I've heard that some servers assume that women are going to be lousy tippers, but I promise you, I normally leave a LOT more than the two cents I left tonight. I think that amount was generous on this occasion, but I wanted to be damned sure they knew that I didn't just forget.
Elysian Fields, a fairly upscale Seattle brewpub, was throwing a World Series party tonight. They had a special menu, and a retired ballplayer there giving autographs for a donation to charity. I really wanted that autograph (it's going to be a Christmas gift), so I left work early and arrived before 4 pm. The place was almost empty. I sat at the bar and asked for the ballgame event menu they'd advertised. It took over half an hour before I finally got one. It was another half an hour after that before I could get the bartender to stop again and take my order, and then he walked off with just my drink order--I still hadn't been able to order food. As the evening went on, different bartenders would stop and check in with the couples and solo men on either side of me, but even though I was doing my best to catch their eyes--eventually waving my hands, for god's sake, FROM A FOOT AWAY--all three of them (two men, one woman) at different times still walked away without acknowledging me. And this was all before the place even got busy!
You are probably wondering by now, so I'll tell you: I am a middle-aged white woman, and I was dining solo. I am much too large to easily miss. I was well-dressed and not behaving in any way strangely or inappropriately. I was not even slightly drunk. I wasn't ordering cheap-- a couple of $11 pints, and food (when they finally let me). I started out the evening being perfectly pleasant, polite, and patient with the servers. Oh, I did get kind of bitchy towards the end--after two hours of being ignored, who wouldn't? But it didn't make the slightest difference--my service (and only mine--everybody around me was getting adequate attention) sucked from start to finish. I never once got attention from any of the three bartenders without having to strenuously and repeatedly call after them and flag them down--even early on, when there were more servers than customer in the place.
I got the autograph I came for, and I left before the ballgame was even over. I will NEVER go back. I can't remember when I have ever left a restaurant this angry.
The only reason I can think of for this abysmal treatment is that bias I've heard that some servers have--against women, or solo women diners, or middle-aged women, or all of the above. Has this kind of thing happened to other women of a certain age?
(And before anybody asks--the very first thing I did was to email the general manager, from my cell phone, before I even left the place. I wouldn't rant like this to the whole world without first letting him know, so he can do something about it--and by that I do not mean offer me an apology and a freebie. I really meant it when I said I'll never go back.)