When everything goes right, serving tables is a pretty fun job. Servers get to meet new, interesting people, make a nice chunk of money and learn about food, wine and the hospitality business as a whole. That being said, there are definitely certain instances where being a server becomes extremely aggravating. And usually, this state of frustration is caused by their guests. Whether it's a group of moms letting their children run around like demons, a group of kids skimping on the tip or a couple play-arguing for 10 straight minutes about who should pay the check, there are definitely some patrons who could use a lesson in restaurant etiquette. Here are 15 things that people do at restaurants that drive servers up a wall.
15 When people ignore the weather
Enjoying a meal outside is one of the simplest pleasures in life. It’s one of the main reasons people go ape sh*t over things like tailgating, barbecues and camping. There’s nothing better than relaxing with friends, sipping on a cold drink, chowing down on good food, all while basking in the sun. Servers even enjoy getting some fresh air during spring and summer. The only time serving tables outside becomes less fun for waiters and waitresses is when it’s not seasonally appropriate to… at all. Oh, you’re from somewhere that gets much harsher weather so this seems like a spring day to you? That’s nice. Good thing you still have that jacket to protect you from the winds whipping by. SERVERS DON’T. The only thing separating servers from the elements (and the threat of hypothermia) is a thin shirt and some jeans. So unless you’re willing to strip down to the same outfit for solidarity, for the love of god, sit inside.
14 When people make sexual jokes
For some reason, far too many people treat going out to eat like an opportunity to practice their comedy chops. We’ve all been there. You go out to eat with your family. Your dad starts saying lame jokes when the waitress is around. You groan and bemoan for him to stop but nothing seems to work. He acts like Chris Rock for the rest of the evening, but it’s clear that he can’t get away with the jokes about racism quite as much. #Awkward. Now imagine you’re the server in the situation. Not only can you not roll your eyes and tell this dad to stop, but you have to LAUGH. You have to look a middle-aged man living out his comedy pipe dream straight in the face and (while you’re slowly dying inside) let out a chuckle that at least has a semblance of authenticity. Yeah, tell your dads to stop with the sexual jokes. Servers everywhere thank you in advance.
13 When people expect the manager to tell them something different
If there was ever a profession where the phrase “don’t kill the messenger” was incredibly relevant, it would be serving tables. When certain entrées run out, when coupons are no longer valid, when a dish cannot be modified, servers are the ones who face the brunt of a guest’s frustration. Servers are the ones who have to attempt to rectify the situation with alternate solutions and remind guests that running out of the fish special isn’t actually the end of the world. While most patrons realize and respect the fact that most of the time servers are simply following protocol, every once in a while there is a guest that is convinced some form of injustice is being perpetrated against them and that a manager must be called over. At this point, the interaction takes a somewhat fun turn since the manager will undoubtedly reiterate what the server was saying all along, nonetheless it’s an unnecessary blip in the shift.
12 When people forget what they ordered
When it comes to serving, the only thing more annoying than messing up an order is when you KNOW you didn’t but your guest claims you did. Usually the scenario goes like this, “Hi there, do you know what you’d like?” “Hmm, you know, I’m really not sure. I’m between the mac and cheese and the pot pie. What do you think? I really can’t decide.” “I would go with the pot pie.” “Hmm, okay, you know what? I’m gonna go with the mac and cheese.” *internal eyeroll* “Okay, no problem.” Fast forward to 15 minutes later when one bowl of mac and cheese arrives to the table. With their face scrunched up they call the server over, “excuse me, I ordered the pot pie.” At this point, there’s a 99 percent chance that the server is cursing this person out in their head. Whatever recent bout of amnesia has caused this person to forget what they ordered doesn’t really matter because a server had a pen and paper to record the final decision. So, let’s just stop acting like it’s a level playing field.
