Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How to Behave in a Restaurant

As a 14 year veteran waitress, I have noticed several unfortunate behavior patterns of customers in restaurants. As a matter of fact, the customer is not always right. Whomever came up with that delightful little phrase is an idiot. Apparently, that person never met the customer that strolled up to me in the middle of a rush and asked me if I knew where he could purchase some "decent chronic". Or the one that pulled in off the free way, walked into my restaurant, interrupted me with a customer and asked me for directions to a good restaurant. (Side Note: the directions I gave him took him at least one hundred miles out of his way) Or the lady that urgently ran up to me while I was actually at a table with a customer and informed me that her child had puked everywhere. Sometimes customers are very very wrong. So please read the following run down of how your dining experience should go...

Let's approach this as a hypothetical experience in my particular restaurant with me as your server. First, you will enter the dining area. Chances are, before you reach a table, you will be greeted in a warm and friendly manner either by myself or one of my fabulous co-workers. At this point, it is appropriate for you to respond in a warm and friendly manner. If at this time you feel the need to stone face us, and completely ignore us as though we did not even speak to you, then simply turn your sorry ass around and leave. You are a jerk, and your food may be at risk for food terrorism. More on this later.

Providing you make it to a table, you may notice that the tables are already set with rolled silverware and other necessary dining items. If there are not enough place settings at your table for the number of people in your party, do not take it upon yourself to remove settings from other tables. It turns out that I can count. I will be able to tell that you need more silverware and I will bring it, so don't obnoxiously destroy my nice set up section.

At this point, I will then approach you with menus. If you look around and see that I am currently serving forty other people at once, it won't be necessary for you to sit there staring at me with your mouth open. It will not make me come to you any faster, so zip it, and sit there pleasantly until I get there which will be absolutely as soon as possible. Do not assume that I don't see you, I'm not blind, I know you're there. When I do present you with the menu, it would be inappropriate at this point for you to begin our relationship together by insulting the menu and it's selection and or content. If you start off with negativity, before I even open my mouth, then I hate you immediately, and our dining experience is going to totally suck and I am going to wish the dining room floor would open up and swallow you right from the go. So basically, if you don't like the food here, then hit the road, Jack.

Next, I will ask you if I can get you a "coffe, iced tea, Coke?" Naming specific drink items is called suggestive selling. So don't ask me "do you have Pepsi or Coke products" because I just asked you if you want a Coke, so obviously we have Coke. Asking me after I just told you tells me that what I am saying to you isn't important enough for you to even bother listening, and again, I will think you are a total prick. Also when I ask you for a drink order, don't start barking out your entire order. I'm just asking what you want to drink, try and stay with me here. Plus, odds are the rest of your party isn't ready to order their food yet, so stop being an inconsiderate prick and just tell me what you want to drink. Pretty cut and dry so far.

I also find that this is a time in our relationship where certain customers will shoot off with lewd comments or in some cases they will even try to touch me. Now listen here buddy, here's the situation. I ask you what you want to drink and eat, I bring you the food and drink, I give you your check. That's it. You would do well to remember that I have a seven foot tall husband and even if I didn't, I still wouldn't come near you on my worst day. So leave your nasty hands off me, and save your ridiculous toothless grin for someone who gives a shit. Unless you are Travis Tritt himself, there is no chance. Absolutely none. Have a little respect, because I'm sure your mother would kick your ass if she knew you just said that to me.

Some customers aren't necessarily rude, but just lonely, and they feel that as soon as I ask them what they want to drink we have become soul mates and they must pour out their entire life story on the spot. I am sorry that you don't have anybody to talk to, I really am, but the longer you strap me to this spot listening endlessly to how your wife left you and your kids are all in the penn, the more my tips are diminishing because I am neglecting the ENTIRE rest of my section. So please, DRINK ORDER! And don't say "Bud Lite" or "Jack Daniels" if you know you're sitting in a non alcohol serving restaurant. That is not funny. I've heard it five million times, and it wasn't even funny the first time. You're reminding me that I'm sober, and now you've pissed me off.

Once I've returned with your drinks, it would be great if you were ready to order. If you are on your cell phone, by God don't you dare stab a finger in my face silently demanding me to wait. I will not wait for your stupid phone call. I will slam down your drinks and wander off, making sure that I do 87 other things before I ever come back. That is rude. Don't do it. Also, as already mentioned, if your entire party isn't ready to order, than you don't order either. Not only are you being an impatient rude prick to me, you are also being rude to everyone else. Same thing if one of your party has excused themself to the restroom. Don't impatiently state, "I'm not waiting for him." People are starving all over the world. I'm pretty sure YOU can wait the extra five minutes to gorge yourself so that your companion can get his food at the same time as you. Because honestly, even if you don't wait for your friend to order, I will wait until I have his order to enter yours anyway. So, get a grip.

Also, please do not take this opportunity to ask me the prices of absolutely everything that we serve. You can either find the prices listed in the menu right there in front of your face, or I will have to go ring it up to find out the price. Honestly, if it's THAT big a deal to you that you're going to send me to the computer forty six times to find out how much cottage cheese, or adding onions to the chili, or an extra egg is, well, you might want to truck yourself on into the Save-A-Lot and get yourself some 19 cent Ramen Noodles and stay out of the general public. You also need to be aware that this is not the Taj Mahal, so don't ask to taste test eighteen different items out of the menu either. Ass.

