Working in food service can be challenging, but if you’re serving a wealthy person, it can be extremely hard to stay professional. These patient and hilarious food service workers recount the most creative, out-of-touch, and just plain ridiculous insults they’ve received from rich people.
1. Bad Education
I used to work as a bartender at a high-end golf club. There were many, many rude customers, but this one person really stands out. At one point the customer asks: “Did you go to public school?” So I responded “Yes.” He looks away and replies “Yeah, I can tell.” This dude was a jerk.
2. Helping Hand
I once got screamed at for not opening a jar of mustard. I work in a relatively posh place, and the mustard comes in this little individual glass pot. Because I hadn’t opened the mustard for a fully grown man, he lost his mind and yelled, “I work for the local paper and they will be hearing about this! I’ve never been so offended! Disgusting behavior!”I just stood there aghast and finally said “Did you want me to open the mustard… now?” More yelling.
3. A Little Too Casual
My elderly, very well esteemed, uncle once invited my partner and I out to dinner at an exclusive country club. We were careful to ask what the dress code was and were told we’d be in the club’s more casual dining room and to “just wear anything.” So we showed up in jeans and polos. Big. Mistake. We arrived before him, and when we walked in we immediately felt like we were peasants.
The entire staff stared at us. The host, standing behind his little podium in a tux, said nothing for a long time, and then, drawing each word out as though it pained him to even those such as us, he said: “I’m sorry, we don’t serve people in… dungarees.” It was the most insulting and hilarious thing I have ever been told. Every single syllable was shaped with contempt and derision.
We told him whose party we were here for. Suddenly they were falling over to explain that, no, no, the jeans would be no problem at all. We waited until my uncle arrived, told them to get bent, and went for pizza.
4. Your Call
I was serving a table of four at my restaurant (it’s not even particularly fancy) and after their meal, I asked the older man at the table if he would be paying with card or cash. He gave me a withering glance and responded, in the nastiest tone possible: “I only use debit card for things above 5000 Euro.” Okay, buddy!
I delivered flowers and I had a huge vase, so the lady let me in to put it down. I said “Wow, nice place!” And she said, “If you went to college you could get one like it.” I told her I was and she said “Community college doesn’t count.” A few months later she showed up with her son for orientation day at the fancy school I went to. Her face turned bright red when I said I was a student mentor.
6. The Definition of Rude
I used to work at a fancy restaurant, and I was passing by one of my guest’s tables when he stops me and asks: “Do you know what anthropomorphism means?” I replied “Sure, it’s the act of giving human characteristics to something inhuman.” The guest turns to his date and says, “Well, it looks like you should be the one waiting tables.”
I work at a country club, and there is this one lady who comes in every weekend for breakfast. She sits there for hours until her husband and his friends are finished golfing. She usually has some petty complaints about the food but a couple of weekends ago she had an especially weird one. She called me over to complain that her omelet tasted like chloroform.
I just want to know how she knows what that tastes like…
8. Say Cheese!
A few years back, I worked at a pretty fancy Thai restaurant. Two girls with Hermes bags came in and ordered a bottle of Riesling. I went to their table to check on them and they wanted me to take their picture. As I was about to grab her phone, one of the girls said: “That LV iphone case is worth more than what you make in a month, so be careful.”
9. Scathing Response
I was clearing the table after a group of older women had finished their meal and I asked: “Did you enjoy the meal, ladies?” One of them replied that their dog ate better food at home. I had no response for this and hurriedly gathered up the plates and left. The plates were all empty.
10. The Fine Print
One of my favorite serving experiences was with a guy who had arranged a big family get-together at our restaurant. I was pretty efficient at waiting tables so they assigned me the whole party, it was probably a couple of dozen people. I was handling it well but the host was drunk by the time he got there and he was complaining that he didn’t already have a drink in his hand.
Then he noticed that I was wearing a pair of sunglasses on top of my head (it was an indoor/outdoor restaurant and I was also serving the outside areas). For the rest of their meal, every time I came to the table, he announced how stupid I looked to everyone. The others at the table got so embarrassed that they started to apologize on his behalf.
