May 21st Each Year is National Waiters and Waitresses Day

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May 21 is National Waiters and Waitresses Day in the United States. According to, the day is for recognizing 'the value and importance of a good waiter or waitress.'

The origin of the date's designation as a day to honor wait staff hasn't been pinpointed, and it is not a commonly known date of celebration for many members of the general public. But, it's a great idea.

It's also an international objective. In fact, according to waitersrace, 'Waiters Races' have existed for over one hundred years. These races are aimed at increasing recognition of the profession of a waiter. Here's a short and interesting history lesson from the site:

'Parisian cafes had built a reputation and were known worldwide for their high quality in service. More importantly, Parisian waiters contributed largely to the French tourist industry and specifically in the city of Paris, attracting millions of tourists from around the world. With this success, the city of Paris decided to show their appreciation by organizing an event that would provide Parisian waiters the opportunity to demonstrate their agility, balance, and professional skills to the public—Hence, the waiters race–the famous course des garçons de café–was born.'

Although the United States version of National Waiters and Waitresses Day doesn't necessarily involve official races, it does stress taking time to show appreciation for those who spend long hours on their feet through harrying rushes and boring lolls, and who deal with a range of personalities, from the openly kind to the downright rude.

And boy, do many waiters/waitresses have stories! Numerous websites have been created for those who wait on customers to share their more memorable work-related incidents or to just vent. These tales include absurd customer requests, as well as patrons throwing spoons, spaghetti, beer cans and other sundry items at their waiter or the restaurant.

So, it seems only fair that we all spread the word about National Waiters and Waitresses Day and take time to observe it. A good suggestion I found online was for restaurants to help support their employees on the 21st of May by simply placing a sign in the window noting that it is National Waiters and Waitresses Day and inviting customers to come in and show their gratitude for hardworking servers.

And, as for us customers, how can we make the 21st a special day for those who truly deserve it?

Two pretty obvious ways are to be kind and to tip well.

Most people know the customary tip rate is 15 to 20 percent. What many people don't know is how important that tip is to those working to earn it.

According to, unlike other countries where servers are paid an hourly wage, wait staff in the United States make their money primarily through tips. And tip pooling might take place. This means that servers surrender all of their tips to a general tip pool that is distributed evenly among staff. The point is that, even if your waiter/waitress doesn't seem up to par—by not tipping him or her, or by leaving a small gratuity—you might actually be taking money away from more hardworking, dedicated members of the staff.

Besides tipping well, a little kindness can go a long way. People aren't always at their best when they're hungry, but remember to smile, be patient, and thank your waiter/waitress.

Come to think of it, kindness, respect and tipping generously shouldn't be limited to just one day of the year. Maybe we should just strive to make sure the 21st is extra special with an even more plentiful display of each of the above.

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