Our servers see everything. From the bad dates we wish we could get out of to the best nights of our lives that we never want to forget. It only makes sense, then, that restaurant staff, bartenders, and hostesses have some of the wildest stories to tell about horrific tippers, heart-warming moments, and everything in between.
1. By Any Other Name
A guest walks into brunch and orders our smoked salmon plate. The only dairy in this particular dish is a ramekin of cream cheese that is served on the side. A couple of minutes later, I’m in the kitchen getting coffee for another table. I turn around and the smoked salmon lady has followed me to the kitchen. When I turn around and see her, I ask, “Is there something you need?”
She says, “I forgot I’m not eating dairy, so can I change my order to the buttermilk pancakes?” Confused at what I just heard, I ask, “The buttermilk pancakes? There is dairy in the pancakes…” “Well, as long as it’s not a lot it’s ok.” Lady…..it’s like the main ingredient. It’s in the name. BUTTERMILK pancakes. Do people really listen to the stupidity that comes out of their face holes??? I can’t.
2. I’m A Cool Boss
It was my first day at a pizza restaurant. This place was always SLAMMED. It’s really where I learned how to be a good server, because before that I worked at over-staffed burger joints or Italian restaurants. Things were moving pretty fast but I was doing surprisingly well. I had about 10 tables and I was used to three-four table sections previously.
I will never forget this couple that came in and sat down at table 24. They were an old couple. I’m talking both grey-haired and over-dressed to be at a pizza restaurant. I will say I did give them excellent service despite my frazzledness of starting a new job. I was feeling it, and felt great about handling all of my tables…until I did mess up.
The man at table 24 handed me his card to close out. I’m BUSY, like I didn’t even have time to pick a wedgie if I had one. I go to the computer and swipe his card. Admittedly, I forgot to print out the itemized receipt, which I get can be very frustrating. The man at table 24 had every right to be upset. But instead of asking me to grab the itemized receipt, he began to LOUDLY, in a small room, with a deep and firm tone, tell me how horrible I am at my job.
He said that it’s no wonder I only got as far in life as working at a pizza shop. He kept going on with these TERRIBLE comments and wouldn’t let me walk away when I tried. So now all of my other tables just saw me get ripped a new one, and I’m in the weeds after wasting time getting yelled at by this guy. The owner of the restaurant must have come in at some point.
He saw this man yelling at me, came up to the table, and did the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. Owner: “Excuse me, sir,” he says to the man at table 24, “I am the owner of this establishment. I’m not sure what the problem is here and frankly, I don’t care. What I do care about is you belittling my waitress. So I’m going to ask you and your wife to leave and not come back to my restaurant.”
The man at table 24: “Fine, but you’ll be losing our business.” Owner: “I really don’t care, and don’t want people like you in my restaurant anyway.” It was the coolest reply I had ever seen. The owner then STOOD THERE AND WAITED for these people to leave. After they left, the owner came up to me. He said: “Screw those people. You’re doing a great job and I wouldn’t have hired you if you didn’t show potential. If anyone else talks to you like that I want you to tell them to screw off and get out. I don’t want their money.”
Coolest. Boss. Ever.
3. Service With A Smile
I know we all have had those phone calls. The ones from customers after they get take-out and something was messed up. They can range from the upset woman who got the chicken when it was supposed to be steak and who just wants it to be comped the next time she comes in, to the raging man who found one onion in his taco and is planning to drive to the store to scream at the manager and wants everyone fired.
It’s always a little nerve-wracking when you deal with these phone calls. The procedure for my store when getting one of these phone calls is to get a manager immediately, but I feel like I can deal with these customers better than my managers. And my managers all know this, so I am allowed to take these calls. Then I got one call that put all my powers to the test.
It was a busy Thursday evening because we have a burrito special, so the store was slammed. We also have Uber Eats, which means we have Uber drivers coming in and out getting takeout orders. If you know anything about Uber Eats, customers can sometimes write comments to specify certain things that they want done to their particular order.
After we slowed down a little bit, we got an Uber order, and in the comments, the man said, “Could you please add napkins and draw a smiley face on something to make me a little happy tonight.” Of course, after I showed all of the servers we all freaked out and decided we would write him so many notes just to brighten up his evening.
We ended up making over 50 notes including jokes, drawings, and little stories (we also added an extra side of queso). I felt really nice to be able to do something for someone. Later that night, as I was getting ready to clock out, one of the other servers comes and gets me and says there’s a man on the phone who wants to speak to a manager about something, but they’re all busy so can you take this?
Of course, I’m like oh geez, I do not want to be dealing with this right before I leave. Still, I reluctantly agree and ask him how I can help. He proceeds to tell me that he was the one who placed the Uber order and after receiving all of the notes he just wanted to call and say thank you. It went from heartwarming to heartbreaking in an instant.
He started to cry on the phone. I didn’t know what to say, so I just told him that we loved serving him and we hope to continue to do so. He told me that he wishes he was able to come into the restaurant, but he hadn’t been able to leave his house in years. His little splurge every week was ordering takeout from our store.
I started to tear up at this point and asked him to hold on for a minute. I got all of the servers and put him on speakerphone. I said “Hello, we all just wanted to say have a great night” and all the girls got the cue and started saying, “Have a good night!” “Enjoy your burrito!” “We can’t wait to do this next week!” I took the phone off speakerphone after everyone had said something.
I told him that he was now not only a valued customer, but a friend. I thanked him again and hung up. Now I’m sitting in my car crying thinking about this stranger and I hoped we helped him.
4. One Bad Date
I’m a full-time student getting my PhD at age 30 and I work full time as a server. I’ve been working at this Greek bistro for the greatest people for almost 15 years now. I started bussing at almost 16 and I’m now a manager. So a few months ago, it’s around six, and one of our regulars—I’ll call him Andy—comes into the store.
Andy works at a mattress store and always comes in for lunch. He’s an awesome guy, and he’s a big guy at close to 400 pounds. Anyway, Andy shows up after work with a woman. She’s maybe a good 10 or so years older than him, but it’s obvious they’re on a date. So we make a fuss over him. The owner’s wife gets him our best table and we bring them a complimentary glass of champagne.
He orders our platter of meat and she orders a vegetarian platter. They are eating, and suddenly I hear her gasp. Andy’s face is blue and his hands are over his throat. I go over and I give him the Heimlich while the owner calls 9-1-1. I’m giving him back blows when his date whacks me with her purse. “You’re hurting him, I took first aid and that’s not right!!”
She’s screaming in my face. He’s still choking, so the owner pulls her away from me and she’s screaming still. Andy’s piece of steak goes flying, and he’s then able to breathe. By now, the paramedics are there and—get this—his date is telling them I hurt him. On the contrary, the paramedics told her that I saved his life.
Anyway, they end up taking Andy in because he was wheezing a bit. She throws me a dirty look and follows them out. Two days later, Andy comes in for lunch with his co-worker and thanks me over and over. Then he tells me that was the first and last date with that woman. He brought his newest girlfriend in yesterday. She loved the restaurant and best of all, she’s nice.
5. A Helping Hand
My old manager was a real “working for the weekend” type and never went out of her way for us or the customers, no matter what. One of the most difficult things about her was that we had a homeless guy who’d camp out in our back alley (because a lot of heat comes off a vent back there) and she’d always make us toss him out because he was visible to customers from the main entrance.
She’s gone and we have a new manager now. In the new manager’s first week, one of the employees said, “Hey, that guy’s back.” The new manager said, “This guy here often?” and we told her the whole story. She asked what our interactions with him had been like and we told her perfectly pleasant, considering the circumstances.
She walks out, shakes the guy’s hand, and offers him a dishwashing job on a trial basis. She had one of the busboys help him get cleaned up and put him right to work. He knocked it out of the park, made good honest money, and got staff dinner. She told him he was welcome to come back to work any night of the week and if he was consistent, she’d see about getting him hired.
That was two weeks ago, and he started on a permanent basis today!
6. Power Couple
Bartender here. This girl walks into my bar and I walk over as usual place a napkin in front of her. Then I ask her, “Hey! How are you? What can I get you today?” “Cosmo,” she says. “Alright coming right up—that’s a really cool dress, by the way,” I say. It was like one of those expensive skin-tight Kim Kardashian dresses.
It also had these metal panels going through it that lit up when she moved—I don’t know, it was cool so I just mentioned it. It was a very quick off-the-cuff comment. Not hitting on her or anything. Her response chilled me to the bone. She then gives me this “ew” look and goes, “One. I have a boyfriend. Two. I don’t date gay men. Three, hurry up with my drink before I decide you don’t get to work here.”
I suddenly stop, slightly shocked. A flood of thoughts quickly go through my head. Like was she joking…? Would someone think that was humorous? Nope. Witch was SO serious. My Turn: “In what universe do you think you can walk into a bar—insult the bartender—and actually expect him to make you drinks???? Silence. “Nah witch, you’re dismissed.” But it wasn’t over.
This girl comes back the next day with her boyfriend and she points at me as if saying “that’s him.” He goes, “Yo, I heard you insulted my girl. Do you know what happens when guys talk like that to my girl?” Ugh, here we go with one of those jerk guys who wants to put on a macho performance for his girl. These specimens are the dumbest of the dumb.
I go, “Do you know what actually happened?” He goes, “I don’t care what happened! You disrespected my girl.” At this point, he actually jumped over the bar and I jumped over the bar as well to HIS side. Then this guy jumped BACK over the bar to the guests’ side, at which point one of the bouncers tackled his dumb butt to the ground.
If my girlfriend acted like that to a bartender and they got mad, I’d be like “Yeah—that was a rude thing to say.” God, I hope those two don’t procreate.
7. A Regular Hero
I’m a bartender at a fine dining restaurant, and when I work the lunch shift, I help the server take tables if it gets busy. One afternoon, I had a table make me cry and tell me that I was rude and didn’t know how to do my job because I tried to take an empty appetizer plate away without asking first. They were in the middle of a conversation and their main course was almost ready.
They shouted at me and everyone just turned around and stared. I had other guests on the floor, and every time I passed by these jerks I could hear them talking about me. They racked up a nearly $200 bill and didn’t leave a tip. I kind of wonder if they made up something to be upset about to justify not tipping on a large check, but whatever.
I just dipped out to the bar, which is in the front of the restaurant and away from the main dining room, and asked my food runner to take good care of them so I didn’t have to interact with them anymore. Later that afternoon, I had an older man come and sit at my bar. I knew he was a regular and that he lived nearby, but I’d never really spoken to him because he usually wanted to sit in the dining room and not the bar.
He was wearing headphones when he sat down so ignored most of my greeting, and I thought “Oh here we go again.” I’ve never been so wrong in my life. He immediately apologized and stated that he was in a hurry and just wanted some ice water and a glass of my favorite red that we offered. I talked to him about the choice for a minute while I opened a fresh bottle.
I’m studying to become a certified sommelier, so I know a thing or two. I then served it to him. He asked for the check right away. It was only a $14 glass, and after I ran his card I handed him the receipt and thanked him before going to check on my other table. I came back a couple of minutes later and his glass was untouched, but he handed me some money wrapped in his receipt. Then he said something that almost made me cry.
He said, “I hope this is enough. I was walking by earlier and you looked like you were having a bad day. I know your lunch shift is almost over. This glass is on me.” When I opened the receipt, he’d left me two 20s. I’ve heard stories of people taking care of their servers like that, but it’s never happened to me before.
