Waiting tables can be a wild unpredictable adventure with ridiculous and unreasonable guests snapping for service, screaming babies, or just downright rude people. But it’s not all bad. There are also the SAD stories that come with the job. Heartbreaking situations where patrons come in excited and leave dejected after waiting in vain for someone who never showed. Get your tissues ready while you read the sad stories waiters have shared watching guests be disappointed over the people who never came on time or at all.
1. Grand Old Time
I was a server for 5 years, and the most heartbreaking experience I had was an older woman, probably in her 60s, who was waiting for her grandson to come meet her for lunch. When I greeted her at the table, she was very excited as I assumed that she did not see him much. As time went by, no one showed up. She ordered.
Towards the end of her meal, no one came, so it being a slow shift, my girlfriend who worked at the same restaurant as me and I decided to just talk with her for a little bit and give her some company. We both felt so sad for this sweet old lady, but we could tell that simple act of kindness made her day. Shame on him.
2. Here’s To Us
My saddest bartender story was with this guy in his 30s. He had a 2 top and asked for a bottle of top-shelf champagne, candles lit, and all that. He told me they were celebrating. No one showed. Guy looked morose but had an appetizer, poured a glass of champagne for the person who wasn’t there, then asked for the bill.
I felt bad because he’d obviously been stood up, so I brought him a dessert on the house. He smiled when I brought him the cake and said it was his anniversary. My face must have shown my heartache for him, so he clarified. It was even more heartbreaking than I had thought. He had lost his wife to cancer a few months prior. It may have been the saddest thing I’ve seen.
3. Me, Myself, And I
I was a hostess and took the table for a server. This old man came in wanting a table of six and asked for six waters. I set up his table and put his order in. He said it was his birthday. He was there for about an hour or two, and nobody came. It was sad. He ended up tipping me $30, and he said, “Sorry for the trouble.”
4. The Little Things
I saw a really shy guy once who you could tell that was on a budget, but he was trying really hard and looked so excited about his upcoming date! He brought a single rose and asked what he could purchase for $10 to make this evening beautiful. My heart melted so much that I offered him two free drinks and some dessert.
We put some candles on his table, and he was sitting there and with this big smile waiting for his date to come. But she never came. He waited like two hours nervously checking on his phone. When he left, he gave the rose to me and thanked me for kindness towards him. He was so broken, and so was my heart about it all.
5. A Party To Cry For
I used to work birthdays at a science museum. One weekend, the birthday family arrived, and I escorted them back to their room as usual and started talking with the mom about how she wanted things to go with setting up the room. She mentioned that they had just moved here, and her son didn’t have that many friends yet.
They invited one cousin about their son’s age and then just invited the kid’s entire class to the party. An hour went by, and the little cousin showed up but nobody else. The little dude invited every kid in his class and not one of them showed up. Now to be honest, the birthday boy himself did not seem that concerned.
He and his cousin were happily playing with each other the whole time. I just don’t think he was really that warmed up to the kids in his class to begin with. But the mom was heartbroken. She’d set this party up for her son and bought a birthday package that included a private room and general admission for all guests.
She had me bring liquid nitrogen to the room and make ice cream for the party and basically had high hopes for this. And nobody showed. She was in tears—but then she had a brilliant idea. She asked me to look through the museum and to invite random kids to her son’s birthday party so that there would be at least some other kids for him to play with.
We found a half dozen kids who were interested in coming to the party. And the mom was very grateful to them. But word also got out to the staff who absolutely rallied around this kid. Some employees showed up to sing him happy birthday, some went to the gift shop, and a manager gave them vouchers for future admission.
We had a “robot” mascot that walked around and played with guests, and he showed up to the party with some gifts from our gift shop. I brought down the materials for making a couple of different types of home-made slime and made slime with the kids. A co-worker was one of the smartest and kindest people I had ever met.
And he spoke with the mom about the son’s interests and learned that the birthday boy was a fan of the Avengers. So, he went over to grab the laser-etcher on display and came back holding a wood-burning of a picture of the Avengers wishing the son a “Happy Birthday.” By the end of the party, the mom was in tears again.
But this time it was for a very different reason. A few days later, she sent us the sweetest letter about how much it all meant to her. I worked three to five birthdays a weekend, every weekend, for about five years, and they were always fun. But that was the absolute best day at work I’ve ever had in those five years.
6. Looking Bad
I’d set a date at this nice coffee shop in Brooklyn. I got there, and I recognized the barista from college. I was the only person in the shop at that time, so we talked a bit awkwardly. Gradually, other customers arrived, so she attended to them and I to my phone. It got to the point where my date was 20 minutes late.
