Issues On Which I Cannot Even Get Started In Polite Company

Remember that stand-up comic character on SNL whose punchline was: "Don't get me started. Don't EVEN get me started"? Well, if you're ever inviting me to a dinner party, here's a handy primer of topics to blacklist, lest the table erupt in a volley of "You shouldn't have gotten her started. You shouldn't have EVEN gotten her started."

Overuse of the word "nerd": So let me get this straight -- I suffered years of psychologically abusive bullying as a kid, and now everyone wants to be a nerd? Hey y'all. Just because you like to knit or you've read the Harry Potter books five times doesn't mean you're a nerd. Talk to me when you've hosted your first couples-only LAN party.

Claiming that waitresses should earn tips instead of expecting them: Look, if you can't afford 18% added to the bill, then you can't afford the meal. Period. If they go above and beyond, feel free to tip more, but unless your waitstaff ruins your life or your pants, they still need that 15% to pay their rent. Express your displeasure with a note to their manager.

People leaving their trash in movie theatres after the show: Why is this the cultural norm? Come on, dudes. Which is easier: one hundred people each picking up one thing? Or a pimply-faced teenager whose life is already hard enough being given twenty minutes to round up a metric ton of melted Milk Duds?

Twenty-somethings who want to write memoirs: Congratulations. Literature is becoming reality television, and you want to be Snooki.

Jon Stewart's stint as an Oscars host: What do all the great hosts have in common? Say it with me now: stand-up pedigree. Jon Stewart's a hilarious guy, but he is in essence a television writer; after a decade of only performing to synchophantic Daily Show fanatics, he just didn't have the experience to handle it when jokes bombed. I -- I can't even keep talking about this. It makes me too angry.

Oh look, I got started anyway. What topics do you have to be physically restrained from going on about?

Posted by TKOG from Not That Kind of Girl.


Nina said...

A friend of mine met her husband at a LAN party, bless them.

just out of interest, who are your favourite Oscar hosts? i don't really watch award shows and i don't watch John Stewart so i'd like a heads up.

That Kind Of Girl said...

I'm old-school, but I think there isn't a better host than Billy Crystal. Although I also liked Whoopi as a host, and thought Steve Martin was terrific last year (though Alec Baldwin was mostly man-candy -- though admittedly in my favorite flavor). And though some people had a problem with him, I actually thought Chris Rock was pretty darn good!

Anonymous said...

YES on the movie theater trash! I thank my parents for not instilling that bad habit in me - I was always expected to throw away my own trash so I've never really thought about doing otherwise. I figure if you can carry your food into the theater, you're plenty capable of carrying the empty wrappers out.

Robyn said...

GAH so true on the waitress statement. This happens most often on dates. The kind of dates that are both the first and the last all rolled into one.

While we're on the subject of dating, actually, your last point applies. I was once interested in a very smart, cute guy at my university. Until he mentioned he was writing a memoir. I don't care how interesting your life is (and his was, but that's beside the point)-- you are 22. Wait a little longer.

magnolia said...

re: waitstaff and trash - SO true. both of those things are symptoms of the bigger issue: people are way too damn selfish. it's repugnant.

besides the serious "don't get me started" things (religion and politics, especially around my family), i have to add people who let their kids get away with murder, but act all smug about how "well-adjusted" the little hell-beasts are...

N said...

The nerd thing? Completely agree.

Don't get me started on misuse of quotation marks - or air quotes.

Suniverse said...

I loathe people who don't / won't tip. Seriously. It just makes you look like a selfish ass.

Anonymous said...

On your statement about people that think a tip should be earned and not expected, if a server needs the tip to pay their rent, they should do their job. Being rude, and not doing a satisfactory job does not warrant a tip. If the tip is expected it should just be added to the bill. Now if the server does and excellent job and the customer is not leaving a good tip, than that is just wrong.

RMb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RMb said...

i could not agree more with you about the tipping: but i would like to add everyone who works for tips to that list -not strictly waiters/waitresses. my sister agrees with me on this. anyone who works in the service industry deserves no less than 30% (unless they call you an asshole to your face, then they deserve 20% because they're probably right). i'm serious.
(forgive me, but) i think tarantino had it right in resivoir dogs where the entire cast gives mr. pink shit for not tipping.

ps. sorry for the double post! stupid internet...

Anonymous said...

Tips? Except here's the thing, and you already said it perfectly: waitresses SHOULD earn tips. The issue isn't that I can't afford an additional 18% on the meal, it's that I have certain expectations when it comes to dining out and if a server is rude or unconcerned with their patrons then I don't feel that I should have to finance their attitude.

If its hard to pay rent without that 15% tip then he or she could reconsider their career path. If your job is to wait tables, then do it well. Otherwise look into being a physicist or professor.

That Kind Of Girl said...

