Nice to the Waiter

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.


For whatever reason, heroes in fiction tend to be wealthier than average. If the work is set in a fantasy environment or in an era where monarchies were the norm, authors will focus on the aristocracy. And if it's a more modern setting, the main characters will probably be well-educated and work white collar jobs.

But even if they work cozy office jobs, most viewers have memories of some blue collar or retail experience. You might have worked as a waiter to fund college, or you might have spent a few years as a bag boy at the local grocery store. This has the effect of making many people feel sympathetic to those who work low wage jobs. And they don't like it when they see others treat waitresses badly.

So in fiction, you can usually tell the good guys from the bad guys by the way they treat the working class. If the characters in question are aristocrats, the evil noble will treat his serfs and servants badly, while the good noble will smile, treat them respectfully and make sure their working conditions are acceptable. If the work is set in the modern day, good characters will tip waitresses and know the names of their doorman or the guy at the newsstand, while bad guys stiff the waiter and treat the cable guy like a slave. In Superhero works, especially Badass Normal ones, Something Person may be a Rich Idiot With No Day Job, but his employees smile at him on the rare occasion he shows up - he's a scatterbrained Benevolent Boss, not a Pointy-Haired Boss. If a villain does this, it's usually to mark him or her as Affably Evil.

In situations of more importance, the good man will disclaim credit for good work actually performed by subordinates, while the bad one will hog it. Conversely, the bad man will shove off blame, while the good one will accept, sometimes even when it is not really his fault (because he was in charge, or because their disparate status means his punishment will be less severe).

There's an interesting Real Life dynamic to this trope. It's become accepted wisdom that you can tell a lot about the man or woman you're dating by the way they treat the person waiting on you. This isn't bad advice, but it's become so well-worn that it's probably hard to trust that the person in question is really that Nice to the Waiter. At this point, if you're rude to the waiter in the presence of the person you're dating, you probably want to get dumped. (As such, look at who your date thinks s/he can get away with mistreating. Everybody considers somebody their inferior.)

And don't forget self-interest. You can put yourself in a bad place by angering the Almighty Janitor. Fail to tip the guys at curbside check-in and you're likely to find yourself wondering how one of your bags ended up in Argentina while the other is in Zaire. Insult your waiter and you might end up with high urine levels in your soup. And many an investigator has discovered that if you want to know the truth, asking the servants is among the cleverest paths.

This trope probably sprung up out of sympathy. Writing isn't known as a particularly lucrative career except for a very few skilled/lucky people, and this is for a good reason, so until they get published a lot of writers have to work a "real" job—and depending on their education and skill set outside of writing, there might not be much else they can get hired for.

A subtrope of Pet the Dog (or Kick the Dog when the person is rude to the waiter), often used to show Hidden Depths.

See also We Have Reserves for a specific and military aversion, and The Dog Bites Back for why more villains should take this seriously. This often results in Laser-Guided Karma or I Ate What? From the point of view of the servants, this may lead to No Hero to His Valet. Somewhat related to What You Are in the Dark: how you treat those who seem incapable of retaliation defines your character.

Examples of Nice to the Waiter include:

Anime and Manga

  • In an interesting twist on this trope, the Conductor (actually Claire Stanfield) in Baccano!! saves Miria and Isaac because they were good customers on board his train.
  • Kaibara from Oishinbo needs to learn this.
  • Sanji from One Piece effectively demonstrates exactly why one should be polite to waiters to Lieutenant Fullbody.
  • Black Butler's Ciel Phantomhive treats his house staff rather well, despite the fact the majority of them are useless (or so we think). Alois from the anime's second second however... couldn't be further from this trope.
  • Seto Kaiba is an interesting variant in that he treats the people who work at his company with cold, polite professionalism. By his standards, this is being downright civil, as he's a complete and total Jerkass to everyone else except his little brother Mokuba.
  • In Nana, when Sachiko learns that Shouji's girlfriend Nana (nicknamed Hachi) is at the restaurant they both work at, she drops the plate she was carrying. Hachi, who wasn't even at the table Sachiko was serving, gives her a handkerchief since she cut herself. Sachiko is heartbroken because Shouji is cheating on Hachi with her and nearly breaks up with him because of how guilty she feels. Instead, Shouji breaks up with Hachi.
  • One chapter of the Ouran High School Host Club manga has Tamaki scandalized when he sees a patron of a restaurant demand that a waiter be fired for dropping food on her. He is about to complain when his father stops him, telling him it's not his place. Being the kind of guy he is, though, Tamaki's father personally sees to it later that the waiter doesn't lose his job.

Comic Books

  • Bruce Wayne is usually depicted as treating Wayne Enterprises employees fairly and acting as a kind, if absent-minded boss, as well as spearheading a great deal of charity work. In his case it's honest; he really does care about Gotham City and its people. Being raised by his butler likely influenced him in this manner.
    • This is especially obvious in one issue towards the end of the Murderer/Fugitive arc which covers Bruce reintegrating himself with his day-to-day life after an extended period away. He knows the names of every employee (even the mail boy who he reminds of Wayne Enterprises college programs) and every employee treats him as a genuinely liked, if eccentric and slightly dim, employer.
    • Most of the Bat Family are also like this, except for Damian, towards Alfred. Everyone tends to treat him like a friend doing them a favor whereas Damian keeps their relationship to master and servant, calling him Pennyworth and giving orders rather than making requests. He's not mean, he just keeps the relationship professional.
  • Similarly, Tony Stark has usually been written as a near-perfect boss who inspires tremendous personal loyalty. When Obadiah Stane stole Stark's company out from under him, most of his employees lined up and quit. (Stark had once used the threat of the same thing to thwart Nick Fury's hostile takeover.)
    • This one goes back and forth depending on the writer, the era and whether Tony is in one of his periodic Jerkass phases.
      • It should also be noted that when Tony blows his top and yells at an employee, he usually has a very good reason. Tony once regretted berating the head of his legal department and resolved to apologize, but that was because the guy was doing such a crappy job as the head of Stark Enterprises' legal team. He was fired a couple of issues later after Tony became fed up with his incompetence.
    • In the movie, he's an honestly thickheaded doofus of a boss. But if Pepper is any example, he at least knows the value of a good employee; she does practically everything for him, so he lets her write her own bonus checks!
      • Not always a noble man, at least in a recent retcon. Iron Man: The Iron Age has pre-armor Tony as a huge Jerkass, even giving Pepper Potts an unwanted slap on the ass.
  • All The Avengers have great respect for their butler Jarvis (another Stark employee, by the way), naming him an honorary Avenger. We most often see this with Captain America (comics).
    • Another Cap example: there is a story told bit by bit to some accountants trying to tally up the damages after a superfight by the various Avengers involved in said super fight. Some Avengers are rude, some of them annoyed, some cavalier, Thor basically just hands over a bag of gold, and Cap - Cap hands over filled-out paperwork about the ticketed Quinjet (including the badge number of the officer who gave the ticket) and the voucher for taking something out of a prison. The accountants love him.
      • Another Cap one, from the beginning of the Civil War arc. Cap breaks out of SHIELD's helicarrier by commandeering a jet fighter (including pilot) through the simple expedient of clinging on to the cockpit. Being Cap, he orders the pilot to set down in a not-in-use football stadium and takes the pilot for a burger.
  • In Marvel's New York City, restaurant and hotel owners and staff know that Hercules is a loud, demanding, and at times, overly flamboyant customer, but they don't care; he's also a huge tipper.
  • Subverted in Lex Luthor: Man of Steel; Lex Luthor goes out of his way to be a friendly, personable boss to the help, from his janitor to the guy who owns the newsstand near his building to Alfred Pennyworth when he meets Bruce Wayne. However, this doesn't stop him from being a complete bastard.
    • Lex is actually a very complex character when it comes to this trope. Lex appreciates honest, hard work, since he himself comes from a working-class background, and as much of a villain as he is, he's not lying when he says that he has the ultimate well-being of humanity in mind. Of course, HE should be the one in charge, but as long as he has that, he does try to make those under him live better lives. Not to mention that Lex has a good understanding of how economics work, so he knows that his financial empire is supported by average joes working blue-collar jobs.
    • In a good showing of Lex's complex portrayal in this comic, he's very respectful and thankful to one of the scientists working under him on a critical project, but is still willing to sacrifice him in his latest plot to kill Superman (although he does seem regretful about it).