She hadn’t been responding to my messages asking when she was coming. I was sweating profusely. I was very embarrassed that I was probably being stood up in front of someone who I had several classes with years prior and knew most of my friends. I felt so humiliated. Then my date walked in and stood there for a moment.
Then she walked right back out the door. The barista who I knew looked at me and asked, “Was that her?” I nodded and said, “Yup, that was her.” “What a jerk!” That comment made things slightly better.
7. Just Like The Start
I worked at a place where a man would come in every night for a week, wait for a few hours, order food and drinks, then leave with no one showing up. I later found out he was just trying to cope with the loss of his wife believing that she would arrive to greet him at the restaurant where they had had their first date.
8. Mommy’s Here
This six-year-old boy came every day with his older brother at lunchtime, and for almost a month, they would order three plates of food always leaving one behind. When I waited on them, the little boy told his older brother to ask his mother to lunch because she was already coming, but their mother would never show up.
The older brother told me to give the food to someone in need. He told me that they’d just lost their mother and he couldn’t explain to his little brother that his mother wasn’t coming back, and the cafeteria was the last place where she had brought the boy, which was why he believed that she would be there for dinner.
9. You’ll Know Where I’ll Be
A woman came in four nights in a row in case she got the day wrong. She’d be at the bar wearing the same flowery dress every time and would hopefully look at the door every single time it opened. She left in tears the first two nights when we closed. On the third and fourth nights, she just stared vacantly at the door.
She did that until we had to make sure she left. I never saw her again. I don’t think any other staff did either, but we all felt really bad for her. She got a couple free drinks and appetizers. We didn’t even care if it was a scam because she seemed so broken about it.
10. Another Chance
My friend is a manager at a very fancy restaurant. She was working during Valentine’s Day when a guy walked in nicely dressed and kind of nervous. She brought him to a table for two. The restaurant did its best to give off a romantic atmosphere with roses on the table, a love-themed dessert, and cheesy stuff like that.
The guy ordered a water and started to wait. When the waiter would try to take his order, he’d say he was waiting for somebody. He waited for an hour, then two, and then three every time sending checking his phone and trying to call someone. My friend went to talk with him—and his story was absolutely devastating. The guy had lost his girlfriend of six years.
He was 24 at the time and had lost her two years prior, and that night was his first date ever since. After that, my friend talked to him a bit more about him, how life was going, and got to know him. They learned that they had quite a bit in common, so they exchanged numbers. Now, they’ve been happily married for two years!
11. Briding It Out
I sat a “party of 15 to 20” for a bridal shower. Her mom decorated the table and chairs and the entire corner. Everyone in the restaurant could see there was going to be a party on a busy Friday night. Four people showed, including the future bride and mom. I didn’t even care about the money. I just felt so bad for her.
12. There With A Propose
This guy came in and was dressed really nicely. He said that his date should arrive soon and went ahead to be seated. He ordered a drink, and half hour passed by. Then another hour and another drink later, he started fidgeting with something, which I noticed was a ring. After an hour and a half, he asked for his check.
Then he muttered something about, “There goes two years wasted and down the drain.” He tipped twice his bill. Poor guy.
13. Mommy Latest
I was working at a bar a few years back, and often there was this girl in her early twenties who sometimes used to meet her mother there about every 2 or 3 months. More often than not, the mother either came extremely late, at least 1 or 2 hours, or did not come at all. When she came, there was tension between the two.
It was obvious that they had some unresolved issues. Watching the girl wait for hours even if it was clear that the mother wouldn’t come that day always broke my heart. As a barkeeper and since she was a regular, I tried to engage in conversation with her to distract her a little, but there’s only so much you could do.
Years after I stopped working at that bar, I met the girl at a random party, and we had a great night together. She told me that she had “broken up” with her mother.
14. Right Place, Wrong Time
I was going to a friend’s party at some restaurant, and when I got there, there was a kid sitting by the door. He was also coming to the party. When I told the waiters that I was there for the party as well, they called my friend who identified me immediately but didn’t know who the kid was. He had mixed up his dates.
His friend who invited him to the party had the party days before and gave him the wrong date. We felt bad for the kid, so we let him join our party. That day, I made a new friend.
15. Another Friend Over
On my 18th birthday, this girl invited me out to drink with her friends because all of mine were too young to drink. I said no at first, but they insisted, so I agreed. I got there when they said they would. I waited at the bar two hours before they came in, gave a short introduction, and then went off to the bathroom.