Oh man, I have such deep regret for even mentioning the tipping thing. Truly, the ongoing tip debate is my version of abortion debate: no one changes anyone's minds, and everyone is heartbroken and/or angered by other people's testimonials.

I will say, though: 1) waitstaff should absolutely never be rude; 2) if you look up the minimum wage for tipped employees in your state, you might be surprised at how low it is (as in, in some states it's $0/hr, once taxes are taken out); and 3) when people talk about tips, you can always tell who's worked in retail and hospitality, and who hasn't.

I, for the record, prefer the company of people who have. Darn near exclusively.

Anonymous said...

I'm on the fence about the whole tipping thing. Where I live, minimum wage is $8/hr. That's the same pay you get for taking care of kids (ie daycare), where there aren't tips. Who deserves it more?
In places where minimum wage is much lower, I understand the tip thing. But when waitstaff are being paid the same amount as so many other jobs?

Melissa said...

Thanks for mentioning the tipping thing- where I live (Florida), minimum wage is $7.25, but there is a separate minimum wage for tipped employees, which clocks in at a whopping $4.23 an hour. That's before taxes are taken out. If servers don't get tipped at all then the employer has to cover their wages up to minimum wage, but some restaurants (such as the one I work at) require a tip out from the servers. So if you don't tip the server is essentially paying for you to eat your meal. Try telling me that's ever justifiable.

L. said...

Weighing in on the whole tipping debate, because I cannot believe that it’s a topic to debate.

Yes, wait staff should be held accountable for their job performance. A rude or inattentive server is not acceptable. All jobs, however menial, should be performed with dedication and a good attitude. Nobody should accept a position without being willing to, y’know, do it. That all being said . . .

A server who has taken your order, brought you your food, refilled your drinks and then brought you your check HAS DONE THEIR JOB. Unless s/he has spit in your food, insulted you, sat texting friends while your food grows cold on the counter, made a mistake and refused to correct it, etc., s/he’s fulfilled his/her wait staff duties. Outside of mitigating circumstances like these ones, by completing the basic steps of Restaurant Game as agreed upon by society and the restaurant industry – take order, bring food, bring check – the server has, in fact, “earned” their tip.

Gradations of tip amount based on perceived performance I’m willing to grant you. If you think that performing the minimum requirements of Restaurant Game merits the minimum tip amount as agreed upon by society (i.e. 15%), that’s your prerogative. If you want to slide the scale up for the waitress who flirts and giggles at your corny puns on the dish names (which I guarantee you she’s already heard twenty times over and does not actually find amusing), have at it. Just remember that nowhere in her job description does it say it’s her duty to be the life of your personal food party. Being polite and attentive is not defined by fawning over your every whim and high-maintenance demand.

The restaurant business has grown more and more competitive, and with that development have come higher and higher expectations as to what constitutes good service. This change is not intrinsically a bad thing; I understand expecting more from, say, a French Laundry or Sel de la Terre than from an Uno’s or a T.J.I. Friday’s. At the same time, there’s been a concurrent sense of entitlement creeping into the dining experience that is truly deplorable.

Continued . . .

L. said...

. . . Continued

Consider, for a moment, the typical flow of your eating-out-evening: you go to a restaurant and sit down at a table, usually set, perhaps decorated. You are presented with a list of food options long enough to boggle the mind of any Third or Second World citizen. You order whatever you want and often modify it to fit your personal requirements. You sit and do absolutely nothing while SOMEBODY ELSE COOKS YOUR MEAL AND BRINGS IT TO YOU. This— this experience is one of the loveliest and laziest ones available to modern Americans. Why in the world would you mar it with self-righteous complaints about the brightness of the waitress’ smile or the speed of her walk while she’s bringing you your complimentary bread? If you really can’t see why you’re the true winner in Restaurant Game, perhaps you should travel to eat dinner with my mother, where you will eat whatever is put in front of you – and be grateful for it – and march your own fool self to the stove to put it on your plate. Breakfast and lunch are on your own. Don’t even ask about brunch.

Eating out is a privilege, bottom line. One you pay for, yes, but you have to be willing to pay according to the rules of the game. For right now, the rules are that the price you pay for your meal covers the cost of food, preparation, the cook making the food, and whatever overhead the restaurant has chosen to work into it. It does not cover the meager salary of the overworked soul bringing it to you; that’s what tipping does.

Does this payment arrangement make sense? No, it really doesn’t, but that is in no way the fault of whatever poor individual gets assigned to your table. All s/he is trying to is earn their livelihood (and perhaps pay for the cost of some classes to become a physicist or professor, as oh-so-helpfully suggested by “Anonymous”) within a long-established system. If you choose to invoke the privilege of eating out, then you’re choosing to pay within this system; no debate allowed. You don’t get to play Restaurant Game and then self-righteously complain about the rules, claiming you’re not winning when your licked-clean plate would beg to differ. Take your power trip to the powers-that-be – the restaurants that abuse labor laws and the lawmakers and society that let them get away with it – rather than stiffing a fellow human being.