I was so cut up over how my first table treated me that I definitely got teary-eyed again after the regular left my bar. Just a reminder that sometimes the most unassuming customers might have your back. My first table had me feeling less than human, but this guy really reminded me why I do what I do, and why I love it.
8. Keep Em Coming
Last night I worked a table of 14. They were all terrible people, the douchiest people I have ever come in contact with. The royal family of Worthless Jerk Land. One guy sits down and orders a pint. He says, “Every time you come to the table I want you to have a pint for me.” I thought he was probably just joking, so I leave and come back.
He says, “Where is my pint? Did you really forget what I told you like two minutes ago? Wow.” So I said, “OH! I am so sorry, it won’t happen again.” So, for the next two hours, no matter what, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I approached the table I left a pint. After about 45 minutes, the drinks began to pile up. I just didn’t ever stop.
Every time I put a drink down, he said nothing. If he would have acknowledged my presence and told me to stop, I would have. He said nothing. I started to feel bad, for a couple of minutes…and then he yelled at me like a dog to get the food out faster. THAT IS WHAT HE WANTED. I just want to reiterate that. HE ASKED FOR IT.
Also, I was watching him drink. If at any point his behavior or consumption increased, I would have stopped. He walked out the exact same way he walked in. Like a jerk. Anyway, it got so bad that the pints were SURROUNDING HIS SEATING AREA. Just glasses and glasses and glasses. It was incredible. I make my own drinks where I work, as we don’t have a typical bar, just a large server station.
A friend of King Doucherbottom even tried to take one that I put down, but I grabbed it. Then I said, “Sorry sir, this is your friend’s drink. I would be happy to get one for you if you like.” Long story short, he ended up buying 25 drinks at eight dollars a pop with a 20% mandatory auto-gratuity on the table. He maybe drank four.
I have never felt so good in my life. It doesn’t pay to be an arrogant jerk, folks! This was a crowning achievement in my seven years of serving. I work at a place where some people come in and treat me like a piece of stew meat, and I have learned to play the game in order to make money. I love my job and the people I meet, but I get stepped on a lot. It’s nice to win one for once.
No bartender was involved. I can’t deny the illegality of it, but I do not regret it! The bussers enjoyed the undisturbed drinks after he left, too. I felt so good bringing them back in a bus tub of ice. It was like seeing the excitement of children on Christmas morning. My manager saw the bill and was angry, but no reports of anything we would be liable for as of yet! And there was a sweet twist at the end.
They split the bill seven ways, and they did not even look at the charges. I put down the bill and the cards went on top. Their total bill was about $1,200 with everything included. This not common for a table of 14 where I work, but not surprising. I came out making around $240 before tip out. So all in all, a very good evening for me.
9. Fast And Fresh
So, where I work we have the option for people to pre-order food from their phone because I guess that’s the way it is nowadays; everybody wants everything fast. The system is kind of messed up, though, because sometimes they call in for the food and pop in five seconds after as if they ordered from the parking lot. So it obviously won’t be ready yet.
Anyways, this lady did exactly that, but thankfully it was a really small order so I started preparing it immediately. She walked up and I’m guessing it took me about 30 seconds too long, so she starts going “HELLLLLLOOOO!?” like three or four times. I walk over, smile at her, and give her the stuff. She then starts yelling at me as if I’m her child.
She’s yelling something like “THIS ORDER WAS ON-THE-GO WHICH MEANS IT SHOULD BE READY THE MOMENT I GET HERE SO NEXT TIME DO YOUR JOB AND HAVE IT READY.” This was out of character for me because I’m the nicest guy if you’re nice to me, but I kind of just looked in her direction and tiredly murmured, “Screw off.” She started flipping out and yelling more.
“EXCUSE ME!? EXCUSE ME!? WHAT’S YOUR NAME?” I lied and gave her a fake one. She told me to get a manager. I went and got the manager, and at this point I was enraged. I briefly explained what happened, and when my manager got over there the lady started being rude to her, saying things like, “Oh, he WILL be fired. I can guarantee that.”
She called corporate and all the managers and owners got involved. I talked with the owner on the phone, and the owner was only upset that I lied about my name. The owner was saying things like, “In the future, this is how you handle it,” so I assume I still have the job. She did mention that she HAS to call the lady back and apologize.
Anyway, if I get fired…my God, was it worth it. Telling this lady to screw off was the most satisfying thing I got to do all year.
10. Mistaken Identity
On my day off, I scheduled a lunch date with a guy from school, but traffic was brutal so he was running late. I was sitting at my table, looking at the menu. Note: It wasn’t the restaurant I work at, it wasn’t the same kind of food as the restaurant I work at, and it is geographically nowhere near the restaurant I work at. A woman came up and took my menu out of my hands.
“Why are you just sitting here? We’ve been waiting for service for 45 minutes.” No, they hadn’t. They came in the same time I did, 10 minutes ago, and they had already gotten drinks. “Ma’am, I don’t work here.” I didn’t recognize her at this point. “Don’t lie to me, you’re a waitress, you served me just last week, don’t you remember?”
I vaguely remember her coming into my restaurant now because she complained her meal wasn’t served with hot sauce then sent it back because it was too spicy. I tell her, “I am a waitress at local Mexican restaurant but I am not a waitress at ‘local burger bar.’” She says, “Same difference. You’re a waitress. Get a pen and paper and take down our orders.”
“I am a waitress, but not here. I’m just trying to enjoy my lunch like you are. I am not employed here in any capacity.” To which she replies, “But you’re a trained waitress and this place is clearly running behind. Don’t you people take an oath or something?” Well, this lady asked for it. I rarely get to stand up to this kind of stupidity in my role as a server, because 99.9% of the time it happens while I’m actually at work.
So I went over to their table with a pen and paper from my backpack. I wrote down all their orders. I said it would be 45 minutes and to just sit tight. I even brought over ketchup they asked for (just grabbed off another table) then…….I left. I texted my date to meet me at a place a few blocks over. The next day, the lady had called my boss at my actual restaurant, as well as totally unleashed on the manager at the restaurant I was dining at.
I felt bad when I realized the tough spot I’d left the people who actually work there in, so I went back the next day to apologize and follow up on the aftermath. Thankfully, they were chill and we had a great laugh over it. They were like, “We were so confused because she described the server with explicit details but no one remotely like that works here so we thought she’d lost her mind.”
My boss knew who I was from her description and told them he takes this very seriously and asked what day this occurred. Then when they told him he said, “You must be mistaken, because that’s that server’s day off, and she wasn’t here.” After some irate yelling and screaming at my very friendly manager about how I still need to “represent the restaurant wherever I go,” she gave up.
Now to just cross my fingers she doesn’t come by my actual restaurant!
11. Cruel To Be Not-So Kind
I’ve been a server at various points throughout my life since I was 16, and I am 29 now. Usually, I would serve or hostess as a part-time job, but currently, my only job is being a server. Recently, I had three guys come in who looked about my age. When they sat down, I greeted them and then asked them how many shots they were going to be buying tonight.
They were fairly loud and seemed in a good mood, and I said this mostly to be funny. The first couple of guys told me they didn’t want shots, but they would be ordering pints. Then the last guy told me he would need a few shots if I was going to be his server. I chuckled, since I thought we were joking, and went and got their drinks.
They ordered their food, a few more drinks, there weren’t any major issues, and they said it would all be one check tonight. I went to pick up their credit card receipt, and there was 0.00 in the tip line. Ok, maybe they’ll leave cash—no big deal. But as I am thanking them for coming in, one of the guys interrupts me. His words shook me to my core.
He tells me that I probably noticed he didn’t tip me. I am honestly kind of embarrassed to be having this conversation, and I was flustered, so I just replied with something like “Oh, that’s okay, have a nice night.” He then proceeded to tell me; “I didn’t really feel like shelling out an extra 20 bucks for you, because no offense, but you could step it up a bit. All the other waitresses in here are very cute and earn their tips, try putting on more makeup, or going to a gym. I am just being honest with you. If a guy wanted to screw you, he’d tip you better.”
I was so mortified I didn’t even say anything. I could feel my face turning red, while every guy at that table stared at me. Nobody said anything. I work very hard, and I take so much pride in my work. I try to look nice and put together every night, because it can speak to how much pride you do take in your job. I am friendly and outgoing, because I love working with people and I love my job.
I wish I would’ve had something to say back to him, but I just walked away instead. I’ve worked double shifts all week and closed each night. I’ve been stiffed a couple of times almost every day this week, but I don’t take it personally and I try to still always hold my head up. Even so, that really hurt. For what it’s worth, though, I don’t think what he said holds any true merit.
I love and accept myself wholeheartedly. It was more so the fact he said it at all, his entitlement, and to be reduced to whether or not he wants to sleep with me to determine my worth. This happened at the tail end of my night. I was the only server on the floor, and the only other female on staff with me tonight was the bartender, who I’ve never really confided in and or gotten along very well with.
We’re just co-workers, that’s it. I also didn’t tell my manager, because my manager is a guy. He is mostly friendly, but honestly, my manager is creepy too. Lots of unwanted hugs and shoulder touching. Comments and questions asking me if “I have a man, or if I’d ever be willing to be a stepmom”—he has four kids with his ex-wife.
Like I said, it’s been a long week. I worked doubles every day, and closed every night. Two of those nights I was the only server on for hours because so many other servers called out. I know I am better than he is, and that I am doing just fine, it’s just exhausting existing as a woman sometimes, and there’s not enough places you get to “just be.”
12. Wait And See
So last night was probably the busiest night we’ve had for the last week. I’m a waitress at an upscale steakhouse restaurant. The hostesses up front put us at an hour-long wait for walk-ins because of so many booked reservations, which is the usual protocol from the general manager. Well, this particular couple had me FUMING beyond belief.
The front lobby is packed with guests waiting for a table while reservations are seated as soon as possible. The hostesses have a system on an iPad to let all the managers know which guest is seated where, how long they’ve stayed, etc. I’m bussing a table at my section when I overhear one of the hostesses try to speak to a pair of people at my section a booth over.
This couple walked into the restaurant, saw the number of people waiting for a table, and decided to seat themselves with NO reservation. They also sat at a dirty table, and here I’m thinking, “Are these people for real?” This is what I got between the hostess and the older man sitting down with his wife: “Excuse me, sir? You didn’t come up to the host stand in order for us to find out what reservation you had?”
“We don’t have reservations. Someone needs to clean this up.” Here, he points to the messy table. “I’m sorry sir, but if you don’t have a reservation the wait is going to be an hour long. Someone has already requested this booth by the fireplace and they need to be seated.” “We don’t care about reservations. We’re hungry and we’re going to eat. Get someone to clean our table! I’m not asking a third time!”
After that failure, the hostess looked at me, and she was pretty shaken up. She had never dealt with any guests THAT rude and upfront before, so it was understandable. With my Latina blood boiling, I went over to the jerks and gave them a piece of my mind. “This is my section, and after hearing that conversation, you both have no right to be served. There’s a family waiting for this table, and I’m going to ask you to leave. Unless you want me to get a manager to escort you out.”
The couple squawked at me, demanding I get them drinks, while I went straight to my manager, who saw what had already happened with the hostess. They were escorted out and were told they weren’t welcome back. Ever. This is the type of stuff I don’t think I’ll ever get used to. If you have to wait an hour-long for a table like everyone else, then you do it. If not, go to another restaurant.
