Talk to me about restaurant rudeness!
Waiters and waitresses, what do really rude customers do?
If you're a customer, tell me your stories -- nasty servers, flagrantly rude customers...lay it on me.
The worst dining experience I ever had--by far--was at a little Italian place. It started out fine, but before our food had come, we noticed the mood in the room had changed, like everyone was holding their breath.
The family at the next table over--a mom and dad, son and daughter--had been in the midst of a nice family meal when we came in. We were looking forward to the same, when we realized things had changed at the other table.
The children were now completely silent, their faces full of shame, embarrassment, maybe a little fear. The father was also completely silent, his head bowed, shoulders slumped. He was the very picture of defeat.
The mother, on the other hand, was loud. Strident. Sarcastic. All activity in the small restaurant had come to a momentary halt. I believe everyone was at first angry to be bothered by this woman's outburst. But as it went on, and as it became clear that what she was doing was emasculating, eviscerating, abusing her husband, nervous talk and activity returned to the room. No one knew what else, if anything, to do.
We, seated next to them, heard most of the tirade, although I no longer remember any of it. I do remember being angry--a little bit at our ruined dinner, some at the woman, and a lot at the man (for not standing up for himself). I also remember seeing tears in the man's eyes as they left.
I think of that unfortunate family fairly often. Of course, I feel a tremendous sadness for the man, and most particularly for the children. But, I suppose I feel some sadness for myself and the rest of us who witnessed the attack. Why did none of us say or do anything?
But then, what kind of intervention would have been appropriate? What kind of intervention is there that does NOT lead to escalation?
Posted by: Karen
at August 30, 2010 8:49 PM
One thing I HATE at restaurants, is when it is very obviously crowded, and people are waiting to be seated for a long time, and you have a few tables that have finished their meal and have decided to "chat" while their food digests. I think it is SO rude to see a bunch of people trying to come in and eat, and take your sweet time before leaving. I'm not saying you should have to rush through your meal, or not talk and enjoy yourself, but if you can see there is a line to eat, you need to pack up and head somewhere else to chat!
Posted by: Angie
at August 30, 2010 9:54 PM
From my blog a year or so back:
NZC and I grabbed a burger at Chilis tonight.
Two tables over was a couple with a young daughter, maybe 1.5 years old.
At one point, the baby screamed. Not in pain, or anything, just a “hey, I’d like some attention” sort of scream.
But this baby had lungs. It was a piercing scream that drowned out all conversation in the entire wing of the restaurant.
The scream went on for 10 seconds or so.
The couple ignored it.
A brief pause.
Another long drawn out scream.
And on, and on, and on.
People were turning to stare.
Not once did the couple pick up the child, interact with the child, or do anything.
At one point the father covered his ears with his hands.
(I guess the other 30 diners weren’t the only ones who disliked the screaming).
Finally, I walked over to the couple.
“Excuse me – your daughter is really screaming a lot, and several people are having their dinner disrupted. Could you perhaps take her outside for a bit to calm her down?”
The woman responded first, immediately escalating things:
“Excuse me – could you walk back over to your table and mind your own business!?”
The man tried to calm her down with a waved hand and said to me “Yeah, uh, I’ll … I’ll .”
I gave the woman a stare for a second, then turned to the guy “Thanks – I really do appreciate it. Thanks again!”
I walked back to my table, the man took the girl into his lap (for the first time), and they finished their meal over the next 10 or 15 minutes with not a single additional outburst from the daughter.
Now, I understand that kids scream, and I’m not of the opinion that a burger joint is one of those places where loud conversation, laughter, a kid screaming, or cutlery being dropped on the floor is beyond the pale. It’s a family restaurant. I get that.
I am, however, appalled at people who don’t understand the negative externalities that their repeatedly screaming kids have on others. You might find that the cost of, you know, interacting with your own daughter is slightly higher than the benefit – to you – of a bit of quiet, but when there are 30 other diners who are also having their ears blasted, I think that common decency mandates that after a few outbursts, some effort is expended, and after a few more outbursts, a child is removed, at least for a few minutes.
I’ve been in restaurants where I’ve been partially or fully responsible for kids, and I’ve walked into the lobby with a cranky child more than once to get things settled down and give other diners a reprieve.
I was given a bit of pause before walking over by the fact that the man and woman were black. There’s nothing objectively correct about western standards of how much noise is acceptable in a public place. Some cultures, like, say, the Japanese, may tolerate less noise and rambunctiousness, and other cultures may tolerate more. Nothing in the laws of physics, the ten commandments, or the Bill of Rights says that one standard is more right, or better than another.