One of her friends came back out and told me that she wanted me to leave. That had really hurt me, but I did not see the point of arguing. The worst part was when I got back home. I found out she was spreading lies about me stalking her to the bar and told all of our mutual friends. It was one heck of an 18th birthday.
16. Consolation Cakes
My girlfriend had taken me out to this local niche type restaurant. It was the type where you could grab vintage old games and stuff to play while you got your food. As we got in and seated, a young man about 20 came in holding a nice bunch of flowers and dressed very nicely with all of his hair done up and everything.
It clearly looked like he’d prepared. So, my girlfriend and I ordered, talked, and enjoyed our evening, but then we realized that the guy was still by himself. After an hour, we were still eating, and he was still sitting there drinking his soda and checking his phone, the door, then his phone again every five minutes.
This went on for the whole two hours we were there, and it became obvious by his increasing anxiety and glum look that he must’ve known he was stood up but either couldn’t accept it yet or was still desperately holding onto hope. We had felt so bad for him that we gave the waitress extra money to send him a cheesecake.
The waitress ended up giving him two because she felt bad too. To this day, it still sticks with me seeing that happening to the poor kid. And it boggles my mind because the dude wasn’t bad looking. There wasn’t anything apparently wrong with him not that it would justify it if there was. It just adds to the confusion.
17. A Seat At The Table
I worked at a pretty fancy steakhouse in town, and we had a private dining room that could sit up to 32 at a single, long table. To book the room, we charged a $1,500 deposit, which we then used to cover a part of the bill. This girl booked it for 26 people and put the deposit on her card. She showed up with her sister.
After about 20 minutes, two of their “friends” showed up and sat at the opposite end of this giant table from the birthday girl and her sister. Nobody else came. They waited an hour. The birthday girl was sobbing, and the other two awkwardly left. It was awful. I’m grateful to my manager who refunded the whole deposit.
18. Ditchers By The Dozens
We had a 21st birthday party booked for 20. The family showed up early with a few friends. They had a few drinks and let the staff know some of the party was running late. A half an hour in, when the late people were supposed to arrive, two friends left. An hour went by, and the birthday group ordered and had starters.
Then they told the service staff some more people were coming. About two hours in, the mother said to just bring the mains out. It was so sad, I felt so bad for them. Being stood up by fourteen people, and the two friends who did show up didn’t even eat.
19. By The Seat Of The Pants
I was the sad shmuck and set up a date with an amazing girl. We had lots in common, she was very attractive, and she lived close by. We agreed over Snapchat to meet in the area for our first date even though she was going to be running late. I came to the restaurant on time because I did not know what a bit late meant.
I got a table with a view of the door and started waiting. The first 15 minutes passed with me excitedly telling the waitress I was expecting someone and wouldn’t be ordering yet. The next 15 minutes I spent openly staring at the door sitting up whenever somebody would walk in. 45 minutes later, the waitress came over.
She asked if I wanted anything, and I told her I was still waiting while I watched the door anxiously. At one hour, I was planning on leaving soon and swinging by Target on the way back. I realized I did not give this girl my number and had no data, so we had no way of communicating. I mustered up the courage to leave.
When two waitresses who had watched me came over to tell me that they felt so sad and wanted to make me a milkshake. They didn’t even know the half of it. I thanked them but told them I had lost my appetite and half-heartedly joked that this wouldn’t even be the worst thing that happened to me today. My childhood dog had been put down earlier that morning.
I had spent the hours before the date digging her grave. I told one of the waitresses that I had no way of communicating with my date without WiFi. To which she responded by giving me her hotspot password. I connected as fast as I could and opened Snapchat to see dozens of messages from my date who had a laundry issue.
She wanted to know if I minded that she showed up in sweats. I sent her my number and said I’d be glad if she showed up at all. A few minutes later, she came in and told me she’d been in the parking lot for the past 15 minutes waiting for my response thinking that I’d stood her up and was about to go when I texted her.
20. Caffeine Spirited
I worked at a coffee shop for several years and made friends with tons of regulars. One of the regulars, we’ll call him J, was working on his PhD in art history at the university near us. He came one day, got his usual tea, and said he’d pay for a latte but to make it for later. I was bussing tables and asked about it.
He very excitedly expressed that he was meeting a woman and it was “kind of a date.” He was an awkward kind of guy but very interesting and incredibly friendly. One hour passed, no one showed. Two hours later, still nobody showed up. Then by the third hour, he was looking despondent, collected all his things, and left.