13. Putting Her In Her Place
I waited tables during college, and this is one of the best memories I have of my manager handling a rude guest. One of my tables was a gay couple at a booth. They were holding hands across the table basically the whole time they were at the restaurant. At one point, a lady with two small children flags me down from across the dining room.
Her table wasn’t in my section so I assumed she just wanted me to go find her server. I go over and ask her what I can do for her, and she says, “What the HECK is wrong with you? How can you possibly allow THEM in here? I’ve been coming here for 20 years and I’m appalled that they’d let a couple of those types eat here. Do me a favor and move those queers to a different table so my kids don’t have to see that sort of disgusting behavior.”
Literally, all they were doing was holding hands. Get over yourself lady. I wanted to tell her off for being such an intolerant witch, but instead just said, “One moment ma’am and I’ll get a manager for you.” I went and told my manager what was going on and he promptly went over to her table and told her that if she had an issue with other guests minding their own business and eating their food, then maybe she’d be better off not eating out at all.
She grabbed her kids and left without ordering. I always had a ton of respect for him for not putting up with horrible people’s issues.
14. The Witch Is Gone
I am no longer a server, but I was one all through college. I worked at a franchise of a chain of 24-hour restaurants that is notorious for cheap breakfasts and bad service. A big yellow sign with red letters. I took great pride in my job and how I treated my customers. In all honesty, if I could find a server job that offered good insurance and steady tips, I would consider going back to it.
I really, truly loved waiting tables and making people’s lives a little more pleasant, at least while they were in my section. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. I had several “regulars” that always sat in my section, but there were other servers who had their regulars as well. One of them was a really pleasant, jovial man…and his horrible, nasty wife.
She was the kind of woman who got off on being a witch and making other people’s lives miserable. One particular day, I had to cover some tables in a different server’s section because a server called in sick. I was warned about this couple when they came in, but had never waited on them before, so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect.
I was told that she had a habit of complaining endlessly about everything, demanding to speak to the manager every time they came in, and berating the servers and cooks at every turn. The husband (who often came in by himself) was the opposite—friendly, good-natured, well-liked. As soon as they were seated, before I could even get their drink orders, the husband got up from the booth and walked outside for a few minutes, leaving me alone with the wife.
I put on my best smiley, cheerful face and greeted her. She refused to make eye contact with me and instead scowled and snarled, “You would think that, as much money as we spend here, you people would know what we like to drink! Why do we have to keep going through this? I want ICED TEA, NO LEMON!!” She didn’t tell me what the husband wanted, and I didn’t ask.
I was just so taken aback by the anger straight out of the gate that I just turned on my heels and walked away. I poured her an iced tea—NO LEMON!!—and brought it back to her. Before I could even set it down, she snapped, “I already know what I want to eat, and we’re in a HURRY.” (Bear in mind that the husband is still outside).
I took her order, still trying to be pleasant, and before I could walk away, she snarled, “and the last time you people brought the food out, it was COLD!! I do NOT want cold food! And I want EXTRA CHEESE on my scrambled eggs!! and SALSA!!” Her voice seemed to drip with more and more anger with every word she spat out.
As I was ringing up the order, I thought of a thousand things I wanted to do, then I hit upon an idea. Instead of getting back at her, I was going to not only go out of my way to make her meal as perfect and delicious as possible, but I was going to embarrass her as well. I made sure everything was perfect…piping hot, lots and lots of cheese on the eggs, fresh salsa warmed up to room temperature.
By the time the meal was ready, the husband had returned to the table and was happily chatting with one of the servers. I mustered up my best scared/sad face as I brought out the food to her. As I sat it down, I started to tear up, just a little, and expressed in gushing, flowery terms how sorry I was for how badly she was treated the last time she was here, and how hard I worked to make sure the food was absolutely 100% according to her specifications.
I said that I felt SO BAD for how she was treated that I was going to pay for her meal out of my tips and how I hoped that she would be willing to accept my apology on behalf of the whole restaurant for her miserable experience. I really laid it on as thickly and sweetly as I could. Her husband, who was happy and smiling and cheerful just seconds ago, stared her down with a sick, horrid look.
His face turned bright red. She was MORTIFIED, her face turning equally red…she hung her head and said, “Ummm…okay…”. I asked her if everything was to her satisfaction this time, and if it wasn’t, I would rectify it immediately. She stared at her plate, pushed it around a bit, and said, “Ummmm…yeah…”. The husband is staring her down now, clenching his jaw.
He politely ordered his meal and as I was walking away, I heard him hiss at her, “What did you say to her? What did you DO??” She was silent and sulking for the rest of the meal, and he was polite but not overly chatty. When they were finished, she stormed out before he even left the table, head hung. He apologized profusely to me for how she had acted and left a generous tip on top of paying the tab.
To the best of my recollection, she never acted like a witch to any of us ever again.
15. Silence Is Golden
I waited tables and tended bar for years before switching to my current career. One day, this table comes in, eats, drinks, pays cash. I tell them to have a great day and walk away. While taking a drink order at a new table, I notice the lady standing there angrily, and I make eye contact with her husband and he looks really embarrassed.
I finish taking the drink order and go over to them. “Yes? Is there a problem?” She tells me I gave her the wrong change and was really nasty about it. I can’t remember exactly what it was, but I had intended to round up to avoid pennies. You heard me right…pennies. Like, their change was supposed to be $3.78 and I intended to give them $3.80.
Well, I guess I made a mistake this time and gave them $3.75. Either way, she was really rude. She showed me the receipt, and I apologized and admitted my error. But then came the best part. Looking at it, I pointed out that I had forgotten to ring up her coffee, and that I would be right back with an updated check. She was angry that she ended up paying more than if she’d just kept her mouth shut.
16. A First Time For Everything
I was a manager at McDonald’s and I worked there for about two years. After a few issues with upper management, I decided to quit and pursue another job in the food industry. The day I quit, I got an offer to work at a popular ramen restaurant, where the ramens cost between $13-$20. Now, I thought I would be a PRO at working at my new job.
But it was just like hitting rewind and learning from the start. McDonald’s compared to working at a restaurant is a huge step and has many differences. I still decided that I was going to try my hardest to be quick with learning everything. During my first shift, I guess some customers could tell I was very stressed out.
In my opinion, the training wasn’t very good. This restaurant is more of a “learn as you go, but still get scolded for not knowing something that you weren’t taught.” One of my tables in my section overheard me getting scolded for something, and continued to watch me work. I could feel their eyes on me but I thought nothing of it.
By the end of their stay, they called me over. Asked for the bill, and had separate bills between the two. I brought it over to them and they paid. After paying, one of the guys took $50 out of his pocket and told me, “You’re a hard worker and I can see that. It can be stressful, but you’ll get used to it as you work more. Don’t let the mistakes get the best of you!”
I almost started crying. Since this was an Asian restaurant, usually tips get split between everybody. But the manager let me keep it as it was specifically for me. Thank you to the guy who made my first shift 100% better and for relieving my stress.
17. A Card-Carrying Fool
I was serving a family. The parents were clearly in their 50s/60s, while their kids were in their mid-20s. When ordering drinks, I carded the kids but not the parents. The mom pipes up with the whole, “Heyyy I don’t look that old, why didn’t you card meeeeeeeee?????????” I respond with, “Okay, let me see your ID, then.” It all went so wrong.
As it turns out, mommy dearest left her wallet at home. I inform her that, unfortunately, once requested, I am legally not allowed to serve her drinks unless she produces a valid ID. Obviously, she’s FURIOUS about this, so I send the manager over to confirm with her that I am not allowed to serve her. It almost goes without saying that I didn’t receive a tip, but hopefully, this idiot learned something today.
18. I’ve Got Your Back
Setting: Miami Beach, Florida in late 2009. This was at a Seafood Bar and Grill. I had this 40-something, sweet as pie, creative, and smart regular who would come in with his elderly mother every Sunday and ask to be seated with me. We’ll call him Jimmy. He was certainly on the spectrum, but a genius in his own right. He was a very talented painter (I’m sure he still is).
Every Sunday, Jimmy would be sitting at my table greeting me with an honest to goodness smile. Between managing tasks for them and other tables, I’d have incredible conversations with Jimmy about the universe and physics. About mathematics and art. I was very happy to have met such a great customer. I could also tell he thoroughly enjoyed the company of a server who, one, didn’t find him strange and off-putting, and two, who could keep up with his favorite topics of conversation.
I had just started studying mathematics in college at about this time, and I’m also on the spectrum (but was undiagnosed at the time). I very much looked forward to seeing them each week. After about a year of this, he one day excitedly announced that his sister from New York was coming into town and that he’s told her all about me and he can’t wait to introduce us. He’s convinced I’ll love her, and I didn’t doubt him.
So, next week comes around and now there are three people sitting at my table! I can see this thin, elegant yet earthy woman with GORGEOUS wild curly hair. Jimmy introduces her as Patty. She’s oozing with charisma, and she definitely had a NYC attitude—short, to the point—but she was, you could instantly tell, very caring.
Also intimidating and smart. Not like the dreamy, colorful, wooey science stuff Jimmy and I liked, but like…savvy. Jimmy had been keeping up with my progress in school since around the time I had started. This was between semesters, and he knew that I picked four exciting classes for the following semester. More than I had ever put on my plate before.
He had asked me about how I felt now that the semester was coming up. I was freshly 19, with no financial aid, no student loans, living on my own, working two serving jobs to pay rent and tuition. I was super poor. Sure, I picked those classes…but, really I was just hoping against hope that I could come up with the $1,200 I needed to pay for them.
The deadline was fast approaching and I had, just days before this conversation with Jimmy, Patty, and their mom, made the decision to drop one, if not two, of the classes so that I could afford the semester. Smiling and embarrassed, I told him that I’d be dropping a couple of the classes. He gave a frown and an “aww” and I had to scamper off to go do server stuff.
Between the refills and the food drop-offs and the cleanups, we all just continue chit-chatting. Patty casually asked how much my four-class semester was going to run me. I told her, not thinking anything of it. The conversation naturally moved on. I run off again to serve other tables and I come back to their table towards the end of the meal.
Gabbing continues when Patty extends her hand out to me…with a piece of paper. Instinctually, I grab it and look. Its contents changed my life. It’s a check for $2,000. I try and give it back, tears in my eyes, but she’s not smiling—though I can tell she’s perfectly happy—and she adamantly refuses to take it back. NYC attitude in full swing.
I can tell she’s totally serious. And I just sloppily thank her and then run into the kitchen because all of a sudden my knees are Jell-O. I plop on the floor on my butt and sob. Other staff are running toward me, concerned, and I can barely tell them that it’s not anything bad, that in fact, it’s incredible, through the crying.
Eventually, I gather myself and I gave her a bit better of a thank you, and said goodbye. I paid for and took all four classes. Passed all of them with a perfect A. I bought a graphing calculator and a laptop, too. I’m not a mathematician yet, but I’m working on it. And I’m not rich yet, but the moment I can afford to make this kind of impact on someone else, I will. Thanks, Patty… <3
19. Dishing It Out
Boy oh boy, some people. This happened yesterday. I’ll keep this short and not bore anyone with unnecessary back-story about the type of restaurant I work in, or anything about the set up. All you need to know is that: First, it’s fairly small, so I work alone with one chef; second, it’s family-friendly; and finally, we have a wide menu, with options ranging from $7.00 dishes to our most expensive $17.50 dish.