It is my understanding that American black culture tolerates more noise in theaters and such, so the thought did pass through my mind that these two folks were not doing anything wrong, by their own lights… so I didn’t have any animosity towards them. On the other hand, from the fact that half the heads in the restaurant wing swiveled around on each new outcry, I knew that I wasn’t the only one bothered by the degradation of the environment.
So, as I mentioned, after the polite request, the man did act to calm the child, and the environment was much improved.
The couple eventually left.
20 minutes after that, a man, unrelated to the family, (and, most irrelevantly, looking like someone voted in his high school yearbook as “most likely to be running a meth lab out of a double-wide”), walked over, tapped me on the shoulder, and said “What you said to those people was ign’nant!”.
I started responding “I-”…but he’d already turned away.
I’m not much surprised by the couple with the loud kid – tolerance for noise is just a cultural knob, and I imagine that they didn’t perceive that a screaming child is a problem, or is unacceptable.
…but I am quite surprised by someone telling me that I am ign’nant for politely asking other people to behave civilly. …especially when my polite request resulted in them doing very very little work that resulted in a very large increase in utility for a large number of people.
What, exactly, was Mr. Meth Lab upset about?
What about my behavior was ign’nant ?
Given that he neither explained himself, nor asked for any deliverable from me, what was he hoping to achieve?
Mysteries, one and all.
Posted by: TJIC
at August 30, 2010 10:03 PM
> One thing I HATE at restaurants, is when it is very obviously crowded, and people are waiting to be seated for a long time, and you have a few tables that have finished their meal and have decided to "chat" while their food digests.
Why the scare quotes around "chat" ? Are these people actually knitting, or something, and trying to pass it off as chatting?
Also, I disagree with your premise, that folks have to be actively shoveling food into their mouths in order to sit at a restaurant table.
Now, clearly, it's abusive to buy $3 worth of sodas and monopolize a table for five hours ... but if friends and I have just shelled out $100 for several meals, drinks, deserts, and coffee, then we've paid the "rent" on the table for a bit longer than the actual consumption of the food.
If we choose to do a bit of post-prandial lingering, that's part of why we paid restaurant prices and tipped out waitress.
The fact that other people are waiting is irrelevant. If other people are in the market for a cheap used car, that doesn't mean that I have to hurry up and sell my current vehicle on the used market...and if other folks want a table, they can hold their horses a bit, make reservations next time, or go somewhere else.
...but, again, moderation in all things. I am talking about letting food digest and enjoying the company of friends for another 15 minutes before going our separate ways, not staging a sit in.
Posted by: TJIC
at August 30, 2010 10:09 PM
I eat out a lot. But inevitably, I always get the worst service when we go out late at night. My friends and I are night owls - often times we go out to dinner at ten at night. My town isn't flush with late-night eateries, especially ones willing to host a group of ten rowdy twenty-somethings. (When possible, we asked to be seated away from the core group of diners, or on the porch in good weather).
One night, there was just five of us at IHOP. And we actually got a waitress who answered her cell phone while taking our order!! I am not making this up! There we were, listing our orders and all and her phone rings. She answers it, "GIRL! You know I'm at work. No, no. It's alright. I'ma call you back, okay? Yeah, no I got a table." Seriously. And when she hung up, we didn't get an apology or anything. Just "You know how it go!"
Halfway through the meal she stopped serving us completely. Just disappeared, though we could hear her voice echoing from the kitchen every now and again. We wound up bugging the cashier for anything else we needed. For the first and only time in my life, we left no tip.
Posted by: cornerdemon
at August 30, 2010 10:57 PM
My first year out of college (circa 1989), I offered to take my boss out to dinner for her birthday. I meant she and I, since we went out about once a week for appetizers near work to wait out the rush hour traffic. I asked her where she would like to go, and she told me she and her constantly out-of-work husband had always wanted to go to The Five Crowns in Corona Del Mar. I had meant just her, and someplace more fitting for a person making about $30k a year.
So our dinner for two became a dinner for four at the most expensive restaraunt in Southern California. As soon as we arrive, unemployable husband orders two bottles of wine, a Chard and a Cab, and two appetizers. Of course he also ordered the Chateuabriand for themselves, all the while telling us about the million dollar projects he was working on in the field of "psychic massage" and motivational speaking. My wife and I ordered the pasta and chicken dishes.
My wife finally excused herself and tells the manager what is happening, and to please have the waiter deliver the food and not return except with the bill. The bill came and it was close to $500, all the while Mr Big Shot complaining about the service. (Yes, we did tip the waiter well.)
As we were leaving (this was before cell phones) my wife pretended to get an emergency message from the babysitter. I never had another meal with my good friend and boss Jan after that evening. It really spoiled a good friendship that would probably have lasted a lifetime.
Posted by: Eric
at August 31, 2010 12:10 AM
My use of “scare quotes” was an indication of sarcasm and incredulity, just like there. I guess we don’t have the same brand of sarcasm though! Knitting? Right.