Don’t want to take either of these routes? I hear there’s a thing called a stove in your kitchen. Use it.

Bottom line: no matter what justification you use to help you sleep at night, not tipping and/or under-tipping is a self-righteous and just plain selfish act completing lacking in basic compassion and empathy. We should all agree that is completely wrong and an indigestible practice.

Bon App├ętit.

K said...

I don't think there is much of a debate when it comes to tipping waitstaff who genuinely are working just for tips (with a pitiful minimum wage). The line does get blurred with all of the other service providers who want/request/expect tips. I worked at a salon where service providers earned 50% commission on services. Some of the busiest people were pulling $70K/year before tips. Of course this is because, usually, they genuinely appreciated the service. And, I mean, really, how could you possibly ever tip ENOUGH to the woman who just waxed your hoo-ha? Customers generally tipped a hefty percentage on top of this but I also heard a lot of bitching from the service providers when someone "undertipped." Okay, fine, but they are earning about a dollar a minute in commission. I understand wanting a tip, but not ALL tipped service providers are paid meager minimum wages.

That Kind Of Girl said...

@K: Good point. My comments apply specifically to people in positions for which tips are built into the assumed wage structure, and for which there is a separate state and federal minimum wage. So basically people in the hospitality sector. It's my sense that many people who haven't worked in hospitality are under the erroneous assumption that the usual minimum wage applies to, for example, wait staff, and that waiters are pulling $8 - $10 an hour before tips, which isn't the case. Before tips, most servers' wages are mere pennies per minute.

Commission-based services are a very different situation (although I'd hope courteous tipping always applies!) -- thanks for pointing that out.

nikki said...

Best. Response. Ever.
You said exactly what I wanted to, but I get so annoyed at the Mr. Pinks of the world, that it ends up coming out like ndjvhsjndjc,youassshole,dkuhisjs.

kahlia said...

Yes! What nikki said: I always want to say all that, but usually can only manage to get out, "Dude, seriously?! Don't be that guy!"
Bravissima/o, L.!

My freshman year at university (the first period in my life going out to eat without my parents paying for it, really) I attempted to just round up my individual bill by something under $2 (around 10%), with the reasoning that I didn't have a lot of money and the other people at the table were also tipping, so it was ok... and my (male) friends jumped all over me (rightly so, obviously!). I was kind of scarred by that experience, but it's ok because it's what was needed to teach me that it is totally NOT OK to under-tip.

And now that I live in Europe, I go out of my way to educate the people I meet here that 20% is standard, and that anything less is only acceptable if the person did a really horrible job and was mean to you (and, no, stopping by the table "every 2 seconds"* to ask if everything's ok does not count as a reason worthy of tip-reduction). I even purposely bring it up when someone mentions a trip to America, saying, "Oh, how great! Can we talk about restaurants there for a minute?"

*In Spain and Italy, as I'm sure some of you have noticed, you have to all but get up and go look for your server. The diners think this is a good thing, because the servers are allowing you to enjoy your meal in peace, and are not hurrying you out the door so they can get someone else in your table (they make the regular minimum wage per hour plus a tiny bit of tips), so it drives them crazy when American servers come by to check on you (comparatively) really, really often.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has worked in the food industry as a waitress for a couple of years - I think tipping smugness has gone way above and beyond necessity. I made 2.75/hr plus tips in a small cafe, the money wasn't great, I relied on tips but I did not *expect them*, and realistically - lets face it - it's one of the easiest. jobs. ever.

I live in Alaska now, where it's nearly impossible to go out to eat for less than $50.00 per person - and I just think tipping 30% of that is insane considering they're doing the exact same job as I did in the past, happily, only I did it for far less money. And if they're making 30% off of each bill, they are making a hell of a lot more per hour than I'm making at my desk job, for very little "work".

If the attitude is an entitled "30% or stay home", I'll stay home.

That Kind Of Girl said...

@Anonymous: I think 30% is pretty absurd, but I stand by 20%. Although I'm intrigued by the Alaska scenario. Is that just because cost of living is high in Alaska? If so, I obviously stand by 20%; but if the cost of living is low and restaurant food is expensive because things have to be imported or because there are fewer restaurants in your city or something, then I'd understand lowering to 15%, because it's a specialized scenario.

I also fail to see the distinction between saying that you relied on tips but did not expect them. Um, if you needed to earn tips in order to pay your rent and such, then it seems to me you planned your budget around the EXPECTATION of earning more than $2.75/hr. Which is a reasonable expectation. But if what you're saying is that you did not expect to earn tips for doing anything less than a good job, then I'm onboard with that.

My basic thing is that I'm frustrated when people expect waitstaff to "earn" tips by doing a charm'n'smarm little monkey dance, rather than earn them by doing their job: being a basic food transportation device, from kitchen to table.

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