Valentine’s day means something entirely different to a service industry employee than it does to a person who has never waited tables. It’s for that reason specifically that I’ve never had a successful relationship with a non-waitress.
The woman I’m seeing now is a server, and we sat down together and had a conversation about Valentine’s day. We both decided with little debate that we were not the type of people to celebrate the festivities of the occasion. In a heartbeat, we unanimously made a decision that would make most women throw a violent tantrum.
We both wanted to work instead.
This is how the average person sees Valentine’s Day;
This is how a seasoned waiter sees Valentine’s Day;
It’s really very simple; There are precious few holidays where you can show up to work for a full shift and leave afterwards with an entire month’s rent in your pocket. Let’s analyze all of the reasons why this happens;
Reason #1 - The restaurant is busy.
The fact that it’s a holiday means that people want to celebrate it. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule (Flag Day, Labor Day, Kwanzaa), but Valentine’s Day is one of the major reasons that people take each other out to eat. There are countless couples that come in, and they all need people to do very basic things to give them what would normally be an unacceptably mediocre dinner--they are enjoying each other’s company, and could very well not give a damn if you actually served them a plate of kangaroo testicles in lieu of an actual dinner.
Reason #2 - The first date dynamic.
Let me illustrate this one;
For many people, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to take someone out and not be alone. For these people, the rules of rational expenditure tend to fall to the wayside. They will buy things like expensive wine, dangerous flowers with sharp points on the stem, and Justin Beiber concert tickets. For a server, this mindset makes it much easier to ring up higher check totals.
Reason #3 - Good tips are a guarantee.
At the end of each couple’s dinner, the server’s tip is generally given with regard to the sliding scale of ‘How much I want to impress my date.’
The very least you might be given is around fifteen percent, but at that rate, the man paying the bill could care less if he were on a date with a bearded manatee. Furthermore, he’s probably not even expecting a post-date hand job.
At the other end of the tipping scale, I’ve observed gross over-tipping to the tune of 50-75% of the check total. The kind of guy who tips this well is on a date with a girl whom he is convinced makes Kim Kardashian look like an accordion-playing hobo. He’s hoping to somehow involve incense and candles into his post-date sexual encounter, and his friends will eventually grow tired of hearing about how great his date went.
Knowing all of this, I was pumped to go to work on Valentine’s Day. I even called ahead to see how many reservations there were at the restaurant I work for. This is what my boss told me;
Boss; “Devon, you’re not on the schedule.”
Me; “There must be some mistake.”
Boss; “Nope. We have a full floor, and you’re not on it.”
I reacted accordingly.
I hadn’t had a Valentine's Day off in four years. I didn’t know what to do with it.
So I went out to eat.