  • Used in Look Who's Talking when Mollie starts dating several men and discarding them by imagining how they would behave with her son, Mikey, judging on how they treat the waiter.
  • Alex O'Connell from the most recent The Mummy shows us his basic decency by back-slapping with his Chinese laborers and offering bits of encouragement in their native tongue.
  • In The Whole Ten Yards, Bruce Willis's hitman with a heart of gold beats a man senseless for berating his waitress in a restaurant (after, surprisingly, he tries talking to the guy about it calmly), then tells the man's kid to always be kind to people serving you food, and to eat his vegetables.
    • Of course, in the previous movie The Whole Nine Yards, he threatened to violently murder the waitress who took his hamburger order down wrong. This might have gone to show he'd become a more decent person in the interim.
  • Subverted in Reservoir Dogs. The opinionated Mr. Pink doesn't believe in tipping just because "society tells him to," but the rest of the criminals, some of them pretty rough customers, are all united in finding that behavior totally unacceptable.
  • In Mortal Kombat, we get to see how much of a pompous ass Johnny Cage is by his immediately mistaking Liu Kang for a porter and rudely shoves his luggage onto him. Liu responds by dropping it all into the harbor.

Johnny Cage: Thank God I didn't ask him to park the car...

  • Subverted in A Few Good Men, where total bastard Colonel Jessep is shown taking time out of holding court at a lunch table (and preparing to humiliate the Navy lawyers who've come to investigate his base) to thank the waiter and tell him the meal was delicious.
  • Patrick Bateman and all of his Yuppie friends in American Psycho are absolutely horrid to the waiters at the various expense restaurants they go to, which just highlights how they're not good people.
  • In the biopic of Gandhi, part of his philosophy regarding good will towards others, the titular pacifist is generous enough to help his servant carry the tea set himself.
  • In The Princess and the Frog, the first sign that "Big Daddy" LeBouf is an Uncle Pennybags is the way he treats Tiana's mother (a black seamstress who works for him) with genuine respect. He and Charlotte are also very friendly and respectful to Tiana, who literally is their waitress in one scene.
  • In Casino Royale, a Jerkass rudely tells Bond to park the car, mistaking him for a valet. Playing along, Bond lines it up perfectly, rams it into the guardrail, then smirks at the ensuing scene.
  • In Clueless, Cher tells her family's maid, Lucy, that she doesn't speak "Mexican," angering the native Salvadorian into storming off. While seemingly a rude and disrespectful thing to say, in context it's made clear that Cher was guilty of simple ignorance and frustration with her own problems rather than any actual malice towards the maid. Throughout the movie she speaks with Lucy as an equal rather than a servant, and apologizes to her later after realizing her mistake.
  • In the film of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the heroes are appalled to find that the people of the island they land on are being kept as slaves. One of the reasons they are driven to stop the evil island is because they find out that a number of said slaves were being dumped there as sacrifices. At the end of the film, Caspian admits to being tempted to visit Aslan's country but refuses, on the grounds that he won't abandon his subjects.
  • Subverted in Goodfellas. Many of the gangsters are very gregarious and generous to common people they encounter, often giving large tips, but it's the glamorous lifestyle that they lead. If you cross them, they might just kill you, as Tommy does to a waiter who upsets him.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Elizabeth seems to be on friendly terms with her maid. When she does scold the maid for being "too bold", it came more from her being unwilling to admit her feelings for Will (the maid was implying that Will would be a good husband for her). When the pirates are looting the mansion, Elizabeth tells the maid to hide and run to safety at the first chance she gets.
  • In The Cable Guy, the main character's estranged girlfriend goes on a date with a jerk played by Owen Wilson, who immediately kicks the dog by being a condescending asshole to the waiter. This makes his impending beatdown seem a bit deserved, thereby keeping the Cable Guy from reaching the depths of his villainy quite so early in the film.
  • A prominent part of The Help.


