Monday, September 29, 2008

who makes better tips? Blondes or brunettes?

I was out of town and out of a service area this weekend, but when I returned to civilization and my IPhone refreshed, I found this query in my email inbox:
I would really appreciate your advice.
I've been looking on-line and haven't really found an answer yet, but maybe your experience can help. Do blonde's get tipped better than brunettes in a waitress position?
Well, curious reader, that's an interesting question with a complicated answer. I'm posting my thoughts here in the hopes that any other blonde waitresses (undercover or otherwise) who might happen by can chime in with theirs.

Yes, I do get bigger tips as a blonde. I think that has more to do with how I am me as a blonde than anything else. As a blonde waitress I tend to be more obsequious, affect a more bubbly demeanor, and more flirty. I can't explain why, beyond that I feel this is what is expected of me by the people who sit in my section. In the mirror of their eyes, this is how I am as a blonde.

As a brunette, I did not act as bubbly or overly friendly or super-duper-nice. When I said, "Hello, how are you this evening?" my voice came out of my throat at a lower decibel, my tone more business-like. I approached my tables with confidence and poise, and assumed a more subdued demeanor with guests. I also didn't feel compelled to smile excessively or laugh at their stupid jokes so heartily. Good, attentive service seemed enough.

Occasionally, this distanced brunette demeanor did not go over well. I've only had a table complain to a manager that I provided bad service once in the past several years; that happened while I was a brunette. What can I say? I remained polite to the high maintenance bitch, but refused to kiss her ass: as a brunette, I didn't need to. Guess she didn't like it. When I served her a few months later as a blonde, she didn't seem to remember me...and the interaction was perfectly cordial.

Then there's the whole guy thing. Undesirable characters are MUCH more likely to sexualize the customer-waitress interaction when my hair is blonde. Men of all ages, from guys who are still in college to dudes old enough to be my dad; men of all walks of life, from rugged manual-laborer types to filthy rich guys who pay with a black AmEx; men of all stripes, from quietly classy to full-blown, downright, sexual harrassers. Do they tip me better? Maybe; unless I waited on them as a brunette, I have no way to compare. Is it worth a few extra bucks to feel totally objectified and mildly embarrassed every time I have to offer someone a drink or take away a plate? Not really. Then there are times when a guy at a table will have a few too many, make a total ass out of himself, and really humiliate me with his behavior, only to tip a paltry 15% or less. That's totally degrading, one of the shittiest feelings I've had to sustain in this line of work.

I distinctly remember approaching my first table of the night within a few days of dying my hair back to blonde. I looked up, saw two rugged, manly-looking man-men who were totally out of place in the high end South End establishment where I am employed (they asked for Michelob Light), and sighed. Shit, I thought. I have to go flirt with those guys right now and I really am just not in the mood. Then I realized what I'd just said to myself: Oh my God, did I really just think that???

So, in short, I do feel like I get bigger tips as a blonde. But are they better tips? Not so much.


Deirdre said...

I found your blog through and MSN story. How interesting! :)

hideyourheart said...

I have found being both blonde and a brunette waitress / bartender in LA that it really doesn't matter, for me anyhow. I was a platinum blonde, with really long hair and went to a dark rich brunette and got treated the same. I have been told that the brunette makes me look more sophisticated and the blonde made me look really young and naive. Tips were generally around the same though. I really believe it's about eye contact, good service and well, just being a good fun person!