She was not a good waitress. She got there soon enough and took our order okay, but she didn't quite have the interaction correct. She did good with the whole "start with the lady and go around the table" thing, but while she knew there was something wrong with what the lady was ordering she couldn't quite put her finger on it or get the point across. She brought the wrong beer. She forgot our water. We waited forever for our soup. She forgot our bread. She gave the next table the wrong check...twice.
So somewhere in there we asked her if she was having a rough night. She looked at us. Okay, let me finish that sentence. She looked at us quizzically. We informed her that we had heard her tell the next table she was having a rough night, that is why we were asking. Hahahaha. She laughed. It was cute, I liked it. She said that no, she wasn't having a bad night. She was experiencing her first Friday fish fry as a waitress in a Northern Wisconsin resort town. It was her fifth day as a waitress. Not her fifth day on that particular waitressing job. It was her fifth day as a waitress EVER. Ahhh...now we have an answer.
That explained it all. The nervous niceness. The slow service. The forgetfulness. The whole package. It all made sense once she told us that. I would be nervous as hell too. Luckily for her for whatever reason that particular restaurant wasn't as busy as usual that night. Wait times that usually stretch over an hour were roughly half that. Yet she was still struggling, and she was still visibly nervous, and I can't say that I blame her.
So she put us in a quandary. She was not a good waitress, but that doesn't mean she couldn't be or wouldn't be. And it doesn't mean she wasn't making an honest attempt. That being said, we still didn't get good service. So how do you tip her? Do you give her a good tip for making the effort? Do you give her a bad tip because of the bad service? A bad tip might discourage her and stunt her development, but how does she know that she needs to improve if she gets a good tip for bad service. What do you do in that situation? That's the question. I sort of want to keep going back and sitting in her section, gradually increasing her tip as she gets better and better, just so she sort of gets it and knows she is improving. Then I would be helping her better herself and I would also be getting myself out of answering the question we just asked. I could tip her badly but if it's part of a bigger, overall helpful plan I don't feel like such a dick. However, we all know that is impractical. So how do you answer the question?
There is a bigger question too: how do you act in this situation? What does one do? Especially once one knows The Waitress is new. Do you act like she is a normal waitress who is terrible and not caring? Do you exercise infinite patience? I guess that depends on the type of person that you are; it goes back down to the basic dip switches of ones personality. You know, how one is wired on the inside. The Waitress, through her very ordinary struggles of learning a new job, has boiled everything down into what kind of person one should be. Wow. I'm not going to tell you how to be. I'm not going to tell you how we were, because it doesn't matter. The world needs all types. She needs the bad tip to learn what is and what is not acceptable. She needs the good tip to know that there is hope for the future. She needs someone who is a total a-hole so that she can appreciate those who ask to be seated in her section and treat her nicely. That's just the way the world works. Good chases evil. Evil makes good, good. That's just how it is. All of this from The Waitress. I guess she wasn't so bad after all.