  • Duumvirate uses this trope constantly. Being on good terms with your servants is a mark of competence as a master. The titular characters even use it to decide who to let live at the end of the book.
  • Jane Eyre: Mr. Rochester is noted for being generous and non-demanding to his servants, albeit a bit different. Then Jane shows up...
  • In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, one of the signs that Mr Darcy isn't all that bad is that his servants tell Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle how great he is.
  • This trope is ubiquitous in all of Tamora Pierce's novels; Heroes and their allies are good nobles, who are kind to peasants and servants and care for their needs, while villains are frequently cruel to commoners as well as to animals, abusing their authority over both.
    • Subverted by the Rogue of Port Caynn, Pearl, in Bloodhound, who likes dogs and threatens people who hurt them. Bekka knows she has no other redeeming characteristics, but this still makes it harder than it was before.
    • Inversion: The Emperor of Carthak had Daine, the most famous wild-mage in Tortall, travel to his palace just to heal his pet birds—yet he can "send armies to their deaths without batting an eye." This is the first clue as to how messed-up he is.
  • A subversion of sorts from Thomas Dixon's Fall of a Nation: The heroine's family servant thinks the Big Bad is a swell fellow because he tips generously. As it turns out, this is all part of the Corrupt Corporate Executive 's plan to become a Villain with Good Publicity.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Eddard Stark is always polite and respectful with his servants. He regularly invites one peasant to dine with him for a night to better understand the needs of his smallfolk.
    • Catelyn Stark also treats the commoners well. After promising a ship's crew a bonus if they made good time, she paid each oarsman personally rather than give the money to their captain who would have kept it all for himself.
    • Edmure Tully was the only noble to allow his peasants to take refuge in his castle during the war, a move which the others saw as foolish and soft-hearted.
    • Danaerys Targaryen frees all of her slaves, treats her servants with respect, and thinks of all of her followers as her children.
  • In Dorothy L. Sayers' Have His Carcass, Harriet Vane is cleared of suspicion because the police asked her charwoman about her associates; they have found this a reliable way of finding them out.
    • Also, part of the signal that the murder victim in Whose Body? is a good guy is that he was well-liked by his servants, not just because of this, but also in a more classist way, because he was a "natural gentleman" despite being a Self-Made Man- one point in solving the mystery was that he would always neatly fold his clothing before going to bed.
  • Sirius Black from Harry Potter subverts this—while Dumbledore tells Harry he was kind to house-elves in general, Sirius is nasty and cruel to his own house elf Kreacher. It's Black's evil-aligned family who are kind to Kreacher. This proves to be Sirius' undoing.
    • The context makes it even more ironic: Sirius is commenting on Crouch's bad treatment of his house-elf Winky at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Of course, the difference is that Sirius's hatred of Kreacher has nothing to do with him being an elf... but then again neither does the way Crouch treats Winky: he just desperately needs to stop the investigation to protect his son. In hindsight, the quote seems to reflect more on Sirius's treatment of Kreacher, especially when you consider that he does a kind of Heel Face Turn in the last book just because the trio is nice to him.
    • And Kreacher doesn't get off scott-free either in Order of the Phoenix; even without Sirius' ill treatment, he despised the Weasleys, frequently called Hermione "Mudblood" even though she was the only one who treated him with actual respect, and barely tolerated Harry. Of course, he grudgingly respects Harry after he inherits everything and starts treating him better than Sirius did. Sirius is the second type of No Hero to His Valet—he is good, but when he's cooped up in a house he's hated all his life, with a servant who belittles everyone he cares about, giving in to his demons becomes more understandable.
      • The page quote from Sirius himself is a rewording of the trope name, "If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."
    • Dumbledore warns Harry at one point that wizards and witches are being too greedy when it comes to "inferior" species (goblins, house elves, centaurs, etc), and warns him that if they don't start to treat them as equals, it will end badly. In Deathly Hallows, Griphook is surprised that Harry rescues him along with the other wizards in Malfoy's manor.
    • Interestingly, the last book implies that Mrs. Black and Sirius's younger brother were both kind to Kreacher. As Hermione points out, House Elves take to and parrot the beliefs of those who are kind to them. When Harry listens to Kreacher's tale and is genuinely respectful, Kreacher begins to follow Harry's beliefs instead.
    • If Sirius subverts this trope, Hermione and Harry play it straight. And Ron earns something special from Hermione when he finally figures it out in Deathly Hallows.
    • While we don't see Dumbledore interacting with the Hogwarts House Elves, the fact that he allowed Dobby to work as hired help rather than the usual no pay and no holiday arrangements (which other wizards and witches wouldn't even consider) and even suggested that Dobby insult him in private shows that he treats them well.
  • In one of G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown stories, Father Brown explains why he didn't trust the villainess:

If you want to know what a lady is really like, don't look at her; for she may be too clever for you. Don't look at the men round her, for they may be too silly about her. But look at some other woman who is always near to her, and especially one who is under her. You will see in that mirror her real face, and the face mirrored in Mrs. Sands was very ugly.

    • In another one, the Denouement hinges on the fact that Father Brown talks to the secretary, whereas the employer knows nothing about him besides his name.
    • In yet another one, the villain's deception only works because his victims don't pay any attention to the waiters serving them. G K Chesterton was slightly fond of this trope.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Necropolis, when the Noble Yetch and the Noble Chass are introduced in Council, Yetch argues that he should be able to evict refugees who have flooded his factory, interfering with production. Against him, Chass says that he liked this people when they raised his production quotas, and they should be permitted.

Chass continued. "If this attack inconveniences our houses, I say: Let us be inconvenienced. We have a duty to the hive population."