Not very pricy at all. One day, I received a phone call asking specifically about our $17.50 dish—our seafood paella. It’s made fresh to order, and takes about 15-20 minutes to make. Not to mention that seafood is expensive. So, the price is justified. The person I was speaking to asked if we were a buffet. We are not. I told them we are table service, and can do the paella any time.
I asked if they wanted to make a reservation because of the time it takes to prepare the paella. They said no, and hung up. So I went about my day. A few hours later, a family of four comes in. They sit down, glance at the menus, and then wave me over with a snap of the father’s fingers (gotta love that). The dad then says, “Show me the paella.”
I direct him to the back of the menu, where it’s listed very clearly and shows the ingredients and the price. Him: “I want that.” I write it down. The mother then says she wants a paella, followed by the two kids saying the same. So I confirm. Me: “So that’s four paellas? You don’t want to share?” Dad: “No. We’ll all have paella.”
So I put the order in after reminding him it’ll take about 15 minutes. I offered them drinks, but they just wanted water. I started getting the cheap vibe, but they ordered FOUR paellas, so how cheap could they be? Food comes out. They love it. Dad asks if he could get one to go. I put the order in so it would be ready when they finish.
We’re at five paellas now, and almost $90, before tax. I let the chef/owner know my concerns that the family may object to this price despite having made it clear to them. He gave me the okay to give them a 10% discount right off the bat. He’s a good guy. The time comes to bring the bill, and the man’s eyes go super wide.
I wrote out the bill so that every paella has $17.50 next to it. I watch as realization hits. He opens his mouth to object, and I immediately say, “The owner said to give you a discount because you ordered five of our most expensive dish and he wanted to thank you. He was happy to hear that you enjoyed it enough to order another to take home.” That shut him up. I then watch as he scans every last line of the bill and then settles on the tax, which was nearly $11.
Him: “You added a tip for yourself?” He was angry. Me: “No sir.” Him: “What’s this then?!” Me: “…The tax.” Honestly, I wasn’t expecting a tip at that point, but he did leave me 10%. So basically the discount we had given him. They said the food was excellent, but I highly doubt they’ll be back. For some reason, they thought ordering the same dish would equal just the price of one dish.
20. Pie In The Sky
First, let me explain a few things here. This is not my story as such, but I got to witness it firsthand. A good friend of mine is from a family that owns three very successful Italian restaurants, with a pizza oven that uses actual wood, so really top of the line. So he learned the business basically from the day he could walk.
When he was 25, he had a good business idea: A place in the middle of the city that sells mostly slices out of a window, but also whole pizza, pasta dishes, and salad, and does delivery. Plus a few small tables inside if someone wants to eat here. He created a solid business plan, and had his eyes on a prime location. It is 50 meters away from the biggest parking area in the city.
There are 400 parking spots there, where several times a year we have big city fairs, and anybody who wants to go in the park strolls right by it. So his dad said he would finance him, but as a credit to be paid back in a timely manner. They agreed on everything, and a year later he opened up. The story takes place about two years after they have opened and the place is HOT.
He already repaid almost 75% of the credit in a mere two years. Usually, there is a line for the slices, which are from a huge family-size pizza. One day, we are sitting at a table playing chess, while his guys run the shop; he had already worked a full 11 hours that day. In comes a baby boomer couple, and it was clear as day that the lady with the you-know-which haircut rules this relationship with an iron fist.
They sat down at the table next to us, and after not even a minute she rudely asked us why she has no menu yet, and to get off our lazy butts. I already wanted to tell her I do not work here, but my friend winked at me and walked over to their table, giving them our menus. The lady says to him, “It’s about time you get off your lazy butt.” By the way, she has now waited a minute. “You can’t play chess when you have people waiting. What kind of service is this?”
So my friend took their drink orders and walked behind the bar to make their drinks right away. They had to wait maybe three minutes for their drinks. When he comes back, she says, “About time, did you have to brew it first, or what is taking so long?” At this point, my friend’s patience is starting to wear thin, but he still stays friendly.
Friend: “You saw me walk to the bar and make your drinks right away, then return right away. Those drinks take a bit to pour correctly. I am sorry, but there is no way I could have brought those to you any faster.” Her: “We are customers and this is how you talk to us? Ever heard of the customer is always right? How can you be so rude to paying customers?” Now my friend really had enough.
Friend: “I was very respectful toward you, while you were very rude from the moment you came in here—“ The moment he said that, she got this weird grin on her face, and you could tell this was EXACTLY what she wanted. Her: “SHUT UP ! How dare you!!! I will have you know that me and the owner are old friends. I will have your job over this, now get me your manager.”
This is where it got so good. He decides to mess with her. Friend: “PLEASE, I need this job.” Her: “TOO LATE, you should have thought about this before you treated guests this rudely. NOW. GET. ME .THE . MANAGER.” Friend: “Right away miss.” He then went behind the bar and had a short talk with one of the older guys working there.
They then both return to the table. Server: “What seems to be the problem?” Well, this woman changed so fast. Suddenly she played the sweet old lady. “When we came in here, your server sat there with someone and played chess. We waited and waited, and finally asked nicely if we could have a menu. He rolled his eyes at us and gave us the menu from his table.”
She tells the rest of her “story” in her sweet voice, then says, “Since I know the owner, and we eat here all the time, usually, the service is excellent. I demand you fire him and comp our meals.” The new server turns to my friend and asks, “Is that really what happened?” Friend: “Of course not, she came—” Then the lady’s mask drops again.
She starts screeching, “What are you asking him for? I just told you what happened. Are you calling me a liar? Wait until the owner hears of this.” At this point, my friend and the server could no longer hold it back and they started laughing. Her: “YOU THINK THIS IS FUNNY, NEVER EVER HAVE I BEEN SO INSULTED.” Well, enough was enough.
Friend: “Yeah I know, wait until the owner hears of this. Oh wait, the owner already did hear of this. I AM THE OWNER, and I have never seen you in my life, nor have you ever eaten here. You two are just trying to scam a free meal out of me, by being impossibly difficult until the server finally snaps or does something wrong.”
Wow, I had no idea people could get that red in the face. She put 10 dollars on the table immediately. Friend: “Now GET OUT.” And they shuffled out, never to return. BOY that was the most entertaining attempt to scam him I have ever witnessed.
21. Be Careful What You Wish For
This isn’t your traditional server story, as I make pizzas, but it’s still a frustrating story from the food industry. I work at a chain pizza place, and like most pizza places our busiest day is Friday during the dinner rush. Almost all the staff is on hand and everything is on fire. It really didn’t help that we had a 40-pizza order that day due at 6:00 pm.
This all happened last Friday. A lady calls in (by the way, please order from the web) and orders four pizzas for delivery. Three of them were double pepperoni pizzas, which take way longer than you would think. I tell her that it will take about 1½ to 2 hours for delivery. This lady starts asking what the heck is up with that wait time, and I explain what I said before about the dinner rush.
She goes into a rampage, telling me that she’s been at work all day and she does not want to cook. “My family is starving, my kids are crying, and you’re just making them suffer more with that wait time!” Being the shy, timid college girl I am, all I could do is apologize and apologize as this lady is grilling me. Also, the wait time is only getting longer as orders are coming in.
She still hasn’t put in her order, and I can’t help make anything as I’m on the phone. My manager knows this. So he comes over to the phone and takes it from me. He asks the problem and then says, “Here, your wait time will be nothing and you won’t have to spend any more money!” Slams the phone down, ignores her order, and continues on with his work. Thank you, manager!
22. Crying Over Spilt Milk
Saturday night, I have a table of six. It’s a mom and dad, plus four kids between the ages of probably 6-10. Nice people, well-behaved kids, whatever. It comes time to order food, and the dad gets really serious and says, “We need to have a conversation.” I kind of laugh a little because up until now, things have been light-hearted and jokey.
But then he starts telling me that his daughter has a severe milk allergy. This isn’t a problem, but as the conversation continues the mom starts to interject a little and I learn that the kid is sensitive to even the slightest cross-contamination. That’s fine, I’ll have my kitchen manager make it in the back at our separate stove for allergies like this.
But no, I don’t understand, she will literally go into anaphylactic shock, they have an Epi-Pen, the whole bit. One of the kids (not the allergic one) says, “Yeah don’t give her milk or it’ll be off to hospital-town tonight!” I assure everyone no one will be going to hospital-town, and that I’ll take good care of them and let my kitchen manager know the severity of the situation.
I’ll spare you the lengths I had to go to just to keep the kid’s burger safe because that’s not the point of the story. When it finally comes time to run everyone’s food, the little girl with the allergy got a burger with bacon and an egg on it, nothing else. I was carrying everyone else’s food on a tray while my manager carried her burger separately.
My manager sets the burger down at the spot the little girl was sitting in (she’s not around at this point) and the dad immediately springs up from his seat and sits in her place. He picks up the top bun and closely inspects it, then holds it against his nose and takes a good long whiff. Then he takes the corner of the egg and lifts it up a little to inspect it, then rips the piece he grabs off and sort of breaks it up in his fingers a little bit, and eats it.
Gets up, says all is good, and the rest of the dinner went without issue. I guess he was checking for butter. My manager and I were so taken aback. We’ve never seen anyone act that cautiously, ever. Honestly, I respect it, though. I’d hate to know what experience they had at what restaurant to cause this behavior, but I’m glad that whatever it was wasn’t in my restaurant on my watch.
23. Fighting For What’s Yours
One of my favorite co-workers is a woman who’s been serving for over 30 years. She’s not well-liked by many because she’s meaner than an entire bag of piranhas, but if you can fire back (and do your job right) she’ll respect you and be your best friend. She told me a story today from back in the 80s when she first started.
She sees this guy come in wearing a really nice suit, and she watches him take the cash someone left as a tip, right off of the darn table, as she’s going back into the kitchen. She walks up to him and says, “I saw you take that. I want that money back on the table when I get back out here.” She returns to the floor after a minute holding a pitcher of water.
Lo and behold, the money isn’t there. As she passes the table, she “trips” and dumps this pitcher of ice water all over this guy in his nice suit in the middle of a Michigan winter. She goes into a fake bout of apologetics. “Oh my goodness I’m so sorry sir! I’m so sorry!” Then she leans in and whispers: “I’ll be back in a minute with the coffee.”
She comes out a minute later, coffee pot in hand, to find that her money has mysteriously reappeared.
24. I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends
Bottom line rule at my workplace space: If you’re not early, you’re late. The other day I sat down and zonked out…right before my shift. When I woke up, I was already 30 minutes late. For what it’s worth, I’m always on time and I love my job. I hit the ground running, but then something very much unexpected happened.
I discovered my 16-year-old kitty had died in my bathroom. I of course lost it emotionally immediately. They covered my shift, but I had to be written up due to the tardiness factor. When I returned to work yesterday and mentioned signing the write-up, my awesome manager told me to forget about it and that I had enough on my plate. I can’t express my gratitude enough in words for the people I work for and with.
Everyone cares for each other so much! They are such amazing people and I just had to share this.
25. Let It All Out
Oh my God, this was one of my most embarrassing moments. I was 18 and working in a Mexican restaurant. It was a table of four, two couples, who were pretty friendly and laughing. One woman was a grouch, but no big deal. One guy asks, “What is the “chor-IZ-o”? Me: Chorizo? It is basically a Mexican version of sausage, this one is spicy.
Other guy: “Ooooh! Can I get you to put the Mexican sausage into my fish taco?” LONG PAUSE. I proceed to absolutely lose my mind. I laughed until I was crying. I thought it was a joke! It only got worse when…One girl: I don’t get it…. Other girl: OH MY GOD Guy: I …uhhh… didn’t mean it that way. Worst server moment ever.