Once your food has been prepared and delivered, please don't start shooting off orders such as "I need catsup, I need steak sauce" before I've even unloaded the tray. Just take it down a notch, patience, I have it in my pocket, I just don't happen to have eight hands. I will then ask you if there is anything else that you need at the moment. Now, if you are a sloppy bastard, this is a good time to ask for extra napkins. Because if I return and find that you've unrolled the silverware from seventeen accompanying tables just to get the napkins, I will mentally punch you in the balls.

I will then leave you and give you just a couple minutes and then return to make sure your drinks are full and to make sure that you are satisfied with your order. This is a critical point in our relationship because this is where a good thing can really go south in a hurry, so listen up. Here is the very key factor for you to be keeping in mind. I DID NOT PREPARE YOUR FOOD. And frankly, even if I did, no matter what the problem is, it is most likely not anywhere near as big a deal as you're probably going to make out of it. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that under no circumstances is it appropriate for you to be rude or especially to swear at me if you don't like your food. The most common problem addressed at this point is under or over cooked food, or food that is cold. Here's the deal with this people, obviously I am sorry that I delivered unsatisfactory food to you. (Especially because you probably are going to be a jerk about it, and because you will probably punish me with little or not tip because someone else jacked up your food) However, I don't have magical powers that enable to see the inside of your steak and verify that it's properly cooked or to be able to determine the temperature of the food... So unless you want me sticking my fingers in your order, or perhaps taking a nibble, sometimes it's not going to be how you wanted it. Shit happens. The thing is, I can fix it. It is absolutely no problem. If you are polite about your problem, it makes me feel genuinely bad for you, and I really WANT to fix your problem and make you happy because we really appreciate return business of nice people. However, if you want to sit there and berate me, scream about what an m-f***** the cook is, etc. etc., than here again, I think you are a completely worthless asshole and I will probably return with even worse food. Even worse than this however is if you want to run your mouth and then not even allow me to correct it. This is the thing that will make me hate you worse than anything else you can do. Complaining just to complain, not to establish any sort of resolution. If you are going to sit there like an insolate spoiled child and not allow me to offer you any solution at all, than don't complain at all. Don't even open your mouth. Asshole.

Likewise, when I have given you this opportunity to complain, early in the meal, well you'd better take it. Don't wait til I've checked on you several times and only one bite is left on your plate to inform me that you hated the food and refuse to pay for it. Not gonna happen, buddy. Get your wallet out, and I'll probably be pushing that pretty little "add gratuity" key too.

So, now that we've made it through the initial check back, the rest is more or less down hill. I know it's not long before I'll be telling you good-bye and I'm good with that. However, you should know, just because I've come to check up on you doesn't mean I'm never coming back. So don't panic. I will be giving you refills, especially if you're drinking coffee, I'll be back a lot. So if you need something else, you don't need to bang your glass or silverware on the table, or frantically wave your arms as though you require the heimleich manuveur or an emergency tracheotemy. It is also totally unneccessary for you to jump up and chase me around the restaurant with your drink glass for a refill after you've taken one sip. Also, if you've asked me for something like extra salad dressing, or a steak knife, don't you DARE ask another server for the same thing three seconds later. Sit there in your seat and SHUT IT. I will be back. Chill.

And finally, once you've had your dinner and desert, I will present you with the bill. This is pretty much your last opportunity to jack things up. For one thing, you may feel the need to regulate about the prices. Well, at this point, it's too late. You should've checked the prices ahead of time. After you've stuffed your face is WAY too late to decide you don't want to pay. I am not paying your bill, so I don't really care that you don't WANT to pay, you're doing it anyway. Also, please don't sit there for fifteen minutes fine toothing the bill, trying to find a mistake. I didn't make a mistake. I have already proven eighteen times that I am smarter than you over the course of our time together, why would you assume you're going to out smart me here? What? You didn't order the salad bar? Well yes ma'am, I'm aware that you didn't ORDER it, but I'm also aware that you filled your plate off of it six times, remember, I cleared your plates. Thought you'd slip one over on me, didn't you?

Well have a great day, make sure you leave a tip that doesn't make you look like a total cheap asshole, and if you don't make sure you don't ever eat here again!

And finally, back to the food terrorism point addressed earlier. Most wait staff is strictly against food terrorism and would not mess with a person's food no matter what the situation. However, they are out there... It's a well known fact, some people have no concious. Well hell, MOST customers have no concious, so customers should at least be aware that SOME wait staff have no concious. So it all boils down to this, if you are going to be a prick in any way at all to some waitress that is waiting on you like a dog just to try to feed her kids, you might want to bare in mind that there is the remote possibility that she may have pneumonia and she can't stay home because there are so many assholes that don't tip and she can't afford to miss work, and you could just be the one that makes her snap and have an uncontrolable coughing fit ALL OVER YOUR FOOD. So, in short, the moral of the story is this: Don't bite the hand that feeds you.