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The A&E Report: Love Thy Waiter

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If you're on a blind date, one of the best ways to judge your companion is to observe how he or she is treating the waiter. If they're sniping at every tiny delay in service, demanding Sprite refills every five seconds and sending their food back multiple times for imaginary inadequacies, odds are that's how they're going to be treating you in a few months. So run. It's a sad fact of life in LA that just about everyone waits tables at some point and yet, when it comes to how to treat waiters, some people never learn.Waiting tables is a hard job, not just because of how exhausting it can be but because LA is full of arrogant and entitled people whose twin passions are eating out and treating people like crap. Let's make this clear: Just because you're spending twenty bucks on lunch at the Cheesecake Factory doesn't make the woman taking your order your personal slave for ninety minutes. Serving you is part of her job, not her mission in life. You don't like it when your boss yells at you, so when you're on the other side of the table, show some damn respect.

And let's remember that many -- if not most -- waiters in this city are struggling actors, and that's a hard enough job in itself. Nobody needs to spend all day dealing with neglectful agents, snotty casting directors, the bitch she sees at every audition who fits the same casting profile as her and keeps stealing all her jobs and, on top of it all, rejection after rejection after rejection, just to punch the clock at night and open herself up to a bunch of spoiled trust fund kids complaining because their Diet Coke has too much ice or their fork has a smudge on it. Next time you're about to scream at your waiter because your medium-well burger showed up medium-rare, picture him giving a killer reading of a line like "Lulu's coat has never been so shiny!" for a dog food commercial and being told he didn't get the part because he's too tall. Or imagine her getting yet another call from her parents in which she pleads with them to let her stay in LA a few more months, because this time that pilot's really going to come through, she can just feel it!

Granted, there are always going to be waiters who are rude, slow or incompetent. And there's a special place in Hell for those smartasses who refuse to write anyone's order down and then proceed to mess things up. But otherwise, try to put things in perspective. Waiters are human; they make mistakes. If you ordered it medium-well, send it back, but do it politely. And when tip time comes around, remember: fifteen percent is a minimum. If the service was good and those drink refills kept coming without you even having to ask for them, or if you had 26 people in your party, or if the waiter brought your kid some crayons to keep him quiet so you could enjoy the meal, you're free to tip as high as you'd like. Come on, go nuts. You know that super-nice waitress at your favorite restaurant who always remembers how much creamer you like for your coffee? Give her 25% -- it'll make her day. And if you don’t want to tip at all, go to McDonald's next time, or cook for your own damn self. Not only is it cheaper, but then maybe you'll appreciate what a hard job it is to put up with someone who's as unappreciative and hard to please as you.