Press Release (RP)

Sochi, Krasnodar Krai (RP) - The now-disbanded "Voting Integrity Commission" launched by the Trump administration uncovered no evidence to support claims of major voter fraud, according to an analysis of administration documents released Friday. Once translated into English, the documents revealed that the highly-touted team, led by Russian mathematician Gregor Yukuvlevich Perlman, discussed the possibilities for over an hour at each of the bimonthly meetings that ran from January through March in the picturesque resort town overlooking the Black Sea.

The conclusion that no major fraud occurred seems to have left a void of information about whether minor voter fraud occurred, what the difference between major and minor voter fraud might be and how well major and minor translate into Russian. When questioned about this discrepancy the translator had to excuse herself for personal reasons, and Perlman - whose ability to speak English tends to fluctuate - was unable to effectively communicate well enough to finish the press conference.

Washington, DC (RP) - A "Federal Commission on School Safety" has been launched by the Trump administration in response to the increasing number of tragedies involving guns, students and teachers. Department of Education Chief Betsy DeVos announced that the newly-formed commission will not look at the role of guns in school violence, disregarding the fact that so far in 2018, at the rate of one incident per week, school shootings have caused the death of at least thirty-seven students and adults, as well as at least thirty-one serious injuries.

The Education Honcho also is seeking to eliminate 29 discretionary programs and declares that "our commitment to spending taxpayer dollars wisely and efficiently by consolidating and eliminating duplicative and ineffective federal programs that are better handled at the state or local level." In other words, 'Instead of working to make education more effective by consolidating and standardizing and regulating our nation's education at the national level, I choose to continue to cop out, put my head in the sand, be a traitor to the very concept of education and admit that dutifully doing the job I am being paid to do is way beyond me or anyone on my team.'

Menlo Park, CA (RP) - Mark Zuckerberg was admitted into Stanford Hospital today suffering from stress-induced heart palpitations after an historic and impassioned plea from President Obama has reduced traffic on facebook by more than half! In his twenty-minute address on national TV, President Obama masterfully explained how the Russians were able to affect our last election and how they might be planning to again interfere in what may be the most important election in our nation's history.

Our forty-fourth president also detailed how Zuckerberg and others have amassed fortunes by duping America and the world into being his product, for which he pays nothing, while selling them and selling to them. Obama's pleas to not log into facebook at least until after the election have hit home with a large percentage of the electorate, leaving facebook personnel reeling, as this company built on little more than air and an idea possesses nothing tangible upon which to stand.

NYC, NY (RP) - Roger Goodell delivered his "State of the League" address yesterday, emphasizing the strength and health of the NFL. The bewildered Commissioner focused on player safety, claiming "We can remove the violence from an inherently violent game without adversely affecting the product", comparing the negligibly noticeable difference between drinking a non-alcoholic beer and imbibing in your favorite draught. This, about a game in which one of the primary goals is to hurl a participant to the ground against their will.

Goodell also defended his continued attempts to place a team in London in hope of securing his legacy as the Commissioner that made football a global sport, despite the clear indications that Europe loves soccer, few NFL players want to live in England, the 'N' in 'NFL' stands for 'National' or that the sport -while still popular - is clearly in decline, making further expansion a fool's game.

Washington, DC (RP) - Protests unlike any we have seen since the days of Nixon hiding in his office and peering at America's youth through parted curtains continue in DC as thousands of demonstrators chanted "Real News. Fake President." The group repeated the mantra for close to twelve non-stop hours today before finally breaking for the evening.

An eerie feeling of a creepy Halloween tinted the day, as trump masks, memes, altered photos and a wave of orange wigs dotted and decorated the landscape. It was reported that upon viewing the uprising the president's initial response was to claim a win for himself, seeing it as a sign that America unmistakably loves him and his hair! Accordingly, plans to construct a one-panel White House Walk of Fame with a new bigger star commemorating trump's achievements during and before his time in the White House were quickly drawn and funded; construction has begun.

To Insure Promptness in the Age of Entitlement

After a pleasant meal at a nice, middle-of-the-road neighborhood grill & bar, a server will appear at your table and ask if you're ready to pay. If you answer in the affirmative he'll ask you to use the kiosk on the table to swipe your credit card, which will bring up a screen that prompts you to enter a gratuity, and gives you the options 18%, 20%, 22% or (in a much smaller font) other amount. It can be fairly awkward as the server watches, staringly pressuring you to give him a big tip - expecting a big tip.

A tip is something to consider, not to be rushed into. It is a reflection of the level of service provided by the waitperson - the customer's critique of the dining experience. A tip is a personal communication between the diner and the server and not computed in percentages, but in perfectly timed refills and extra napkins appearing just as things get messy. A tip is measured in knowing when to not interrupt and when to suggest dessert. A tip is determined by the way the bill is presented and taken care of. A tip is subjective, otherwise it isn't a tip.

There are of course, all kinds of servers working in pursuit of tips. There's the too-frequent-checker, who either needs more tables to wait on or less espresso. Conversely, the where-is-my-server? server, can only be seen far across the restaurant, and then only for a second before disappearing again. Will someone please get me some ranch?!?

