Oghenovo Obrimah, PhD, you make very excellent points!
Sometimes people are having a bad/off day. For me, it’s more about the communication. If the server acknowledges the issues and/or makes amends, those efforts may make up for the service.
I believe communication is key and so is establishing a connection.
But what really bothers me is when the server is unaware. And that’s where the dilemma starts because the server seems unaware.
I admit I judge servers harshly because I have been a waiter at a few restaurants. But my restaurant experience has also taught me that the server is not always to blame. Some restaurants have a crazy amount of side work for their servers to do.
But a good server must manage expectations.
If they acknowledge me, communicate with me, and make amends if necessary, I can see past a lot. Many servers do this, and they will chase down a manager to comp a meal to save a tip.
You also have a great point about voting with your feet. I do this too. This was harder for me when I had a job that required frequent travel and often to small towns.
There’s also the option of returning to the restaurant and asking for a different server or section. Or asking for a specific server!
And, we all have the option to tell our friends or take to the internet to leave ‘tips’ for other diners.
Thanks again for reading and adding some practical points to the conversation. I may go back to this post and expand my ideas a bit. — Sam