  • In the historical novel Betsy and the Emperor, a British teenager is surprised to note that Napoleon Bonaparte, who is, as far as she's concerned, the scourge of Europe, is fair and decent towards slaves, allowing them to take a rest break before a noble prisoner is allowed the same privilege.
  • In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 novel Brothers of the Snake, when the Princess Royal tries to object to a Flashed Badge Hijack of her car, a bodyguard points out that they are, after all, Space Marines. She hits him hard enough to knock him over. The dying Inquisitor sees to it that the Marines are not harmed by her complaints to their Chapter Master.
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster books - and the TV show based thereon - this is what makes Bertie worthy of having Jeeves as a valet: although an Upper Class Twit who's always carrying the Hero Ball, Bertie's a really Nice Guy and an ideal employer.
    • Similiarly, Bertie realizes that Florence Craye truly is a Rich Bitch when he learns how mean she is to servants. According to Jeeves, her downstairs nickname is "Lady Caligula".
    • Pretty much all of Bertie's friends respect Jeeves' competence and intelligence: Bingo Little regularly relies on Jeeves for help with his romantic problems, and Bertie's Aunt Dahlia invites Bertie to stay just to have access to Jeeves for her schemes. Bertie is (usually) the first to recommend Jeeves' advice & opinion, openly admitting that Jeeves is the brains of the pair - "the man practically lives on fish!"
  • In Sandy Mitchell's Warhammer 40,000 novel Scourge The Heretic, Secundan society is so hierarchical, and superiors are never polite to inferiors, even Inquisition agents have to be brusque to get treated as serious; those who are Nice to the Waiter are taken as inferior.
  • In C. S. Lewis's Prince Caspian, when Caspian is knocked unconscious in the forest and taken in by strangers, his first request, on waking up, is that they look after his horse. (They tell him it ran off.)
    • The Pevensies in general, considering that they're kings and queens and treat all of the other beings with respect.
    • In The Horse and His Boy, when Shasta and Bree find Hwin and Aravis, Bree and Hwin talk. Aravis demands to know why he's talking to her horse, not her. Bree points out that as Talking Horse, Hwin has as much right to speak of Aravis as her human. Aravis finds this unsettling.
      • Similarly, Aravis gets karmic punishment for her lack of concern over a servant: the servant got a whipping for letting Aravis escape, so Aslan scores Aravis's back with his claws.
    • Various Calormene nobles are unpleasant to the lower classes, starting with the one who wants to buy Shasta. Archland's and Narnia's nobles and royalty do much better.
    • It's worth noting that Frank, the first king of Narnia, treated his horse as if it were a close friend. When Aslan made the horse intelligent and able to talk, Frank was thrilled, seeing it as proof that the horse was as smart (and well-bred) as he thought.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel False Gods, Maggard's vocal cords have been removed because it is unfitting for a bodyguard like him to speak in the presence of his mistress. Unsurprisingly, when Horus praises him highly after a fight, his loyalties are Horus's. When she sees that after that fight, the soldiers respect him more than her, she thinks it wrong and resolves to fix it. Horus assassinates her, while Maggard is off assassinating another obstacle to Horus's plans.
    • In James Swallow's The Flight of the Eisenstein, other Death Guards, having jeered at Garro for following the old custom that preserved Kaleb's life as his equerry—to Kaleb's face—proceed to stop Kaleb in the corridors and heckle him until another Death Guard interrupts. He admits to this one that Garro uses him to feel out the morale; no one notices him as he moves about. Guess who remained loyal and who proved a traitor?
    • In Graham McNeill's Fulgrim, Braxton is enraged that the primarch keeps him waiting, because keeping people waiting is what he does to other people, to demonstrate his superior status.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 novel Red Fury, the tech adepts who dazzle Caceus are less concerned about his servant Fenn, which means Fenn has a much clearer idea of them.
  • This is lampshaded in the Warhammer 40,000 Ciaphas Cain series by Sandy Mitchell. Cain includes this in his personal survival doctrine as he notices that superiors who treat their subordinates and servants well seem to be blessed with subordinates who are more willing to fight to protect them and are less likely to "Die gloriously for the Emperor" mysteriously having been taken from behind.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 novel Faith & Fire, Vaun hits a medic merely because he is annoyed at the man fussing over his injuries.
  • In the Eric Flint novel 1633, it's pointed out that, despite having previously been a very negatively portrayed Straw Character, John Simpson and his wife are greatly respected by the working class people of Magdeburg because of their treatment of their underlings. Despite being a bit of a snob, Mary Simpson is commonly referred to as "The American Lady" because she is unfailingly courteous to her servants, where most 17th century nobles would ignore them completely.
    • Likewise, in the beginning of the same novel, Cardinal Richelieu is noted to be very polite to his servants, repaying loyalty from them with loyalty in return.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga story Memory, Miles chats with his servants and guards amiably. At one time he and a guard get a chance to exchange war stories(though Miles can only tell so much) and amuse themselves at impressing the guard's inexperienced brother like all veterans do to New Meat. In the course of the conversation Miles finds out that their mother is a Supreme Chef and hires her.
    • Ivan Vorpatril ends up marrying a store clerk. Of course that is not all she is but he did not know that when he first met her.
  • In the Belisarius Series, weapons designer John of Rhodes is noted as being the sort of man who's only rude to his social equals or superiors. There's also Kungas, whose character is revealed to Raghunath Rao when he walks into a room, swiftly assesses where he'll need to post guards, curtly gives his soldiers the orders to post those guards, and then leads them slowly and carefully across the room so they won't scuff the floor a servant was polishing just then.
    • When Eon is being evaluated for the position of Emperor by the Axumite chiefs and warriors one of the most important things they ask is how he treated the servant girls. They all knew he was a notorious ladies man and didn't mind terribly; but what they wanted to know is if he had abused them or unduly pressured them because that was considered a sign of how he would treat his people. Eon passed with flying colors; he was intemperate with his servants but not unkind and that was what they wanted to know.
    • Most of the good characters are more or less nice to the waiter and do various deeds showing it. Khusrau the Persian Emperor does this from long distance by not complaining when Roman soldiers tear up his palace looking for treasure-because they followed that promptly by tearing up an army invading the Persian Empire. One of the most notable incidents of niceness to lower status people is when Rajiv Sanga risks his life to give the low-status and unsoldierly gate guards a chance to surrender before his father's wrathful Rajput's come charging into the city.
    • Bad guys of course are universally mean to the waiter. The tellingly named Venandekatra the Vile would be the least likable character if his evilness was not so grotesquely amusing. He absolutely insists that the most important thing in the world is for his servants to carry his sedan chair and if they fail that-even if they have to go fight a battle-they have demonstrated their utter wickedness and incompetence and must be impaled. He has enough wealth and power to entertain his lust with the best courtesans in India but what he really likes is grabbing dozens of village girls along the way and raping them until they are insane to please his own sadism. In the meantime he is an absolute coward and is frightened when he comes across anyone with status enough to not be frightened of him.
      • Anyone on the bad guy side who is ever nice to the waiter in this series will sooner or later defect.
  • Geoffrey Chaucer describes his knight as never having spoken rudely to anyone.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's A Fighting Man of Mars, Tan Hadron pledges to defend a slave who saw a kidnapping and says that what he has to say will not please someone prominent.
    • In The Mad King, the regent and his Mooks discuss how Von der Tann might have found out:

I don't for a moment doubt but that he has his spies among the palace servants, or even the guard. You know the old fox has always made it a point to curry favor with the common soldiers. When he was minister of war he treated them better than he did his officers.

  • In Terry Pratchett's Unseen Academicals, both Ridcully and Lord Vetinari listen to Glenda, a Night Kitchen cook, reminding us that none of these characters fit any stereotype perfectly. The former is partially because wizards like their food, though he didn't know that she was the one making the incredible pies until about halfway through the conversation. Lord Vetinari talks to her because she's a cook—she's a Sugarbean.
    • It's noticeable that Ridcully tends to be a lot nicer to the serving staff than he is to his fellow professors, possibly related to him growing up on the street himself.
      • It's probably also a commentary on the fact that he was originally appointed Archchancellor because after he finished school he went to live in the country, and they were expecting a bucolic halfwit who wouldn't make waves; he has shown a tendency to repay respect in kind, on both sides of the scale.
    • Taken in an interesting direction with the Duchess in I Shall Wear Midnight. She may be rude or even contemptuous to her servants, but she takes care of them. She considers it a matter of pride that no one who works for her will ever have to beg for food, and in fact, the reason she has so many servants is because a fair number of them are needed to take care of the servants too old to work.
    • Subverted in Going Postal. The villain of the story is Reacher Gilt, and our hero Moist notes that impersonating him in a letter to a maître d' is a surefire way to get himself a table; Reacher's entire public image is an act, and part of the persona he presents involves tipping like a drunken sailor, even though he's a murderous bastard underneath. Moist on the other hand is a good guy (or at least a less evil guy) who cannot afford the expensive meal, and implicitly intends to scam his way out of paying (before Reacher offers to buy it for him).
  • In The Secret Garden, Mary's mother wanted her out of the way, and the servants would just try to keep Mary quiet. As a consequence, she quickly learned tantrums and hitting to get what she wanted. Her uncle's servants do not treat her with deference, which helps in her Character Development from Spoiled Brat.
    • Mary also quickly takes a liking to Martha, Dickon, and their family, along with the gardener. Mostly this is because those are the people who are consistently around, while her uncle is never there. Even when she befriends Colin, she chooses to spend the day with Dickon instead of him at one point.
    • Conversely Sara Crewe, heroine of the same author's A Little Princess, treats the servants at Miss Minchin's with courtesy. When she's the school's "show pupil", she is kind to scullery maid Becky, realizing out loud, "We are just the same -- I am only a little girl like you. It's just an accident that I am not you, and you are not me." And later when she's relegated to the status of servant herself, even when the other servants verbally abuse her she responds with "a quaint civility":

"She's got more airs and graces than if she come from Buckingham Palace, that young one," said the cook, chuckling a little sometimes. "I lose my temper with her often enough, but I will say she never forgets her manners. 'If you please, cook'; 'Will you be so kind, cook?' 'I beg your pardon, cook'; 'May I trouble you, cook?' She drops 'em about the kitchen as if they was nothing."

