Personal Pet Peeves

Tipping and Dating

Book Chapter: Personal Pet Peeves

Posted: 03/27/2014

I’m often reluctant to post anything about tipping because my project is not about tipping, and the topic has been discussed, dissected, and debated ad nauseam. However, last night I was contacted by Zoosk, a dating site, and asked to give an ‘urgent’ response to three basic questions for a blog post published today about dealing with dates who are bad tippers. Here are my quick responses:

  1. Why is tipping a must? Tipping is a must because it’s part of our social contract in America. It’s only mandatory for people who believe in doing the right thing. If you think it’s trendy, hipster, or counterculture to pull a Mr. Pink, then you’re a DB. Be grateful that you can afford to eat out and leave a good/fair tip. “Cough up some green!!!” (Reservoir Dogs)
  2. How does a bad tip affect the server? Bad tips adversely affect servers, bartenders and support staff because most, if not all of their income is derived from tips. Their ‘base pay’ is often two dollars and change, and usually nets out close to nothing after taxes. There are exceptions in some states and in some restaurants. Non-tippers often attempt to justify their assholery with tired refrains like, “If you don’t like serving, get a real job.” Oftentimes getting another job isn’t a simple task, and believe me, serving is a VERY real job.
  3. What is the minimum expected tip? In my world 20% has always been the baseline for good service. A lot of cheap fuckers will tell you that servers expect more and more every year. That’s bullshit. When I started bartending in 1983, 20% was the norm. I usually tip more out of respect for fellow industry workers. Serving is a grind.

The Zoosk blog post only quoted some of what I said about tipping 20%. What is your baseline tip for good service? Have you ever ended a relationship because someone was a bad tipper?


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Yelp Responds to Flagging of “Ugly Pizza Box,” 1-Star Review

Book Chapter: Personal Pet Peeves

Posted: 01/6/2014

This is why people REALLY hate Yelp.

When I posted about the Yelp review by “Nikki R.” who awarded 1-star to a Boston restaurant because they gave her an “ugly generic” pizza box , I was certain the review would fall victim to the infamous Yelp algorithm, and be removed quickly.

To the contrary, not only has the review remained, but Yelp has defended their decision not to remove it. Here is their response to Craig Caplan, a Yelper who flagged the review:

We’re writing to let you know that we’ve evaluated Nikki R’s review of Lincoln Tavern & Restaurant that you recently flagged. Based on what we see in the review, we can’t confirm that the user has a conflict of interest with the business.

If a review appears to reflect a user’s personal experience and opinions, it is our policy to let the user stand behind their review. We’ve decided not to remove this review, but appreciate you bringing it to our attention.

Business owners can address concerns or misunderstandings via their Business Account by posting a public comment or sending a private message to the reviewer.

The “pizza box” review by Nikki is the first and only review he/she has made, Nikki has no Yelp ‘friends’, and no picture in their profile. Nikki has also not responded to the 3 direct messages I sent.

Now about that algorithm

I have invited Luther Lowe, Director of Public Policy at Yelp to respond.

Luther Lowe responded on twitter with this cavalier sentiment, “If you don’t like 1 review, there are 47 million + alternatives.” Now that’s customer service!!

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“I’m From New York.”

Book Chapter: Personal Pet Peeves

Posted: 05/3/2011

All hail.

I worked a raw bar at an event we catered in New Hampshire a few weeks ago and I could hear Mr. NYC before I could see him. He was the loud guy whose bellicose comments and bravado distinguished him amid the large crowd in front of me. When he made his way to the bar, he barked, Where are these things from?, while rocking side-to side and pointing to the oysters with his hand in the formation of a pistol.

Pleasant Bay in Chatham on Cape Cod. They were harvested yesterday, I replied.

Mr. NYC: I’m from New York City, and we get oysters from all over the world…

Congratulations, sir.

I wonder if anyone has ever told these people what they sound like.

The I’m from New York (or any urban locale) comment is often inserted into a conversation, followed by a pause, as if to say, There is nothing left for me to learn or experience ever again.

I was talking with the owner of a great pizza shop on Cape Cod a few weeks ago and we started discussing the premise of this blog post. After I told him the title he replied; Ah, yes. The Mecca, The Holy Land… (Several New Yorkers have actually conceded to loving his pizza.)

It can be argued that NYC is one of the greatest cities in the world. (Just ask the producers of the LATE SHOW with David Letterman.) I personally love visiting NYC. I’ll spare you the requisite, I have friends from NY line, but I will invite Merf Rosner, Johnny Croce and others to weigh in.

Is it the greatest city? Is any city? It depends on what you’re looking for.

Most stereotypes about groups of people are perpetuated by a handful of individuals who take things to an extreme. I’m sure lots of really cool New Yorkers cringe when they witness their brethren drop the ‘NY bomb’, or embellish their affiliation by designating themselves New Yorkers, despite having spent only a few years in or near the big city.

This post was suggested and inspired by Courtney, a New York native and veteran restaurant industry worker who currently works outside of The Empire State in a highly-acclaimed restaurant. Courtney has encountered numerous customers who have dropped the ‘NY bomb’ expecting shock, awe and adulation. Her response of, Me too, what neighborhood?, often leaves her guests a little disappointed that she isn’t from some rural outpost in the sticks.

