I just read about a horrible case of waiter vengeance in LA in another forum (link below), which sparked a discussion about low wages, tipping, a few weak justifications of the waiter's actions and much consumer fear of waiter/waitress "special" food handling. While I have had inattentive and poor service, outside of Eastern Europe (never speak German in Prague), I've never had really bad service in a restaurant in the Midwest (bad food is another matter), and 95% of the time, the service has been pretty good. Sure my wife and I are pretty low maintenance (few special requests), we tip above average (b/w 15-25% depending), and we are pretty realistic about what level of service to expect. Nevertheless, the horror stories seem pretty alien to my northern prairie worldview and experience.
So this long prelude leads to a few questions: Has anyone had service in the region that has gone beyond the poor to the hostile? Is service better or worse in the flyover states than the coasts or does it just tend less to the extremes? What should we, if anything, as consumers do to make our own restaurant experience better? And finally, if waiter revenge is a real potential (I'm pretty skeptical), doesn't this make "to insure proper service" more of a threat than a gratuity?