Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Restaurant Etiquette for Negroes: A Life Tutorial

If you believe the hype, nothing better distinguishes a white restaurant-goer from a black one than the amount of gratuity he leaves after the meal. White folks recognize and amply reward the efforts of their humble servants while we Negroes finish our assorted poultry dishes and forget about the tip, or so goes popular conception. I'm not sure whether or not this thinking has any foundation in reality, but as a Negro that's ever eager to redeem his people, I leave generous tips. Twenty-two percent of the check is standard.

Last week, My Lady and I went to Chili's with some of my old friends from college. After a short wait, the friendly hostess seated us at a nice table near the door. The waitress arrived soon after. "Hello, my name is Kelly," the waitress said. She was a young lady of ambiguous ethnic background. "I will be your server tonight. What can I get you all to drink?" We ordered two waters, a lemonade and an iced tea. Unfortunately for us, Kelly's hospitality ended when she filled that order.

She didn't bring out my friend Deebo's Chicken Caesar Wrap when she brought everyone's food, and she failed to apologize or offer an explanation. She just walked away and left Deebo there in a state of wonder, mouth and eyes agape. When Kelly returned, the rest of us had nearly finished our food (Deebo insisted that we start without him).

"There was a problem making your chicken wrap," she said before she left again. A few minutes later, Kelly finally returned with Deebo's food.

"What was the problem," I asked her. "Y'all run out of chicken or run out of wrap?"

She paused.

"Yeah, you just forgot about my man, Deebo," I thought to myself.

On one of her few visits to our table, she refilled my water and Deebo's iced tea, and then turned to my friend, Sean. "You had the lemonade, right?" Sean answered that he did indeed have the lemonade. Kelly then silently walked away without refilling his glass. I guess she wanted to know what he was drinking for her own edification. Or maybe she was just taunting him.

When she brought out the check, the four of us took to the task of divvying up the cash. Somewhere in the process, My Lady pulled a red pen from her purse. "We're striking the chicken wrap from the check," she said. "Kelly can figure out what to tell her manager. I don't think we should pay for it." That proposition made us all a little nervous, especially Deebo, who ordered the wrap. The 250 pound Nigerian has the heart of a saint and wasn't ready to resort to such militant tactics.

"Let's just take it out of her tip," he said in his native tribal language.

"I hate leaving small tips," I replied in English. "She's just going to think that black folks don't leave good tips. You know that's how they think!"

"I feel you," Sean said. "I worry about that too."

"We're probably getting bad service because some other Negroes didn't come out of pocket."

"Maybe they didn't come out of pocket because they got bad service," Kim said.

"Damn, it's like the chicken and the egg!"

"I don't know which came first, but I'm sure glad God made chicken!"

"Shut up, Quint!"

"So what do we do about the tip," Deebo asked.

"Kim, hand me that pen," I said. "Sean, pass me the check. I'm going to write her a note."

"What are you going to say?"

Dear Kelly: I am writing to let you know that the tip is small because your service was sorry, not because we are black.

"There. That's the truth in red ink."

"I just hope we haven't made things worse for our Negro brothers and sisters that may come in the future," Sean said.

"Me too," Deebo said. "Me too."


Blogger Ross Nantz said...

I type, "that was a red letter affair for sure!!!" I wonder if Kelly got the message? Best of everything with being in NC and the new position!

11:39 AM  
Blogger piu piu said...

quint, they dont come much whiter than me and i never leave tips. is that my hidden blacky i wonder? who knows.

2:13 AM  
Blogger hanmee said...

Good idea! I sometimes want to leave a note to the waiter about the poor service b/c I'm sure they are thinking "these people are cheap!" and i really want do say "no, dumb a*s, it's because you were rude and slow and ignored us". i usually try to leave 20% standard unless they really mess up.

4:11 AM  
Blogger Gold Nugget said...

Two things. First white people may tip, but they cheap as hell, and they're the only ones i know of that go to restaurants with a tip chart to see how much they need to leave and not a penny more. Second, that's happened to me before and i always talk to the manager to see what he's gonna do, i try not to take out on the waiter/waitress because i dont want spit on any future meals. If the service is plain bad i say forget the tip and i'm not gonna waiste money for the sake of other minorities, sorry, just keepin it real.

5:34 AM  
Anonymous Jonesy said...

hidden blacky? - B*tch, you wish.

6:34 AM  
Blogger AnonymousCoworker said...