She showed up 20 minutes later asking about J. They’d had their times completely mixed up. He came in the next day, and I mentioned that she came in looking for him, and he looked so excited. I found out a week or so later from him that she basically blew him off a second time. He was so crestfallen. It broke my heart.
21. Hashed Up
My DnD group was without a place to play that week, so we went to the local Denny’s. We told the waitress that we’d be there for about six hours. About an hour in, this guy came in and went to a two-top in clear view of me. He set a single rose down and then sat. He was all smiles when the waitress got his drink order.
Over the next four hours or so, I just watched his body language change. He checked his phone like every two or three minutes. He never got a call and never seemed to get or send a text. Finally, after the four hours, he just got up, put a $20 on the table for his soft drink, and just walked out leaving the rose there.
22. Failure To Meet Expectations
I work at a semi-classy seafood restaurant in southeast Michigan, and the host said she had the sweetest old man who came with a single rose and vase, set it up himself, and ordered a bottle of champagne sitting by the table in a chiller and everything, and he just waited…for a date that never showed. She almost cried.
Another guy set up the reservation, called to cancel it the day of, and asked the host to please inform his date. They told him they obviously didn’t have her number, and he just hung up. The woman showed up dressed to the nines and was stunning apparently. His loss!
23. New Old Friend
My friend was a hostess at a restaurant and sat an old lady at a table to wait for her friend. She stayed there for a few hours asking every now and then if her friend had shown up. My friend was heartbroken and told her co-worker about it who was working the other side of the restaurant and also had an old lady alone.
She had also been waiting patiently for her friend. The ladies got a chance to chat a bit before they left, so it was a happy ending at least!
24. Christmas Traditions
Back in college, I’d always picked up the Christmas buffet shift. There was this old woman who would show up every year and always had a table for two. It was such regular thing that the owner would reserve the table for her and arrange for where her table was—near his family table, so she would get the best service.
She would always arrive alone before the dinner rush and never order any drinks. She’d just calmly get her meal and eat. She always left a big tip. After she was done, she would ask us for a taxi and thank the staff. It became a mystery to us—but one year, I learned the sad truth. I found out she had lost her husband a few years prior and that was what they always did for Christmas.
She’d only eat by herself because she said her kids forgot about her and just left her in the retirement home. The owner paid for her meal, cab, reservation, and all of it was coming out of his pocket. Even the tip was coming out of his pocket. He kept the letter in his office because he was disappointed with her kids.
25. Too Close To The Sun
My then-boyfriend and I went to a popular small and cozy local Indian restaurant. It’s easy to bump arms with the next table over, and this meant you were often privy to the other people’s conversations. A couple was seated next to us, and it was clear from their conversation that they had only recently started dating.
He was an airline pilot, and she was a stewardess, and they were in the city for a layover. At first, I was cringing a little at how effusive they were and how they started talking about getting married despite clearly not knowing one another very well at all. But hey-ho, it’s the honeymoon phase, so no judgment here.
She then innocently mentioned a co-worker who had recently texted her to talk about them. This turned out to be a huge mistake. The guy’s attitude just changed instantly. He started questioning her aggressively as to why this colleague had her number in the first place. She thought he was joking initially and laughed.
She was explaining that most of the in-flight staff had one another’s numbers so they could discuss shift changes/swaps. He went quiet for a while, and she tried in vain to keep things cheerful. He then straight up swore at her and demanded to know if she had ever kissed the co-worker. The entire restaurant heard this.
We were all mortified. I wish now that I’d spoke up on her behalf, but being British and too afraid of being impolite, I kept my mouth shut. The guy proceeded to verbally berate her, then got up, and left the restaurant leaving her in tears. She left shortly thereafter. My boyfriend and I also left and bumped into her.
She was leaning against the wall outside with her heart just breaking over this guy. I approached and gave her a hug, told her that I had overheard the whole thing and that she had done nothing wrong. I was quite stern at this point and told her that guy was a misogynistic prick and she absolutely deserved a lot better.
If this was how he was behaving now, what would he be like once the honeymoon phase was well and truly over? Eventually, she asked us to call her a taxi as she needed to find her way back to their hotel. I was so worried about her that I offered her a spare room at my own place, but she insisted she needed to get back.
26. Where My Party People At
A lady probably in her late 70s, early 80s came in with her daughter for a birthday dinner. They got there early and set up some small decorations on the table: A bouquet or two, some balloons. They waited for over an hour and a half before they told me that they guessed no one was coming and they’d go ahead and order.