Our policy was to add a 20% gratuity on parties that big, so when the check came, my tip was already on it. There’s a line for an extra tip, which is clearly marked as “additional.” This guy grabs the check, looks at me, turns so I can see what he writes, as he draws the biggest “0” and struck a line right through the middle of it so hard he pierced the paper. He turns to me with the most satisfied grin and I just thank him and tell him to have a pleasant night.
The guy is too dense to realize he had already tipped me over $100. My boss and I had a great laugh about it.
This insult came from a fancy lady in a nursing home I worked at. It wasn’t directed at me, but at one of the other old gossips she would hang out with. One of them must have said something that set her off, so she replied: “I would call you a dog, but that would be an insult to the loyal creatures everywhere.” Call the burn unit. Woman down.
I used to work in a “high-end” tea room, and we had this regular who was absolutely awful. I was on my knees cleaning up a drink that another customer had spilled and the woman needed to get past me. I said “Sorry, I’m almost done!” and she said, in the most condescending way possible, “That’s quite alright, I like having people at my feet.” It took all my self-control not to trip her.
13. Grandfather’s Wisdom
I was cater-waitering a very elite wedding in Manhattan. A young boy asks his grandfather why someone might choose to be a waiter as a job. The old man’s reply was horrendous. He calmly explains that some people choose not to get an education beyond high school and so they can only get jobs like these. They were both fully staring at me like I was too dumb to understand them. I was less than five feet away.
14. How Do You Spell That?
I work in a snooty people grocery store, so hopefully, this counts. Once when I was ringing a rich lady’s groceries, she took a look at my nametag (I’ve got a fairly normal name, but it’s spelled… let’s say creatively, and she said “It’s surprising you could get a job at all, with a name like that.” Look lady, I know I’ve got a stripper name. It wasn’t my choice.
15. VIP Guest
I was working as a server, and one night I brought water and menus to a table and asked if the guests would like to order drinks right away. The man glared at me and told me that I’d have to do better than that if I expected a tip. He wanted the best service. I was a little befuddled, smiled, and said that I’d do my best to make his visit an enjoyable one.
He said loudly: “Do you know who I am?!” When I admitted that I did not he was really offended. He then informed me that he was a professor at the community college the next town over. Seriously. The community college. His wife was shushing him, turning beet red, and face-palming the entire time. That poor, poor woman.
16. Famously rude
We had a famous guest in our private dining room once, he would come to our place every time he was in town. One of my server assistants, who was pretty young, was pushing a cart of bottles when it accidentally fell over right in front of him. He said “Hey you. Why don’t you pour me another drink before you clean up that mess you made.”
His tone was awful and it really irked me. She started crying out of embarrassment and he just turned to me and said: “Well, why don’t you pour me a drink then.”
17. Job Offer
Just a couple of days ago I was serving a very important business meeting, important enough that one of the gentlemen flew in from Hong Kong. I guess they left some documents on the table that got thrown away and they came back in a couple of hours later and was frantically looking for them. He pulled me aside and said the most entitled thing I have ever heard: “Look, I make more in a week than you do in a year. Find me those papers or I’ll have you shining my shoes just to make a little extra.”
18. Prove It!
I work at a pretty high-class seafood restaurant in Rhode Island and one evening I had a table of people who had all ordered a lobster dish. I went to clear their table and one of the men complained that the lobster was not fresh and was frozen. I politely informed him that the lobster was never frozen, but he was very adamant.
So I said I was sorry and walked off, and I passed my manager and mentioned it to him. He stormed off and came back five minutes later with a cardboard box full of live lobsters and said: “Go show them!” I walked back out to the table and set down a box full of 10 or so lobsters and said “See. Fresh.” The guy’s dumbstruck face was so satisfying. The tip…not so satisfying.
19. Act Your Age
I umpire little league baseball and was calling a game between a couple of pretty snooty leagues. After I called strike three on a kid, the mom yells from the stands: “Don’t worry honey, he’s just some fat loser with nothing better to do!” I looked back to see who said it and saw that she was a young, rich looking mom, probably about 35 years old.
I knew then that I’d make her regret her words. This woman clearly prided herself on how she looked, considering she was pretty dolled up for her kid’s little league baseball game. So between innings, I leaned back against the fence and said to her “Ma’am these are children. I’d expect a woman in her 50s to have a little more class than that.”
