It’s hard out here for servers! From handling tons of orders to assuaging rude customers, waiters and waitresses don’t get paid enough for what they have to put up with! These diners share the most obnoxious behavior they’ve seen from fellow patrons.
She’ll Take “The Usual”
“Oh boy. So I get hired on at my new serving job (I’ve served before) and they push me through training to prep for Mothers Day. I’m doing pretty well, I already knew the basics. Now it’s Mothers Day and it’s busy as heck, everyone is in the weeds, including me. I’ve got a party table of 8ish who haven’t gotten drinks yet and two tables who are eating when a couple sits in my section. Older couple. Look like decent folk.
I tell them I’ll be right with them and I continue moving to grab drinks for the party table and boom the woman grabs my apron, ‘Excuse me, whoa whoa buddy. I want my usual and my husband will have water with lemon, and we’re also ready to order, I’ll have-‘ and she continued to belt out this entire order and made me repeat it a few times to be sure I got it right.
I kept asking what her ‘usual’ was. She told me to just tell the bartender because apparently, she visits so often. I tell the lady that the bartender is slammed with orders at the moment and that I’m going to need a name for the drink she’d like. She said she’d do it herself. I say something like ‘Are you sure?’ and she says you’re dang right I am. So she does. My party table gets a bit antsy because of the wait. I get everyone’s drinks out and orders in and I get back to the old couple’s table and she had a stupid marg. Yep, a marg. On the rocks. No ice. Is that so freaking hard to tell me? Good lord. She gave me a hard time about it the rest of the evening and I’ll never forget the two dimes she left me. Apparently, she leaves everyone two dimes. It’s like her rudeness calling card. Hate these folks.”
Sounds Like He’s Never Heard of The Golden Rule
“We had a man of ethnic origin (not exactly sure where he is from, but he is dark-skinned and heavy accented) who was already a very rude and somewhat disgruntled customer. I personally never had a problem with him, he was always kind and called me sweetie. I saw the way he would speak to other wait staff and I didn’t recognize him as the same man who I served.
One day he ordered a sandwich from one of the Hispanic women we have on our wait staff. The sandwich comes with cheese on it, and it says that on the menu. It also comes with fries and soup or salad. He ordered the sandwich and salad. The salad arrived first, he seemed happy. When the sandwich arrived, he became upset because of the cheese and he said he did not order fries. The waitress explained how the sandwich comes with fries and cheese, and it does say it on the menu. He was angry, and shoved the plate towards her, saying she was a liar and calling her racial slurs and cussing and said “you need to go back to the country you came from!!”
All of the wait staff came running over once he started yelling and cussing. He was asked to leave and never came back.
I think it’s interesting someone who probably has also been the victim of prejudice could use this card against someone else.”
He’s Lucky He Locked The Doors!
“I was working at a neighborhood mom + pop diner at the time. As you might expect they served breakfast and lunch but they would close for a period and reopen in the evenings for Happy Hour and late-night small bites/drinks. I was the sole server and bartender on staff in the evenings.
One night a guy comes in and orders several drinks and some food. Business as usual. When his tab comes he is outraged by the price. He’s belligerent about it and refuses to pay. It’s late, I’m working alone at this point (the kitchen has since closed and the cook has gone home) and I just don’t have the bandwidth to argue with the guy. I say something to the effect of ‘Fine, just go- get out of here.’ He leaves and slams the door. Good riddance.
Finally, I’m closing and the dude comes barreling around the street corner. He props his leg up on a patio table and begins to roll the leg of his pants up. Somewhat alarmed, I’m thinking to myself ‘What the heck is this guy up to?’ when he proceeds to detach a catheter bag full of pee and tries the front door. THANK GOD I had locked up. Since his plans to shower me in stale urine have been thwarted he executes Plan B and drenches the windows and patio with his excrement and saunters off.
That’s just one of many, many stories I have from my time in the industry. I don’t miss it at all except for the camaraderie and commiseration. Much respect to all of you still in the game. It’s wild out there.”
Sir, Was That a Threat?
“Not a waitress, but a hostess at a chain restaurant.