11 When people freak out over the bread
Ah, bread. Flaky, warm, delicious, and absolutely satisfying when you’re starving, a basket of bread before a meal at a restaurant has become a staple in the industry. After all, who doesn’t want some extra carbs right before a big meal? Count us in. While every server can certainly see the appeal of a bread basket to nip at hunger (they’re stuffing bread into their mouths whenever they have a free moment, too), what servers cannot wrap their heads around is how people lose their sh*t when a restaurant runs out of bread. Yeah, it’s a bummer that you’re going to have to actually spend money on a valid appetizer now, but jeez, chill out people, it’s just bread. Didn’t you come to the restaurant for the actual entrées being served? Don’t y’all have some bread at home? It’s not that special. It’s not like you guys can’t go home and pour some oil on a plate, sprinkle on some red pepper flakes and pretend you’re dining at a five star restaurant. Actually, if you’re so butt hurt about missing out on the free bread, maybe that’s exactly what you should do.
10 When people ask stupid questions
A server’s main job at a restaurant is to help guests navigate the menu and make their experience as enjoyable as possible. Servers need to know about ingredients and allergy conflicts and they should be able to give guests an accurate depiction of the dishes so they know what to expect when their meals arrive. What servers cannot do is guarantee with 100 percent certainty that the guest will enjoy the dish. Which brings us to the infamous “is it good?” question. This is almost as infuriating as the “is it fresh?” question and head to head with the pseudo-comical “is it fat-free?” inquiry. Sure, servers can try to guide guests towards their favorite items on the menu, but to ask such a black and white question like “is it good?” is just silly. You’ll never hear a server say “no, it sucks” or “oh, were you looking for something GOOD? You might wanna go somewhere else” so, find a new question, folks.
9 When people argue about the check
When it comes to delivering the check to a table, servers know there are two extremes. There are the young people who will do one of three things: split a bill (even if the total is $6), try to skimp out on the bill by getting lost in the scuffle of their party of 10, or just pay like normal people and leave a decent tip (likely because they were/are a server themselves. Then, on the other side of the spectrum, are full-blown adults who, for some reason, treat paying the bill at a restaurant as a feat of strength, a way of showing their friends and colleagues that they have money in the bank and they’re not afraid to use it!!!
These are the people that lunge at servers when they come to the table with the check, who awkwardly argue with their significant other in front of servers and try to make them the referee, or who straight-up snatch checks out of a server’s hand whenever they get remotely near. These are the people that must be stopped.
8 When people don't know how to tip
Okay, this one’s an obvious one, but we’re gonna repeat it for the people sleeping in the back. As tempting as it may be to believe that servers bust their asses for you for fun, it’s simply not true. Honoring every substitution you request, remembering every condiment you desire and making sure your drink is never empty and your table is never toppling with dirty plates, is all done for the end result: a worthy tip. While seeing guests leave satisfied and wanting to come back again is gratifying, the feeling loses all of its luster when the tip is sad, or worse, inexistent.
Contrary to what some people may believe, tips are not the icing on a server’s cake. In fact, considering that tipped workers like servers get paid less than minimum wage, it’s quite literally the opposite. Would it be nice if employers paid servers a hourly wage and we could abolish the tipping system entirely? Of course. But until that’s a reality, servers depend on the kindness and generosity of their patrons to do the right thing and respect the system in place.
7 When people think they're original (but they're not)
We think we can speak for servers everywhere when we say we want to find the person who first said this joke and strangle them. Maybe it was hilarious the first time. Maybe whoever initially uttered this clever response had the place he was eating at keeling over from laughter. Maybe everyone patted that person on the back and passersby saw how beloved he instantly became and knew that one day, they had to utilize the same joke. Maybe this has all just snowballed WAY OUT OF PROPORTION. Whatever the origins of this joke may be, we can all safely say now that the joke is dead. It died a while ago and it should never ever be resuscitated. No, seriously, everybody pay your respects now. That joke is FINISHED.