20. You Get What You Give
A very wealthy couple I was friends with some years ago offered to take me to a legendary, top star Italian restaurant in the city with my best friend and her husband. They offered to foot the whole bill since there’s no way that I or my friends could afford that kind of place. I didn’t think my best friend would be so affected by the experience.
She told the waiter she didn’t understand why she needed a menu when they should just “intuitively design her food experience for her.” I thought I would die of embarrassment. I had to hand it to the waiter though, he said “Very well ma’am”, took the menu and came back with a plate of spaghetti and meatballs for her. We all laughed out loud.
I’m a server now, but I started off as a server assistant and food-runner at a real ritzy steakhouse. I was super nervous when I first started and one time I asked to clear a guy’s plate. His plate was empty so clearly, he was done. I said, “May I clear your plate, sir?” The guy looks up at me and says, “You got any other bright ideas?”
I took his plate and smiled. Then I went to the first aid kit in the back for my burn wounds.
22. Rude Reunion
The father of a friend I grew up with is the department chair in a prestigious field at the nearby university. It’s publicly available that he makes over $400k a year and all of his children went into successful careers straight out of college. One day the friend walks into my restaurant, looks at me, looks around the restaurant, and says, “So…this is your life now?”
23. Out of Touch
I bartend at a Ritz Carlton. There was this solo businessman from New York sitting at my bar. He was deep into his work so I left him alone. This other gentleman came up to me and held out a 20, asking me to make change for him. Without missing a beat, the businessman looked up at him and said, “That is change.” I love that guy.
24. Keep Your Hands to Yourself
The worst insult I ever received wasn’t in words. I used to work in an expensive seafood place. I had a long ponytail and an older gentleman pulled on it to get my attention and order another drink. I just smiled and opened my eyes very wide, practically twitching from trying to keep calm. My boss saw it and totally lost it.
25. Your Loss
My wife and I had a gift card for this high-class restaurant that we got as a gift from a well-off friend. So we go to the restaurant and have a lovely meal. But when our meal was over, things went sour. My wife wondered out loud if we’re supposed to pay at the front or at the table. The waitress comes by and overhears us talking about our gift card and she says, “You can give your COUPON to the gentleman over here.”
Then she ROLLS HER EYES. My wife and I felt really embarrassed and we sheepishly left our table. We went to the gentleman at the front, and he was very polite and gracious. I can tell from his behavior that she does this a lot. We left a standard tip to the waitress, but we left the gentleman 25 bucks and the chef 50. Too bad for her!
26. Childish Dad
I was working a catering job for a 4th of July party at an exclusive yacht club. I went about my business and was clearing used plates from tables. After stacking as many plates as humanly possible, I turn and start walking back to the kitchen. Next thing I know I feel something hit me in the back of the head. It was a chicken bone.
A grown man had been watching me the entire time, with his four-year-old son at his side. Apparently, he decided he didn’t want to wait the five minutes it would take for someone else to come by and clear his table, so he chucked his garbage at my head. And then he pointed at me and cracked up. I calmly set down my tray and just walked out of the restaurant without saying a word.
27. Check the Dictionary
For my first job, I worked at a banquet hall that hosted a lot of weddings. Once a guest called me “an imperious cretin.” I can’t remember what I did to upset him but it must have been bad! Although I’m not sure he really knows what the word “imperious” means!
28. Unprompted Answer
I’ll never forget this nasty woman in NYC. Her party was so loud and obnoxious that other guests keep giving them dirty looks. I remember her friends trying to shush her and her laughing “What do I care? I’m rich!” Just a vile, vile woman. I was taking her order and she said something like “..makes my head feel like it’s in a sieve” then glared at me and said: “Before you even ask, a sieve is a device used to drain fluids.”
Please! That was the day I learned money can’t buy class.
29. Excuse Me!
Once I had a job as a cocktail waitress at a bar in Hollywood. It was very “A-List.” We served movie stars and celebrities there all the time. It was a very busy Thursday night and I was running drinks back and forth from the bar to the tables. One of my tables had about five glammed up women that looked like they were on a girls’ night out.
They were probably in their late 20s and they obviously had money, I could tell by the purses, shoes, and snotty attitudes. I put their order in for their second round of drinks and I’m rushing by their table holding a tray full of drinks including martinis going to another table. The one girl decides she wants to change her drink order so as I pass by her, she turns and grabs the back of my dress to stop me so she can change her order.