It was a busy Sunday morning, with me (senior hostess) and two other hostesses. We’ll call them L and T. Now, L was not known to be the best worker. And T was helpful but most of the time, it was me doing all of the work and telling them to help me when there was a line and I didn’t have seven arms thank-you-very-much.
So, about three hours into the rush, I hear some commotion. Now, as our restaurant was known for being a family establishment, we got a good mix of large families and couples, with some working one-seaters every so often. This commotion was caused by a table that had needed to use two of our high chairs, with a bunch of smaller children seated there as well.
You can already see where this is going.
An older man with his wife, who had been waiting in the lobby for a table for about… six minutes? comes raging up to the little podium that I’m at and tells me that he can’t handle the screaming, that I needed to do something, and I kid you not, this 70-something-year-old man told me to ‘Shut that dang baby up before I do it myself!’
The lobby goes so quiet you could’ve heard a pin drop.
I’m a wide-eyed, little 14-year-old me with almost 8 months of working there, and this man not only is demanding me to possibly hit a baby, but then says that he would do it himself.
Ding-ding, idiot, don’t say that.
He looked so smug, expecting me to go over there and just tell the party to shut up, or to somehow apologize and try to accommodate him. Heeeeell no.
The manager is already walking up to us when I. Go. Off.
‘Sir, I’m not sure if you noticed, but I have no custody nor any power over that child nor their parents. And not only that, but you just told me that you would go over to that baby and shut it up. I consider that a threat.’
Mister Old Guy is starting to realize just exactly what he said. Tries to backpedal.
‘While the sound of a child screaming can be annoying, sir, I promise you this. I’m not going to do a single thing about that baby because it stopped crying a minute ago. And you know what?’
Adults are staring. The voice in my head is telling me to shut up, shut up, you’re going to get fired.
‘This is a family establishment. Expect some kids.’
The geezer left, never saw him again, and was given a $5 tip out of nowhere.”
Now This is Beyond Rude
“There is a great farm-to-table restaurant near me, the kind of place where the menu is upscale, but the atmosphere is rustic and casual. My sister and I often go there on weekends to sit at the bar and have a few drinks and appetizers.
One night last year there was a huge flap in the dining room, which adjoins the bar. As it turns out, a party of ordinary-looking, older diners had called over the manager, Will, insisting that they wanted a different server. Why? Because their server, Andreas, was gay, and they wanted a straight server. (Andreas was fairly flamboyant; more importantly, he was also both an excellent server and a total sweetheart.)
Will’s response to their request is something I’ll love him for forever: he called them out on their homophobia and showed them the door. Some people, when I tell that story, say it was unwise, that it could cost them business, but the place is still thriving, and who wants bigots in their restaurant anyway? Andreas doesn’t work there anymore, but I felt so awful for him. He literally did nothing wrong, and these idiots made a huge scene in a crowded restaurant just because they were homophobic bigots. I 100% agree that kicking them out was the right thing to do.”
Chris Gave Her The Creeps
“I worked at a tiny cafe for about a year. We had a regular who knew my manager (we’ll call him Chris). He had some brain damage from an accident and would act like he was best friends with everyone. He was nice and always got his coffee for free (owner’s treat. Everyday). However, at night I would close alone. He’d regularly come in from the bar next door completely wasted.
I have to mention that I lived less than a block away from this cafe, so I walked to and from work every day.
One night Chris comes in as I was closing. I was at the doors, letting out the last few customers before I locked the doors. Chris comes running to the door, stumbling because he was wasted. He proceeded to attempt to hug me but I backed away and he fell. He became irate. Screaming at me. I’m not sure what he said because he was absolutely plastered, but I know it wasn’t nice. Somewhere in there, he said something about kissing me.
Thankfully one of the customers I had just let out intervened. He offered to stay in the doorway until I left, just in case Chris came back.
I had never been so afraid to walk home. The walk was so short, going any other way would take so much longer and bring me around a not-so-safe area.
The same customer who waited for me to close offered me protection on my walk home. (He was also a regular who I trusted.)
So, my most disrespectful customer interaction was made better by an amazing customer.
