The Red Moustache Manuscripts

The Red Moustache Manuscripts contains vignettes chronicling over a half century of adventures. Some of the stories are amusingly funny while others can be seriously enlightening. So come in and enjoy a truly unique experience!

Dinner out and a happy ending...

I was told when I was old enough to eat at restaurants myself that the proper tip for a waiter/waitress who performs his or her duties was 15%... I was also told that a tip’s origin dates back to when someone wanted to “insure proper service” they would tip before the meal. I believe now, any money that exchanges hands prior to dining involves a maitre d’ and seating and that usually takes place in pricey establishments I don’t frequent.

The custom today, as I understand it, rewards hard-working servers, after the meal, which appears to be a safer way to go. Serve me my meal without a hitch and a 15% gratuity is yours! I have no problem with that.

My family does not eat out very much, but when we do the one who appreciates it the most is my wife, the mother of my three boys. She normally cooks, serves, and cleans after family meals.

On Saturday night we decided to go to our favorite Chinese restaurant with our youngest son. We waited 20 minutes before being seated. We’re OK with that; it’s our favorite restaurant, 20 minutes is nothing. Once seated, our waiter poured water and was ready to take our order almost immediately. After a short wait, our appetizers arrived. We waited an unusually long period of time between the appetizers and the meal. There was a definite festive lull that included fidgeting and looking around for our waiter. All three of us stretched our necks hoping to spot him. And when we did locate him, we hoped that the tray he was carrying contained our meal. It didn’t…

Pork fried rice, lobster sauce, and sesame chicken are not special order. We began to question the service. Our water glasses were dry and we grew thirsty and impatient… Finally, a dinner out and we were being ignored by our waiter!

When our food finally arrived we were relieved. A different restaurant employee filled our glasses with water and order to our restaurant universe had been restored!

The food was predictably as good as it gets. Now it was time to measure the waiter’s true mettle-- how quickly would he see that we had stopped eating and were finished? At that point in the meal, when you know you’re done and waiting for the bill, no one moves, you remain still and a safe distance from utensils and plates. You don’t sip water or go near the food even to pick at it, you sit back and everyone’s posture says “I’m done!” We choreographed our exit perfectly. One look at us and you knew--we were done.

At this juncture there is no wiggle room for a waiter or waitress. “Get me out of here” is what most patrons are thinking and we waited for our bill much longer than what was comfortable… The three of us began playing that game “Is that him?” It took forever to get his attention and the leather bill holder to our table, which was our ticket out of there.

I wasted little time once I had the bill in hand, tucking cash in the holder, but then we found ourselves waiting again. “Where the heck is he? We should have been out of here twenty-five minutes ago. Is that him?”

My wife suggested that I pay at the register. Seemed like a logical solution. I went up to the register and cashed out, expecting to go back to the table, leave the tip and get my family. Here’s where it got tricky…

My wife and son had gotten up and left the table. Another restaurant employee had the table cleared completely and new patrons were being seated. I couldn’t leave the tip now! I looked for our waiter. “Where the heck is he?” I was in the way. I stretched my neck, looking everywhere, heart racing. I only had so much time, I was clogging the aisle. I went back to the register and saw that my wife and son were in the restaurant’s breezeway, headed for the car. I left the restaurant, a difficult decision, and caught them in the parking lot…

“Why did you guys leave the table? I went back to leave the tip and you were gone and new people were being seated. I didn’t leave the tip!” “Well, go back in” the wife said…

I took a deep breath and went back in, walking quickly to our table hoping to find our waiter. He wasn’t around. I was in the way, clogging the aisle. I stretched my neck, and in a panic, spun around three times. He wasn’t anywhere in sight. Every patron was seated but me… I had become "the restaurant OAF”! I walked out without leaving the tip--

I climbed in the minivan and reported to my wife and son that I hadn’t found our waiter and didn’t leave the tip. There was silence… And then total agreement-- "He didn’t deserve one anyway! We got terrible service!"

I started the car, looked in the rear-view mirror, confirmed that I didn’t look anything like George Costanza and then I pulled out of the parking lot at normal speed and never looked back.

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