Of course my tray tips over when I’m jerked back and the drinks crash all over me and onto the floor. I turn and give her a withering look but she barely makes eye contact and says: “Instead of a cosmo I want a vodka on ice” and turns back to her friends as if nothing happened. I was very tempted to spill some drinks on them next!
30. No Class
My ex-husband worked as an artist for really rich people. He had a client who paid him in cash, but good god, the way he paid him was beyond awful. He’d wad up the bills and throw them at my ex one-by-one as he spoke disparagingly to him. The guy’s home won some awards so clearly my husband did a really good job with his work. But this guy still treated him with so much disrespect.
I can’t even imagine what is going on inside that guy’s head.
31. It’s the Thought That Counts
I’m an event chef for a fine dining catering company. The wealthy customers tend to treat me well and with respect. I think I get slightly better treatment because I’m the one in the chef’s coat and hat and so they know I’m handling their food. The “best” insult I’ve had was the time I got a $2.50 tip for the whole night. Somehow that was worse than no tip.
32. Anchors Away
This story happened while I was working on a yacht in South America. A lady had helicoptered in a bunch of stuff for a party, and I guess her helicopter violated someone’s air space. The coast guard followed the helicopter to the yacht and boarded the vessel looking to arrest someone. She tossed her checkbook at them and as she walked away she said: “Fill it out, then go die and be forgotten.”
33. Geography Lesson
I worked at this fancy event center where a bunch of yuppies host their weddings. My job was so easy; I literally just opened doors or clicked buttons on the elevator. One time, a man who I had previously opened the door for had come back to talk to me. He proceeded to ask me where I am from and what I thought about him adopting a daughter from Korea.
I am an Asian American, born and raised in the United States, so I responded with something along the lines of: “Yeah that’s really cool..good for you.” He kept asking me uncomfortable personal questions about living in Korea and made offensive comments. For example, he said the fact that I could fluently speak English was amazing.
The funniest thing is that I’m not even Korean, I’m Cambodian! I told him this, and that Korea and Cambodia are very different places even though they are both in Asia. I come from a very educated and upper middle-class family and in times like these, I literally feel like they think I came straight from the slums or something.
34. Well Wishers
I live in Florida so this table I was serving asked me how I fared during Hurricane Irma. I told them that we just had some minor damage to our roof but were lucky that none of the oak trees in our backyard fell on our house. This lady goes on to say something on the lines of “Well, I hope your landlord is taking care of that soon”.
I go on to tell her that my fiancé and I own the house and her mouth dropped. She says, “Wow aren’t you lucky to be with someone who makes enough money to own a house.” I simply replied by saying “I actually make more money than her” and walked away.
35. Idle Threats
I once told a customer that he would have to wait an extra 10 minutes for his food. He replied: “I have 7,000 followers on Twitter!” I stared at him blankly for a moment and responded: “Did you just threaten me with a tweet?” 7,000 isn’t even that high!
36. Nice Try
I was a host at a local mom-and-pop breakfast place in San Francisco for 7 years. Despite being small it catered to a lot of high-end people like the Mayor and professional football players. So we’d end up with an hour or more wait sometimes on busy brunch days. My favorite thing that people would do is pull the “I know the owner” card to try and get a table. But there was just one problem.
They were totally unaware that the owners both worked the line everyday and were right next to us. So I would respond by saying: “Oh, let me get them. I’m sure they’d love to say hello!” The looks on their faces when the owner would come out and say: “I’m sorry where have we met?” was priceless. It was one of the only restaurants I’ve ever worked at that cared more about their staff than the customer always being right.
37. A Little Harsh
I worked as a waitress at a fancy bed-and-breakfast when I was 20. We hosted a date-night special and it was completely packed with couples. There was an older married couple that was in my section and the husband was super nice. He asked how my night was and even postponed his order so that I could clear a nearby table.
His wife had a permanently angry face and glared at everything I did. After their meals were cleared, it was time for dessert and champagne, as per the date night feature. She orders a brand that technically isn’t champagne, it’s a sparkling white wine. I didn’t want them to feel ripped off so I told her: “That’s a great choice but just so you are aware, this is sparkling and not champagne. Is that okay?’
