There’s something special about dining out. The ambiance of the restaurant, the presentation of the cuisine and a congenial and attractive person, happily handing you your grub. The restaurant experience wouldn’t be the same without that witty plate runner smiling at you, pretending to like you. Servers spend all their time making others happy but have you ever thought about what it takes to make them happy? Clearly, you appreciate being waited on, if you wanted to be treated like crap you’d go to a fast food restaurant. Sure you tip, I mean isn’t that the whole point. But what about that time in-between the greeting and the tip? What about that time when your server has no idea whether you will tip the customary 20% or you are oblivious to the fact that inflation is a very real thing and will leave a quarter and a religious tract or just some trash for her to pick up?
Offenders; you know who are but there are other, less obvious offenses that make your waiter want to kill you. They are as follows….
You Run Your Server
This happens so often that those of us in the business have coined a phrase for it. Servers understand that guests need things and for the most part we are happy to accommodate you. There comes a point, however, when you have demanded too much. A point in which we begin to daydream about spitting in your lemons or farting on your extra napkins. You can easily discern when you have committed this offense at which point, your server, donning a plastered on pseudo smile, asks you this question: “Is there anything else I can get for you?” What we are really saying behind our affable guise is “You have sent me on four trips. I have five other tables. Who the hell puts steak sauce on their eggs? If you ask me for one more thing, I swear to God, I’m putting a gypsy curse on you!”. Admittedly, there are those times when we legitimately forget the obvious things, such as a bottle of ketchup to go along with an order of fries, or cream for your coffee. What really grinds our gears, is when you assume ranch dressing is the go to dipping sauce for a quesadilla or you feel entitled to a soup bowl full of lemon wedges. If you have these requests, fine, simply ask for everything you need at once instead of sending us on a slew of trips to fish for red onions or the ever popular, extra ranch and we will be forever grateful. It is important for you as a customer to remember that the universe doesn’t revolve around you. YOU ARE NOT OUR ONLY CUSTOMER! I can not stress this enough. When you run us like a dog or snap your fingers at us when we look like this…….
you appear self-absorbed and we are less eager to grant your wishes. Making you happy is our livelihood. Don’t ever worry that you have been forgotten about. It is very rarely true. This, however, doesn’t even begin to describe the nonsense we, servers endure daily. I bring you to common customer crime number two…
You Don’t Understand Meat Temps
This is a fairly common shortcoming amongst customers and a rather forgivable one at that. Here’s a quick rundown of meat temperatures for those of you who are unsure. A rare steak is going to be very bloody and red. It’s practically flopping around on the plate. Hardcore carnivores enjoy this primal delight. Medium rare is cooked through a little more but still very red in the middle. Most people really enjoy a medium steak, as it’s pink in the center, tender and not too bloody. I found this is what people think they’re getting when they order medium rare. Then there is there is medium well. Order this if you want a tender steak with little to no pink. Well done is for those of you who fear Mad Cow disease, E-Coli, botulism and any number of foodborne illnesses you are very unlikely to contract if you are a healthy adult. A well done steak is completely cooked through, not a hint of pink remains. Done right, a well done steak should still be tender and delicious. This is why you should never order a well done steak at say, a diner, that specializes in eggs. The cooks might not be able to accommodate you, as their expertise is in eggs and other breakfast fair . If you like your steak well done and tender, go to a steak house. Even Outback should be sufficient. To offer a clearer image of meat temperature, I’ve provided a picture below. Visual learners take note.
I’ve offered this tutorial to prove a greater point. Your server does not mind answering your questions. It is our job. Any good server would be happy to explain to you what medium rare looks like. The problem servers so often have, is when the customer orders their steak say, medium rare, unsure of what medium rare is and complains once the food has arrived. You might think you are being nice by saying something like “Can you just have the cook throw it back on the grill?” but once you’ve cut into the meat, throwing it back on the grill is a mistake. You are not going to get back that delicious, medium steak you so hoped for and should’ve ordered in the first place, you are going to receive something that tastes more like this……
See, red meat can be finicky. You can’t poke into it when it’s cooking or you risk toughness, you shouldn’t put the meat on the grill when it’s cold, the list goes on. So when you are unsure of how to order your steak and order it anyway, the restaurant loses money and your server loses time that could be better spent on making her other tables happy as well as you. So please, ask questions and know what you’re ordering. I’m merely scratching the surface, however, of a servers distress. I bring you to number three…
You Ask to Sit Anywhere Other Than Where the Host is Attempting to Seat You
Okay, I get it; you don’t want to sit next to the bathroom, but I can’t count the number of times a day I hear the query “Can we have a booth?”. What the hell is everyone’s problem with tables? Do you know of anyone who has a kitchen booth in their home? Sure, booths are comfortable and all, but would sitting at a table really be such an awful experience? And what about all you window gazers that ask to be seated by the window. I’ve seen not one of you actually look outside while engaged in conversation with your dinner companion. You see, there is reason every restaurant has that “Please Wait to be Seated” sign at the door. It is to control the customer traffic and ensure every section gets seated proportionately. Yes, servers have a thing called a section, five to six tables usually, located in the within a close proximity of one another, and it’s the host’s job to confirm that each section gets seated fairly. It’s simple really. When you ask to sit somewhere other than where the host is seating you, you put a kink in the rotation. It could be a minor discrepancy or it could result in a complete, imbalance situation, where one server is running her butt off while another has a thumb up hers. So your request to sit by the window can be cutting into a servers money. An even worse offender is the table hopper. We’ve seatedyou, you’ve received your drinks and for some trivial reason you ask to move to another table. Now, not only does the server lose money but she has to clean and reset that table. Servers make anywhere between two and four dollars an hour. We rely on tips to live. So please just sit where the host seats you and try not to be difficult. And now, my final gripe…..
You Leave the Table a Hot Mess
This may come as a shock to some of you but not every restaurant employs busboys. In fact most restaurants only schedule a busboy to work during their busiest hours. Usually this person is either a dishwasher or one of the employees adolescent children. In most cases though, it’s the servers job to clean your table. A server wears many hats: custodian, sales associate, host, salad engineer, toast technician etc.. Of course, we expect the table to be somewhat disorderly after your departure. It’s when you feel the need open every packet of sugar, leaving behind a sticky paper trail of grief, or you spill your ranch dip and imbed the stain into the carpet with the sole of your shoe, that we grimace. If you have children dining with you, leaving your table a disaster area is far more forgivable but you wouldn’t believe the messes I’ve expurgated; beget from the hands of civilized adults. I’d swear this was happening when I disappeared into the kitchen….
So just a reminder, there is no cleaning fairy that picks up after you when you depart. A real person has to clean your mess. So maybe a restaurant isn’t the place to practice “food-ball” by flinging morsels of your dessert into your significant others mouth with the tines of your fork. Maybe, have a little more consideration. God knows there are so many more things I could complain about but that is all I have for now. Thank you and have a great night.