Also, from my post you gleaned that my “premise” was that people needed to shovel food to be sitting at a table? Even after I said “I'm not saying you should have to rush through your meal, or not talk and enjoy yourself, but if you can see there is a line to eat, you need to pack up and head somewhere else to chat!”?… that’s interesting.
> The fact that other people are waiting is irrelevant.
No, it isn’t. If you’re not out celebrating, and merely eating dinner, it’s incredibly rude to see a very crowded restaurant and take up more time than you actually need. The staff is stressed, trying to get people in and out, and some people just don’t seem to get it.
Also, I’m not talking about places where there is always a line, and you can and should make reservations. The town I live in has several chains and small places that don’t take reservations unless it’s a larger party. I’m also not talking about taking 15 minutes after your food to enjoy the company of your friends; I’m talking about the tables that have empty plates when I sit down, and are still seated and “chatting” (!) after I’ve boxed my left-overs and am leaving. That’s rude.
And, by the way, your used car analogy IS irrelevant.
Posted by: Angie
at August 31, 2010 3:16 PM
We used to have a really crappy waitress at the local watering hole. Our group is known for "waitress training" as in, if you learn to show up often, refill beers, and generally give good service, you WILL be rewarded with a big fat tip. Unfortunately for this chick, she could never master this concept. It was a bar area so we never knew what section she was working, so when we got hers there would be general eyerolls all around, along with the crestfallen looks of the good servers who were now going to miss a minimum 30% tip. Luckily the twit didn't last long, but while she was there...OMG.
The best night ever was when we watched her sit at at end of the bar talking to her coworkers. The table next to us had ordered a pizza before we even sat down, and we were into our second drinks (keeping in mind we sat with an empty glass for a good 15 minutes or so before she ever came over to check, let alone bring out the next round). We could see the pizza at the serving area and it sat there a good 20 minutes before she remembered she was working and took it over to the table.
She then dropped the pizza on their table and returned to her corner, even as they tried to get her attention to refill their drinks.
Later, when they tried to pay, she never came around with the check. After about 45 minutes they left without paying. Honestly, I didn't blame them.
Here's the best part. A good 45 minutes after THAT (I wish I was exaggerating but no, I'm not) she finally realizes they've left without paying and runs out the front door like she's somehow going to catch them leaving.
It's now close to closing time for the bar, so they have the door locked from the outside to discourage people coming in.
So, she's now in the parking lot and can't get back inside. My boyfriend, who is by now laughing his ass off, finally lets her in after she's stood out there staring in for 5 minutes. Personally, I'd have left her out there.
Posted by: Ann
at August 31, 2010 7:09 PM
I'll admit to table-camping with a good friend of mine, but there is a way to do it considerately.
1) do it well after dinner rush. (We usually opt for 10PM to 1AM)
2) warn the server. Promise an extravagant tip.
3) Live up to promises of extravagant tip. (I figure the table could be turned 3 times in that time frame, so I triple my tip)
This wasn't the rudest thing I've ever seen as a server, but it was one of the most blatant examples of poor parenting I've seen. Kids screaming, kids running, kids trying to get into the kitchen are immensely irritating and unsafe. But after you get the mashed crumbs out of the carpet there's usually no long term damage.
But when I pre-bussed this table I found that the darling high-chair Picasso had used his complimentary crayons to scribble all over a bread plate. Then I found his brother had drawn on the white tablecloth with his crayons. This isn't even the usual "Isn't my Bratleigh full of delightful childish energy?" kind of bad parenting. This was just, destruction of property.
And of course they tipped for crap.
Posted by: Elle
at August 31, 2010 7:14 PM
Female waitstaff that call me "sweetie." I'm a grown woman, I'm 45 for gawd's sakes, why the hell are you calling me sweetie for? It happens a lot too. It's never the cute waiter guy :(
Posted by: DragonHawk
at September 1, 2010 3:24 AM
First off, I hate Wal-Mart, but had to go there for some things I needed that are far too pricey at some of the other grocery stores in my area. My kids and I were hungry when we walked in the store on this particular day, and my six-month pregnant self needed a little sit break before hiking through the store. We decided to hit up the McDonalds inside the store and placed our order at the counter. The kids (10 and 11 and VERY well-behaved, BTW), went to get their drinks and get us condiments and a table while I waited for the food. The toothless female cashier with thinning hair asked me when my due date was and I told her with a smile. Her eyes got as big as burger buns and she proclaimed, "MY GOD!! YOU"RE HUGE!!!" just that loud. I was apalled at her audacity and taken aback for a moment. Finally, I felt my face flushing red with heat and anger and I exclaimed, "MY GOD!!! YOU"RE RUDE!!!" All the customers behind me got a giggle, and the nasty lady's face turned 3 shades of red, I hope from embarassment. WTF is wrong with people? Especially to be a woman commenting on a pregnant lady's weight?!