They had invited over a dozen people, and no one even called. I told the lady that the people she had invited were missing out, and we just chatted for a bit. I tried to make sure that I checked in on her a lot, made small talk, cracked a few dad jokes, and while she was very sweet, you could tell she was disappointed.
They finished with their food, thanked me, left me a tip, and departed. About five hours later that evening, two young men in their twenties showed up and asked if the birthday party had been seated. I told them they had missed a fun dinner, and that it had ended hours ago. They didn’t seem to care and just ambled out.
27. Guests Of Dishonor
They had a reservation for 12 people. It was the girl’s 17th birthday, and she arrived first with her boyfriend. Her dad came a few minutes later. The three of them waited about 45 minutes and decided to just order. They ate and were about to leave when the rest of her family showed up plastered and making a big scene.
They went on about how they weren’t hungry and had to show up so nobody would be mad at them for not coming. They were there so they could eat her cake and then just leave. The birthday girl was crying while her dad and boyfriend were trying to console her.
28. One More M0m-osa
A woman came in by herself on Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is ridiculously busy and most people do not eat alone that day. The server took her order, served her food, and took care of her normally as you would on any other day. After the woman was done with her food, she kept ordering mimosas and nursing each one slowly.
The woman stayed for about three hours. At some point, the manager came over and asked the lady how everything was, and the lady started telling the manager about her life. It took everything for her to not burst into tears. She had lost her child the year before, and she didn’t have a husband. She went to the restaurant where her son always took her on Mother’s Day.
She said she usually didn’t come to the restaurant anymore because it reminded her of her son. She felt like she should come today because she thought that’s what he would have wanted. The woman stayed for a little longer and tipped the server like $40 or $50. It was pretty sad.
29. One By One
My roommate worked at an old diner where a fair number of veterans were regulars. There was one group that came in and shared a meal every three months and caught up with each other’s lives and had been doing it since they’d got back from serving together. Over the years, the group had gotten smaller as some passed on.
By the time my roommate was working there, the group was down to three and then down to two by the end of that year. The last two kept coming back for over a year until one day, the last guy came and after a few cups of coffee, said, “I guess I’m all that’s left.” He never did come back as far as my roommate remembers.
30. Out Of Tumor
I worked at a restaurant, and this older gentleman was sitting at the bar by himself. That was until he let me know that that day, he was three years cancer-free, and his friends were supposed to come to celebrate with him, and nobody came. For the rest of the night he’d tell whoever sat next to him about the big news.
31. Back To Back
I had a regular sitting at my bar in a chain restaurant. He’d sat there for an hour, left for 20 minutes or so, then came back complaining that he’d been stood up. The date was supposed to have arrived an hour before he had mentioned anything. Poor guy. All of a sudden, this woman appeared. She was apparently his date.
Nothing out of the ordinary except she was an hour late, so I kept making drinks. A couple of minutes later, a waitress came up asking if the woman was on a date with the guy at the bar. I responded yes and asked how she knew. She told me that the woman had just left her section and had been on a date with another man.
32. Best Day Ever
A mom made a reservation for 20 for her kid’s birthday. The mom arrived an hour early, and we gave her the entire back section so she could decorate it however she wanted. She did a lot and really went all out for her kid, which we all thought was the sweetest thing ever. Come party time at 2 PM, and no one had arrived.
More time passed and nothing. By 3 PM, nothing. The mom waited until 4 and came to us crying that no one showed up. Obviously heartbroken, my manager told them to order as much as you want, and we’d make the biggest birthday dessert for your son. They had a big feast. While they ate, my coworkers and I made him a card.
We put all our names on it, and we had an artist that worked there, so she drew him a bunch of Disney things on the card and laminated it. The kid was kind of quiet and got a Nintendo Switch from mom as a present. Something about the kid reminded me of me as a kid, and I went up to their table and asked them how everything was.
They were both in a better mood and spirits, and I talked to the kid about video games and stuff for a bit. He told me that he loves anime, more specifically Naruto, so we were talking about that. I’m not sure if he knew anyone else that liked it, but he lit up like I was the first person he’d talked to about the show.
It was the most heartwarming thing to ever happen to me. The whole time, the mom was like, “You actually understand what he says about that show?” So obviously, the kid had talked to his mom about it, but she did not understand. She cried because she was so happy that her kid could talk to somebody about his interests.
As they were leaving, I went to get my car keys because it had a Naruto keychain. I took it off and gave it to him. I said happy birthday, and this kid said this was the best birthday ever to his mom and he wanted to come back and eat at my restaurant soon. I don’t know what happened to me after they left, but I just started crying from being overwhelmed with what happened. It still brings a tear to my eye any time I think about it.
