Where’s My Coffee, Beotch?

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Women and Travel: Tipping

Wow, for the first time in my life I have left a restaurant without leaving a tip.

This is a momentous occasion for me. You see, I have a complex about tipping. I’ve ALWAYS tipped and tipped generously. Why? I’ve read and heard many times that women don’t tip well (by the way is this really true or is it just another way to hint how we women just don’t measure up?)

Can you tell that I’m a tad cranky while writing this piece?

In the past, I’ve been determined to belie this fact in my own little way. I wanted to show that I am strong, I am woman, and I can tip well.

Until this morning.

This morning I went into a hotel restaurant in Quebec City for a solo breakfast, which as a travel writer is not a new experience. The maitre’d tucked me away in a corner behind a pillar and at first I was happy. I like quiet little corners in restaurants especially when I’m on my own, it’s much better than being on display in the middle of the room, showing off to the world that I’m by myself. But then NOTHING HAPPENED, no menu appeared, no waiter, and no COFFEE!

Now, I can forgive almost everything except the denial of coffee first thing in the morning. If you feed me lots of steaming, fragrant java, I’ll happily eat your watery scrambled eggs, and rubberlike French toast without complaint. But without coffee I’m a tad more discerning, you see I have no recourse, I can’t sip my coffee and read my paper, while I forgetfully fork my breakfast. Without my steaming coffee, I’m steaming and a tad more critical about all things breakfast.

Coffee and the Technique of Not Tipping for Women TravelersBut I digress… on with the story. After about a ten minute wait, this very first time delay is a guess, later on I was actually timing things because I wanted to ensure that my annoyance was due to negligence and not imagined in my caffeine deprived state, the waitress appeared with a carafe of coffee. She poured me a cup, a very small dollop of coffee, one of those two gulps and its gone kind of cups.

I had figured out during my first wait for service the restaurant was doing a buffet style breakfast; I asked if this was the case. She agreed, told me the price for the buffet, pointed vaguely to where the buffet was laid out and then disappeared. And I was happy, because you see, I had in front of me, my first of many cups of coffee I thought. So I toddled off and filled up my plate with eggs, bacon, French toast and fruit. Passable… I had my coffee… but two gulps of coffee was not enough. I needed more. Much more.

A half hour passed. Now I’m pissed. All my waitress had to do was fill my coffee cup and seat other guests, so therefore she was failing at 50% of her duties, and 100% of her duties to me!

Finally I gave up on her, looking around I noticed the area where the coffee station was hiding and helped myself to another cup of coffee. Magically, my waitress suddenly appeared at my table as soon I sat down, and with a sweet smile she lifted her carafe and asked if I needed a top up. I gestured at my now full cup and replied that I went and helped myself. “Ohhhhhh, she replied with a shrug and started to turn away. I quickly asked for the bill since now I couldn’t wait to leave, “yeah, yeah, sure” she nodded vaguely.

I checked my watch, and promised myself that I would leave WITHOUT PAYING if she took more than 10 minutes to deliver the check. Again this was another first for me, a momentous day! I justified my descent into criminal activity with the promise to stop by the front desk of the hotel to explain the rationale behind my dine-and-dash.

Nine minutes in, I just had one minute to go and I started to look forward to leaving in a huff. Unfortunately/fortunately (I was conflicted at this point in time) my waitress finally intercepted one of the death glares I had been shooting intermittently her way throughout the duration of my delightful meal, she gave a start and brain activity commenced.

My bill finally arrived. The tip amount stared up at me. With joy in my heart, I wrote a big, giant ZERO with a slash through the middle for even greater emphasis. But immediately I began to worry, what if they thought this was a regular woman thing all women do? We all stiff on the tip right? So then I flipped the bill over and wrote a novel about my not so wonderful dining experience. A slightly shorter version of this article, and it felt good. Just like I knew that it would.

Comment on this story:

What all the girls are saying:

  1. wow, its so much easier to get a coffee here in Italy… I feel for you.

  2. Dede Watson says:

    I learned from many years in the business to appreciate food servers. However, if I get terrible service, I now tip accordingly. I always leave something but if I get good to great service, the tip is at least 20%. If I get fair to medium poor, I still normally leave 15%. If I get ignored and attitude, the tip can range from generally 10% to much less:) The latter rarely happens to me. I understand if someone is busy. I do not understand an apathetic or rude attitude.

    • Dian Emery says:

      Thanks Dede I agree with you, in the past I’ve always left a tip. Poor service received a poor tip. And in the (quite a few) years I’ve been leaving tips there has never been an occasion that I felt warranted not leaving anything. I rarely have received poor much less bad service. Until now. And as you see it was so momentous for me I had to write about it!

      • Dede Watson says:

        Well sometimes a girl has to do what a girl has to do lol. I recently had a very rude visit with a nail salon and called them upon my return home. I sheepishly returned a few weeks later and they recognized me and apologized. I am much more vocal than I was a few years ago when it is justified. I try to do it with a calm demeanor so that I do not have regrets later.

  3. Dayna says:

    I could not agree more. I have spent 1/3 of my life in the restaurant industry as a server, prep cook, manager, etc., so I understand that urge… that NEED to tip! I’m still getting used to the fact that here in Bulgaria they don’t, and every time we walk out I feel like I’ve missed something! That being said, if I get hands-down terrible service because of laziness or attitude… I feel like the tip shouldn’t be mandatory. I understand busy – I had 20 table sections at times! I never noticed a difference between male/female tips. In all honesty, I was a pretty kick-ass server after I’d been at it 3+ years, and I was usually left 15-20 percent by most tables, except for those groups you know wouldn’t tip if you handed them the world on a platter! Such a wonderful post, I never write comments this long!

    • Dian Emery says:

      Wow, thanks Dayna! I feel better about not leaving a tip now that I’ve read your response. I hate, hate, hate not tipping, but this time I was so angry, and I couldn’t justify even leaving a small tip.

  4. Anastasius von Masturbania says:

    The very definition of a First World Problem, very impressive!

    • Dian Emery says:

      100% a first world problem – Anastasius von Masturbania( Love the pseudonym by the way)

      I thank my lucky stars every single day about the fact I’m dealing with essentially trivial issues. Most of us don’t have to worry about food, clean water, war on our doorstep…

  5. @kgdc1 says:

    As a habitual overtipper, I stand with you in this non-tipping situation. Similar situations have happened to me numerous times and I have bowed to my inner guilty conscience and left a bare bones tip. After reading your article, I will never do that again. The scathing explanation on the back of the receipt with no tip is much better.

  6. Great story! I’ve never actually walked out without leaving a tip, but I’ve come close. But then – I don’t think I’ve ever had to wait quite THAT long.