are seasons, no denying that. We have the basic weather seasons: Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer (although in certain parts of the USA and world, these can vary), the sports seasons: football, basketball, baseball, racing, golf, etc. There are also fashion seasons, workout plans often devoted to certain seasons, even wedding and breakup seasons. That's a lot of seasoning for something that's not usually even a food item!

Now I'm the type of person that has a hard time going by the traditional diems of a season. I'll start with my workout sessions. Now I'm no fool and I try to be fit and safe. Therefore, when it's sub 40 degrees outside, I'm not going to be outside running. That can wreak havoc on a person's joints, especially at my age. However, I know many folks that choose certain times of year to focus on certain body parts, goals, etc. For example, I know many folks that instead of trying to lose weight at the first of the year like many "Holiday Hoppers" I know, they try in the Spring and Summer, where you will usually sweat more due to warmer conditions. Then you have folks that lift weights and love to spend the winter months building mass. All of this is fine. However, a season shouldn't necessary determine what your workout plans should be, especially if you're in an indoor gym. Climate usually goes out the window then.

Then you have vacations. Many folks like to take vacations during the summer months where it's beautiful and can go to the beach, on cruises, the lake, and such. Plus for those that have children in school, and/or are schoolteachers, it's the easiest time to take time off from work. All of this I understand perfectly. This is why I will usually only take my extended vacations in any month but June, July, August, or September. So many people take that time off, and it's easier to get the time off from work during the other months. Plus, even the hotel and airline industries hike up their rates during peak vacation times. Therefore, it's much cheaper to go during the off-seasons. Also, cruises are dirt-cheap during September-October (hurricane season). I personally don't like to take that risk of going on the Carribean seas when hurricanes are running rampant. Many do, however.

I mentioned in an earlier blog of my passion for grilling. Grilling is commonly done when it's warmer weather outside (April-October). However, there are those that grill year-round, and I'm cool with that of course. I even have a friend whose father once grilled during a blizzard!

Sports makes a lot of sense far as seasons are concerned. Basketball and hockey are more popular as indoor sports when it's more colder and people just want to be inside more. Baseball, softball are better when it's warmer and the grass is alive and green. Football is similar, except it's more of a fall sport. One doesn't want to be out when it's too cold (although football in the snow can be fun), and it's kinda miserable to play and watch football in smoldering temperatures.

My thing is to use common sense when doing any type of activity, and of course availability, cost, etc. Don't let seasons, weather, affect every type of activity you may do. Once again, the two key words are common sense. I won't even get started on those that choose to leave Christmas decorations up year round. That seems to run rampant in the South.

Speaking of the South, it seems there are really 2 and a half seasons instead of four: summer, more summer, fall/winter (with some spring and summer sprinkled in once/month). That really confuses a lot more of the paradigms and theories that folks have when it comes to seasons.

Monday, February 14, 2011

New Zodiac? How can you measure love compatibility now?

I'm being sarcastic here with this title.

For generations, many folks (especially astrologists and females) have used the 12 astrological signs (Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius) for various methods of comparing folks, identifying them, and measuring love compatibility. And now there's a 13th sign, Ophiuchus (for those born between November 29th and December 17th). This bumps back every other sign now according to new zodiac sign charts. Under the old standards, I was a Cancer. Now I'm supposedly a Gemini. What the heck???

I figured since today was Valentine's Day, this would be an appropriate topic to discuss. I've been suprised over the years the various ways in which women choose their mate. Finances, education, skin color (light, dark), body type, height, and now zodiac signs. The perceptions of the latter are definitely skewed now for those sorts of folks.

Zodiac and astrology should be used with caution and logic. I definitely believe the moon, Earth and stars has a profound effect on our emotions. However, the recent observation of a 13th zodiac sign proves we shouldn't have blinders on in these analyses. For example, Cancers are supposedly most compatible to Scorpios. I've been attracted to many Scorpios, but their traditional traits are that are jealous and possessive. Those are BOTH negative traits to me, so how can I be fully compatible to a Scorpio then. Could it be because I am now a Gemini? Give me a break!

Now what about horoscopes? I definitely can't find much validity in those. You can read horoscopes off of 3 different websites and out of two different newspapers. You would be hard-pressed to find any two that are exactly alike. I know I have yet to.

I'm not saying astrology and zodiac signs are complete hogwash. What I am saying is don't obscess over it and based your entire life around it. Many folks are already calling the scientist that discovered the 13th sign a nutcase. I'm not sure what to perceive of it. Except that I was born a Cancer, and I think that should make me a Cancer for life. Nothing against Geminis, but I don't wanna change to a Gemini in my 30s. That is ridiculous!

