Ah, tourists. You can’t live with them, you can’t live without them.
In Croatia, just as in every other tourism-oriented country, every person you stop on the street would give you their two cents about the swarms of people flocking to the Croatian coast. Random locals can talk all they want, but nobody has better insight than those who are actually working in tourism, especially in the service industry. Waiters, bartenders, hotel staff… whoever deals with hundreds of tourists on a daily basis and has to remain professional and polite deserves a lot of respect, because people turn into monsters in a blink of an eye. Individuals can be likeable, people in great numbers usually aren’t.
There’s another side to interacting with large, anonymous clusters of tourists. It leaves you with so many impressions – let’s call it data – that it gets overwhelming at times, so you feel the need to do some classification and sort those tourists into groups. In tourism, that usually means sorting them according to the country they’re coming from. We’re not getting nasty here and saying some nations are better than others; we’re talking about harmless stereotypes of every nation having its own recognisable character traits on the collective level. You know how it goes – the Italians are cheerful and loud, the Germans hard-working and serious, etc, etc. Some of those stereotypes are true, or at least true enough to make you smile in certain situations; some aren’t.
A waiter from Split named Jozo Pavić recently published a Facebook post that reads like a small work of literature. It’s named Tipping Agony in Three Acts (Napojnička agonija u 3 čina) and ranks a number of countries from best to worst according to how well their citizens behave as restaurant guests. Pavić has been working as a waiter for a couple of years; getting a bit worn down by endless shifts and rude customers, he thought he could seek some relief through writing a frustrated guide.
The post has blown up on social media, but has since been either removed from Facebook or the author changed the privacy settings so it’s not available anymore – he probably didn’t expect the sudden outburst of attention. Morski.hr published his original post, and you can read the translation below. As the text reads as a funny, annoyed rant, and its author is a temperamental Dalmatian, you can expect a hefty dose of derogatory language. Unfortunately, English doesn’t live up to the Croatian level of creativity when it comes to curse words, so you’re getting a somewhat cleaner version. He starts with his favourite guests, and works his way to the bottom of the tipping world.
Let us just add that Pavić himself noted he’s aware that generalising can be dangerous, but after a couple of years of working in the service industry, everyone would start seeing some patterns and play psychologist. He said he doesn’t mean to offend because everything he wrote is meant to be humorous, and if anyone does get offended – “I don’t give a shit. It’s their own fault.”
“Here we go:
From my perspective, I don’t have anything to say apart from ‘God bless America’. As a nation, they’re idiots, but respectful to waiters. They can get a little loud sometimes, going overboard with boldness, and they keep asking about striptease bars, but my 10-15% tip is always there. Of course, I’m talking about guests aged 30 and up, while the younger EDM scum going to Ultra doesn’t deserve a mention, I won’t even comment on them. They are redeemed only by the older Americans who are good guests, otherwise I would’ve launched them to the top of my list in the speed of light. Even our Lady of Sinj wouldn’t be able to move them from no.1. Overall, I come by an occasional idiot, but in general, I’m satisfied with them as guests.
Germany / Austria
Personally, in what little experience I have as a waiter, I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to see a lot of guests coming from these parts, to my great avail. Those I have seen are… tidy. Cold and extremely professional, but well-mannered. Whatever you give them, that’s what you’ll get in return.
There’s not a lot of talk going on. Good evening, how may I help you… sprechen sie Deutsch, nein, bitte. Just the basic etiquette. If your charm manages to find a way to their robotic hearts, you’re definitely getting a tip. Sometimes, they don’t even need you to be nice and friendly. The only important thing is to serve them on time, as every extra minute threatens to fuck up their vacation schedule that’s planned down to a second.
Drunk and pale, emphasis on drunk. They always come in packs – male packs. You can recognise them by their stupid Hawaiian shirts they always wear at their bachelor’s parties, because that’s such an original thing, they don’t understand it made them so recognisable you don’t even have to ask them where they’re from.
If they arrive before the alcohol has done its thing, and that’s rarely or never, they are sublime. Decent, nice tips. But once the alcohol fumes become their guiding light, you’re fucked up. They yell and scream, terrorising the whole establishment with noise and their stupid English humour. They annoy everyone around them, they forget about tips. You pray to God to give you strength to stop you from taking your tray and smacking the closest one on the head, even if it means your job is on the line. Later, you’ll see them separated, wandering around drunk as all hell, trying to find their apartments.
In this case, I have mixed feelings. 50-50. If you get a good Russian who didn’t get rich thanks to modern capitalism, they are decent guests. Fine food, a bottle of wine, he’s happy, I’m happy, the tips can vary, but there’s always a tip and it’s always substantial. It can be good, it can be better, but it’s there. Spasiba, a smile, and adio.
However, if you come across a hick who brought along 13 family members, there’s no point to even bother. The whole evening goes to shit. You go to the toilet, you shed a tear, take a deep breath and clench your teeth, and you heroically get to work knowing you’re up for two hours of taking it up the arse. What can you do, it’s part of the job.
Sweden / Finland / Denmark / Norway
I don’t know what’s been going on with them in the last few years, but the people who used to be my favourite guests are now sinking deeper and deeper on my scale of personal preferences. I still come across some wonderful people, but it seems to me that bad manners found their way into this group.
They are always sweaty and red in the face, but their heart are still cold as ice. They can be arrogant and demanding at times, but they remain decent guests who will appreciate some extra attention – that attention will be rewarded in the end.
