During high school and my first couple of summers home from college, I waitressed at a diner in my hometown. I loved the fact that I could walk away with cash tips, and that I was able to engage with people in my community over pancakes and eggs.
That being said, over the course of the five years that I worked there, there were definitely things that I wished diners would stop doing — and I know most of my colleagues felt the same way.
Here are 12 things that every waiter and waitress hates.
1. Leaving change on the table as a tip
Though quarters are certainly nice to have, it’s pretty rude to leave an all-change tip on the table. You don’t want those pennies in your pocket and neither do I, so please just remember to bring a couple of singles with you.
2. Requesting separate checks — after the check has already been given
Separating checks is totally fine. However, at the diner I worked at, all of the checks are hand-written. If you need to split the check, ask at the beginning of the meal. Being up-front saves your waitress time and effort — and saves you time, too.
3. Asking for an incredibly complicated order when the restaurant is clearly busy
Between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on a Sunday, my diner was packed with families and people coming in from church. That is not the time to customise your entire meal. If you can see that the restaurant is super busy, do your server a favour and try to keep the order simple. It will most likely come out of the kitchen faster, and with no mistakes.
4. Making a server feel bad when the restaurant is out of something, or not believing them
Sometimes the diner I worked at would run out of something specific, like blueberries. It is no one’s fault that a lot of customers ordered blueberry pancakes that day. Making your server — who literally has nothing to do with the lack of blueberries — feel bad about it or asking them to double check is not going to make more of them magically appear.
5. Talking on the phone
Not only is this rude to your fellow customers, but it tends to make everyone feel a little uncomfortable, especially if the phone call is a personal one. Take the call outside — it’s just better for all parties.
6. Arguing about a price
If a mistake has been made, you are more than welcome to address that. It keeps us accountable and on our toes. However, all of the prices are laid out on the menu. Don’t order something and squabble about the price after eating it.
7. Trying to help yourself to something that a server could easily get for you
At the diner, we had a little station stocked with napkins, silverware, condiments, etc. When a customer helps themselves to these items, they may think they’re helping the waiters out, but really they are making us look bad, and getting in other waiters’ way.
8. Asking for something new every single time we come by the table
Typically, a waiter/waitress will swing by your table a couple of times to check in on you. If you ask them to grab you some extra creamer, then ask for a straw when they return, then ask for sweetener, it can get a little tedious. It’s important to remember that you are not the only table being served.
9. Yelling or disciplining your child at the table
It makes everyone really uncomfortable when you spank your child in the restaurant, or yell at them at the table. While I do not claim to be an expert in parenting, try and save it for when you get home or leave. No one wants to be involved in your family drama.
10. Occupying the table for an unreasonable amount of time
In most restaurants, waiters are typically assigned a cluster of tables. If you come in and only order a cup of coffee, but occupy the table for three hours, you are literally costing us money. In the time that you sat there, we could have turned over three tables and earned more tips.
11. Flirting with a waitress/waiter
Please don’t make us feel like the only way to get a tip is to indulge you. It’s inappropriate, makes a lot of waiters and waitresses uncomfortable, and interferes with us doing our jobs.
12. Proclaiming that you are a ‘regular’ and expecting special attention
Just because you, in fact, are a regular, doesn’t mean your food is going to come out of the kitchen any quicker.
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