It still makes me so embarrassed. I ran back to the kitchen and traded tables. Apparently, I am an 11-year-old boy inside.
26. Order Up
I bartend, and was working a day shift. We aren’t a restaurant known for takeout, but we allow it and are set up through the various service apps. We had an UberEATs order in the middle of lunch hour, and eventually had a driver brusquely walk in and act a little aggressive when announcing himself. I had the order ready, so I asked him to verify what he was picking up.
He raised his voice, “It’s for [name], what’s the name say?” We don’t get a name. I told him that I didn’t have one, so I just needed him to tell me what was on the order. I’ve seen them check this dozens of times. It’s usually not inconvenient. Again, louder. “What’s the name say!? Are those the wings!?” It was three items together. None were wings.
I repeated that I didn’t have a name and told him that we didn’t have an order for wings. He got angry. “Are those the wings!?” I explained again that they weren’t wings, showed him that I had three items together, and asked him to clarify what order he was looking for. At this point, he snapped, and started screaming at the top of his lungs.
“CAN I GET ANY SERVICE!?” The bar fell silent. I put the food down and told him to leave. He continued shouting. “FINE, I’LL LEAVE THEN!” He continued causing a scene as he made for the door. I told him he needed to get out immediately or I’d call the authorities. Then he spit on the floor, slammed the door open, and stormed off.
The bar stayed silent for a few more seconds before people returned to their meals. Not two minutes later, another driver showed up, verified the order, and left without issue in under a minute.
27. Bread And Circus
You sat at my bar at just the right—or wrong—moment. I’d been getting my behind handed to me, and it wasn’t even 8 pm. You found a bar seat and ordered the soup special and a drink. You asked if the soup came with bread. I assured you it did. Even though I was wary, and had a feeling your bread would be forgotten, I was on the border of weedsville, and did not risk going back to the kitchen to make sure.
I was right, your soup came out in a very timely manner, but alas, no bread! Though I was now thoroughly slammed, I did indeed notice, and ran back to the kitchen to get some bread. This bread needs to be warmed, and it’s going to be a moment. I go back to my cubicle of fire and brimstone to see I’ve gotten a rather large group that I need to make sure I ID, since they all look extremely young.
From the corner of my eye, I see you are not eating your soup. This upsets me, but I can’t do much about it in my current state. However, I am worried for you. In my state of madness, you ask, “Is that bread coming anytime soon?” I feel faint. “I’m working on it! I’m sorry, I haven’t gotten a chance to—-” You say it’s ok, you see I’m busy.
This is still not ok with me. This man needs his bread. I get through my herd of college kids. I sprint to the kitchen to find perfectly warmed bread. I present my dude the bread, but I’m concerned, since I don’t think he’s touched his soup because he’s been waiting for bread. I saw this coming. I ask if I can get him a new soup, since he’s been waiting.
No. It was the perfect amount of time to let it cool down, apparently. The bread is perfect. He proceeds to tell me I’m incredibly good at what I do, understands I’m busy, and he will take the check. I thank him for his patience, and we laugh a bit. I go back to getting nearly ruined by college kids. $14 check, $40 tip. Thank you, bread guy. May your autumn days be filled with room-temperature soup and warm bread.
28. Found In Translation
This happened years ago, but it still feels like it was yesterday. I was serving at a Steak ‘n Shake, and was about 70 lbs. bigger than I am now. I’m very white, with blonde hair, so you wouldn’t know by looking at me that I’m almost fluent in Spanish. As I was cleaning a table one night, the one right next to it was seated for me.
While wiping the dirty table, I heard the new table talking loudly about me in Spanish. When I understood their words, my blood ran cold. They were saying how big my butt was, how fat I was, and how they didn’t want to be served by someone so disgusting, not knowing that I 100% understood them. My initial reaction was anger and tears.
I wanted to give them bad service and not even try to be nice. But, I wanted to be the bigger person. I walked to the table and did my “Welcome to Steak ‘n Shake! My name is Brandi and I’m here to help you out” speech…but I said it all in Spanish. The look of shock and embarrassment on their faces gave me one of the greatest feelings ever. Then, I listed every burger, every milkshake flavor and every side item in Spanish.
For the entire meal, I spoke no English at all, and I gave them the kindest and most attentive service I’ve ever given anyone. The nicer I was, the more humiliated and ashamed they were. When one of them asked quietly if he could have some more water, I already had a tray in my hand with his water on it. They refused to speak Spanish to me, and would hardly even look at me.
When they left, they closed their ~$25 check, then left me a $50 bill under a plate for my tip. Such a glorious day! Everyone always asks why I didn’t spit in their food, give them bad service, or ring in their order wrong. Hurt people with kindness baby! That’s the way I do it.
29. Born This Way
Last night I had a table of two made up of a mother and her teenage kid. I couldn’t figure out if the kid was a boy or a girl because they had a gender-neutral haircut and amazing makeup on. Guys wearing makeup and styling themselves more feminine seems to be more common and doesn’t bother me a bit, but I didn’t want to offend them.
Instead, I did my best to use gender-neutral terms until the mom used the word “he.” Anyway, I get their dinner to them, check in, and leave them alone to enjoy their meal. Flash forward to the end of service and I really wanted to compliment him on his makeup, so I said “Hey, I hope you don’t mind me saying so, but your makeup is awesome!” and oh my god, the mom just starts GUSHING.
She’s talking about how he’s going to NYC to do a really prestigious makeup artist program or something, and how her son had done her makeup for an event and how well it turned out. She was just so proud of her son and his talent even though it’s not a “typical boy’s hobby,” and it warmed my heart. I wished him luck and joked that with his skill he wouldn’t need it.
Mom tipped $10 on $30 and drew a smiley face on the merchant copy 🙂
30. I’d Prefer Not To
To start off, I’m not a server at the moment but this happened to one of ours. The other day we had a customer go OFF on a cashier because they asked if they replaced something due to an allergy or if it was just a preference. For what it’s worth the corporate office mandates that we ask this question for their records.
She had substituted some pasta for our gluten-free rice noodles and because it’s a lot more work for us to deal with it and a lot of people just honestly like the taste of rice noodles, we want to know if we strictly need to do it as an allergy order. This lady, who was I’d say 50 or 60, got real close, and in that Mom Whisper started lecturing him on how rude it is that he asked.
She says how it’s none of his business, how she has Never Been So Insulted, how we should just treat everything that COULD POSSIBLY BE GLUTEN FREE as if it was an allergy, etc., etc., etc. He replied: “Okay, that’s great, but is it an allergy or a preference?” therefore cementing him in my heart as one of my favorites. As expected, it was a preference.
31. Course Correction
I’ve been in the industry pretty close to 10 years between restaurants, bars, coffee shops and back again. I’ve worked front and back of the house and felt pretty confident that I had seen it all and that nothing would truly shock me. That was until tonight. I work as a server in a local family restaurant. It’s a chain that is well known and we are in the parking lot of the largest shopping center for a two-hour drive in any direction.
So as you can imagine, our business can be heavily affected by the mall sales, etc. Tonight is a Tuesday evening. No weekly food specials so usually Monday-Wednesday are pretty slow compared to the rest of the week. Tonight was not. We got slammed. All the servers had their own section plus were rotating a closed section that became overflow.
They sat a table for me in the overflow section. I already had six other tables and got a solid triple seat to go with it. In other words, it took some time to get to the overflow table. I went over after probably close to 10 minutes later. At this point, I’ll note that anyone who has chosen to sit in the overflow section knows that the service in that area will be slower and they’ve chosen to sit there instead of waiting for a table in general dining.
So I go over with my best “I’m sorry” face and genuinely apologize to this table for keeping them waiting. I gestured to the restaurant and let them know it wasn’t a typical Tuesday night. This lady, with her two just shy of teenage boys beside her, laid into me. She yelled about how bad the service was and how it was unacceptable and that I should be fired.
She said if she wanted to be treated so poorly, she would have gone to the restaurant up the street to be forgotten about. Now I apologize many times, grab their drink and food orders at the same time, and let them know that I would plug in the food then bring the drinks over to cut down on their wait time. I walk over to the computer and a co-worker silently asks me if I was okay.
She heard this woman yelling at me from two sections away. That’s an easy 40 feet away. I wasn’t in the best state, but the night was busy and my armor was up. I knew I was doing my best and that’s what mattered. Food in, drinks poured, and I gird myself to go over to the table again. As I’m setting the drinks down, the lady said the absolute LAST thing I thought she would say.
“I think I might have come off as a bit of a witch before. It’s been a long day, I’m tired and I’m hungry and I took it out on you for no reason. You’re obviously busy and doing all you can and I’m very sorry.” To which I responded, “We’re good. I get pretty hangry sometimes too.” They waited, they ate, they were polite, she tipped mediocre and we all went about our lives.
I’ve had people yell at me, throw things, sometimes just be general jerks and I’ve even had people apologize on their behalf, but I’ve never had someone apologize about their own behavior.
32. A Big Ask
This happened a couple of weeks ago at the very busy restaurant I work at. A woman came in saying she had some people from a jujitsu club wanting to come in for dinner and drinks, and do we take reservations. My manager asked for how many—and she said about 75, but maybe up to 100. My manager started laughing, but was soon stricken by horror.
She realized the woman was serious. We have a large restaurant, but a very small kitchen, and have a strict table of 20 cut off. When told about this, the woman still insisted that they were already here and pretty much refused no for an answer. We ended up allowing them to come in as it was around 8 pm and things were slowing down.
They sat outside in our big patio area, and we had two servers split the group. People were ordering at different times and many were just drinking, so the kitchen managed to do okay. The worst part was that about 30 of the people never went to their designated area, and instead crowded the bar and stood there. Us servers use this area to walk through and obviously get our drinks.
After several attempts at pushing our way through the crowd, we eventually gave up and accepted it as our reality. To get our bar drinks, we would go around to the bar side, every. darn. time. We have a long bar and only entry on each side, so this is hugely out of our way. This group stayed almost all night. The people were nice, but darn, how clueless are you!!!
I wasn’t the one serving them, I was just another server trying to keep the rest of the place under control. I heard MOST of them tipped, although they did all pay separately and we ran out of check presenters, obviously. Also, a few of them walked out on their tabs. Not on purpose, I’m sure they probably just wandered to meet their friends at the bar and forgot to close out.
I find this very rude no matter who it is. If you aren’t sure how to pay, ask the server or let them know you are leaving, moving, etc. Most of all, treat everyone with compassion! Server, customer, whatever. Treat cranky old people like they are your parents, because one day, they could be. Remember rude customers are JERKS, but also probably have a worse life than you do.
Know that some people don’t understand “restaurant etiquette” as we do, and if they did, maybe they would act differently. Remember your server is just a human being, not a servant, and being nice goes a long way.
33. Total Meltdown
I saw a public freak out recently that reminded me of something that happened when I was a hostess in my early 20s at a steak house. A family of four came in, and when I sat them, the mom (I’ll call her Karen) wanted to move to an area where all the tables were full. I told her she could wait back up front and we’d seat her when one of the tables opened.
She insisted on standing right by the bus station so she had a view of the people sitting in her desired area. The four of them were in the way of guests and servers but Karen did not notice, she was too busy staring daggers at people eating. I went to the manager, who tried to move her to no avail. Finally, we just let them stay because we noticed a couple in a booth packaging up their food.