Posted by: Jessica
at September 1, 2010 3:33 AM
Jessica, I agree that people make a lot of comments to pregnant women that they should really keep to themselves, but I do think the "Wow you're so big!" variety aren't meant to be rude. I don't even think they're about the mom, my theory is that it's a tactless compliment to the baby, along the lines of "Wow, that baby is growing and healthy." Still better left unsaid, I never tell my pregnant friends anything except that they look great, but I really don't think it's always malicious.
Posted by: Sam
at September 1, 2010 6:07 PM
When my aging parents and I were through lunching at the local Panera (my mother's choice) and I was helping my mother out of her seat, a teenage girl plunked herself down in one of our just-vacated chairs while we were still brushing off the crumbs and grabbing our purses. Instead of just giving us a chance to get out of the way, she zoomed in there and started texting furiously.
Posted by: Willa
at September 1, 2010 7:12 PM
I have had people tell me they've seen this sort of behavior, but I always thought it was an exaggeration until I saw it myself at breakfast one morning: a woman changing her baby's diaper RIGHT ON THE BOOTH SEAT.
Not only is it unappetizing, stinky, and RUDE, but someone is going to have to sit there later, yanno? Ewww.
Posted by: Ann
at September 1, 2010 10:16 PM
I spent a year as a hostess in a Mexican restaurant and I was sick of customers after the first month.
One of my many responsibilities was keeping menus clean and you would not believe what I found on those things. Is it so hard to give your menu a courtesy swipe with your napkin when you've split your margarita/queso/salsa all over the inside? I also should not be finding your baby's spit up covering up our drink specials. I swear that I once found a menu that had been caked in lube.
Parents with babies are usually just all around awful. We did occasionally have some wonderful parents who were very considerate, but usually there was a spray of food and crumbs a yard wide around where the kid was sitting. The poor servers have to sweep all that up while I clean crusty food off all the high chairs.
However, nothing will ever compare to the customers who get picky about seating. Nothing, nothing grates on a host or hostess's nerves more than the following question: "Can I have a booth"? I still want to slap people with menus when I hear that.
But the most inconvenient thins is a party that changes tables without telling anyone. I'm at the front trying to keep track of what tables are open and to keep the amount of tables per section even, assuming everyone is still sitting where I sat them. Meanwhile, one server is bringing drinks to an empty table, another is often unaware they have a table, and I'm trying to seat a new party at what was marked as an empty table, but is now mysteriously filled. We'd get lots of complaints about parties who were "ignored" when they changed tables without informing anyone or demanded to be seated in an already crowded section. It's like it never dawns on people that we sit you at tables for a specific reason, not just because we want to inconvenience you.
And then they were the unpleasable people. The restaurant I worked at made no pretensions of being fancy. We had cheesy Mexican music pumping into every room, TVs blasting sports in the bar, and a bucket of crayons and a stack of children's menus for the kids. It wasn't exactly a 5 star dining establishment. There were lots of kids and lots of noise. But we'd always get customers asking us to sit them "somewhere quiet". One older couple stood and yelled at me when I told them I couldn't turn off all the music and televisions for them. They decided it was more appropriate to get in my face and scream at me about how horribly this restaurant was run than to simply find a restaurant more appropriate to their tastes.
Finally, although this never affected me personally, the people who tip their servers poorly because the kitchen was slow are just plain awful. The servers can't simply magic up your food for you, so if the kitchen is backed up there's going to be a wait and it's completely not their fault.
Posted by: Ashley
at September 2, 2010 5:59 AM
It is rude to ask for a booth when you go out to dinner? I was out just this weekend with my wife to celebrate our 16th year of marriage, and asked to sit in a booth, not a table in the middle of the dining room. There were plenty of empty booths and tables, we were before the dinner rush, and no one was waiting behind us. They knew our celebration, and I asked "Could we have a booth since it is our Anniversary?" I don't think that is rude or worthy of a slap.
Posted by: Bryan
at September 2, 2010 6:34 PM
Uh oh, I always ask for a booth too.
Posted by: laura.u
at September 3, 2010 2:05 AM
Ditto on the booth confusion. I don't see how that's rude at all, especially if there are plenty of open spots. If it would mess up the staff assignments or something, then just say no and that's fine.
Posted by: Brian 2
at September 3, 2010 2:10 AM
"Nothing, nothing grates on a host or hostess's nerves more than the following question: "Can I have a booth"?"
Why? I'm just curious.
