You Don’t Even Know You’re Annoying Your Waitress

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?

I will try not to spend this all in one place, but there's no telling what will happen once I've arrived at the fun factory
I will try not to spend this all in one place, but there’s no telling what will happen once I’ve arrived at the fun factory

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……

Enjoy your steak!
Enjoy your steak!

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….

34825So 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.


8 thoughts on “You Don’t Even Know You’re Annoying Your Waitress

  1. Pingback: Going Out? 6 Ways to Make My Night Easier and Yours More Fun | Almost Activist Waitress

  2. Pingback: Times I’ve Needlessly Annoyed Servers | Most of This (Probably Never) Happened

  3. M

    I like all your posts. Never knew that small things we may do can be major to waiters.. Sorry!

    Also, what happens to food that is not touched? And do waiters eat from the same menu ? Do they eat before or after their shift? These questions keep me up at night

    1. jezebel82

      Thank you :). We totally grub on untouched food that’s been sent back!! Servers are almost always starving at work because we don’t get real breaks. We eat on the fly. Servers will order off the menu but if we’re in good with the cooks, they will whip us up something special, which is awesome.

    2. John

      There was one place I worked that the meals on the menu where too expensive so the cooks would whip up something cheaper for us for free everyday. Another place I worked we got anything under $10 and a beer free every shift. Yet another place we got nothing not even bread. I would have to ask the apps guy for a basket and hide upstairs while eating it. They where so cheap they counted every shrimp and scollop every night!
      As for untouched food YES it gets eaten and fast, also unfinished bottles of wine! You defiantly want a fry guy with bad timing because every once in a while there will some slightly overlooked haddock, shrimp, clams, or scallops in the window for free!

  4. Still funny and quite the eye opener.
    I must disagree with “M” in that most of these things are far from little where I come from.
    I am; admittedly; 55 years old and my mother was 41 when I was born so much of the courtesy and good manners I was taught seem alien to some folks. Even I am far from diligent anymore as I was when I was in school. Even then I seemed a bit old fashioned to my friends I suppose.
    Having said that; I don’t think that piling your trash on one plate or stacking your plates after scraping all the food off onto one plate and placing the silver where on top is too much to ask if you have received good service or if the wait-person is obviously so swamped that superhuman abilities would be required to keep up.

    Running a server is just rude. No excuse. control yourself. This person is a server; not a servant whose only responsibility is me.

    Asking to change tables. Never realized this was an issue. Sorry. from now on if I do change tables I will be certain to tip both servers accordingly.

    Now as to the doneness issue. I agree that customers should ask about this or explain how they want their meat cooked.
    Not only for the reasons you list but in order to be sure that both you and the cook have the same understanding of these terms.
    In my experience, you can rely on chefs in more expensive restaurants and decent steak houses like Outback to get it right but if you order medium rare in a diner or other less special place, you risk getting anything from raw to Well Done.
    You just can’t imagine how much I hate getting a steak that is done incorrectly; especially one that is overdone. Shouldn’t a restaurant make certain that their cooks know what medium rare is and how to achieve it?
    Seems bad for everyone if they don’t. I’ll bet the servers are ready to throttle a cook who consistently overcooks the steak. If he is the owner; who do you complain to?
    The issue here is communication. Something so few people seem capable of achieving these days. probably always been this way. Sucks.
    I try. And I have learned to accept anything between Rare and Medium to cut down on the number of times I have to send back an otherwise perfectly delectable piece of meat.
    I simply cannot accept Medium Well or Well Done. I can hear the obvious distaste for such extreme cooking in your voice; so to speak; I believe as well.
    Anyway. Great stuff. I’ll be back.

    Oh Yeah. I also write as you might imagine. so please take this as a helpful “WordPress” hint. On your main page; if you will place a “More” button after your first paragraph or whatever; it will make looking through your posts much easier on the reader. They can see the beginning and decide if they want more. Beats the hell out of scrolling through all of your work to find the titles and read the articles. I’ll bet you find it will increase your readership noticeably. I did when I made this change. On the toolbar of your editor you will find the “More” button which will add one to your post. Place your curser between lines (leave an empty line for the More button). Click the More button and a more line will appear. click on “Text” (vs. Visual); find the word more and then leave a space after “more” and type “Read More” or other short line to tell the reader where to click. Try it; you’ll like it.
    Just to be presumptuous I will mention one more little item because I like you. Normally I would never presume to suggest a correction. Typos are part of the gig if you ask me and we should all forgive them when they happen.
    BUT; because you use words that are well above the average fourth grade level of popular literature AND; because I like that; AND because this one word usage hit me like a rock because I , at first found it confusing. Something that nothing else I have read here has done SO; because I am totally taken with your style etc. What a Hoot and so significant to our lives today. But I digress.
    Here it is: “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.” Note the Semi-Colon. It makes it so much more clear; Yes?
    Stop by and tear into me if you want. I really like your work and I will be a better customer from now on though I am not so bad already. Probably that old fashioned upbringing I guess.

    Peace J-Bel.

  5. jezebel82

    Thanks so much for the kind words and helpful tips. You’re right about the semi-colon. So much clearer. Also, I had been wanting to put a “more” button on my posts, but I didn’t know how to until now. Thanks for your help and insight 🙂

  6. John

    Yea I defiantly hated it when people had their drinks and order in and wanted to move to a different section. This happened a lot because I was in a tourist trap and everybody wanted the window seats by the ocean or the patio when they emptied.SMH

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