I checked in a few minutes later to see if that table had left yet and was dismayed to see they had ordered dessert and coffee. Karen was still standing there, watching them. The kids were bored and running up and down the wheelchair ramp. I asked Karen again to move back down to the waiting area as she was blocking servers and her kids were an accident waiting to happen.
She loudly asked when her table would be ready and pointed right at the couple sipping their coffee. Knowing we were talking about them, the couple looked at us and smiled. A disturbing realization dawned on me. It hit me then that they were not leaving on purpose. Oh dear God. Karen realized it as well, because she got very angry.
She yelled that they were keeping her booth from her and we should kick them out. I told her we would not ask anyone to leave until they were ready. Then I watched in horror as the woman approached the couple. Karen: “You’re done here, this is my table now. Pay the bill and go.” Couple (Smiling sweetly): “We just got our coffee and dessert.”
Karen: “THEN TAKE IT TO GO!! WE ARE HUNGRY AND YOU’RE IN OUR BOOTH.” Couple: “This is our booth. It’s not yours until we leave.” Karen raged insults at them until the manager came rushing up to help. He tried to intervene but could not be heard over her screaming about her starving children. The couple kept their cool the whole time, nibbling their dessert and stirring their coffee at a sloth’s speed.
Finally, the manager had enough and told the woman to go. She was utterly FLOORED that we were asking her to go and not the couple. Then she escalated it. She picked up an empty dessert plate from their table and chucked it across the room, where it hit a wall and smashed into pieces. The manager screamed for someone to 9-1-1, since this was before everyone had cell phones.
I remember trying to hide my smile from the people around me. What adult acts like this? This woman was in her 40s! There were a ton of open booths too, just not in that area. Then Karen’s husband appeared, grabbed her by the sleeve, and started pulling. She let him lead her toward the front door as she continued to yell insults at us.
She called the manager a loser and mocked his career choice. She told me I was “a plain nothing going nowhere” and “worthless,” and when they’d gone, I went into the back for a while to hide. I needed to get away from people. When I returned, the server of the couple ran up to me. He said, “That couple left but they wanted to talk to you.”
Apparently, they felt so bad about how that woman acted. They saw her watching them and she was being so rude, so they decided to take their time to mess with her. They didn’t think she’d do that! They waited a few minutes to talk, but they thought I went home and asked the server to give me something as an apology.
The server then handed me a $100 bill. It was a bad night but it kind of made me feel better. It’s not every day a customer acknowledges when they’ve made your life miserable. If the couple had just left, none of that would have happened. Nothing they did hurt me, of course, but the insults from Karen sure did. Thankfully, Karen was never seen again.
It’s not easy to be a young kid making $5 an hour and being berated by people who think they’re better than you.
34. You’ll Pay For This
I just remembered a lovely moment of karma from a few years back. I was serving on July 4th in a vacation town in California at an upscale German bratwurst place. Everyone mid-day drinking, we were wildly understaffed, and absolutely slammed. I’m a really fast and sweet server even when I’m busy, but I had 10 tables and I was pretty frazzled.
One of my tables was a middle-aged couple and their adult son. I can’t remember the specifics, but they were really condescending, high-maintenance, and impatient. When it came time for them to pay, I was pretty relieved for them to leave. The man paid with card, signed the receipt, crumpled the customer copy, and put away his card.
We were trying to turn tables as fast as possible because we were so busy, so I picked up his signed receipt and thanked them. Then, they sat there for what felt like forever. I didn’t think much of it because I was wildly busy. When I went to clear their table after they left, I was really confused. The original itemized receipt was still on the table with a stack of cash, enough to cover the whole bill and an OK tip—BUT THEY ALREADY PAID AND TIPPED ME WITH CARD.
I guess the guy was more sloshed than I thought, completely forgot he had already paid, and then paid again in cash and just left. It was definitely not on purpose, because the “tip” on the credit card receipt and cash “tip” on the cash payment were almost the same, and they were complete jerks. In the middle of a hellish shift, I almost started crying with joy.
It came out to a $100 “tip” for a $75 bill. A little blessing from the server gods on a hard day. Wishing accidentally generous customers on you all.
35. The Tax Man
I work security at a bar that is open until 2 AM, nightly. The job is mostly checking IDs at the front door and spotting guests who are clearly in their cups so I can cut them off. Last Friday, a small group of young 20-something guys showed up around 8 pm and started drinking like they were at a college fraternity party.
While I am checking IDs at the front door a few hours later, one of the bros gets kicked out by a manager. I’m told to not let him back in. Cool. I asked if he was driving, he said no. I offered to call him a taxi, but he told me to go screw myself because he was getting an Uber. This guy was so out of it, he couldn’t stand or see straight.
10 minutes later, he is still there and I ask what’s up. This time he decided to insult my ethnicity (I’m Jewish). A few more minutes pass, and he comes up and asks me to call him an Uber. I tell him that not how it works, he has to do it. He throws another Jewish joke at me and orders me to call him an Uber and hands me his unlocked phone.
This is the part where I could have just opened the app, ordered a ride, and left the driver a massive tip, but this guy needed to pay the jerk tax. I opened his contacts and found exactly who I wanted to call: his mother. I told her that her son was out of it, got kicked out, and needed a ride. She was livid and said she would be there in 15 minutes.
I give the phone back to him and said his ride was coming. That guy sobered up so fast when his mother pulls up and immediately starts shrieking at him in front of everyone. He gets in the car, crying at this point, and I tell the mother about his comments, which sends her into another rant before driving away. I wish I could follow up with what happened to him, but I doubt he will be drinking anytime soon.
36. Bad Vibes
I work at an upscale restaurant. We have two floors, and last night I was serving upstairs. We only have hosts downstairs. When we are on a wait, the hosts will see when there are open tables upstairs, page the guests and send them up. A server then greets them, sees where the host had pre-planned for them in our system, and we seat them.
Now that you know how that works, I’ll also just add in here that I am one of the top servers in my restaurant, consistently selling the most every week, and I’m a trainer. So my managers all love and appreciate me and mostly have my back. Okay, so the Karen family, is paged that their table is ready. They walk upstairs and stand by the host stand while I finish at my table and make my way over to them.
I said, “Hey guys, how’s it going” They just stared at me. Finally, the wife goes, “Do we just seat ourselves?” I, holding a paper cocktail menu and silverware, after walking over to them and feeling like I had made it clear I was about to seat them, said, “Nope that’s my job! You guys can follow me this way.” They follow to the table for six and they all take their seats.
I slide the silverware I was holding down to everyone individually instead of just setting six silverware on the end of the table for them to hand out. I said, “Our menu is all virtual, and there is a link on your table. I’ll be right back!” I come back and ask if they have any questions or if they’d like to get some drinks started. Again, silence.
I just pick someone and say, “Okay, can I grab you something to drink sir?” We don’t have what he asks for, but I suggest something similar and he says okay. The wife asks what we have on tap. I said, “We have a lot, what do you like to drink?” She said “I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking YOU.” I say, “Alright, we have 27 kinds on draft plus 19 that are bottles, so if you tell me what you’re usually into, I can guide you through what will work for you.”
She goes “Jesus Christ, I’ll just have a Bud Light since you can’t sell a drink.” I, looking stunned, laugh and say okay. Her husband then turns his attention to me and says, “Are you having a bad night?” To which I say, “No sir, are you?” and he said, “No, we are just trying to have a nice family night and you’re rude. You’ve been rude the whole time and you threw our silverware at us.”
I’m stunned so I just say, “I definitely did not throw it at you guys I was trying to slide it down the table for all of you, sorry if it came off that way. I’m not having a bad night and I haven’t had an attitude.” The wife jumps in and says, “It all started up front when you said, ‘THAT’S MY JOB’ (she changes the entire tone I said this in, of course) and now you’ve just been rude to all of us this whole experience.”
For what it’s worth, we’re like five minutes in from them walking up the stairs at this point. Then she yells, so loudly that all my other co-workers hear, “YOUR AURA IS UGLY AND WE DONT APPRECIATE THAT, JUST SEND US A NEW SERVER.” It took everything I had, like I mean, everything, not to say anything rude back to her.
I just said, “I’m happy to grab you a new server, and I’ll just grab my manager for you too while I’m at it.” My manager goes over, knowing everything from my side already, and they tell him I was rude by seating them and making that comment about how they could not seat themselves, when “there was no host at the stand so we just assumed it was pick your own table.”
They also mention throwing their silverware, and “my attitude and aura are just plain ugly.” My manager stuck up for me and said I’m actually one of their best, but they still insisted on another server. Imagine being one of the three other servers having already heard and seen this go down, and now it’s your table. That server made $3 on $80, by the way.
Screw you guys, my aura is shiny.
37. Party Of Eight
Oh man…this group. I have never turned to a manager before and said, “I’m done, I’m not going back over there.” But I did last night. Yesterday was a particularly slow Monday. I didn’t have any tables until 5:30. This table of two sat in my section and wanted happy hour, which is for high-tops only of course, so I moved them to the right section.
The hostesses were able to get me a new table immediately, and it was a group of eight people. Six women, I’m putting money on past sorority sisters, and two boys around eight years old. I should have just taken the two happy hour people and taken the wrath from management, honestly. The table of eight is immediately obnoxiously loud, and it’s pretty much just seat #3 causing it.
While the other women were just raising their voices, #3 was actually yelling as if she had earplugs in. They also have a birthday at the table, “Oh my gaaaawd, girls!! Let’s sing!! Every time someone mentions the birthday we HAVE to sing!: And they did. They sung/screamed happy birthday no less than five times, one for every round of drinks.
By the time the appetizers came out, my manager had already walked up to them about a noise complaint from a table across the restaurant. Seat #3, a grown adult, goes to the bathroom, but stops halfway and asks me, “Wait, do I need a mask??” “Yes, ma’am, you do when you’re traveling around the restaurant.” “Are you sure??” “…Yes, ma’am.” “Like, really sure??”
This conversation happened multiple times with seat #3 and our other staff members. She would stop a staff member every time she ran to her car, went to the bathroom, checked out the restaurant, ran after a kid, and ask, “Are you sure I gotta wear a mask?” And of course, then never wear it. My work doesn’t allow staff to enforce the mask policy, so I can’t do anything but answer her questions and maintain a biiiiig distance.
Anyway, the first round of drinks comes out. Seat #2 keeps drinking Seat #1’s cocktail, even though she has her own margarita to work on. Gets a good bit of the way through her friend’s drink, turns to her with a sour face, and goes, “You like that?” Seat #1 says, “I don’t know…” and she finally gets to try her half-gone drink.
She says yeah, she likes it. #2 goes, “Are you sure??” Seat #1 says… “I don’t know…” So, now seat #2 sends back a drink that’s not even hers, and has me get seat #1 a new drink. That new drink never got touched. I think she actually really liked the first one, but gave into some bizarre peer pressure. Thankfully, this was the only issue I ever had with seats #1 and #2. Otherwise, they were great. But I wasn’t out of the woods.
Appetizers get dropped. Kids’ food gets dropped. I’m standing there taking the ladies’ orders, and I’m watching the boys who are to my left and in front of me. One of the boys is enjoying his first ever Shirley Temple. I was so happy to give it to him, y’all. I shoved so many cherries in that kid’s cup. He’s sitting there chugging his daily requirement of sugar, when he sort of sits up while still drinking, and turns towards me.