I also encourage folks to pick your mate based on your love and affection towards them and how compatible you ACTUALLY are after learning about each other, spending time together, etc. Don't use each other's signs to determine that. It does not always work well. If it did, horoscopes would be more consistent, the divorce rate would be lower, and you wouldn't have so many single folks on this day of love.

Zodiac signs can be worst than stereotyping folks based on race, size, age, etc. It's another trait if you ask me. Let's see people for people, the human race. The technology age (of which I have a love/hate relationship with) has already made society more interpersonal. If we continue to rely on ever-changing, flawed factors such as zodiac signs, things are doomed to fail.

Happy Valentine's Day and my hope is you are NOT with your Valentine's (or staying away from a potential Valentine) just because a certain indicator (not a deal-breaker, those are different) told you so. Free your mind, and use your own mind and instincts.

BONUS BLOG: 2011 53rd Annual Grammy Awards comments

-Aretha's getting honored! She's such a diva!
- LL's about to pop out of that suit.
- Don't you just like how the Grammys jumble about 10 different artists together at once, on one stage?
- Y'all still don't sound like Aretha!
- Don't forget the lyrics, Christina!
- The Grammys appears to be a geriatic experience
- Florence and the Machine looks like they could be Ron Howard's daughters
- Who else can sing "Respect" other than slim J-Hud?
- What about that outfit Christina has on?
- Not feeling that short hair Yolanda
- It's FINALLY over! That was a long tribute!
- What's wrong with Aretha anyways?
- Train, smh! That video looks like it was filmed in the NoDa district of Charlotte
- Here's "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga. She's about to hatch out of that giant egg on stage!
- Gaga's hair halfway looks normal
- Lady Gaga is ripped tho! Look at those abs and pecs!
- I'm feeling this song!
- Blake Shelton is country as cornbread
- Miranda Lambert is hot, but I'm muting and changing the channel during this performance
- Lenny Kravitz looks like a bat
- Muse???? They sound like a group that would perform during halftime of the Super Bowl
- They are wild???
- OMG, the special effects looks like Tetris!
- Of course you gotta have Ryan Secreast
- I've been waiting on this performance
- Janelle Monae, I didn't butcher your name this time!
- B.O.B.'s rocking the monocle!
- They've gone back to the 60s now!
- Get it Janelle!
- And now she's crowd surfing
- That's REAL music right there!
- Sorry, don't get too much into country
- Dang Eva, you're leaving TOO much for the imagination
- Justin Bieber didn't look like a woman back in 2007
- I loathe both Usher and Justin Bieber, but I'm watching this performance for Jaden Smith
- That's a lot of ninjas!
- The Grammys are basically one huge concert. We at home don't even see many of the awards being presented.
- Get it Jaden!
- Will and Jada are such proud parents
- Usher's sweating like a whore in church
- Muse! Muse! Muse!!!
- And the winner is MUSE!!!
- Selena Gomez looks grown
- Mumford and Sons, WTH?
- Lady Gaga wins again! Are those butt pads she's wearing?
- Now get off the stage Gaga!
- LOL @ Letterman!
- And Bob Dylan looks drunk!
- Clay Matthews! Packers baby, green and yellow!
- Lady Antebellum are butchering Teddy P's song
- Didn't know The Kings Of Leon were from Tennessee
- Jamie Foxx sounds very hoarse
- Cee-Lo Green, get it!
- Are those Muppets he's performing with?
- NBC called Cee-Lo, they want their peacock back!
- There's the soon-to-be single Katy Perry!
- And what's the deal with artists performing sitting in swings?
- Isn't Katy Perry pregnant?
- John Mayer looks like Johnny Depp
- Why is Seth Rogen talking like a robot?
- Now this is the BIG performance: Rihanna, Dre, and Eminem!!!
- Maaan they bleeped out a whole sentence from Eminem's part
- It's Dr. Dre!!! Those kicks are bright white
- Eminem and em killed it!
- Esperanza Spalding is Best New Artist! Take that, Bieber!
- But dang that dress looks like it was made by a 1st grader
- This old man from the Grammys talking is annoying #thatisall
- How has Mick Jagger went all of these decades without performing on the Grammys?
- Is this "old man night" for real?
- WTH? Barbara Streisand? Where's my trusty, mute button?
- Hope they're cheering that loudly because Barbara's gone
- OK and now for the coon portion of the awards show: Nicki Minaj. And Nicki needs to take that cotton candy off her head
- HELL YEAH!!! Eminem wins Rap Album of The Year!
- Whoa there's Beyonce'!
- So Diddy is Puff Daddy again?
- What's up with all of this fire tonight?
- There's J-Lo looking tasty
- Never heard of Arcadia Fire. They don't sound bad either
- WOW The Grammys ACTUALLY went off on time!