Dining While Black - Is it Racism?
Eating At Restaurants Is Not Always About Color
I was listening to the radio when I heard on the news that a recent survey found that waiters in restaurants discriminated against black customers because the waiters had expectations that blacks would be rude patrons.
I knew this was a lie when I heard it. Anyone who has worked for more than a few days at a restaurant knows that in general, most of the time, invariably, blacks are horrible tippers. That's why they get bad service.
Because I have many business meetings a week I go to restaurants at least 3 or 4 times weekly. I always make it a point to ask a number of questions, such as where the waiters hail from (Soho restaurants tend to have a lot of waiters from Poland and former Soviet countries) and what group of people are the worst tippers. I have never heard a single waiter, and I have spoken with thousands of them over the years, ever disagree that blacks are the worst tippers.
So as soon as I got home today I checked to see what was really in that survey. Sure enough, the radio news left out the part about blacks being bad tippers:
New evidence of racist restaurant waitstaff may leave a bad taste in the mouths of African-American diners.
After polling 200 servers in 18 North Carolina restaurants, researchers found that a shocking 38.5% discriminated against black customers.
Waiters admitted that they often gave them poorer service, based on their expectations that black diners would be poor tippers, demanding and rude.
The reporter for this article, Lindsay Goldwert, obviously has never worked for tips in her life. Waiters do not get paid enough to wait on tables. They work on tips. If I go into a restaurant every day and leave a quarter tip, you can be sure that in short order I will not have any waiter wanting to serve me. And it will not be because I am a Jew and the waiters are antisemitic, it will be because I am a cheap S.O.B.
I started working for my father when I was 7 years old (back in 1952) in our stocking store. Here is what I learned after only a few years: Black women are the best customers and we welcomed their patronage. Jewish women were our worst customers and we discouraged their patronage. This applies to the hosiery business and your results may vary. If a black woman and a Jewish woman walked into our place of business, I ran to help the black woman first. Did I, a Jew, engage in antisemitism? Not at all - it was nothing personal, it was business.
I started buying gold scrap from the public back in 1977. Here is what I learned after only a few years: Black women are the best customers and I welcomed their patronage. However, young black men are the worst customers and I prefer not to buy gold from young black men. Know why? Nothing to do with racism, but just bad experience. They tend to bring mostly fake gold and on the occasions when the gold is real it turns out that in most cases they are trying to sell gold or silver that cannot possibly belong to them.
If my employees buy fake gold, I lose money. If my employees buy stolen gold and I have to return it to the proper owners, I lose money. It is a waste of time and money for my employees to buy from young black men. I should mention that this also applies to gypsies, Russians, and certain other ethnic groups. Nothing personal - just business.
If the Equal Opportunity Commission ever forces me to buy from young black men, I will want immunity from charges of buying stolen property and compensation for buying fake gold.
I Sympathize with Waiters Who Have to Serve Poor Tippers
So I understand and sympathize with waiters who waste their time serving people who, in general, most of the time, invariably are poor tippers, rude and overly demanding.
It is a well-known fact among restaurant workers that many waiters have agreements with each other to trade off tables of black parties so that no single waiter will have to suffer the lack of tips by serving too many such clients. That is, if there are three waiters and 9 black families come into eat, then the waiters all agree to serve an equal number of such tables. Without such an agreement, there might be a whole day of work where an unlucky waiter gets too many black customers who leave a buck tip for a $40 dinner.
There are studies that show blacks are more likely to leave a flat dollar amount rather than a percentage tip [PDF]. For many blacks the amount of the restaurant bill has nothing to do with the amount that should be left as a tip. A few bucks will be left no matter the total bill even if over a few hundred dollars.
Bad Tippers Tend to be the Most Demanding
To add insult to injury, these very same cheapos, who leave teensy tips are also the most demanding and rude. I am surprised that only 38.5% admitted to feeling this way about black diners. If the researchers who did this survey were able to poll waiters anonymously so that they could get an honest response, I have no doubt that more than 90% of waiters would admit that they would prefer not to serve blacks. But not because of race, but because they cannot afford to.
Don't blame the waiters, blame the diners.
If I were black and did not want to be lumped in with the actions of other blacks who tend to be poor tippers and very demanding and rude, then the solution is simple: take the waiter or waitress aside and say, "I think we will be ordering about $40 for breakfast for me, my wife and two kids, so here is a tip for $8.00 in advance. And if the bill is over that, I will also leave at least a 20% tip"
Further, I suggest being pleasant and non-demanding.
So, my advice is: always leave a 20% tip, be courteous, and do this every time you go to Denny's or the Waffle House or wherever and you will see waiters and waitresses fighting to get your patronage. Then you'll see it was never about race; that all along it was nothing personal - just business.
N.B. It should be mentioned that tourists from countries where tipping is not the norm, such as the UK, are also the worst tippers. It is not Xenophobia if waiters do not rush to serve British diners, it is just business.
Also please, in the comment section, don't tell me that you're black and that you leave big tips. I wasn't writing about ALL blacks. Please read carefully, I wrote, "in general, most of the time, invariably..." Not ALL blacks and not ALL the time.