She looked at me for an uncomfortable amount of time. Her husband is looking at her with an expression of mild concern. Well, her brain must have been going into overdrive trying to think of something insulting, because after a long silence she says the meanest thing: “Sweetheart, I see how hard you’re working. Have you considered getting some work done? You wouldn’t have to work so hard if you were a little prettier. Just a thought…”
I could not even process what she said until I got to the kitchen. Her husband’s face was what made me cry. I can take an insult but the mix of embarrassment and shame on his face just made me lose it. I comped his dessert and made her drink with mostly apple juice. I hope that $27 glass of 80% cheap apple juice was good.
38. Can You Fix That?
I used to work as a valet at the Fashion Show Mall on the Las Vegas strip. I remember accompanying this old lady (who was wearing one of those stereotypical “old woman with old money” hats) to her Lexus. The wind was gusting a bit and she looked at me and said: “This wind is unacceptable.” I nod in agreement and then she just stands there and gives me this look like “Well?”
So I say “Well, unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do…” She glares at me and repeats: “UN-ACCEPTABLE” and then gets in her car and drives off.
My family is pretty well-off, and we lived in a really snooty area. My dad grew up poor and got incredibly successful through hard work. He didn’t want his kids to be lazy, rich brats so he raised us to never be snobs. I worked as a dog walker in high school because he encouraged it (and because I just love dogs). One day I walked into one of my new client’s house and she commented: “I’m sure someone like you has never even been in such a big house!”
When I said I actually had she laughed and told me that “Walmart isn’t a house!” I was so baffled at her rudeness, I thought everyone who was well-off was as classy and humble like my father. Nope.
40. View From the Top
I once worked at a super-expensive restaurant in Boulder, CO. It was a beautiful place on top of a mountain that overlooked the town. There was this older couple that visited at least twice a month, sometimes weekly. I once overheard them talking about how they love coming up to the mountains and looking down at all of the “trash” in the town below. They were good tippers though.
41. Silver Spoon
Last month I got chewed out over the phone by a customer who had dined with us the day before. She had left her baby’s actual silver spoon on the table, and we hadn’t been able to find it. She insisted that one of the staff must have stolen it. The restaurant I work at isn’t even that nice! Some people are just so entitled.
42. Mind Games
Back when I was a server, there was a woman with a group of friends at one of my tables who asked for a can of Coke. When I brought their drinks and gave the woman her Coke, she looked at me and said, in that typical rich-girl voice,”Excuse me, honey? I asked for Fanta, not Coke.” I apologized, wrote it onto my notepad, and went back to get her a can of Fanta.
I brought the drink to her but again she turned to me and said: “I didn’t ask for Fanta, I asked for Cream Soda.” By this time, I was getting a bit annoyed, but I went back and got her a Cream Soda anyway. Sure enough, when I returned to her table, she did the same thing again. “I asked for Sprite. Should I call the manager?” Oh, honey. She should have stopped testing me when she had the chance.
So, for the last time, I smiled and I went back to the kitchen and packed cans of Coke, Cream Soda, Fanta, Sprite, Pepsi and Sparberry Soda, into a small plastic box and took it all to her and said: “Here you go, miss, take your pick.” She looked offended and almost made a scene. She started lecturing me about how I’m incapable of getting the simplest order right and that she wants to talk to the restaurant’s manager.
I told her that I can call him, and that I’ll show him all the soda types I wrote on my notepad that she asked for, and we can get his opinion on the matter. She turned and took her Sprite out of the plastic box and said “Just leave it.” None of them gave me any issues after that!
I was a sous-chef at a fancy country club and it was 10 minutes before we opened for the Easter buffet. Needless to say, it was going to be a very busy day. I was walking through the dining room and checking all the final details when suddenly a little girl of about two years old ran into the room. She had escaped from her mom who was at the front desk.
She comes to a stop about six feet in front of us and looks up with her eyes wide. I must have been quite a sight, I was wearing my tall white hat and white apron down to my toes. Her mom appears in a heartbeat, turns her daughter by the shoulder, and whisks her away saying: “Don’t talk to them, that’s the help, dear.”