He pulls the straw from the cup with liquid still in the straw, and his mouth was so full his cheeks were bulging. He turned towards me, and SPIT his drink through the straw down my legs. I have never…EVER…been spit on. What the actual?! I let out a bewildered, “Excuse me?!” as my legs are dripping Shirley Temple and 8-year-old saliva.
The mom? LAUGHS. And then it got worse. She even praises him! “Good one, Dom!!” I walk away now. Thankfully I had everyone’s orders when it happened. I clean up and come back out, head to a different table, and now seat #3 is rushing me from across the restaurant, absolutely hauling her butt, without a mask on of course.
She catches up to me, grabs my arm, and turns me around. Proceeds to get in my face, to the point where our chests are physically touching, and goes, “We have a birthday at the table…do you guys do anything for that?? Like sing maybe? Ooh! Or cake! Bring out a cake! Do you have a chocolate one and candles?!” The entire time she’s going on about this request, I’m backing up slowly.
She’s following me step for step. I have backed up so far that I have now backed up into another table that actually has people eating at it, and she is still chest-to-chest with me going on about cake and singing. I can smell the drinks on her breath. Finally, I get her happy with a slice of Baked Alaska for the table for free, and she finally screws off.
The table I backed into wouldn’t let me apologize for being on top of them practically, and it actually turned out to be the table that complained about the noise in the beginning! They were 100% on my side after getting the full experience just now with guest #3, and would continue to be on my side and explain to the managers what was going on.
I hate that this one table ruined their meal, since they were really such nice ladies whose experience was ruined by this terrible group. So, I bring out dessert. Baked Alaska, set it on fire, ooh ahh. That dessert didn’t stand a chance, it was gone. I go back over to make sure no one wants anything else, and seat #3 goes, “Why did the hostess yell at us earlier?”
Me: “Oh…Well, that was the manager. She was informing you that you have a noise complaint against your party.” 3: “Who complained? Tell me who complained, I’ll take care of it.” Me: “Yeah… I can’t release that information.” 3: “You can’t? Uh okay. Well, can you tell the woman who came over here to screw off?” Me: …“Yeah, that’s my manager, I can’t do that either.” Her response made my face go red.
Lady #3: “Okay, well you can just screw off then.” Me: “Okay!!” I walked right up to my manager and asked her to cash them out and handle whatever they had left, since I was done. We had four different managers in the building that day, and all four had been watching the table since the noise complaint before appetizers, so she didn’t ask any questions from me and just printed the check for them and walked over.
She said, “Hey everyone. Here’s your check, it’s time for you to head on out of here.” Seat #2, who is actually a really nice lady and doesn’t deserve to be roped in with her awful friends but you should choose your friends better, starts apologizing for everyone’s behavior. Manager just says, “It’s time to go.” She just keeps repeating it until #2 paid for the entire check ($304 after discounts) and they left. Oh, but the disturbing climax is around the corner.
I go with my bussers and start bussing this absolutely wrecked table. One of the bussers reaches under the table and grabs this aqua blue pile of fabric. He’s turning it this way and that, trying to figure out how you’d wear that sort of face mask, when he spots the skid marks…yes. My table left their used panties under my table. And guess who’s seat they were by? Lucky #3!
What the actual heck, y’all. I just can’t believe that actually happened last night.
38. A Little Love And Understanding
This happened tonight, I work at a “the customer is always right” chain restaurant. It was a REALLY slow day, with most servers ending with four-five tables for the whole night. I was excited to have a table of six come in, my only table, and gave them my full attention. One woman got wine, one got champagne, so I went to the bar to get both.
I came back to the table with them, and the woman with champagne was very unhappy with what she received. To be fair, this was a $10 beverage and had a very small glass, and it was STILL only around half full. I went back to the bartender to make sure this was the appropriate fill level, she confirmed, so I went back to the guest.
She was very unhappy with the amount she received for her money. I offered to replace the champagne with a drink that she would rather have, and take it off her ticket. She was grateful, but said it was the principle of it that bugged her, and that they wouldn’t be spending any more money here. With this went on, I went to my manager and tried to get him to comp as much of their ticket as possible, because honestly what they got for the price they would be paying really wasn’t good.
For context, I really like all of the managers…except the one working tonight. He’s very new and has made offensive remarks to multiple people, including women wearing “too much makeup,” etc. So he went to talk to the table and was stuck there for around 5-10 minutes with both women laying into him. Eventually, he came back to the computer and comped all of their food, so I took the women their revised tickets.
When I arrived at the table, they reassured me that they knew it wasn’t my fault, I was simply the messenger, but that my manager had said that it was most likely my fault and that I had described the drink incorrectly to her, placing the blame on me. Gladly, the women had stood up for me and told him it absolutely wasn’t my fault but rather whoever thought it was acceptable to charge $10 for half a glass.
Honestly, at this point, I felt so bad about their experience, and it made me feel so much better that they understood that I had no power in the situation. In the end, they left on a good note with me, not so much with the restaurant, and left a VERY reasonable tip. Thank you so much, ladies.
39. It’s On Me
On my very first shift as a bartender, a beautiful woman in her mid-20s came into the bar. It was a regular Saturday night, so the place was crowded, but not packed. She had five female friends with her, but she was clearly the self-proclaimed ringleader. At one point, they come up to me at the bar counter and she makes a big show about how she’s going to buy them all mojitos.
These drinks run at about $13 apiece. I tell her it will take me a few minutes to get the six drinks ready and she’s fine with that. After a couple of minutes, she gets up to go to the restroom, I assume. I get the drinks ready and start wondering what the heck is taking her so long. I have a fellow bartender check up on her in the restroom, as I figure she’s either throwing up or getting it on there. Well, I wasn’t completely wrong in either of those assumptions.
The other bartender came back and says that she WAS throwing up, but then found some dude in there who was chatting her up. The other bartender informed her that she was needed back at the bar. A few minutes go by, and she and Mr. Knight in Shining Armor grab two seats at the bar. I walk up to them and the dude tries to order a drink for himself and water for her.
I inquire about where she wants the six mojitos placed and this is how it plays out: Stupid girl: “Those aren’t for me. I’m too gone to have more drinks” Me: “But you ordered them. And here they are.” Stupid girl: “But I don’t want them.” Me: “That not really the issue. I made them, so now you’ve gotta pay for them.” Stupid girl: “But I’ve been in the restroom the whole time, so I couldn’t have ordered them.”
Me: “Actually, you ordered them with me at the bar 15 minutes ago, before you stepped into the restroom.” Knight in Shining Armor: “I was with her the whole time and SHE DID NOT ORDER THOSE DRINKS.” Stupid girl looks infatuated with Knight in Shining Armor. It’s clear that they’ve just met and this dude is thinking that she’ll be an easy score if he just huffs and puffs a bit for her, putting me in my place.
Me: “Well, you’ve only just met her in the restroom JUST NOW, and she ordered those drinks BEFORE she went in there.” As a side note, some of her girlfriends, who had been hanging around the sides of the bar area waiting for the drinks, suddenly disappeared into the adjoining rooms. They clearly didn’t want to be a part of the mess.
Stupid girl: “But none of my friends are here to drink them.” Me: “It doesn’t matter. You ordered them, I made them, and now they need to be paid for.” Knight in Shining Armor: “She clearly doesn’t need more drinks, and this is your fault for serving them to her in the first place!” He’s getting angry. Me: “She was fine when she ordered them.”
Knight in Shining Armor: “But she shouldn’t have to pay for them.” Me: (having had enough) “Fine, then you can pay for them. That’ll be 78 dollars.” Dude was actually taking out his wallet until he heard the amount. Then he promptly looked at her, clearly assessing whether she was worth it. He decides no, not happening.
He puts his wallet back in his back pocket, and now it’s really awkward. She’s looking down at her glass of water, he’s looking for a way out of this situation, and I’m just standing there staring daggers at the both of them. Me: (directed at stupid girl) “If you don’t pay, we’re going to have trouble.” The stupid girl is now looking around for someone to save her.
Everybody’s looking away, including Knight in Shining Armor. Me: “So what’s it gonna be?” The stupid girl reluctantly and very slowly takes her credit card out and pays, all the while looking around for pity or someone to step in and pay. I hand her the drinks and tell her very firmly: “DO NOT DO THIS AGAIN.” We’re a small bar in a local town, you can be darn sure we gave her stern looks and asked for humiliating confirmation every time she visited after that.
40. No Show
We close at 8 pm on Sundays. It was 7:45 pm. Phone call: “Hey, I see it says you guys close at 8 but if we have 10-12 people, could you stay open for us?” Me: “I’ll have to ask the chef for you, one second.” I know I should have just said HECK NO, but I have to run everything by the chef, who is also the owner. He tells me to tell them yes—ugh.
Me: “Yeah, no problem.” Then they say, “Okay, we should be there around 8:30.” Me: “…Okay” So I put a bunch of freaking tables together and pour all their waters and put menus on their tables. 8:45 pm, they call back and tell us they aren’t coming after all. FIRST OFF, WHO THE HECK CALLS A RESTAURANT AND ASKS THEM TO STAY OPEN FOR THEM? Then you have the audacity to cancel? 15 minutes late? The worst.
41. The Bar Around The Corner
I had an older guy in tonight who was very shy and sat at a busy bar drinking soda and lime. I was powering through so I really didn’t get a chance to talk to him much. He was by himself the whole night and I introduced him to my favorite regular in the middle of making a drink because they had the same name, and my regular doesn’t drink either.
They were chatting all night. I shut down the bar and let the nice regulars finish their drinks while we closed down the bar, and he was included. At the end of the night, he gave me a hug and told me he’s just been through a very hard time. He’d just gone through a divorce. He had struggled with alcoholism and he wanted friends like the bar friends he used to have when he was younger, but he didn’t know where to go.
I told him he wouldn’t get a drop of drink from me, but he could definitely become a favorite regular and I would be missing some good chats if we didn’t see him after work next Tuesday. I really want to give him those friends. I really hope he comes back.
42. Humiliation To-Go
I worked at a restaurant that was across from a state park entrance. Spring through summer, we were insanely busy as we were a favorite of both the tourists and locals. It wasn’t unusual for the tourists to treat us like garbage or to be inconsiderate of our policies, such as the large sign on the gate to our patio telling people it was dine-in only and to see the host to be seated there.
It was such a problem, in fact, that eventually we padlocked the gate shut, since if there was a fire out there, it would actually be easier to climb over the fence to get away than go to the weird corner where the gate was. One day, when we were nearing the end of another seemingly endless lunch rush, I saw some people sitting at a table crowded with our to-go boxes in another server’s section, looking around like they were angry.
I remembered them as a tourist family from earlier in the week who had been jerks to me, so I went up to ask the server, Cait, about them. Me: Hey, what’s up with table 20? Cait: Huh? They’re done. Why? Me: Oh, they were jerks the other day, and they look kind of angry now. I just wanted to know if they treated you ok?
Cait: They were fine. I don’t know what they could be mad about now, but I’ll go check. She walked out to the dining room, where she had a clear view of the table, then immediately turned around and came back. Cait: Uhhhh…those aren’t the people I waited on. And where did those boxes come from? My party didn’t ask for any.
We ask the host; nope, she didn’t clear that table yet and she definitely didn’t seat those people. They were jerks to her when they ordered take-out from her a while earlier when she had told them that no, she couldn’t seat them on the patio with a to-go order but the picnic tables in our garden were free for them to use.
