Ask The Salty Waitress: Why do I have to cash out at the end of my server’s shift?

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Photo: BrianAJackson (iStock), Graphic: Nicole Antonuccio
The Salty WaitressThe Salty WaitressSalty Waitress is The Takeout’s advice column from a real-life waitress that will teach you how not to behave like a garbage person while dining out—and maybe in real life.

Dear Salty, I am fond of dining mid-afternoon at establishments which serve through the day. Sometimes I am there while the shift changes from the afternoon to the evening wait staff. I appreciate and find it refreshing when my server comes by and tells me they are leaving and that I will be now taken care of by (insert name of new server). It is more common, however, to be told that they are leaving and asked to cash out. I am often in the middle of eating, and am usually planning on ordering at least another beer, if not dessert, which necessitates paying up (and tipping) twice. I always pony up when asked, but it feels like bad service and an imposition (even when I am well served otherwise). Am I being unreasonable in wanting establishments that continuously serve through the day to have some sort of system (that doesn’t involve me) for transferring my tab and apportioning the tip?

Sincerely,

Bob

Dear Bob,

You could start by looking at it from the server’s perspective. Would you really want to have to stick around at work after you’ve put in your time and done all your tasks for the day just because someone in your section might be thinking of ordering dessert? Us servers are just like you, sugar-booger, except that maybe our feet hurt a little bit more at the end of the day. And maybe the servers interrupting you really need that five bucks.

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However, it’s just as easy to transfer the check in most POS systems, so it isn’t necessarily worth it for a server to ask you to cash out and deter you from ordering more food (20% of which will go to the tip). Bravo to your servers who don’t interrupt your meal asking for money and instead introduce you to their replacement. That’s kind and professional of them, and it shows a great deal of trust that the replacement won’t pocket the tip that’s rightfully theirs.

The good news is, more restaurants are shifting to a tip-pooling system or non-tipped service, so it doesn’t matter so much anymore who’s around to deliver the check. I realize that doesn’t help you much when you’re still getting a check before you’re three bites into your BLT, but hey, at least you can take moral satisfaction in knowing that you’re not unreasonable and that there are even restaurant managers out there who agree with you. Imagine that.


Got a question about dining out etiquette? Or just a general question about life we can help you with? Email us: salty@thetakeout.com

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