The restaurant that I work at actually has a “teamwork” mentality. Nobody is ever allowed to say “I’ll go get your server”. We keep our own tips from our tables, but we share large sections (about 1/2 to 1/3 of the large restaurant) and rotate within that section. We are responsible for filling each other’s drinks, we are all responsible for running each other’s food, we can put in each other’s orders. So I guess it depends on where you go. I know that I pride myself on giving excellent service. If I can, I will go above and beyond to make sure that every single one of my customers feels like they are getting a special, unique, and personal experience. It sounds like you had a bad experience, but I don’t think that that is the norm for service in the US. Aside from very, very busy times where multiple things went wrong, I do not believe that any of my customers could say that I did not give them good service.
And I would argue that the tipping system actually inspires us to give people better service, as our income is directly correlated to the level of service we give. If I were going to be paid the same wage regardless, I would obviously still do my job properly, but I wouldn’t go as above and beyond as I do for people now.