Some times, differences between Dutch and American culture can be pretty big. When I say pretty big, I mean opposites. Yes, opposites. And I’m not even talking socialistic feasting on welfare versus winner-takes-all capitalism, but the way waiters and waitresses (both genders assumed from here on) handle their guests. Let me explain a little more.
When I go out to eat in The Netherlands, I’ll reserve at least two hours for the matter. I expect a waiter to come up to me, take an order for drinks, then bring an ordered appetizer, an entree and then ask if I want dessert. No differences yet. But, I expect some things from a Dutch waiter that I have learned not to expect when visiting Missouri. The four things that I want from my waiter:
- You’ll know when I’m done eating. It’s when everyone at my table is. I’ll indicate this by leaning away from the plate and aligning my silverware in a fashion that could not possibly confuse anyone. Don’t take my plate unless you’re taking every plate on the table.
- As long as I’m eating, I’m fine. Really. Don’t need your help. If you see my drinks are empty, feel free to check.
- I’ll ask for the check. I’ll pay, don’t worry.
- You work in a restaurant because it pays well above minimum wage most of the times. Getting a tip means you’ve been working hard.
In reversed order, I have learned that American staff in restaurants get paid well under minimum wage. This leads to a whole other approach to tipping. I don’t just round numbers up, I have to calculate a 15-20% tip depending on service (see below), time spent in the restaurant and all such circumstances. Also, service means that the waiter takes away your plate any time you’re not having your silverware in your hands, refills your water every two sips you take and will make sure every single bite you take is okay. They don’t want to appear slow, so some times they’ll just hand both the check and dessert at the same time. This has caused me to almost run after my plate (I wasn’t done), twenty extra bathroom breaks (I don’t know how much water I’ve had) and be VERY annoyed about the waiter asking me too many questions. American service makes me cut the tip, but then miss Missouri will gently remind me how hard they’ve been working for me.
What’s your favorite fast food chain?