I wouldn't have crossed out the wrap, but the tip would have been minimal.

I think people that aren't white tend to get bad service because of predjudice, or latent racism, or whatever. In response, the tips are never good. Chicken and egg, you said it.

Not sure how to break this cycle.

7:29 AM  
Anonymous Josh said...

As a former waiter, let me inform the world that NOBODY tips well. Fifteen percent is standard, twenty if they thought the service was exceptional, meaning asses were carressed like slow dough.

Besides that, never pay someone for being an asshole.

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Cami said...

We good negroes always carry the burden of the ignant negroes on our shoulders. If her service was wack, she gits no 22%. Or 15 for that matter...

Too funny!

But Chili's? Yukkk....You can only expect so much.

Good luck in N.C.

9:21 AM  
Blogger ~Deb said...

First of all, Chili's is hardly 'fine dining'...so you can't expect much.

As a white person---I always find it fascinating that the 'race card' is always pulled out. What year are we in?

Again, I am white, and I have experienced very poor service from both white, black, asian and other nationalities.

Maybe if you stop having a pity party for your race, it wouldn't be a factor of how people treat you. We nearly tip toe around you due to assumptions that you make.

No wonder there's still a fine line between us. I wish it wasn't so.

Get over it.

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Rachel said...

Get over... what?!? I don't know who you're talking about with that tiptoeing bullsh*t since you clearly can't even be bothered with simple tact or decency.

You can't stand to listen to what other people deal with? Don't read about it - and certainly don't post your absurd comments. Get over YOURSELF, hon. One white girl to another.

Love love love your blog Quint. Thanks for writing.

4:30 PM  
Blogger ~Deb said...


Your blog is very good.

Rachel, first of all, have the balls (oops sorry- you're a girl right?) have the nerve to post your 'real self' on here instead of going anyonymous.

Second of all, my comments weren't absurd, it was simply stating a comment, ----which this is for, no?

Listen, I'm a minority too. I'm a lesbian, and I get discriminated at times--however I don't assume that everyone is treating me unfairly due to my lifestyle. (that's sort of different I do admit) but nevertheless, it's still in the minority catagory.

Quint, I do apologize if you took offense to this all.

Here's the thing. Every time I make a friend with a black person, they "always" pull the race card on me. I know that you all went through a lot-----way back when.....and probably still do at times. So does everyone else. It's just sad that people have to assume, "Ah well, bad service because I'm just a girl" or "bad service because I'm Jewish" or bad service because I'm gay."

Let's stop the "bullshit" RACHEL, and start realizing that we need to take account for our own actions and our own assumptions of what people think of us or treat us.

A lot has to do with insecurity- and believe me, I have lots. I just get upset to think that people actually think we still discriminate against blacks/gays/Jews, or what have you.

Prejudice does still exist, but assuming that it's already there is "absurd".

Thank you Quint for this blog. An eye-opener. Hope I didn't upset you.

All the best~

6:58 PM  
Blogger FreakinRican said...

Damn dude, if it was me I would have left her like a dime for a tip, called the manager to take the wrap off the ticket and walked out of the restaurant screaming "BLACK POWER!" But hey that's just me and what does a Rican know right?

6:12 AM  
Anonymous David Morash said...

I've never heard that blacks as a group don't tip. In my four years of pumping gas, it was always the rich that were tight with their money; middle class and working folk were always more likely to tip.

8:03 AM  
Anonymous Amy Goodman said...

Good afternoon.

My dear Mr. Quint, I think any who read your column have been granted a wonderful opportunity. Through your writing, you have sparked a debate that America needs to have. I was about to post my own comment in response to your post, but after reading the posts by Deb, I almost cried. She has brought a particular sensitivity to this discussion as a woman, as a lesbian, and as a concerned fellow human being. It is so clear from her words that she really cares about our world and believes strongly in a bright future. Obviously this young woman has friends of all races and sexual orientations. And with no prejudice of her own, she has high hopes and expectations of her fellow Americans.

To Deb I would say that you represent the best that this country could ever hope to be. I hope that you will continue to see the world through a color-blind lens. And I hope that you urge others to do the same.

To Quint I would say that you should really think long and hard about what Deb wrote.

Best Regards,

10:06 AM  
Blogger ~Deb said...

Here--I just really wish we didn't have this invisible barrier that leaves us separated. You have to admit, by reading Quin't entire blog, he states on one afternoon, he went shopping for white pants. He brought them back, after Fabreezing them due to prior use--and the cashier wouldn't accept the return. He said that these pants were already used, I can't take them back.