My dear friend, Katt Tang, has a knack for making sure her customers enjoy a few laughs to go along with the food and drinks she serves. When a Mr. or Mrs. NYC-type drops, I’m from New York, on her, if she thinks they can handle it, she wryly inserts, I know

Touché, Katt.

Servers: Have you experienced the “I’m from New York” crowd?

True New Yorkers: Have you ever been embarrassed by your boasting brethren or NYC imposters?

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Cliché Moratorium?

Book Chapter: Personal Pet Peeves

Posted: 12/23/2010

Just for the fun of it.

As I’ve previously noted, in addition to facilitating a discussion, writing this blog is therapeutic. After breakfast this morning, perhaps my therapy should include a brief respite to the proverbial deserted island away from all humans…

I should have seen it coming. The holidays always have a way of bringing out the painful, washed and worn clichés. While waiting for my breakfast, I was enjoying my tea and newspaper at the counter of Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe, a Boston institution. A well-dressed gentleman in his sixties stood up and prepared to leave with his wife and 3 children in tow.

In a voice loud enough to let everyone in the joint know that he was a least a semi-regular, the guy said goodbye to the staff, then bellowed the requisite, “I’ll see you next year.”, that the uninitiated still use at the end of December, knowing they’ll see you in a week. His tone indicated that he actually thought his comment was original, clever and funny. It was none of those.

The staff didn’t have much of a choice but to respond with the perfunctory laughs and good wishes that servers are often expected to emit. (Imagine how many times they hear the same comments over and over?)

I could see the looks and feel the silent, collective, groan permeating the air from the other patrons. I caught eyes with a few kindred spirits who shook their heads as if to ask, Did he REALLY just say that? The guy added insult to injury with, “I hope Santa Clause is good to you.” on his way out the door.

Why don’t people who say those things ever get the clues (or social cues) that they’re not funny? I wonder what his wife and kids think.

I get it that silence without small talk, filler or inane banter might be awkward, but wouldn’t it be great if we could ban or escape all of the tacky, cutesy, repetitive chatter that we all endure during the holidays???

What drives you nuts this time of year?

PS- I’m not as grouchy as I sound.

PSS- Thanks to all of you who voted, the blog won the A-List contest for best local blog in Boston. Thank you very much.

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“Do You Know Who I Am?”

Book Chapter: Personal Pet Peeves

Posted: 11/22/2010

Most veteran customer service industry workers have encountered some form of the obnoxious question, Do you know who I am? from customers seeking preferential treatment. I have, and I included the following suggestion on my list of 64 Suggestions for Restaurant Customers:

#13- Never attempt the old; Do you know who I am? Anyone who is ignorant enough to try any variation on that question should have a trap door open under them and they should never be seen or heard from again.

Today’s post is reprinted with permission from Adam Gaffin, founder of Boston’s Universal Hub:

Ritziest arrests of the week as police bust up hotel party despite dire warnings about the consequences 

By adamg – 11/20/10 – 8:34 pm

Boston Police report busting up a grand old time at the Ritz-Carlton early this morning and arresting four young gentlemen on a variety of charges. Officers declined the party-giver’s request to leave, now, and grimly carried on despite one party-goer’s warning they would face the wrath of his connections, police say.

Police say officers responded to the downtown hotel around 3 a.m., on the request of hotel security, who said they were unable to quell the party:

While making their way towards the room, officers observed several individuals in possession of alcoholic beverages exiting the location. Once in front of the room, officers looked inside and observed approximately 25 – 30 people making noise and consuming alcohol inside the room. Upon entering the location, officers asked to speak to the legal tenants. When nobody took responsibility for the party, officers began turning the lights on and off while, at the same time, instructing everyone to leave the location. For a short time, most of the party-goers flat out ignored the officers and the legal instructions that had been given. Finally, one of the party-goers, stating that he was the legal tenant, approached the officers and told them that they were no longer welcome inside his place and that they – they being the officers – needed to leave.

Sultan Alhokair, 22, of Boston, was put under arrest and charged with being the keeper of a disorderly house and resisting arrest. (Name redacted upon request), 22, of New York, was then cuffed and charged with resisting arrest and witness intimidation when he tried to block Alhokair’s arrest, police say, adding (“Redacted”) warned:

You have no idea who you are messing with. You are going to be in big trouble. I have friends who will take care of you.

Abdul Alathim, 21, was also arrested on a charge of resisting arrest.

The night did not end with those arrests, police say:

As officers were transporting the suspects to Area A-1 (Downtown) for booking, officers observed and noted that a car, filled with people from the party, was following closely behind the prisoner transport wagon. Upon arriving at the station, officers approached the vehicle and asked the operator for his license. When the suspect stated that he didn’t have one, officers took the operator into custody.

Abdullah Saud, 23, of Cambridge, was charged with operating without a license.

Admin note: Stay tuned. According to Adam Gaffin, the arraignment is scheduled for tomorrow, 11/23.

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