Posted by: crella
at September 3, 2010 5:50 AM
I don't understand this, either. We ask for a booth when we go to our favorite restaurant. We like to sit next to each other, and we can't do that at a table. They always try to accommodate us if they can, and they're super-nice about it.
Of course, we don't expect one (especially not if there are groups of four waiting) -- we just ask for one and they do their best to give it to us.
What's the problem? If they couldn't give us a booth, if it was a problem, they'd give us a table.
Posted by: Amy Alkon
at September 3, 2010 6:56 AM
I am also confused about the booth thing. That, and if the restaurant is not crowded, and you start to steer me towards the table with two shrieking kids at it, I'm going to ask to sit somewhere else.
Sorry, but I'm spending good money here. If the restaurant is packed then I just take what I can get, but if you clearly have a ton of open tables, I'm picking mine if you choose poorly.
Posted by: Ann
at September 3, 2010 3:26 PM
I'm going to make a wild guess, here, but I don't really know. I'm going to bet that booths are harder to clean and vacuum, especially after a group with little kids.
Too bad, if that's it. You got booths, people like 'em, they have to be cleaned. I've been a waitress and I don't like cleaning up after customers either, but them's the breaks.
I prefer booths, myself. Especially when it's busy. I don't like scooching around tables, and I don't like people having to maneuver around me either.
Posted by: Pricklypear
at September 3, 2010 3:56 PM
OK, I'm not speaking for Ashley, but in my restaurant experience, if a hostess seats you at a table, it's not because they want you to be uncomfortable, it's because that server is up for a table. Part of the hostess' job is making it fair for the servers making $2.13/hr and dependent on tips by giving them an equal number of tables and parties. The booth thing never really bothered me (I prefer a booth myself, and no, I don't think they're any harder to clean), but it does make the hostess' job a little more difficult in trying to keep the rotation going fairly, simply because of the layouts of some restaurants.
I agree with Ashley about the parties changing tables, though. Especially before it gets busy, this can cause a domino effect of confusion. The host tells the server, "Hey, you've got a 6-top at table 4," and the server starts to get waters of whatever it is they need to bring, but in the meantime, 2 more friends have showed up, and without telling the host, table 4 has just made themselves comfortable at table 12, which is in a section that's not even open yet. By the time the server gets to table 4, there's no one there, and the server takes their tray back to the kitchen and goes to find the host, who is busy seating someone else. By this point, it's been a few minutes, and the host has no idea what the server is talking about. The host goes to find table 4, who is across the dining room at table 12, getting irritated that they haven't been served yet. The host explains the situation and the server picks up where they left off. Not the end of the world, of course, but a hassle nonetheless. Now, once the server starts getting busy, they also have to run an extra table that's away from the rest of their section, and makes it harder to consolidate trips. Not to mention, while the host has been trying to figure out where table 4 went and placate them because they felt they were being ignored, a couple more customers have arrived at the front and are wondering where the host is. Just my opinion.
As for rude customers, the worst I ever had was a guy who grabbed my rear as I walked past his table (at LUNCH, no less, so it wasn't even like there was alcohol involved). I didn't think, I just reacted... by pouring the pitcher of tea I was carrying directly in his lap. He responded by jumping up and telling me how he'd have my job, but luckily, I had a supportive manager who brought him his check, asked him to pay, and suggested that he find another place to get lunch from now on.
Posted by: Kelli
at September 3, 2010 4:33 PM
These days, the waiter and restaurant could be sued for sexual harassment if he called customers "sweetie".
Posted by: hadsil
at September 4, 2010 7:14 PM
For the most part I get good service when I eat out, even at a Friendlys. I tip well and treat my waiter/waitress with friendly respect. Nothing urks me more than to see a customer treat a server as if he/she is their personal slave. If I see that a server is trying but the restaurant is really slammed, I can accept slower service or a wrong order. There was only one time that the server was so rude that I really was annoyed. She ignored me the entire time and when she came over only looked at and spoke to my boyfriend. I'm not a jealous or possessive person so I knew I wasn't overreacting. The final straw was when she brought us our margaritas and mine had a big clump of something in it that was clearly visible. She ignored me when I pointed it out. My boyfriend then pointed it out and she grabbed a spoon and fished it out and gave me a dirty look thinking that settled the problem. We stood up and left but not before letting the manager know about our service.
Posted by: Kristen
at September 6, 2010 6:14 PM
I was 27 years old and visiting NYC for the first time. My friends with whom I was staying had to work, so I hopped the number seven train to visit PS1 and take pictures of the graffiti at five points. After taking pics and walking around the museum I was feeling kinda hungry, so I walked around Queens until I found a little sushi place. It was December, and since I'm a socal girl I was freezing my tooshie off and ready to cut somebody for some miso soup. I ordered my soup and whatever roll looked good at the time. The wait staff was obviously bored and the place was dead, so they started talking shit on me in their mother tongue. How did I know, you ask? Well, if gesturing towards me and laughing isn't enough of an indicator I overheard one repeat my order to the other. I don't usually notice people talking about me and NO, I'm not paranoid. This was just over the top! Okay, I get it I'm young and beautiful...but don't hate me for it! I tipped those loosers a nickel! Take that!