    • In one of the adaptations, even when she's a servant and starving, Sara gives her last bit of food to a starving family.
    • In the Cuaron adaptation, Sara also promises to return and rescue Becky when she escapes from the boarding house.
  • One of the Millers' most scandalous crimes in Daisy Miller is that they * gasp* actually treat their servant Eugenio like a human being instead of a piece of furniture! How could anyone be so vulgar?!
  • In Lewis Carroll's Sylvie and Bruno, the Vice-Warden, his wife, and his son Ugugg are all cruel to the poor.

He was a fine old man, but looked sadly ill and worn. "A crust of bread is what I crave!" he repeated. "A single crust, and a little water!"
"Here's some water, drink this!" Uggug bellowed, emptying a jug of water over his head.
"Well done, my boy!" cried the Vice-Warden.

    • Sylvie and Bruno chase after him to give him Bruno's cake—and find he's their father.
    • And, in Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Alice is kind and polite to pretty much everyone she meets. This is in contrast to the White Rabbit, who apparently is upper-class enough for a servant, and who we see speaking rudely to said "servant" (he mistook Alice for her) and later boot-licking the Queen of Hearts.
    • This is taken to extremes in Through the Looking Glass, where the White and Red Queen expect the newly-queened Alice to be so polite as to formally introduce herself to the dishes at her coronation banquet. She obliges for the first few, but eventually refuses on the grounds that they won't let her eat anything she knows personally and she's very hungry.
  • Part of Wedge Antilles' Establishing Character Moment in Rogue Squadron is his conscientiousness to his mechanic; he smiles and tells the mechanic that his X-Wing looks good as new if not better, putting aside private unease. The mechanic is a Verpine, and there are stories about Verpine mechanics tinkering with craft and forgetting that most pilots don't count in base six or have vision that lets them see microscopic detail. But none of the stories are substantiated. He's also sympathetic to his new astromech when it tells him that its nickname is "Mynock" because a previous pilot said it screamed like one in combat, which was a slander.
    • Played with amusingly in Wraith Squadron, when Wedge shows up in a rather similar scene to look over twelve shiny new X-Wings, and this time he's not the viewpoint character. This mechanic lies blatantly, saying that these are the worst new ships he's ever seen - factory-new ships tend to have all kinds of untested irregularities - and unless he can pull off a miracle with the extruder valve, they won't be flight-ready for a couple of days. Wedge blinks and gives him those days, apparently completely ignorant of the fact that X-Wings have no extruder valve. He wanders around for a bit, making the mechanics uneasy and meaning that they can't go on break for fear of being written up; they retaliate by loudly telling each other about catastrophic mechanical failures in X-Wings and the resultant loss of life. After he finally leaves, they fix the minor problems and play sabacc. Overestimating the time makes them look good.
  • In Aaron Dembski-Bowden's Warhammer 40,000 Night Lords novel Soul Hunter, the Night Lord Talos finding his shuttle had been attacked, with one slave dying and another kidnapped, treats the slave's injuries, assuring him that what went wrong didn't matter, charges into a stronghold of his enemies to save the other from Attempted Rape, and gives the first slave the best quality augmentics for his body parts injured beyond repair - better than many rich can get. It's not unsurprising the second slave, who had been used as a pawn her whole life before she was Made a Slave, becomes a loyal slave.
  • In Patricia A. McKillip's The Book of Atrix Wolfe, the Scullery Maid Saro is sent to deliver a tray of food to the prince in the haunted and half-ruined hall. She drops it; he takes the blame for startling her, especially after she had braved the ghosts and owls, and offers her a white lily. She goes back to the kitchen dreaming of him.
  • Mr. Weston doesn't treat Agnes like she's invisible just because she's a governess in Agnes Grey, which is strange for the time and proves his kind character.
  • In Robert E Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Phoenix on the Sword" Dion thinks nothing of Thoth-amon because he is a slave.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, Miranda does, in the opening scenes, sacrifice valuable artifacts to save a servant, though she is conflicted over it. Later, after she learns that her Lack of Empathy may be magically induced, and is told that her aerial servants love her, she consciously decides to use persuasion rather than force to get Boreaus to not harm humans, and then instead of flatly refusing to free them, tells the air spirits that she would need them to swear to keep the air spirits from causing harm. They conceed that this would be difficult but start thinking about how they could pull it off, grateful for even the chance. Also, when her brother complains of one of her employees speaking his mind, she backs up the employee.
  • In "The Secret Sin of Septimus Brope," by Saki, there is the following exchange:

"Is your maid called Florence?"
"Her name is Florinda."
"What an extraordinary name to give a maid!"
"I did not give it to her; she arrived in my service already christened."
"What I mean is," said Mrs. Riversedge, "that when I get maids with unsuitable names I call them Jane; they soon get used to it."
"An excellent plan," said the aunt of Clovis coldly; "unfortunately I have got used to being called Jane myself. It happens to be my name."


Isolder: "You shouldn't do this! The universe doesn't work this way!"
Luke: "What do you mean?"
Isolder: "You--you're treating those beasts as equals. You show my mother, the Ta'a Chume of the Hapes empire, the same degree of cordiality as you give a droid!"
Luke: "This droid, these beasts, all have a similar measure of the Force within them. If I sense the Force, how can I not respect them, just as I respect Ta'a Chume?"