The cashier also found a dollar bill in the pocket---proof right there.

Quint stated, "Next time, I'll just go to a black cashier."

Quint, we're not out to 'get you'. So many people have this paranoia (that is valid) however, it's extreme.

I'm concerned with his outlook on "every single person" he has an encounter with. He thinks they are all racial and discriminating against him, if he doesn't get his way.

Quint, you seem like such an intelligent man, and your girlfriend is very intelligent as well---I just can't get over that you would believe that this cashier & waitress was out to get you.

I don't mean to be rude on your blog, nor do I wish to ~fight~ with any of your readers or yourself.

Don't get me wrong, "I do" see racism, but I don't expect everyone to be that way.

That's all. Thanks for reading my comments, Quint. :)

1:40 PM  
Blogger Gold Nugget said...

I think in the ideal world nothing would have to do with color but being lesbian and being colored is different for the obvious, THE COLOR. If i see you in a restaurant i dont see a lesbian i would see a white girl having lunch with another girl. But all this is brought up because it obviously still happens. The fact that most colored poeple bring it, i think, is to laugh at the situtation, laugh at the generalization and laugh at the ignorance of others. I say write it as you see it. I rationalize it the same way Q did. It's not because WE wanna play the race card is because the RACE card is used on us so often that it's an almost automatic response to different and most situations.

Try to understand that and don't think it's just colored people using the race card.

2:26 PM  
Blogger ~Deb said...

I do understand that- I know that there are racial problems out there.

My concern is- like with the pants he bought before, it was obvious that he had wore them, so the clerk didn't accept it back.

That had nothing to do with racism.

Okay- the green car that someone thought he stole. Her friend had the SAME car, with the SAME plates, that were stolen. Even if he was white, she would have still stopped him and accused him of stealing the car.

There are racial concerns still. I am aware of that.

So in that respect, I am speaking of those types of issues; the ones that are obviously not of a racial nature, but of a 'valid concern'.

Again, with all due respect for your blog, Quint.

3:25 PM  
Blogger hanmee said...

There are certainly points you could make about a particular situation that warrants the same response. But addressing only the specifics in A particular story misses the point.

Obviously, in some situations, the story would end the same, regardless of color. But unless you analyze the situation, you can't take that as a given. That's a reality of this culture.

It doesn't matter what year this is. Just because there are not "whites only" signs on the wall doesn't mean that racism doesn't exist here, or even that it's not extremely pervasive. It really depends on the social or cultural arena in which you are operating.

Do I think that some minority groups as a whole, and more specifically, individuals within a minority group, could do more for themselves to help themselves? Definitely. I've known of many Koreans who pool money within a group and rotate the money among the members so that individuals can start businesses (voila dry cleaning shops!). And yet people are under the mistaken impression that they get "special" Asian grants. Nope. That's how they work together to make it happen.

Still, regardless of how well a minority groups helps its members, that doesn't negate the existence of racial barriers at a both personal and cultural levels from outside groups. People like to point out how blacks are killing blacks. That's definitely more tragic because you expect better from your own people, but that doesn't mean we ignore what other groups are doing to them.

Today's climate doesn't mean racism isn't prevalent. It is just more underground.

QN -I agree w/your statement about color being different as it is something you can't camouflage. And while there is no doubt that as a woman I've experienced some BS (half the time from other WOMEN), that doesn't mean I understand what it's like to be discriminated by race. (I do, but for different reasons.) All discrimination isn't equal. (I don't even mean that one is worse necessarily, but it's all different).

I don't believe in "not noticing" color because that ignores the contributions and positive differences between different groups. It ignores those positive elements we can pick up from another culture (and yes, minority groups are a different culture in this country). But unfortunately, many people use it as a dividing line and many people don't even realize it.

4:43 AM  
Blogger FreakinRican said...

Did any of you ever stop and think that Q is writing this in a satirical way? A lot of you read this and shake your head saying "there goes someone else playing the race card." I read this and go "that's some funny shit that he calculated 22% as the tip, why not 21%, 23%?"

If you read through his blog Deb, it seems painfully obvious to me that a lot of his posts are laced with sarcasm. It just happens to be race related humor. I think it's funny to think about the stereotypes and to joke about them. Correct me if I'm wrong Q.