44. Thanks But No Thanks
I worked for the University Mail Services in college, it was mostly just sorting mail but I occasionally helped out with deliveries and pickups on campus. One day I was running the route and picking up mail from one of the admin offices. There was a FedEx package to pick up, and for those, I had to sign the paperwork, note the time, and leave the carbon copy.
I had left my pen in the van, so I asked a couple who were passing by if they had a pen I could borrow for a second. They both looked at me like I’d asked to take his Ferrari for a spin. The guy looked down at his pen and then up at me before handing me the pen in the most condescending manner I’ve ever seen. Yes, he managed to make the act of handing me a pen condescending.
Then the lady said: “You should ask your boss for a raise so you can afford your own pen.”
45. Lead by Example
I used to work in this totally yuppie bowling alley. You might laugh at that, but an hour and a half of bowling and a pitcher is about $90 for two people. I went to check on a lane when a group was getting set up. They were a couple of well-dressed older white ladies with two Asian ~six-year-old girls, both in fancy little kimonos.
I greeted them warmly and asked, “Can I get y’all a pitcher of soda?” And one of the ladies gave me a dirty look and sneered: “You mean you all. I already worry about the girls growing up with an accent, and I don’t want them learning bad grammar as well.” I couldn’t believe it! She also made the girls practice their ‘bow’ for me and I was just generally weirded out by almost everything that happened.
46. Grin and Bear It
I was 21 and bartending in a snooty restaurant often frequented by yachties. One customer commented: “Oh you look about my daughter’s age, except she’s away at college. A career is really important to her.” Little dd they know, I was graduating that year and off to grad school the following year. I just smiled and said, “Wow, that’s great. Can I get you another cocktail?”
I worked in the VIP area of a now-defunct stadium. I was in high school and was working a summer job washing dishes. We served various VIP staff including the stadium owner. The owner was actually okay. He even thanked us one time, which was more than we usually got from our guests. His relatives, however were another story…
One day we hear a shriek coming from one of the guests, it sounds like someone was being attacked. My boss, the head chef, runs out to see what just happened. Turns out there was some dressing on the handle of the label. And one of the owner’s relatives was shrieking like a rat had just popped out of her food!
48. Fresh Air
I once worked at a country club in Texas for four months. I asked a customer, who I should mention was fairly intoxicated, if needed anything else besides his next apple martini. Even though I’d dealt with smug business men for ages, his words made my jaw drop: “Some air that lacks the stink of welfare.” I’d never heard that one before!
49. Neat Freak
I worked as a valet for about a year at a really classy hotel. We routinely had Mercedes, BMWs, Range Rovers, football players candy colored cars, Porsches… Think of pretty much any kind of high end car and I must have driven one at some point. One time, a guy pulled up in a decent Mercedes, not anything super high dollar. He seemed cool at first, but then he did the rudest thing I have ever seen.
After I gave him the valet claim ticket, he casually went to his back seat and retrieved a newspaper. I was still holding the driver’s door open for me and he started disassembling the newspaper. Once he had 4-5 single sheets of newspaper, he began setting the newspaper on his driver’s seat, as if to protect it from my apparently dirty self. He didn’t even have to say anything, and it was still the rudest insult I had ever received
50. Bottle Service
I was opening a bottle for this table when I started getting chest pains. I was scared because the last time that happened I had a seizure. The pain hit so quickly that I almost dropped the bottle, so I put the bottle down on the table. One lady said: “Honey are you okay?” because it was clear something was wrong. The man who ordered the bottle said “We aren’t paying $50 a person for you to die here.”
After a couple of seconds—which felt like it lasted forever—the pain gradually went away and I apologized and explained what happened to me the last time. Then the man replied with the cruelest words: “At least you didn’t drop the bottle—it costs more than your life.” Tears started to well up in my eyes as I poured their wine. I never went back to that table.
The lady who asked if I was okay came up to me later and apologized for the man and gave me a $100 tip. But still I remember feeling completely worthless at that moment. The bottle cost $300.
51. Pour It Up!
I was bartending one night when a rude man asked how I was ever going to get a job with all of my visible tattoos. I had the perfect response. I said, “Well, as you can clearly see, I am at work right now.” He gave me a condescending half-smile while I poured his drink. I added, “And I own this restaurant!” Then I took a huge sip of his drink in front of him. “It’s great to be the boss!”