Knowing now what must have happened, and that these people have mistreated everyone they’ve come into contact with, we collectively decide to just ignore them. The rush is over and we don’t need the table, so the entire staff carefully avoids them while we serve everyone around them. This family proceeds to get angrier and angrier as we clear every table but theirs, which has not only all of their take-out garbage, but all the plates, glasses, and trash from the guests who sat there before.
In the meantime, we informed the owner of the situation, and he was looking forward to when they finally had enough and stormed inside. The father immediately starts yelling about how we let them sit and never cleared the table or served them. He’s completely righteous and red in the face about it. The owner’s response was perfection.
Owner: So, let me get this straight. You yelled at my host when she helped you with a take-out order and told you she couldn’t seat you on the patio. You were directed to the picnic tables in the garden, which is lovely by the way, I tend it myself. Instead, all four of you climbed over a padlocked gate with a sign on it telling you the same thing the host did. You then proceeded to seat yourself at a dirty table, and now you have the gall to call my staff rude?!
He took a pause here, then said, “Sir, let me tell you how a restaurant works. If you’re nice to us, we will do just about anything to make you happy. But you’re a jerk, so you’re always going to get treated like one. Now GET OUT of MY restaurant!” The father sputtered for a second, and the owner just shouted, “OUT!” again and drowned the guy’s response.
He and his family then slunk out, with Awesome Boss of the Day right behind them to ensure they didn’t try and come back. Having a boss that sticks up for you is the best.
43. In The Red
I was scheduled for a party of 135—yes, you read that right—with just me and a new server. There is also no auto gratuity at my place. I have a day job, and have been working the restaurant kind of ad hoc until they hire to recover from a mass quitting due to a clueless owner and general manager. So yeah, this is shaping up to be a really awful night, and I know it.
I went in a little early to try and talk some sense into the owner and the manager. I asked for another server, or to at least to be allowed to auto gratuity the bill. Shot down on both. The party starts to arrive, and I introduce myself and the newbie to the lady in charge. She asks where the other servers for her party are, and I explain we are it.
She is super angry immediately. I tell her I already voiced her concerns, and she will have to take it up with the manager. The people trickled in pretty slowly, so we did a pretty fair job with drink orders. I had preset some dressings to try and make the salads go easier, and preset extra napkins, bread, etc. It went as well as it could go, but it was rough.
The new server was completely overwhelmed, the head lady was rude, and they were not the most understanding party. It ended up being one check, though, thank the restaurant gods. The total was just shy of $5,000.00. The lady left $60.00 total tip. At this point, the new server is crying in the kitchen, and the vein in my forehead is popping out.
$60.00 doesn’t even cover the bar tip out, let alone the bus or host tip out. And it was a TON of work. A heated discussion between myself and the owner ensues, and it is clear she doesn’t care that I’m at negative money for the night, actually the week now. I tell her that I will not be returning. She switches gears and tries to “reason” with me.
I give the new server the 60 bucks, and tell the owner I will be calling the labor control board if I don’t get paid minimum wage for the week. I tell her and the manager both how I feel about them, and out the door I go with both middle fingers in the air. Feels good.
44. Musical Chairs
Today I’ve had probably the worst/best thing happen when bringing a group of 32 people to their table. I work in an all-you-can-eat restaurant where the people can pick out the food themselves and take it to their table. This means you need to walk back and forward once in a while to grab new food. Because of this, we don’t have rows of tables that exceed five people, so when you stand up there’s not a lot of people to walk past.
Otherwise, it’s like sitting in the middle of a row in a full cinema, having to go to the bathroom, and passing like 10 people in the process. So for this group of 32 people, we had three tables of 11 with five on each side and one at the head of the table. However, the woman who made the reservation HAD to have everyone sit attached to the same table, rather than having two small gaps in between each of the three tables so it’s easier to get up.
I tried explaining to this woman that this is very difficult as the seating will be less comfortable, but she kept on yelling and yelling that it HAD to happen. So I agreed and moved the tables against each other. What followed was probably the best five minutes of my life. Just watching 16 people struggle to get on the couch located next to the table.
After enjoying the view, I once again offered to the woman that I could move the tables slightly apart so it’s easier to stand up, but once again she started yelling that it had to be like this and she would complain to my manager if I offered again. They dined for 2.5 hours, and every time someone stood up, I watched seven other people having to move off the couch to the side of the table so one person could get their food, turning a five-second task into a five-minute task every single time.
This woman yelled at me, ignored friendly advice, and threatened to go to my manager, but in the end, she got a nice dose of karma.
45. Not A Good Choice Of Words
I work at an upscale restaurant attached to a large convention center. We recently hosted a convention for a multi-level marketing (pyramid scheme) women’s clothing company. I’ve never seen so many Karens in one place. Not just figuratively, but literally; it wasn’t uncommon to have two actual “Karens” seated at one table together.
This is a particularly dangerous situation as this multiplies the Karen Effect exponentially. The two primary Karen drinks of choice are typically either a Cosmo or chardonnay; it is from these potions that they derive their evil powers. Well, needless to say, the cosmos and chardonnay were flowing like water. The bar started to mix four-six cosmos at once and pop multiple bottles of chard simultaneously, just to keep up with the frenzied demand.
Trouble was clearly brewing. This was the recipe for disaster. As the Karens began to migrate from the bar to their respective tables for dinner service, the orders started coming into the kitchen. Naturally, everything was special ordered to accommodate their litany of dietary issues and whatever fad diets they were currently participating in; keto, paleo, macro, vegan, take your pick.
This is a trap. Special orders take extra time, are more difficult to accurately execute, and bog down the flow of the kitchen, increasing ticket times. This is exactly what the Karens want to happen. They were setting up the attack. Little did they know that we were ready and waiting for them. We had called in the cavalry and manned the lines twice as deep.
You could see the looks of confusion and dismay on their faces when their orders came out correctly and on time. We had neutralized the Karens. The night was drawing to an end…before one particularly evil and vile table of Karens came in just before close. No doubt these were pros, not to be taken lightly. Coming from the bar, they immediately notified me (their server) upon sitting that they were very upset.
Right out of the gate, they put me on defense. After I inquired as to the problem, they notified me that they were offended that the bar didn’t try to up-sell them from the two glasses of chardonnay to a whole bottle….This was a new move. I hadn’t seen this one before. Being “offended” because someone gave you exactly what you asked for? Brava.
I was not prepared for this tactic. But before I could offer a solution, the Mecha-Karen dropped the mother of all Karen phrases: “I don’t understand why the bartender didn’t offer us a bottle instead. I just wanted you to know that we feel very violated…” Except, she used a much stronger word for assault. Yup. I couldn’t believe it.
I was floored. I’ve seen some Karen moves before, but this was the most outrageous and offensive thing I’ve encountered. Not even knowing how to respond to that, and being short for words for one of the only times in my life, all I could muster was: “Well that’s certainly very strong verbiage. I’ll give you some more time to look over the menu.”
I left the table and immediately went to the manager. Explaining what just transpired, I flatly told the manager that I was not comfortable waiting on a guest who was not only apparently intoxicated to some degree, but that would also use such inappropriate language so casually. Shockingly, the manager agreed. She went to the table and let them know that they were welcome to place an order for food through her, but would not be served any more drinks at that point.
They thought they were pulling the mother of all power moves, but in reality, they had overplayed their hand and crossed the line. The Karens knew they had been defeated.
46. Empty Head Syndrome
The following occurred earlier tonight. Some guy wandered into the restaurant when we were obviously closed (lights off, no open sign, tables all flipped) with a phone in one hand, a bag in the other, and an expression that I can only describe as “stupid face.” Him: Doordash. Me: We’re closed. Him: Doordash? Me: We’re closed.
Him: DOORDASH! starts waving the bag around and pointing to it Me: We. Are. Closed. Him: Should I go through the drive-thru? Me: No, you can’t go through the drive-thru. We are closed. There are no more orders tonight. Him: I’m here to pick up (stares at his phone and starts reading off food items) for (someone’s name).
Me: When did you place the order? We don’t have any open tickets left. Him: Right now. Me: We’re closed right now, and we never got that order. Him: It says here (pointing at his phone again) that I have to pick up (names food items again). Me: Who ordered it? We never got any orders for Grubhub. Did you order it over the phone?
Him: No, I’m supposed to order it now. Me: You can’t order it now, we’re closed. Him: Staring into the abyss But they already ordered it. Do I cancel it? Me: I don’t know. That isn’t my problem. Him: Leaves the restaurant looking defeated and confused The owner of the restaurant (who had just come out of the back): What an idiot.
47. Thank You, Next
I work in a rich, very conservative part of town, so sometimes we get super conservative people in. I generally ignore the political attire that you see a few times a week, because as long as they respect me, I don’t care. By the way, I also have buzzed hair, so I’m used to comments about being feminine with short hair (usually positive), and I think this is why one customer started this conversation with me today:
Customer: Are you gay? Me: Excuse me? C: I asked if you were gay. M: Why do you ask? C: I don’t want to be served by a lesbian. M: (after a stunned silence to make sure I just heard what I just heard) Well, then I guess you can go ahead and leave because no one here wants to serve you. And I immediately walked away to get the manager, who proceeded to ask them to leave because, well, you know.
I went outside for a few minutes to calm down, because I’ve never had this type of hatred spewed directly to me, face-to-face like this before.
48. This Customer Is Right
Dear sir. You stuck your head in the front door around 20 minutes to 10:00, looking expectantly with your blonde wife in tow. I swallowed disappointment, yet again, while wearing a pained smile, and waved you into the bar area. You sat down and ordered straight away: top-shelf bourbon on the rocks for you, Prosecco for the wife, and a volcano cake to share.
You were both well dressed and charming and funny. Your wife was hot and smelled good. You both savored every bite, made me laugh, tipped 30%, and breezed out the door with two minutes left on the clock. I love you.
49. Buy Me A Drink First
My friend is a manager at a popular tapas spot. One night she received a call from a man whose girlfriend was currently dining in, asking to send a bottle of his girlfriend’s favorite red to her table and to pay her tab over the phone. He made a point to make sure that the server knew it was from him, her boyfriend. There was a disturbing reason for this.
Turns out that the girlfriend was on a date with another man, and he knew. The server knew this, too, but told them anyway that her boyfriend had paid their tab and sent the bottle over. Apparently, “Their facial expressions and abrupt exit were priceless.” God, I wish this could’ve happened when I worked. This is the karma all servers would love to watch.
50. Thanks For Playing
Last week, it was a glorious night. A party of six comes in…headed by a Karen. This Karen wants two four-seater high-tops pushed together. Our host says she can’t do it because the restaurant was too busy. Karen looks her up and down and says, “Let me speak to the manager.” She’s calm, just insistent, and it’s obvious she’s played this card before.
So I roll up. “How can I help?” “Can we push those two tables together?” Nope, I say. “You can have that table that’s for six in the corner, you can have that booth for six after we clean it, or you can have that table for six outside after they get up—in about 10 minutes.” All the while, I’m pointing to each table like I’m showing them emergency exits on an airplane.
“You can’t push those tables togeth—” “No, we will not be moving the tables. You can have……” and I point out the tables again. “You know what I think? begins turning to her friend You know what I think?” both of them together “We go somewhere else?” But I had the absolutely perfect response to this. At this point, I clap my hands together.
Then I say, “Thank you and have a great night,” and immediately turn around and walk away. The best part? The Karen stares at the back of my head for a solid two seconds before she shuffled out. I didn’t realize this until I watched the video of the exchange.