33. It Happens
A few months ago, I had an attractive woman in her mid 30s come in, sit, and order a drink from the bar. She was waiting for her husband for a date. I brought her glass. She waited 45 minutes and then put in an appetizer order. She ordered food 15 minutes later saying he would be there soon. An hour and a half passed.
She asked me to box it up as soon as I brought out dinner and bring the check without touching her food. Her husband bailed on a date with his wife. I felt awful. She was nice, patient, and had a few glasses to drink while she waited for him. She held it together pretty well that I can only assume it’d happened before.
34. Lost Time
I was working on the day of a time change. A guy was there on time and was waiting for his date. He said she forgot to change her clock and was running late. I quipped, “If she forgot to change the time, wouldn’t she have been here an hour early and not an hour late?” He paid his tab, tipped $20 on the drink, and left.
35. Papa Don’t Preach
A pregnant lady came in. It was her birthday. She hadn’t booked a table, but she’d invited a load of her friends and family down. Not one member of her family came, and only two friends came over an hour late. I saw her face when she came out of the bathroom, and it looked like she had been crying. I wanted to go over.
I just wanted to give her a big hug and sit with her. She seemed so lonely and was definitely younger than me. I couldn’t help but wonder if her friends ditched her after the whole pregnancy thing and if her family didn’t want to talk to her because of the fact the dad didn’t want to be there from what I had overheard.
36. Panning Out
I waited on a birthday party table. The birthday girl came with her family first but reserved a table for 12. They brought a huge sheet pan-sized ice cream cake made of ice cream sandwiches. And they told us ahead of time, so we stored it in the back freezer and provided the plates and serving utensils. An hour passed.
It was still just the birthday girl and her immediate family. They started dishing out the cake. But obviously, they’d planned to serve a larger party. So, they sent the rest of the cake to the kitchen for the staff to share. We were very grateful, and they were happy the cake was fully enjoyed even if a little melted.
37. All Out
I worked as a bouncer, and this girl had booked out the entire top floor of the club for her 18th expecting about 200 people, drinks package for everyone, the place decorated, DJ, lights, security, and six waitstaff. She was there about 15 minutes before kick-off with her parents. An hour later, three people turned up.
They just necked a couple of drinks and then left. That was it. She waited five more hours until we closed. The bar manager was really good about it and refunded most of the fee. We knocked most of the staff off early to save costs, and I sent the security guys to other venues. But the humiliation must have been awful.
38. Poor Service
I heard this dude tell another dude at Chili’s that he was waiting for his wife and she would be there soon and ordered her favorite drink for her. He looked really nervous. I didn’t think much of it, but then I heard, “You’ve been served,” and I looked up and saw him with a manila envelope on the table weeping quietly.
He thought he was going to talk things over with his wife and save his marriage. It looked like that wasn’t the case.
39. Something Stinks
I told my waiter that I’d waited a long time until I got a text. My date couldn’t come into the restaurant without a mask. I had an extra, so I went out to give it to him. But, although it was true that he didn’t have a mask, the real problem was that he thought he had to toot on the long drive to the rural restaurant.
He basically pooped his pants in his truck. He needed a guise to get me to come out to the parking lot, so he could apologize in person and leave. I’m not sure what the waiter thought when I suddenly left and never returned. However, I’m certain that that was beyond both our wildest dreams of the reason I was stood up.
40. From Sea To Store
After my second deployment and injury in Iraq, I couldn’t find work and found myself the morning cashier job at the McDonald’s in a Walmart. Every morning at 9:45 AM, an old couple would come in with their daughter and spend about two hours having coffee and breakfast/lunch. The husband was a disabled WWII Navy veteran.
He and I quickly became friends trading our stories and service stories, and he imparted much of his wisdom on me. His wife was an adorable “grandma” type who was partially blind but was witty and definitely a woman of strength. After about two months of this regular routine, they stopped coming in for about two weeks.
One day, she showed back up with her daughter and went to sit in her usual spot, and her daughter came over and asked to speak to the manager. My manager, after crying for about 10 minutes, told me to go talk to the elderly woman. I sat down and asked how she was doing. Part of me knew what was coming, but it still destroyed me. She looked in my direction and spoke very softly.
“I always loved my husband’s stories, but I can’t have them anymore. Can you tell me some of yours?” I cried for three hours and held her hand as I told this woman more of my life and stories than anyone else has ever cared to ask for. She was gone two days later—seven days after she lost her sailor.