5:47 AM  
Blogger piu piu said...


that was irony u twat. get a sense of one or refrain from an unpleasant response. unfortunately u are just confirming ALL my prejudices against americans- that yes, its true, they all have ZERO sense of humour

6:30 AM  
Blogger hanmee said...

FR- that's also how I read his post (and most of his posts) - that's why I was a little surprised by the rebuttal.

7:37 AM  
Anonymous Sam from NickelBagONegrons said...

Yeah, FR is right. You all have made this discussion waaay too serious. This was hilarious.

1:48 PM  
Blogger The Quintessential Negro said...

That is one smart Puerto Rican.

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Paul Mizzle said...

QN, you need to stop with all these serious political posts and go back to being funny. I mean, even that chicken cartoon was just so biased against poultry AND black people. Lighten up man.

5:42 PM  
Blogger hanmee said...

QN - mission accomplished ;) 24 (now 25) freakin' comments. I don't know what your highest is, but that's pretty good!

PS (Nice work as always!)

3:38 AM  
Blogger The Daily Rant said...

I really enjoy your blog. You have a great sense of humor. I read your post about this incident and then I hopped over to your Lady's blog and wound up commenting there. Check it out if you have a chance. I'm hoping it expresses my thoughts clearly.

12:38 AM  
Blogger Rand said...

Hey Quint,
Interesting opinion piece in the WSJ today, called "The Hallmark of the Underclass." How about a response?

7:41 AM  
Blogger Pink Lemonade Diva said...

I wonder what she thought when she read the note.

I'd have definitely skimped on the tip - 10%ish.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

I have a friend who was a waitress who once said to me "No offense but why is it that everytime I have a group of black women at my table, they never tip me well" a) I wanted to punch her in the face because I ALWAYS tip well unless the service sucks and b) maybe her service did suck (She worked at cheesecake factory) and she probably didn't get their food on time. Point is, many people think this and it's not playing "the race card" it's just how people are.

Whatever, funny funny shit. I'm playing let's find new bloggers today, and I'm happy I've found you!

10:14 AM  
Blogger Rand said...

Hey Q, did you go on vacation? Here's something to get you bloggin again. http://denver.craigslist.org/about/best/chi/101606873.html

9:53 AM  
Blogger The Quintessential Negro said...

I've been busy with this relocation to North Carolina for the past several weeks. I'm finally settled now. More TQN posts coming soon...

9:56 PM  
Blogger Maryscott OConnor said...

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

And I say that as a lily white sometime waitress who was unfailingly excellent at her job regardless of who sat in her section -- AND got stiffed by blacks, Australians, Brits and all manner of people of varying pigmentation over the course of 9+ years in that job.

Chicken or egg, indeed. Wouldn't it be great if we could just tip the good ones and tip the bad ones... and make our statements where they really matter -- as comments to the management?

I never, EVER tip less than 15%. My Waitress DNA won't allow it.

But if the service is mediocre to crappy, I make a POINT of telling the manager.

Tip badly to make a point, you'd better leave a note (GREAT move, by the way) -- because if you don't, they're going to think YOU'RE the asshole. It RARELY occurs to a server to wonder whether it was his fault or not. The good ones KNOW it's not, because they do their soul searching and can only conclude that the bad tippers they got were simply their bad luck of the draw. Whereas the bad ones -- well, think about it. If you're a BAD server (and I don't mean incompetent -- lots of incompetent servers MEAN well, and you CAN tell the difference between nonchalant laziness and eager incompetence), why on EARTH would it occur to you to question YOUR actions?

SO much simpler and quicker to write off the customers as assholes.

Wow. Logorrhea. Who knew.

10:13 PM  
Anonymous James said...

I came here hoping to laugh at the newest satirical post from QN. Now I'm feeling all Black Power, never leaving 20 percent again, need to crank up that old Paris album.

But I got problems, so ...

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excuse me but negros are only 3/5 human, Jews are part devil, (look ant nose and feet) and gays and lesbo, well, they are just going to hell!

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I am a gay, black, lesbian with a Jewish girlfriend-You can't get much more diverse than us, I just had to make the negro, jew devil hell comment as a joke because none of you get it. I could not resist. Just life. Some bad service , some good, color, sex, etc does not matter.

11:05 AM  
Anonymous Bubba the Negro Stomper said...

Why don't you shove that chicken wrap up your greasy negro ass, boy?

BTW, how many white women have you raped in your brutal, barbaric, vicious and violent life, nigger?

7:20 PM  

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