Czech Republic / Poland / Hungary / Romania
These are here just to mark the half of the list. Not many of them go to restaurants… they probably have enough paté and salami throughout the day that they don’t feel the need for dinner. Those who do come, I serve with a smile, because I always say to myself, dear God, maybe I’ll read about one of them getting found in the middle of Brač canal, floating aimlessly, sun-burnt and dehydrated. When you know this might be the man’s last meal before he sets off for a great adventure, you can deal with the fact these people don’t know what tips are. Enjoy the food, ol’ boy, and may the sea treat you well.
I’m writing this as their magnificent ferragosto is upon us, and I can tell you my insides ache as soon as I think of what awaits me. Demands, bargaining, asking for a discount on every order they make, squabbling in bad English, in case they know any at all. Tipping is science fiction to Italians. Starting with them, we’re slowly making our way to the bottom of this list.
Before I started working as a waiter, I used to listen to stories about the Italians behaving like gypsies and being the worst guests in existence, but trust me, my friends – it can be worse. They’re called the Spanish. And the French. We’ll get to those in a minute, but there’s nothing good to say about the Spanish. The Italians might as well be Americans compared with the Spanish, who leave scorched Earth behind them, like the hurricane Katrina ravaged the table where they sat. They pay in coins, and I mean lipas. Up to the exact amount. Tips are an abstract idea for them. O Lord, deliver us.
Thanks to the French, an ulcer I thought has healed started playing up again. I started to hate people in general because of the French. I haven’t particularly liked them before, but since I’ve met guests who are French, I can tell you that not a single croissant will cross my lips again. They know English but refuse to speak it. They expect you to understand their pretentious language, and when you tell them you don’t speak French, you can see it in their eyes that they would stick you into a cannon and send you flying into oblivion followed by the sounds of the Marseillaise, so they don’t have to see you or speak to you ever again. However, I can’t judge them for that as the feeling is mutual, only in my case, the Croatian hymn would be playing.
Where tips are considered, they are the bottom of the tipping world. The waiter who gets more than 10 kuna from the French would probably add another 740 and buy a lamb so he can treat his friends to mark the shocking occasion.
Australia / New Zealand
On the very bottom, there are the good old guests from Down Under. They’ve been flying under my radar for years now, and I find it hard to tell them apart from the Yanks as I still can’t distinguish between different English dialects. On many occasion, I had my enthusiasm deflate after I realised I’m dealing with Australians and not Americans, because I knew what would follow.
They are annoying and demanding to no end. They want me to bring this and take away that at least 300 times per night. They’re heavy drinkers, and their tips are like the land they’re coming from: scanty and barren. Someone told me there are no tips in Australia as their salaries are so good, they don’t have a need for tips anyway. They obviously didn’t do any research while they were picking destinations for their vacation, because if they did, they would know they are coming to a wasteland of misery and squalor, and that I’m not here because I love being a waiter but to work and make some money.
China / Japan / Far East in general
I haven’t wrapped my head around these people yet and I don’t know how much time it will take me to realise how exactly these two nations managed to rise to the top of the global economy. How could I understand how someone with no elementary knowledge of the English language (but literally, without any drama like with the French and Italians who know it, but don’t want to speak it) can head somewhere 25.000 miles away from home?
Their vocabulary and the dialogue between us can be described as a play where two seagulls fight over a piece of fish. Unintelligible sounds, hands waving around… if someone was watching from afar, they’d think we’re playing rock, paper, scissors. They look retarded, wearing their masks and umbrellas at 38 degrees Celsius like they just walked out from an apocalyptic movie.
Their diet is based on everything that starts and ends with tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna… and a bit more tuna. Rice on the side, of course. A single person from this group can drain the energy out of me like I’m serving a table of 10, my hands hurt from ‘talking’, I’m soaked in sweat. I’d rather be handed a tool and get sent to work on a field of 300 m2. When it comes to tipping, I’m pretty sure there is no word for tips in their world. It literally doesn’t exist.
Probably a surprise for a lot of people who are reading this novel of mine. Some probably wouldn’t ever think the Indians could be at the bottom of the scale, but trust me, all the people who spent at least one day working in the service industry wouldn’t be surprised I’m placing these ones at no.1.
There are Indians, and there’s the rest of humanity. They are so bad, all of those at places 2, 3, 4 and 5 put together aren’t as bad as this scum.
You’d expect the people who are coming from a country known for its spirituality, Buddha and the chakras to be warm and humble people that feel the world around them on a higher level. If nothing else, I’d expect them to feel my aura screaming for them to fuck off to a different restaurant so I don’t have to see them anymore, but alas. Woe, misery and grief. They sit down, and it begins:
– Good evening, we’re vegetarians, we don’t eat meat or fish, we can’t eat gluten, nothing too sweet or too salty, what would you recommend?
– Well, I’d recommend air. With a bit of salt. The original Croatian air. Actually, I’d recommend fucking off because I honestly don’t know what dish to offer you that could fit your criteria. It’s best you go to Matejuška, buy a bottle of water, stand by the sea and breathe in. What else could I offer you?
And then the menu gets massacred. Give me this with that, this without that, a bit of this, some of that on the side, if you can, swap this for that… In the end, their order doesn’t have to do anything with a single dish on the menu, and my notepad looks like Gordon Ramsay’s master thesis. Of course, when I bring the food they decide they don’t like it so they get up and leave, probably casting a curse on me on their way out.
There’s no tip to be mentioned. Ever. They never left a single kuna to anybody. Actually, I’m lying – the word’s been going around that 5 years ago, a certain Indian left a 50-kuna tip to a waiter in a restaurant somewhere in Split. They say the waiter ended up in the psych ward.”
That’s it. If the chance has it you’re coming from a nation that just got rated as scum, just remember – there’s always someone else you can make fun of.
Jozo, if you’re reading this, we hope you didn’t get fired.