After reading the articles at Augieland that Serious Eats here linked to in the Required Eating section (1, 2, 3), I got all mad. I was pissed off enough to write a comment that probably no one will read, and interested enough that I thought I'd take it over here for a little discussion.
Here's what I said:
I agree with some of the stuff in the third article, particularly on not ordering the filet mignon, but the rest makes me bristle. Why am I sucking up to the restaurant? I'm the customer; they should be sucking up to me.
I work in retail, and I don't get paid commission. If I have a great customer, I might work a little harder, but I'm expected to provide good service even to assholes. I certainly wouldn't punish a customer for not ingratiating himself to me. Why? Because it's my frickin job.
Augie seems entirely too concerned about what a bunch of strangers think of him. He advises us to offer some of the expensive wine we've just purchased to our server. I could get into how unprofessional it is to eat or drink alcohol on the job in front of customers, but I think I'll just quote my friend: "No! I'm not spending all that money to share my food with someone I don't know."
I'd like to add that I don't see it as greedy waiters being at fault here. I think there's something wrong with the whole system, the way I think retail stores that use commission are a problem. The most obvious reason is because in both cases, the customer is going to get ignored if they're not prepared to spend a ton of money. The one that bothers me the most, though, is that I don't like being directly responsible for somebody's electric bill payment. Restaurants should pay their servers a living wage so that I don't have to make up the difference, and if they need to, pass the costs on to us. That way poor kids and rich folks get the same standard of service and I don't feel guilty if I don't want to bribe my waiter into being my friend.