  • Amy Thomson's Through Alien Eyes has the ultra-wealthy Xaviera family require that all of their children work as servants for three days a week in part to foster this.
  • In The Problem of Thor Bridge, Sherlock Holmes benefits from this trope when one of his wealthy client's employees comes at the outset to warn him about the client's vindictive nature. Holmes even lampshades it when he points out the insights one can get into a man's character when you see what his employees think of him.
  • In the first book of the series, Jake at one point gives up his chair to an older henchman of his Evil Mentor Basilisk's, helping solidify his status as an Anti-Villain.
  • Interestingly conversed and partially averted in Agatha Christie's Taken at the Flood- an aristocratic wife manages to treat her servants distantly, though politely- she is totally dependent on them to take care of her, but never pretends to relate to them. Her maids don't hate her for it- in fact they're somewhat fascinated by her glamour and difference.
  • In Sara Paretsky's Fire Sale, readers are clued in fairly early that Billy, the youngest of the family that turns out to be the Big Bad (they own a Walmart-like corporation), is different from the rest of his family by how he treats the workers kindly and they all are happy to see him.
  • In Beastly, one of the signs that Kyle is becoming a better person is that he sees his maid and his tutor as his best friends. Also, the girl he falls in love with worked the ticket booth at prom at the beginning of the book (though he didn't think well of her at the time).
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's Jill The Reckless, Jill. To such an extent that Freddie warns that her prospective mother-in-law will regard it as undue familiarity.
  • There is actually a heroic inversion in The Winds of War. The hero, Victor Henry, is an American naval attache in Berlin when Warsaw falls to the Wehrmacht. The German flag is raised to celebrate the victory and everyone stands up for it except the Americans. They remain seated because they are neutral and do not wish to look like easy marks. The waiter serving them sees this and does his job in a slovenly manner. At which point, Victor bawls the waiter out, in properly authoritarian naval fashion. The reason is that America's right not to celebrate a German victory. It is also America's right to have it's diplomatic personal served well assuming they pay for service. And Victor is not about to let them think he does not take his country's dignity seriously.

Live Action TV

  • In the TV show Heat Of The Sun, set in colonial Kenya, the hero (played by Trevor Eve), a detective, stands up for the indigenous Africans, shakes hands with black servants, etc., while his boss, a colonialist jerk, looks down on them.
  • Subverted in Sex and the City, when Samantha's client (Lucy Liu) says she judges people by how well they tip, because she used to wait tables for a living. Sam looks distinctly worried as Lucy pulls over the check, however then Lucy is very impressed that Sam tipped 20% and Sam wins the contract.
  • George Costanza of Seinfeld is obsessed with waitresses liking him, and becomes obviously distressed when they don't. Of course, he is most definitely not a good person. In another episode, Jerry and Elaine argue over what to tip a baggage handler, with the result that Elaine (who favors tipping low) finds her bags sent to Honolulu.
    • Played with in another episode where Jerry, George, and Kramer visit LA. Jerry and George run into a guy who favors giving huge tips to the help, but he doesn't turn out to be such a good guy in the end. He's actually a serial killer.
  • Played straight in an episode of the British sitcom The New Statesman: Alan B'Stard and one of his cronies deliberately get waiters fired from a restaurant solely for idle amusement. To add further insult, one of the waiters later attacks the duo with a knife and is dispatched with contemptuous ease. (Amusingly, the crony and the waiter are played by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.)
  • Played with in an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun. At first, Dick doesn't tip just because he doesn't know he's supposed to. But even after being informed ("No wonder my coffee always tastes like spit!"), he still doesn't seem to catch on, setting ludicrous standards for giving tips (Starting with some sum and deducting whenever anything, including those things the waitress isn't guilty of, goes wrong). He just doesn't understand why he needs to pay them extra when they already have a salary, and sees no reason why a number of services have now had an arbitrary 15% price jump.
    • Even better, he added a small amount of money to the tip after something went right, amongst all the times he took away from it.
    • In another episode, the aliens attend a murder mystery dinner and, of course, think it's real. When they get the idea that The Butler Did It, Tommy gets worried that he'll be the next victim because he was rude to the butler earlier.
  • In Coupling, Jane ignored Oliver Morris' advances until she saw how well liked he was by Mrs. C and Mrs. M (whose name was actually Barker - Oliver had unintentionally nicknamed her after the mole on her face), the cashiers at the supermarket Oliver had been shopping at for three year while Jane had been shopping there for five.
  • House, while giving a eulogy at his father's funeral professes his belief that the test of a man's character is how he treats those whom he has total power over. He notes his complete lack of surprise that all the military officers present are his father's rank or higher, and tells the audience that his father failed the test, and that maybe if he had been a better father, House would have been a better son.
  • One of the reasons for President Jed Bartlet's popularity with viewers of The West Wing was most likely this trope, as Bartlet was consistently shown to be a kindly, supportive and genuinely caring person with those who worked for him. It was particularly apparent in his fatherly relationship with his personal aide Charlie. He didn't always remember their names, but he never failed to treat them well.
    • This is also true of all of his senior staff with the notable exception of Toby, who hates working with anybody who can't write up to his standards or annoys him in the slightest, and wants everyone to know it. He is, however, very protective of the ones who manage to stick it out. And interestingly, most of the baddies on the show seem to have very loyal staffs of their own.
  • Burn Notice: One Villain of the Week is introduced with a lovely scene where he trips a busboy at a restaurant for no particular reason.
  • Like Sara in A Little Princess, the Japanese drama Shokojo Sera has the main character Seira being very kind and friendly with everyone around her, whether they are the same rank as her or not. Back in India, she treats all her servants amiably and they in return love her very much. She approaches Kaito (Becky's Spear Counterpart) when no one else does and even drops off books for him to read. Even when she loses her fortune and everyone is out to make her life miserable, Seira still smiles and bows politely to them.
  • Prince Arthur from Merlin flip-flops with this in regard to Merlin. While he clearly assumes he's the superior and constantly insults and berates Merlin while Merlin's trying to do his job, he has shown that he cares about the common people and occasionally shows Merlin some measure of affection and respect. He's also willing to risk his life to protect or save Merlin without a second's thought.
  • On Ghost Whisperer, Delia declines a second date with a guy who completely freaks out and berates a waiter for spilling something on Delia (far more than the poor guy deserves). The date was otherwise perfect, but she explains that her mother always told her never to date a man who was rude to waiters.
  • An episode of Will and Grace had Will on a date with an arrogant man. At the end of the date, they began to argue over which of them should pay the bill. Will gets the waiter to give him the bill with the promise that "I'll tip you."
    • Previously, Will mentions playing the "Be Nice To Waiters" game. He says, "If you win, you get to not go to hell."
  • In Doctor Who, the Doctor usually goes out of his way to find the names of and be kind to the random people he meets on his travels. His companions are pretty good about this as well. In the second episode of the new series, Rose is thanked by an employee on a space satellite, because the former gave the latter permission to speak. Inversely we see that in an alternate universe, Jackie Tyler dismisses Rose's attempts to repair her failing marriage because "You're just staff!" Of course, given that Jackie and Rose had been getting along well previously, it could have been that she was embarrassed that a strange waitress was giving her marriage advice.
    • And when it doesn't happen, it's noteworthy enough to be called out: see the late 10th Doctor episode "Midnight" and the stewardess of the tour shuttle he and several strangers are on.
  • In the "Upper Class Twit" sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus, one of the tasks required of the contestants is abusing a waiter.
  • In Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry annoys practically everyone he meets but is shown on multiple occasions to be a friendly and kind boss, giving employees generous bonuses at Christmas, though he seems to dislike Jason Alexander's generous tipping, if only because he refuses to tell Larry how much he tips.
  • In the premier episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, a criminal gives an insultingly small tip (measured in spare change) to a skycap when he picks an associate up at the airport. This comes back to bite him later when the cops come around and the skycap remembers him.
  • Played with on Gilmore Girls—Emily is never outright rude to her servants, but has ridiculously high standards and changes maids every couple of weeks for reasons that Lorelai finds ridiculous.
  • Endgame: Arkady Balagan despises the upper management of the Huxley Hotel, and they would really like to shift him out of the penthouse suite he's occupying, but he is generally nice to the staff.
  • Happens in an episode of MacGyver, where he is in a casino and sees a woman yelling at a waitress for accidentally spilling a drink on her dress. MacGyver decides to use her as a distraction. The distraction involves the woman's dress falling down in front of everyone
  • Used in How I Met Your Mother. The first sign that a woman Ted briefly dates is awful is her yelling at a waiter and demanding a free appetizer. Furthermore, the gang is always nice to Wendy the waitress, who is something of a Sixth Ranger to them.
    • Seemingly accidentally used with the main cast as well. Barney is shown to usually be nice to his servers (he inevitably learns the names of his cabbies and converses with them like friends), while Lily isn't (referring to a server by the wrong name after he told her his correct name, for example)
  • Subverted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While the Mayor is evil and manipulative, he is also very nice to everyone he meets, including vampires and demons. The only demand he makes of his staff is that they take his hygiene advice.
  • In Scrubs Turk is incredibly rude to a parking valet, only to find out that (a) the guy isn't a valet, and (b) is his fiancée's brother. If Turk had just been nicer then his relationship with his in-laws would have been a lot less funny.
  • In an episode of Stargate SG-1, the team finds a village where they use creatures called Unas as slave labour. While attempting to barter for one Unas in particular, resident nice guy Daniel thanks an Unas who serves them drinks. The trader they're bartering with expresses surprise at this and Daniel, in an attempt to keep up appearances as a slave trader, claims that he's merely using positive reinforcement to better train the Unas.
  • In Hustle, the marks are invariably rude to waiters, the hired help, their own employees and anyone else lower than them on the social pecking order.
  • Completely subverted in Arrested Development when it's revealed that Lucille has never even looked at a waiter in her life. This means that she doesn't notice when her own son is pretending to be a waiter at the restaurant she goes to.
    • Not sure if that counts as a subversion for Lucille.
  • Downton Abbey. Pretty much every person of nobility is considered decent if they treat their servants well.
  • Played with in Mad Men, Joan makes it a point to be exceptionally nice to the phone line operators, to the point of bringing them flowers and presents. It's made clear that this is not out of kindness, but because being on an operator's bad side will make it impossible for you to do your job.
  • This trope is part of what made Ted Hoffman a good character on Murder One. He never fails to be good to his staff at the firm, giving them generous bonuses at Christmas, paid vacation time and always making Them feel appreciated for Their work (Especially his assistant Louis). They in return are unflinchingly loyal and committed to him and look up to Him as a mentor and father figure (Which made Justine's betrayal more heartbreaking and Their reconciliation more uplifting).
  • In Game of Thrones,
    • Tywin Lannister has a few Pet the Dog moments with Arya Stark and treats her with a surprising amount of respect, though he does warn her to "be careful" when she steps over the line.
    • Daenerys Targaryen treats her servants with a great deal of respect.
  • Spectacularly inverted in the Horatio Hornblower episode "The Wrong War". A French Royalist officer press-gangs a schoolmarm into waiting tables for him while making comments in her presence about how absolutely contemptible her lack of noble birth makes her, assuming the guests will consider it part of the entertainment. The British officers are obviously disgusted: Hornblower, blurts out his indignation, while the more mission-sensitive Edrington contents himself with saying he is glad he is born noble, or in other words that he is glad he doesn't have to endure such things.