41. Flake Friends
I’ve been at a table where something really sad happened. This was when people didn’t have cell phones. One of my friends was having a birthday party and invited about 20 people on Myspace and in person. I was able to go with my girlfriend. When we got there, it was the birthday girl, her husband, and one other couple.
It was a nicer restaurant in a town close by. So, we showed up about five minutes before everybody was supposed to be there, and they’d reserved one of the party rooms at the restaurant. I really liked the restaurant and so did my girlfriend. We were a bit excited since I usually couldn’t make these events due to work.
After about 30 minutes, it became apparent that not everyone was going to show. After about 45 minutes, it became apparent that it was just going to be the six of us on this woman’s birthday. The husband was doing damage control and making excuses why people might not have been able to make it. It was very, very awkward—but it was going to get even worse.
I was suffering second-hand embarrassment for this person. My girlfriend just engaged the birthday girl in conversation and tried to keep everyone upbeat. The husband of the birthday girl kept using the restaurant’s phone to make calls. After another hour, the mom of the birthday girl and some other relatives showed up.
It was painfully obvious that they hadn’t been originally invited in the first place. It was awkward, and I felt bad for her. I have stayed connected with the couple, and I don’t think they ever did that again. I think at the time it was a combination of people saying they might go but nobody wanted to actually commit.
Without cell phones, it was difficult to reach anybody to get confirmation. The restaurant was a little pricier and a bit of a drive, which may have put off some of them. It is because of this that I’ll never commit to attending unless I’m sure, and if I ever have to bail, I try to make up for it as quickly as possible.
42. Lose Some, Win One
I worked a little cafe for some extra cash. One day, I watched a girl around 12-13 enter excitedly. I asked her what’s up. She told me, “I’m meeting some friends!” I went to find a table for her and her “friends,” so I watched her sit down and start texting on her phone. Twenty minutes went by, and she was still alone.
I asked her if she’s sure that she was in the right café. She said it was correct. Ten more minutes went by, and I heard her phone. She looked at the message and was really upset. I rushed over to ask her what was wrong. She said her “friends” had just abandoned her to go out with some guys. She said she’s done eating.
She started to leave when I stopped her. I said everything was fine, to sit down, and have a coffee on the house. Her face brightened a little, so she looked less sad. She sat down, and I gave her the coffee and a cookie. She ate while we were talking about normal things and had a great time. I still talk to her today!
43. Familiar Face
I worked at a restaurant as a waiter when I was in college. Every Thursday, a mid 50s lady would come in and ask to be sat in my section. I only worked Thursday-Sunday. After serving her about 4-5 times, I asked her why she always sat in my section at no specific table just making small talk with her. She tipped well.
“I like being away from other patrons,” she would say. On my last weekend working there, she came in right on time on the Thursday. During dinner, I mentioned to her that I’d be leaving and pursuing another career. She started crying. Immediately, I asked her what’s wrong. I didn’t know me quitting was that big a deal.
Her response was, “You remind me so much of my beloved son John. Sadly, he’s no longer here. You were the only reason I come here for dinner on Thursdays.” It. Broke. My. Heart.
44. Leaving Empty-Handed
This dude had a table for four, flowers, and a huge smile on his face. He purposely sat where he could watch the door and see everyone who came in. He was going to see his wife and kids for the first time in a year. He said that he made a few mistakes, but he really changed, and the wife agreed to dinner with the kids.
I asked if he wanted to order before the party arrived, and he said nope. I went about my shift checking in on him here and there, and he was still looking at the door, his phone, and then back to the door still with that huge smile on his face. An hour passed, and no one had shown up, and the smile had faded slightly.
He said that he felt bad taking my table, but something about me was rooting for this guy, so I told him to not to worry about it, and he finally ordered a Coke. Another hour went by, and I guess I missed him leave, but on the table were the flowers, the Coke he never drank, and a $20.
45. Thinking Something Different
When I was a food runner, we had this guy come in clearly excited for a date. He got a table for two and asked to wait to order until his date arrived. About an hour passed, and no one had shown up. He still didn’t want to order and said he was waiting. A half-hour later, this girl showed up with her boyfriend in tow.
She said that she was meeting her friend who turned out to be this poor dude. I guess he thought it was date, and it was clearly not supposed to be a date. Every time I brought something to his table, he was just silent and looked so empty inside. I still feel bad for this dude and his faux date.
46. Barely A Party
I worked as a server at a fine dining place, and this woman rented out a section of the restaurant to celebrate her husband’s 40th birthday. She came early, and I helped her set up some decorations and a small table for people to put their gifts. She said to expect about 30-40 guests. The couple came in right at seven.
