If you have ever waited tables, you know firsthand that it is one of the hardest jobs out there. You are constantly on your feet, you have to be kind and quick in order to make a good tip, all while dealing with unpredictable customer behavior and a kitchen that is out of your control. You are essentially the messenger, and you get the brunt of it when something doesn’t go the right way.
If you have never worn the shoes of a server, here are some things you might want to consider the next time you eat at a restaurant. If your server looks like he or she is trying (e.g. not ignoring you, gabbing with coworkers, texting, etc.), then you should cut them some slack.
Here are some things that are guaranteed to annoy your server. Try not to do them.
6. Not looking at your menu when you sit down
If you happen to find yourself in a relatively empty restaurant, then you have a little wiggle room here. But if it’s busy, and it’s clear that your server has several other tables to think about, then you should definitely decide what you want when you get seated. You will have plenty of time for conversation once you’ve ordered. By delaying this first vital step, you’re delaying the bussers who might need to bring you your preferred water (tap or bottled), or the bread basket. If you miss your chance to order when the server asks you the first time, you might not get another opportunity until they’ve attended to their other tables. So stop yapping with your friends, and pick what you want to eat and drink.
5. Asking for things, one at a time
Yes, your server is there to bring you what you want. But if you order a drink, and then ask for a water refill, and then ask for more bread, and then ask to change your order, and then ask for another fork, and then ask for a side of something, you’ll not only annoy your server, but you’ll also be affecting the flow of the entire restaurant. If your server is focusing only on what you need, he or she is neglecting other tables – and that can disrupt the kitchen, support staff, and the turnover of tables. If you know that you’ll want some more butter and water, just ask for them when you order your second drink.
4. Asking for a certain temperature on meat or fish, and not knowing what that looks like
There is nothing more infuriating than a guest who orders something medium rare and then blames the server when it comes out pinkish red. If you’re going to be picky about the temperature of your meat, know what you’re asking for. If you don’t know that medium rare, for example, will have a medium pink to red center, then ask for the color you want your meat to be. Your server can then consult with the kitchen to determine which temperature is right for you.
3. Asking for things for free
Your server does not own the restaurant. Your server doesn’t get things for free. It is therefore absurd to think that your server can “hook you up” with an extra shot of liquor in your drink, a heavier pour, a free side of fries, or whatever else your cheap heart desires. These things are at the discretion of the management. Beyond some more bread, butter, and water, there is very little your server can do.
2. Snapping, making other rude gestures, or being condescending
If you want to get your server’s attention, do so in a considerate way. Snapping, or calling her honey, doll, or some other belittling name is a surefire way to make her mad. Also, avoid being condescending because you think that waiting tables is somehow “below you.” It’s hard work, and it’s respectable work. Plus, you don’t know your server’s personal story. Maybe she’s working this job to pay for grad school. Maybe he’s got another kid on the way. Maybe he was just let go from a 9-5 job and needed a way to make ends meet. Or maybe this is her one and only job because she likes customer service and flexible hours. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Your server is a human being and should be treated with decency.
1. Mentioning how their actions are affecting their tip
This should go without saying, but hanging a server’s tip over his head throughout the meal is downright despicable and will result in a frazzled, angry, or otherwise upset waiter. Servers already know that their pay is not only determined by what they do, but by what the kitchen, hostess, and bussers do as well. It is unfair and downright rude to comment on the status of their tip while they work for you.