Posted by: Gspotted
at September 7, 2010 6:10 AM
I've been a server for a long time. People like booths. Period. In my experience the servers with seniority get the sections with more booths. As someone said, thems the breaks. It happens. It can be annoying when you are the server that got the crappy section, but I prefer booths, so I can't say I've ever wanted to slap someone for it.
There are no booths at the place I work now, so the corner table is coveted. I get pissed off when people sit at that table when it's dirty...especially if the rest of the tables in the place are clean. I get it. They want the private corner table, but is it too much to ask to let me know so I can clean it BEFORE you sit there? I can't even tell you how many times I've gone over and had to ask people to move their purses, phones, etc so I can wipe the table down. Oh, and forget it if a crumb escapes and falls on them while I'm doing so. I can kiss that tip goodbye.
Kids unattended in restaurants are the worst. Some people just don't understand that we are not babysitters. I've watched parents let their kids dump salt and pepper on the floor then bang the shakers together until they shatter. Then I had to scoop the toddler off the floor before they started eating broken glass. I’ve had to ask people to watch their kids because they were playing by the big, swinging kitchen door...or the chip warmer...or unrolling all of my silverware. I even had to chase a kid out the front doors and grab him before he ran in the street. This was after telling the mother: "Ummm...he's going out the front door..." with no response. Seriously, people? You didn't hire a baby sitter tonight, you brought your kids. Watch them!
Amy, if you need stories for your new book, I could give you a few. ;)
Posted by: Kimmy
at September 8, 2010 3:28 PM
Sorry not to have replied sooner.
While wanting to slap people with menus was a bit overdramatic on my part, the point still stands. It's always fine the first few times someone's requested a booth, but when I get 30th booth request (for one of only 5 booths) only an hour into my shift I am not a happy camper. If there is a booth open and I seat the party there, then the servers in the other section whine that I'm being unfair. If there isn't a booth open, parties usually give me an unhappy look and sigh exaggeratedly at each other. I've actually had parties that left the restaurant because we didn't have booths available.
To put it simply, whenever there's a booth request there is usually someone unhappy and it's inevitably my fault. And that gets old fast.
Posted by: Ashley
at September 9, 2010 5:10 PM
Well, Ashley, anyone that get's mad at you about it is an idiot...including the servers. They should whine to whomever assigned the sections. Everyone knows people like booths. Pissing them off by saing "No" when there's an open booth is just going to give the server in another section a miserable bunch of diners. I suppose he/she will whine about their crappy tip, too.
Posted by: Kimmy
at September 10, 2010 3:38 PM
I read Ashley's point as people demanding a booth materialize out of nowhere when they are obviously all full. Maybe I just read it that way because I've seen it happen. "Can we have a booth?" "Well, they're all occupied right now, I can either seat you at a table, or you can wait, it should be about 30 minutes." "But we want a booth." Repeat until someone cries or gets hit with a menu.
Posted by: Anathema
at September 11, 2010 2:45 AM
Posted by: fletch
at January 15, 2011 8:16 PM
What's with "test"? Please don't gum up my comments section. This is a working blog, as evidenced by the THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS of comments that have been left here since I started blogging in 2003.
Posted by: Amy Alkon
at January 15, 2011 8:22 PM
Ann the hostess at the Mexican restaraunt needs a new line of work. But I think if she becomes a truck driver she'll complain about the traffic. If she becomes a bank teller she'll complain about people wanting two fives instead of a ten. If she becomes a nurse she'll complain that a patient coughed near her. Every job has it's irritants and a good worker handles them with humor and grace. And yes, I have been a waitress but considered customers preferences and even rude customers part of the job.
Posted by: tam
at March 12, 2011 6:13 PM
Cooks and waiters with contagious illnesses
Posted by: Anon E. Mouse
at April 13, 2011 11:12 PM
My worst rude experience in a restaurant was sitting in a booth across from a man who spent the entire time loudly berating his quiet wife. They were dining with another couple who were silent as this went on. Finally, I said, "I didn't come out to pay for a nice dinner to have to listen to you being obnoxious and rude to your wife. If I were her, I'd tell you to go straight to hell!" No one said anything more and that was that... I'll bet the other couple had quite a conversation in the car on the way home.