Video Games

  • This trope is used interestingly in Dragon Age: Origins. The dwarves have a Fantastic Caste System, and two opponents fight to become the next king. The Evil Prince Bhelen, who poisoned his father (the last king), killed his eldest brother, made the second-eldest into the fall guy, and wants to be king simply because he wants to rule, is for expanding rights for the lower castes and caste-less and supports economic reforms for expanding surface trade rights for the merchants. He even married a caste-less for love. His opponent, Reasonable Authority Figure Harrowmont, was the former king's best friend who is running to honour his Last Request, and fought to maintain the innocence of the Dwarf Noble if you picked that origin. He is also a traditionalist who supports the current caste system, favours the nobles and soldier castes, and dislikes caste-less.

Web Comics

  • Girl Genius: One characterization of having medical labs all about Heterodyne Castle, is so the body doesn't have to be lugged far.

Moloch: I think it shows a bit of respect for the working man.


Web Original

  • In at least a couple of the Ayla stories, it's pointed out that Tansy Walcutt is horrible to the help, and is fairly Anvilicious about never emulating that. Just to drive the point home, the author contrasts this with Ayla who is always kind to the help and gets huge bonuses because of it.
    • Ayla also has a good reason for it. If you aren't nice to the help, you'll end up without any help. And good work deserves good pay. It's just good business.

Western Animation

  • It is usually played straight with popular kids and Timmy in The Fairly OddParents. Timmy is sometimes nice to Tootie and is friends with Chester, a poor kid. Trixie has been nice to Timmy sometimes too. The other popular kids and villains are not Nice to the Waiter though.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: You can easily use this trope to see the difference between Zuko and Azula. Sure, Zuko comes off as a bit of a Jerkass at first, but he does save one of his Red Shirts' life in "The Storm." Azula, on the other hand, pretty much crosses her Moral Event Horizon when you first see how she interacts with her crew.
    • Further driven home in the third season, where we see Zuko and Azula interacting with their respective servants. Zuko is unfailingly polite to his servants and they seem happy to work for him. Azula's servants are terrified of her (rightfully so) and she banishes one of them for leaving a pit in her cherries.
  • In "The Terrible Trio," an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, Bruce Wayne in gets berated by golfing buddies (in particular one Upper Class Twit) for thanking his caddy and ask him if he thanks the garbage man for picking up the trash. Bruce responds that he would if he ever ran into him. The Upper Class Twit who laughs at him for being polite to the help goes on a crime spree because he's bored and tries to kill his girlfriend after she finds out.
  • In King of the Hill, Buck Strickland does nothing to run his own business and treats the entire thing like a personal piggy bank (he frequently takes money out of the safe to buy strippers). Capping that off, he's dismissive of his employees and doesn't care what they have to say. The only man under him he seems to care about his Hank (who's the only reason Strickland Propane isn't bankrupt), but even then he blows off many of his warnings and has him do his dirty work. In one episode, we see Buck's idea of tipping his pool boy is throwing large bills into the pool and laughing as he swims for them.
  • Exaggerated and played for laughs in The Simpsons episode "Mother Simpsons". The reason Homer thought his mother was dead for decades was because her weekly care packages were never delivered, on account of the fact that he didn't tip the mail carrier at christmas.