Even after this interaction, Chris still came every day. He seemed to not remember the interaction. My boss had too much pity for him (he was a veteran and got a TBI while overseas. Apparently he was not ‘like that’ before it) I quit soon after.”
Servers Are People Too!
“For some reason when you are a woman in a professional environment or simply doing your job, I have found that people forget that you are a human being. Of course, there are diners who will treat you like a slave. I have dealt with many difficult people and have taken the heat for things that are not my fault in order to soothe an irate guest. Sometimes men will hit on you, rather aggressively, and even when you tell them that you are with someone or uninterested they will not relent. Sometimes they get physical.
One time, when I was 16, I told a man around 30-years-old that I was underage. He told me he would return when I was 18. He then proceeded to stand outside and stare at me through the front windows for an hour. He waited by my car for me after work. Luckily I had asked a male coworker to walk me out that night so I was unharmed. The police also ensured that this would not happen again.
However, that is not the situation in which I was most disrespected. Some of you may have seen a picture on Facebook of this situation being passed around a while ago. I never thought it could be real.
An older man, his wife, and what looked to me like a young grandchild were all out to dinner. They were sat in my section, during a time when we were beginning to get busy, but it was all still very manageable. I greeted them warmly, got their drink order and brought it back to the table. When I arrived, there were five $1 bills tucked under a knife, displaying every bill evenly at the end of the table. When I saw it, I was confused. I dropped off their drinks and inquired about an appetizer, trying not to look at the money. They ordered something like chips and salsa, and I went to service my other tables while I waited for their food to come out.
I finally dropped the food off, along with plates and extra napkins. When I set down the tray, the group was silent. The man seemed unsatisfied, disgruntled even. I looked down to see that he had removed a dollar bill from the end of the table. I asked if there was anything I missed or anything else they would like, and he stared blankly at me with one eyebrow raised. I waited for a few seconds. He finally huffed an excessively loud sigh and folded his arms tightly across his chest.
‘You forgot the bread,’ he said with a smirk.
Immediately all the blood rushed from my face as I finally processed why the sad-looking dollar bills were being dangled in front of me. He would take away a dollar for every time I missed something. The remaining money at the end of the meal would be my tip. I felt sick to my stomach and I swallowed the lump in my throat.
Still, in disbelief, I responded to the smug man that if a table orders an appetizer I usually will not bring the bread out to the table, because more often than not, the party will prefer to eat what they paid for and the bread will be wasted. I also said that I would be more than happy to grab it for him and that I was happy someone was eating it. He seemed slightly more satisfied with this answer.
My heart pounding in my ears, I made sure to fill up the basket with extra to ensure he would not be dissatisfied. He seemed notably happier and had replaced a dollar bill when I returned. For the rest of their meal, they were needy, nitpicky, and short. Whenever they needed something new I was called over with an extremely aggressive hand wave.
Sure enough, when they left, tucked under their $60 tab in the checkbook, were 5 dirty ones. I cleaned their table, which was filthy, and the child had thrown most of their meal on the floor. At the end of the night, I felt astonished as the weight of what occurred hit me.
Servers, where I live, make $2.13 an hour. The government takes taxes and things out of that $2.13. A 40-hour workweek would result in about a $30 paycheck. Servers subsist on tips, that’s why it is so important to tip 20%. Servers at restaurants also give portions of their tips to the bartender, the hostess, and the food runners. If you don’t tip, that money comes out of our pocket.
The reason this is so disrespectful is that this man was dangling my livelihood in front of me. My rent, my student loans, my insurance, my food, all depends on tips. This man knew that and preyed on human error, treating me like a dog. He watched me struggle to assist my other tables and wanted me to bend over backward for him. He wanted fresh brewed iced tea, his grandchild wanted different sides and I brought him something new multiple times, his wife turned her nose up at me and eyed me nastily. The entire time I served them I felt helpless and disgusted.
Tipping your server is so extremely important. In the U.S. it is not included because it is expected that if you work hard enough, your tip will be higher. This does not account for hostess errors, mistakes made by the kitchen, and general human errors. Or, in my case, a grumpy old man who used my tip to run me around and disrespect me.