Posted by: Mar van der Geest
at May 12, 2011 10:51 PM
One weird experience I had was a woman who held a door for about three of us, then loudly proclaimed that she "wasn't the fucking doorman". I'm a woman and hold the door for other people all the time, so was a bit confused. Also, if the door is held for me, I always make sure that person is seated before me, as they would've been in the restaurant first had they not held the door. And I always say thank you.
Posted by: Meloni
at September 15, 2011 11:49 PM
One winter day my husband and I took our two young children out to lunch at a family restaurant. The restaurant was almost exclusively done with booths. Our youngest was at the end of the table in a high chair and our eldest, about 3 and a half at the time, was sitting on the inside next to my husband (so he wouldn't be tempted to get up and wander over to another table or run up and down the aisle).
Shortly after our food arrived, a couple (40's or so, not kids) was directed to their seats, in the booth behind my husband and son. The man got in behind my husband and tossed his winter coat onto the booth back. It landed squarely on top of my son, completely covering him from midsection to head.
Our son was, naturally, shocked to be suddenly covered up while eating his lunch. He managed to quickly extract himself though. My husband turned around and said in a rather strained voice, "Excuse me! You just threw that on my son." The man moved his coat, didn't apologize, but instead grumbled indistict things. A moment later, the man and his companion asked to be moved to another table.
Honestly, I can understand not seeing a small kid at a table, but common sense would indicate looking before you toss your jacket into somebody else's space. In the event of a mishap, good manners would simply require saying "oops!" or "sorry" or even, "Hey, I didn't see you there!" But really, at a family dining place (noted for ice cream), wouldn't you EXPECT there to be kids in at least SOME of the booths???
Posted by: Anon
at January 3, 2012 1:35 PM
I've been in the restaurant biz for decades(gulp!).
There are many wonderful, well mannered people who eat out, and I have become friends with quite a few of them over the years to be sure, but this is my complaining rant...
I've seen everything from the costumer who eats almost all the food on the plate, saying it's good when you check in a couple minutes after serving them, only to have them complain about the fare for one reason or another, wanting a discount; The folks who buy everyone drinks and then get mad when the bill comes and insist on a DETAILED explanation, (when you're slammed)then stiff b/c they're upset; The parents who don't watch their children (which can be potentially dangerous) and more.
But here's one story that takes the cake in most recent memory... The unhappy older lady with her full grown, slightly autistic son.
I work behind the bar, which also has dining tables in the same room- and there is another room adjacent to it, which also has a large outside deck adjacent to it.The bar itself seats about 23 people and on this day I was 2/3rds full-Plus I was servicing the wait staff drink orders, the place was busy!
Mother and son were seated at a table not assigned to me in the bar area. The waiter (who was new) took their order and after serving their burgers, went to attend tables he had in other parts of the restaurant. Right after they'd gotten their food, the mom came up to the bar and asked for a steak knife, for which I had to go to the kitchen and bring out to her. A couple minutes later she came back up to the bar and complained about her sons burger,so I went to their table and he was visibly upset b/c the meat was on was sourdough toast(our signature burger), he really couldn't handle the idea of a burger on toast- he HAD to have a bun!!
I alerted the waiter that his table needed him, told the management there was a problem and asked the kitchen to RUSH toasting a bun, which I brought out on a plate and set on their table while the waiter was talking with her.
But... It was all over for me by then...She was pissed, and I was the problem as far as she was concerned!
I'm back behind the bar catching up with drink orders and my customers when I see her questioning the waiter and pointing at me, they're both looking over in my direction...Finally when he comes to pick up a drink order I ask him what they were talking about. She wanted to know if I was the owner, or if I was married to or sleeping with an owner!
So on her way out, I was treated to an oration of how rude a worker I was, that I wasn't an owner, or even the girlfriend of an owner; She said I threw the bun at them, that I did not serve it on a plate...I suppose I should have offered to have the meal re-plated, but it was not my table, and they did not ask for a re-plating, just a bun!!!
I started explaining how I did what she asked me to do, how I tried to right the situation, and I was sorry she was so unhappy with her dining experience...but of course that just made everything worse!
She said in this economy, I should be grateful to have a job, and threatened to have me fired; but I bit my tongue; instead of telling her I wasn't responsible for her problems and that maybe she should consult a therapist, I told her where the complaint forms were located and that she was welcome to fill one out- and gave her my name...
Of course she did not fill out a complaint form, and after she left most of the folks in the bar area commented on how tightly wound she was... OY!!!
Sometimes I wonder at how marvelously strange and funny it is that there are moments when my sanity hinges a Freeking hamburger bun!!!
Posted by: Ms. Mogaree
at January 21, 2012 6:53 AM
I was in a small cafe in Portland Oregon with my daughter having breakfast. Across from me was a young lady with her bare foot on the bench picking her toes. I was appalled, pointed it out to my daughter who know how I am and told me not to say anything. It has been a while since it happened but I still ache because I did not put that little ignorant, classless "woman" in her place.