No guests had arrived yet, and I could sense they were disappointed—but this was just the beginning. They sat there talking and looking at the door for the next hour, but nobody came. At 8, the wife came to me looking very sad and apologizing that nobody showed. They waited for another hour, and finally around 9:15, one person arrived without a gift.
Thirty minutes later, two more people showed up also with no gifts. They hung out for about twenty minutes and then left leaving the couple with the bill for their drinks.
47. Big Planner
There was this older guy in his fifties who came in very early in the afternoon and spoke to the manager and explained that he was having a date that night and wanted to make sure everything went perfectly. He got food and drink suggestions and asked the manager for the best seat and so on. He showed up around 7:45 PM.
He seemed super nervous and excited. Apparently, his date was supposed to show up at 8. Around 8:15, he started coming back up to the front of the restaurant and even took a couple looks outside trying to see if he could find this woman. By 9, she still hadn’t shown. Around 9:30, the manager went over to talk with him.
He let him know that we were 30 minutes to closing. The guy was completely broken. He looked like he was going to cry. The manager spoke to him some more, and I don’t remember everything, but it sounded like he had been scammed online and had given this woman the money to come visit him and he had never met her before.
48. Without Notice
I saw this old man waiting for his son. He was there for almost two hours before he finally pulled out his phone and tried calling a couple times. He never spoke on the phone, so I don’t think his son answered. He ended up getting something to eat and having a drink. Nobody ever showed up. He looked absolutely crushed.
49. Missed Date
This older lady came in every day and sat at the same booth and ordered the same thing, a lemonade. She was always well dressed in the same outfit and had immaculate makeup. I would ask her what she wanted to eat. She would always reply with a big bright smile, “Not yet. I’m still waiting for another guest.”
By the end of the night, she would be so sad. She’d stuff her napkin in her cup, get up, and leave. Her makeup would stream down her face while she loudly sobbed. She would never tell me what was wrong no matter how I asked. One day, she came and stayed till after closing. In walked a tall man dressed like a farmhand.
He was dirty and smelled of horses. He walked to the lady and gently picked her up. Then he carried her to his truck and settled her in. He came back in to pay for her lemonade. And I asked him why she was so sad each time she left. I wasn’t prepared for his heartbreaking answer. She had Alzheimer’s and was waiting on the man’s grandfather on their 30th anniversary.
But he never made it. He got into a fatal car accident. She was still mourning the loss of her beloved husband 25 years later. She was 49 when she lost him. She was 74 when I met her. It hurts every time just knowing that she relived that pain every day. I hope that she’s found peace in the arms of her beloved husband.
50. How Ruse
One evening, a friend and I were at a nice restaurant when a small, awkward-looking, 50-something dude came in and sat at the next table just a few feet away from us. He was dressed nerd-nice and announced to the waiter that he was meeting someone there for dinner. He then pulled out a small delicately wrapped package.
He placed it across the table. He ordered a drink and waited. After at least 30 minutes, he ordered an appetizer. Another hour went by, and he told the waiter that he wasn’t sure about his friend and ordered a large entree. Because he so close, we heard everything he’d said and really started feeling sorry for the guy.
He looked pretty glum and kept glancing over at us, so we eventually made a bit of small talk with him. He was nice enough, but we kept it brief because we didn’t really want him glomming on. By then, he had downed several drinks and eaten most of his meal, running up at least a $75 tab. He then went to the men’s room.
But first, he’d folded his napkin neatly, placed it on his chair, and left his coaster on top of his half-finished drink—all indications not to clear his table because he was not done. He’d left his small gift sitting on the table. 45 minutes later, the waiter came over and asked us where our nerdy neighbor had gone.
My friend and I’d been talking and hadn’t realized that he never came back from the men’s room. Our waiter was sure he had bailed on the check, but I defended him. I asked him to give the dude more time, and I walked back to the men’s room to check on him. He was nowhere in the restaurant. Another 30 minutes passed by.
It was clear our friend had dined and dashed, but he’d forgotten to take his gift. When I told the waiter he should open it, he said, “As an employee here, I can’t do that…but I can’t stop another patron from doing so.” I’d had more than a few drinks by then and that was all I needed. I grabbed it and ripped it open.
It was a small box full of nothing but crumpled up paper. It was then that it finally dawned on all of us. The guy had fully staged the whole night with nice clothes, an imaginary date, a fake gift, the folded napkin, the coaster-covered drink, sad eyes, and men’s room announcement just so he didn’t have to pay! Awful.
We gave our waiter a nice tip and left shaking our heads but smiling.