Servers are people too!”
A Group of Lawyers Walk Into a Bar…
“This one takes the cake, I was training a new server one evening on a night that wasn’t very busy typically. A group of attorneys came in as the new server was cashing them out at their table with her cash bag, she gave them all their change for their separate checks. A few minutes later one of the lawyers told her he gave her $50 and she didn’t give him enough change back. That was bull. He gave her $20. I saw him do it.
He demanded his change so she opened her money bag and pulled everything out and said there is no $50 bill in here. He tells us that you must have stuck it in your pocket. He then opens his wallet and says yep I paid with $50 it’s not in my wallet. Mind you this customer had a wallet full of money you could tell. So this prick of a manager made her give the customer change for a $50. By the time it was said and over she got no tip from any of them for a table of 8 lawyers because she argued with the customer over $50 so he and his buddies scammed her.
She also only had a few tables and ended up having to dip into her own money to total out for her training shift. Thanks to this dirtbag she was $50 in change out plus tip!
I have another story, I had a couple get into a heavy verbal fight at their table. The woman got up and walked out after dinner, leaving him sitting there. I went to collect their bill and asked him if there was anything else he needed? Without saying anything he tossed a plate with a cheeseburger right at me which I dodged. I settled his bill and walked away.
Another incident happened one evening while serving. We were slammed so the kitchen was a little backed up. I had a party and went over to tell them their food would only be a few more minutes as it’s starting to come up now. Everyone thanked me except for this one old guy. He started laughing and being loud and said I know we are in a county restaurant in the middle of nowhere so what did you people have to do go kill a cow? Nobody laughed, only him he then asked me for a glass of ice-cold milk. I told him I’m sorry we ran out of milk today ‘We honestly did,’ he laughed and got arrogant again and said so? Can’t one of you country folks go milk one? This guy was a complete idiot. He said he was from New York so apparently being in the country meant we kill cows to serve our customers right then and there and go milk one when needed!”
A Family of Karens
“One night I was splitting a large party of about 16 or so with another server; they were clearly a family because they were bickering amongst themselves and we both realized quickly there was one middle-aged woman sitting at one end of the table who was causing all of the conflicts. My co-worker took drink orders, we dropped them off and he went to get bread as I began to take food orders.
This woman was pretty much bullying her family members into ordering what SHE thought they should order and it was making things take forever as I kept scratching out orders and changing them. Finally, at the end, I came to two elderly ladies sitting on her left and one of them wanted eggplant Parmesan. Since taking the orders was so difficult I wanted to be extra thorough in repeating the orders back and I came to the eggplant, which prompted this awful woman to literally yell at me ‘NO ONE ORDERED EGGPLANT PARMESAN!’ with as much attitude as I’ve ever heard over something as trivial as a food order that hadn’t even been placed yet but was just being confirmed. I kinda had an existential crisis for a moment while thinking of how to respond since I was CERTAIN it was in fact ordered, I calmly asked for the last few orders to be repeated. The woman took it upon herself to repeat all the orders, and I gathered what had happened was SHE wanted them to share one dish and I guess the sweet little elderly woman hadn’t understood what she was being forced to order… oops MY MISTAKE.
Throughout the meal she continued to tell people they shouldn’t have another drink when they tried to order one (probably needed it to get through the meal in her company!), that they should take their leftovers home even though they didn’t seem to want to, and generally just be super controlling and obnoxious. I’m glad I’m not related to her! Way to make what’s supposed to be a nice family outing into something unpleasant, everyone else at the table seemed lovely.
Some other super-obnoxious behavior I’ve witnessed is a man screaming at a football game in an upscale bar, people who let their children hysterically cry for their entire meal without comforting them, and a woman who stood over another table waiting for them to leave and repeatedly asking when they’ll be finished. My favorite obnoxious regular I got when I picked up a shift once would apparently insist our house merlot was stale — we probably go through a bottle within a few hours most days and it’s never old. My manager instructed me to pour it in another glass and tell her it’s a new bottle because she does this all the time. Of course, she happily reported that this one is much better!”