Pressurised waiters and waitresses choreograph remarkable feats of organisation by accurately and politely taking and delivering orders, many of them received at the same time. But the harassing moaners - sorry, customers - who treat us like nameless puppets are a constant reminder that we ourselves have not the time, opportunity or wealth to dine out, even if we could muster the energy.
Waiting is not a job that people actually want to do. Some of us are students or actors supplementing our income; some are parents trying to meet the everyday cost of raising children, and others are those whose education makes it difficult to find positions in other fields. But if stereotypes are to be believed, all of us lie somewhere on the scale between nothing and trailer trash; and why not, if we are to believe that our worth is reflected in our pay?
Tips are a recognition of service and satisfaction; they provide an incentive to do the job well, and often make up the bulk of a night's wage. So here's a generous tip for the Low Pay Commission: please don't suggest employers use communal tips to subsidise the minimum wage (a mind- bendingly generous pounds 3.60 an hour) as this will only serve to slam shut the waiter's greasy window of opportunity.