The I-need-some-money-so-I'm-trying-too-hard-today server almost always seems to end up wondering why they made less than usual this shift, while the only-asks-questions-when-your-mouth-is-full server somehow never notices that her questions are only ever answered in grunts and clicks. Some call everyone honey or dear and some call everyone sir and ma'am. Some hard-sell the booze and desserts and some let you eat in peace. Some truly enjoy waiting tables and some are dreaming of the day they can quit. It's the little things that dictate a tip.

Still contemplating the kiosk's gratuity screen, you may reflect on your current adventure, and realize that a hostess seated you, a busser brought you chips and soda, the expeditor delivered your food and the busser cleared your table. Since the server that took your order was only there for less than two minutes almost a half hour ago, you're not even sure that the server standing in front of you is the same one that took your order! Dinner for two without alcohol was about forty dollars, which means your server expects a tip of about eight dollars; for two minutes' interaction. Wow!

The root of the problem is something inherent to the restaurant business: out of every twenty-four hours, there are only nine during which you can make any money - the three hours that comprise each normal mealtime. Servers don't like to work during the in-between hours because you "can't make any money" and no one likes to works split shifts because it takes the better part of nine or ten hours out of the day to get paid for only six or seven. The server's solution, and the little secret that's kept in the back by the dishwasher, that no one will say out loud, is that servers believe they are entitled to make eight hours' wages in four hours. The thing is that many of them do it.

If we go back to the grill & bar, your server probably had eight or ten tables in his section. When his section is full, even if they are all two-tops (a table for two) and they all stay for the entire hour, at about eight bucks per table the server will bring in sixty-some dollars in tips plus his hourly wage. Much more likely, half his tables were two-tops and half were four-tops. Assuming none turned the table (ate & left and the table became occupied again), that's (stay with us here - almost done):

4 two-tops @ $8 = $32
4 four-tops @ $16 = $64

or about $96 in tips in an hour, assuming none of the checks included alcohol, apps or desserts. Add to that the hourly wage (which varies from state to state), and a good server in a moderately priced, busy family restaurant can bring in between three and four hundred dollars per dinner shift.

Three hundred dollars times five days times fifty weeks (two for vacation) is seventy-five thousand dollars per year. Of course not every server in every diner in every town in America is hauling in more than fifty grand, and many of the faithful still serving pie and coffee at midnight are only somehow scraping by.

Back at the table, your server is still waiting for you to enter his tip, and by now you may have drawn a few conclusions.
  • Having your server stand and watch as you tip him is about as much fun as having blood drawn!
  • Taking care of the bill in an unhurried, discreet manner is one of the server's primary functions and part of what differentiates a 'nice place' from a burger shack. Asking customers to do this part of the server's job is like asking cows to carry the buckets of milk into the cooler.
  • We would all like to make eight hours' worth of wages in four hours. Servers are not entitled.
  • Restaurants that so strongly feel their employee's wages should be subsidized that they list suggested tip amounts on the bill, can instead raise prices and raise wages and let us choose if we wish to continue to patronize. Please understand that it is not our responsibly to subsidize your payroll.
  • Tipping is a custom, a tradition, a nice way to say, "good job". Tipping is optional at the patron's discretion. Restaurants that attempt to pose tipping as mandatory or expected can instead include a preset gratuity in every bill for every customer and let us choose if we wish to continue to patronize.
  • Three dollars' worth of service is worth three dollars, no matter how big or small the bill is and you realize that's what you just got.
So, now what? Do you succumb to the pressure of the statuette server's stare and touch 20%? Do you silently revolt and enter zero? Do you enter the three dollars you believe is right? Or, upon reflection, do you ask the server to take the kiosk off the table and take care of the check correctly?

Waiting tables, though not difficult, can be very hard work - work worth getting paid well to do. But as far as hard work goes, it is not as hard as washing dishes, bussing tables or cooking, yet servers expect to make eight to ten times as much as their coworkers. Somewhere along the line the system got out of whack, with servers always making more than their managers and often making more than the owners.

Tipping, though not required, can be a very nice gesture - something worth doing extravagantly when warranted. If the service is good and the food is exceptional, tip the server well and find a way to sneak a few bucks into the kitchen too! Tip, tip, tip. But do it because you want to and not because you are expected to or because it is being demanded or presumed.

Your favorite restaurant's bottom line is not your obligation. Assuring that your server brings in more than school teachers make is not your duty. Tipping the couple bucks you felt the service was worth instead of a percentage of the bill is not something you need to feel badly about! Remember that it is jewelers promoting the notion that men should spend three months' salary on an engagement ring, and restauranteurs and servers who are promoting 22% as being a reasonable tip!

PS - The next time you're in the mood for pie at midnight, and the server in your late-night spot is working hard just to make those ends, remember then that five dollars' worth of service is worth five dollars, even if the bill is only $4.75.

A graduate of Portland State University, Steve (Reeno) Kloser has owned and operated restaurants in Washington and Oregon and is considered by many to be a master of the pizza pie!

Teacher, cook, Packers fan and proud American, Reeno's usually slanted outlook often presents an unlikely perspective on issues old and new.

Reeno currently lives in Portland, OR.

Follow Reeno on Twitter

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