6 When people think they don't have to pay
While it may sometimes seem like it, going out to eat is not like going shopping. Sure, hosts and servers may greet you like people greet you when entering a store, and you do to get to pick things out on your own, but we’re afraid the resemblance ends there. Because, in case you didn’t know, you can’t return food to a restaurant the way you can return a sweater to a store. There is no 30-day guarantee. Hell, there isn’t even a 30-minute guarantee. Once you put that food down your gullet, that’s it. It’s over. There’s no turning back. Servers don’t care if your taste buds didn’t like it on the way down. That’s the gamble of eating outside of your home, folks. And don’t even try pulling the refund card if you ate 90 percent of your meal. It’s just not gonna happen.
5 When people don't realize serving is a job...
It's no secret that waiting tables is often seen as a transition job. Supposedly, it’s for high school and college students looking to make a quick buck. It’s for dancers/actors/musicians waiting to get their “big break.” It’s for people looking to make ends meets while they look for a better job on the side. But what many people don’t realize, is that serving is a valid job all on its own. It requires a fair amount of training, extensive wine, beer and food knowledge is involved and some places even offer healthcare and benefits, gasp! Shocking, we know, but contrary to popular belief, some people serve as a career, a fact that becomes infinitely more awkward after the “what’s your real job question.” Last time we checked working as a team, getting tasks done efficiently and getting paid was a job.
4 When people mess with a server's tray
Alright, this one’s going to be more of a physics lesson than a rant. Okay, maybe a little bit of both. There is not much servers request from their patrons. A little kindness when ordering, patience when waiting, a quick reaction when we say to move your hand, and oh yeah, not to touch our f**king tray. It’s common sense, people. Holding a tray full of brimming beers and delicate cocktails is only an easy task if there’s balance and composure, two things that go to shit the moment someone touches our trays. The second someone makes this unwise decision, only two results can occur. Either the server will somehow recuperate and keep the tray balanced orrrr the restaurant will fill with a cacophony of glass shattering. Which way this goes is totally up to the guest.
3 When people make it unnecessarily hard
There are certain things that servers have to do that even those who don’t work in the hospitality industry know about. These are things like taking orders at tables, carrying plates, and walking with a tray of drinks. Despite the fact that most people know that servers have to accomplish these tasks, some people still look incredibly surprised when witnessing them. Oh, is that someone coming down with a tray of what looks like extremely fragile wine glasses? Let me just go ahead and look back down at my Facebook feed instead of moving. Oh, is that someone trying to put down a hot plate where I have my hands on the table? Eh, maybe, maybe not, how about I don’t move and find out that way? Yeah, these people are the bane of a server’s existence.
2 When people expect special treatment
There’s no denying that it’s cool to feel like you’re a VIP when going out. It’s the reason people like to know promoters when they to go to clubs, shell out extra money to sit in a special section at concerts and make reservations for restaurants. Unfortunately, for these people, special treatment isn’t given as freely in the restaurant space. Sure, the owner of an eatery is likely to give his close friends and family some free goodies, but Steve, their neighbor’s cousin who he met once? Not likely. But this doesn’t stop Steve from trying to squeeze a free shot out of his server, does it? No, it does not. Steve will follow up the request with something along the lines of “tell the owner it’s for me,” a phrase that more often than not means diddly squat. Don’t put your servers through this misery.
1 When people don't respect closing time
If you’ve never worked in the hospitality industry, being the last ones at a restaurant may sound like a good, and even fun, idea. You got the whole place to yourselves. Everyone’s waiting on you, hand and foot. You feel like you could stay there for hours! It’s almost like a sleepover! For servers, on the other hand, waiting for the last table of the night to leave can be a torturous process, one that gets even worse when the table walks in obnoxiously close to closing time. If you've ever been a server, you know the feeling. There you were, so close to walking out that front door you could almost feel the breeze on your face. Already dreaming about what you were going to eat when you got home. Then, tragedy struck. A giddy family shuffled up to the door and asked for a table for four. And just like that, your dream of getting into bed by 11:30 deteriorated right before your eyes.