Real Life

  • CEOs call this the Waiter Rule. Humor columnist Dave Barry once wrote "A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person. This is exactly the form that Raytheon CEO Bill Swanson wrote it in his booklet Swanson's Unwritten Rules of Management. Swanson says that the Waiter Rule is the only one that never fails.[1]
  • Journalism schools teach their students to butter up secretaries, as they tend to be the gatekeepers for important people.
  • Whether or not he's nice to them consistently isn't known, but Rush Limbaugh constantly leaves tips in the 50% range when he dines out.
    • One thing it would seem to illustrate is G.K. Chesterton's contention that those who are most extreme in their opinions are commonly the most pleasant in personal relationships. During their tenure, the two U.S. Senators with the best reputation for treating staff well were Teddy Kennedy and Jesse Helms.
  • Adolf Hitler's secretary, Traudl Junge (while admitting that Hitler was evil) said that he was "a pleasant boss and a fatherly friend". Since there are few -- if any -- Card-Carrying Villains in reality, Hitler's Pet the Dog moments actually made him more terrifying.
  • Subversion: Winston Churchill. He is generally agreed to be a great leader, but he was terrible to his secretarial staff. On the other hand, he was genuinely affectionate to his childhood nanny.
  • The 2005 MTV show Boiling Point, secretly set up people to see how long they could remain civil to people who were being unreasonable with them.
    • An episode tested which of three college-age customers could remain at least civil with a waiter for fourteen minutes during which MTV would call the customer before he or she had started eating, have the server clear the table in his or her absence, have the plate brought back with bits of garbage stuck, and insist the customer pay full price anyway. This particular bit was notorious because the only one of the three who failed was a certain (then-unknown) Stefani Germanotta.
  • Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, was gracious to everybody he met. There is one biography of the Queen which notes that the palace servants all loved Prince Albert; if he walked into a room where the maids were scrubbing the floor, he would take off his hat and smile and apologize for disturbing them.
  • Caused a minor scandal during the 2004 US Presidential election when John Kerry called one of his Secret Service detail a SOB after the latter ran him over while they were snowboarding.
  • Theodore Roosevelt - Roosevelt knew all the White House servants by name and when he visited the White House during Taft's term he looked up the servants who had worked for him and spent time catching up with them.
  • The "Waitress Test" is used as one of the warning signs to see if someone is in an abusive relationship. The idea is that when a person starts dating an abuser, said abuser will treat the waitress, store clerks, and other such people the way that they will treat the person in six month's time.
    • It's even more basic than that. Go on any website listing common dating dealbreakers, whether silly or serious in nature, and "was a dick to the waiter" will, without fail, be one of them.
  • The biggest bunch of flowers at David Niven's funeral was sent by the porters at Heathrow Airport. The note with it read: "To the finest gentleman who ever walked through these halls. He made a porter feel like a king."
  • "Queen of Mean" Leona Helmsley was well known for her bitchiness to employees. She once refused to pay a thirteen thousand dollar bill to a contractor with six children, claiming that "If he kept his pants on, he wouldn't need the money" and making a waiter beg for his job after a drop fell on a cup saucer
  • Burt Lancaster, although a Nice Guy, tried something on his sets. He would complain about everything, sometimes very loudly and yet people still loved him and hated to see him go. He never understood it
  • This might be more of a Mean Character, Nice Actor, but Sir Laurence Olivier, even with all his awards and noble titles, refused to carry on a conversation with anyone who wouldn't call him Larry.
  • Former UK PM Margaret Thatcher (AKA "The Iron Lady"), while widely hated for her policies and attitudes, and feared by her colleagues and opponents, was apparently unfailingly and instinctively nice to the help, even once blurting out a "sorry" to a waitress who dropped a tray.
  • It is a general rule held by many to be nice to the people who serve food. If they handle what you eat, it's not a good idea to make them mad.
  • On a similar note, if your pizza delivery guy is prompt and polite, tip him more than 50 cents. Delivery drivers tend to move even faster when they know they'll get a good tip, whereas if they know you'll stiff them, they might make a stopover on the way to your house to get an oil change, do some grocery shopping, maybe solve world hunger so that you never order from them again, you cheap bastard.
  • George Clooney has a reputation of being very good to the crews on his sets, to the point where he once got into a physical scuffle with a director who was being verbally abusive to a worker.
  • Similarly, Keanu Reeves is known as an incredibly friendly person towards crew members. Stories have arisen of his incredible generosity, such as giving the stunt performers Harley Davidson motorbikes during the shoot of The Matrix Reloaded.
  • This little interaction between a Navy Lieutenant and the waiting staff at a restaurant. Never has Laser-Guided Karma been so sweet to hear about.
  • Uwe Boll, of all people, is apparently a surprisingly pleasant and undemanding guy to work for on set.
  • Gangster Lou "Pretty" Amberg was very nice to those who served him, often tipping one hundred dollars.
  • Similar to the above example, Frank Sinatra was famous for tipping valets and porters in excess of 100 dollars. Keep in mind that this was at a time when someone working a job like that might make that much in a couple of WEEKS.
  • George W. Bush is extremely personable and gracious to staff, as many wait staff in the DFW can attest. He likely learned it from his father, who is also a very friendly man, especially post-retirement.
  • Historian E.H. Cookridge tells of a zig-zag by the Maharajah of Cooch Behar, a client monarch of The Raj. He was traveling on the Orient Express to a political conference in London. Along the route he behaved like a true Royal Brat, straining the service with his obnoxious demands for luxury. But when he got to the end he gave the train captain a handful of treasure and told him,"Please give one of these gems to each of the good men who have obliged me and keep the rest..."
    • What really impressed the Maharajah was the return journey where they ran out of lamb for his distinguished palette, and the train crew and stationmaster had to race to scrounge up a local butcher. Such ingenuity more then deserved a big tip.
  • In the slightly obscure documentary series Secrets of War the season three episode British Secret Intelligence in World War II tells how a party of SOE infiltrators sneaked into a heavy-water factory and tied up a local Norwegian guard before wiring up their charge. The unfortunate sentry said in effect,"I can't stop you, but could you chill for a moment to get my glasses as glasses are kind of hard to get in Norway these days." So the raider stopped, found the guard's glasses, and after that lit off the charge.
  1. "Such behavior is an accurate predictor of character because it isn't easily learned or unlearned but rather speaks to how people were raised, says Siki Giunta, CEO of U.S. technology company Managed Objects."