Food & Drink
5 Reasons Your Server Hates You
Published: June 25, 2014
Table 18 needs ketchup. Where the hell is 20’s food? Gotta split the checks for 17 … but wait—what did that one dude order? Don’t forget the fuckin’ ketchup. What’s that muck on my apron? How many drink refills does that guy need?
This was my routine for three hellish months as a server at Cracker Barrel. Turns out working a part-time writing gig and part-time server job was the only way to make the proverbial ends meet a few years after college. It also meant I had the unique perspective of being both a server and a food writer for three long months. Eventually, I got picked up as a full-time scribe and it turns out I’m somehow more suited for this than serving people, which is fine because some customers are the absolute worst.
Whether at the most high-end of restaurants or laidback, quick-service diners, servers across the board share many of the same issues on any given shift. The list of grievances runs the gamut from impatient guests, messy kids, giant parties with separate checks, faux food “allergies” and meager to nonexistent tips.
Area servers and managers all shared examples of how the customer isn’t always right. For the sake of safeguarding people’s income, we’re withholding names and places of employment.
If you want to avoid surreptitious spit (or worse) in your spaghetti, or you just want to avoid making low-wage earners’ lives even harder, consider these examples of how not to act.
Keep your hands (and your sense of entitlement) to yourself, jerk
There’s a long list of complaints when it comes to ways you’re making an ass of yourself in public. For starters, don’t cut people off.
“The worst was people cutting you off in the middle of the sentence with their drink order. I have my spiel I have to do—try to be friendly,” said a seven-year server/bartender at a chain restaurant known for its spicy moniker. “I had a lady snap at me before, and the worst I’ve seen happen to someone else was an older gentleman who stood up in the middle of the section and waved his napkin to try and get someone’s attention.”
A fellow Pepper employee with three years under her belt reiterated the sentiment.
“There’s snapping, waving the arm, yelling across the restaurant. It’s a much different clientele than at a nice steakhouse or something like that.”
Or is it?
According to a slew of servers at one of Downtown’s hottest upscale eateries, annual income definitely doesn’t correlate to manners.
“If someone snaps their fingers at me, they’ll never get service from me again. It’s only happened once before, and never here, but you’ll never see my face at the table again,” said a two-year vet. “At this level, our job is to swallow it and be professional; it comes with the territory. If you go to Chili’s or Dick’s Last Resort, you’ll probably be doling out some attitude—not here.”
Remember to keep your hands to yourself—servers stressed being tapped on the shoulder or having their apron tugged while they’re serving a neighboring table was a total no-no. “Just don’t touch me,” said a 12-year service industry vet.
> Email Jessica Elizarraras