Posted by: Penny
at February 26, 2012 2:23 PM
Years and years ago: I was standing at the counter at McDonalds, about to give a teenage girl my order, when a burly, bearded guy who had been sitting at a table with a burly woman came up to the counter, about six feet away from me. He had a Big Mac in his hand, and asked to speak to the manager. The "manager" - a tall, skinny kid about 19 or 20, wearing a baggy dress shirt untucked on one side and necktie - came to the counter.
The burly guy set the Big Mac on the counter in front of the manager, and took the top of the bun off. He took hold of the manager's necktie just below the knot, pulled his face down close to the Big Mac, and asked, "You see that?"
The manager looked at the Big Mac and without speaking nodded his head 'Yes'.
The burly guy asked, "You think that's funny?"
The manager shook his head 'No'.
The burly guy asked, "You wanna give me my money back?" The manager nodded 'Yes' and the burly guy released his tie.
The manager opened the till and gave the burly guy money.
The burly guy said, "I should bust some heads... but I won't... this time." Then he left with the burly woman.
The manager watched the burly couple leave, then without speaking a word strolled into the back out of sight. A couple of teenage girls working there stood quietly watching with concerned expressions. They looked cute with their little McDonalds caps on. Then the one in front of me proceeded to ask for my order.
I was not able to see what wasn't funny.
When I was in high school decades ago: I stopped at the McDonalds near school to find out when a friend of mine was getting off work. I was standing inside the back door from where I could see the cook, whom I also knew but was not friends with, making burgers. He was a surfer guy with bushy hair, wearing a McDonalds shirt and baggy, pajama-like flannel pants.
I couldn't see the front counter from where I was, but I could hear a woman at the counter speaking in an angry voice. Then the counter girl brought an unwrapped burger back to the cook and said, "She wants one with the bun toasted."
The cook said, "She wants toasted buns? I'll give her toasted buns." He then took the top of a bun, shoved it down the back of his pants and made movements like he was wiping his butt with it. Then he toasted it on the grill, assembled a new burger with it, wrapped it up and took it out to the front.
I was appalled. This is not funny. Forty years later I'm still appalled. I hope that's the only time anything like that ever happened.
A couple years ago I took my daughter out to dinner at a steak house. The waitress, a girl about 16 or 17, was new at it but she did a very good job.
When we were ready to go the young waitress brought the bill in one of those little book-like folders. The total was $45.12. I put three twenties and a quarter in the little folder, and when she came to get it I told her, "You keep the change".
She went away and came back a couple minutes later, set the little folder on the table, and quickly left without speaking. Inside the folder was $15. She had kept 13 cents.
For a moment there I was confused, but then it occurred to me that she was very young and didn't understand what "keep the change" meant (Do people still say that anymore?). She apparently thought it meant she was to keep only the coins.
We waited there until she walked by our table again, which took several minutes because I think she was trying to avoid us. I gave her the $15 and told her that "keep the change" meant that the amount of money I gave her that was more than the amount of the bill was her tip. She said, "Oh... thank you... I thought I did something wrong." My daughter and I assured her that her service was excellent and we were very happy. She smiled and looked relieved.
Posted by: Ken R
at April 10, 2012 9:14 AM
Regarding the booths: What Anathema said.
I had this experience for 5 years in the same restaurant that held like 16 tables and 2 booths, and was insanely busy every Friday & Saturday night. So yes, like Ashley, after several hours of busting my ass it got old and frustrating to get some stubborn dickhead who would bypass many open tables when there were 2 occupied booths. I too enjoy sitting a booth at a restaurant, but good lord, if that's what it takes to make a statement or feel like you have control over something, then get a life.
The bottom line is, your food isn't going to taste any better because you're sitting in a booth. You might be in a better mood, because you think a booth is more comfortable than a chair made with the exact same materials as said booths (which these were), but I promise you it's not worth a 45-minute wait. Customers can be idiots, sadly.
Posted by: Rachel Flax
at April 11, 2012 2:50 AM
Interesting about the booths. There is one place near here where I HATE the booths. The seat is too low or table too high or something. Granted, I'm short (about 5'2"), but it is plain uncomfortable & no other place I've been has booths like that. Now I'm wondering if it's to keep people from requesting booths... but they always seat us there unless we request NO booth.
That said, when I was pregnant with my elder child, we frequented a place for lunch at an off hour. We usually were seated at a booth by the staff. Well, when I had about a month to go, I nearly got stuck in the booth because the baby turned after I sat down and wouldn't budge. After that, they got us a table every time.
Posted by: Shannon M. Howell
at April 19, 2012 7:59 PM
I was DJ'ing an out of town wedding reception and was appalled at the toddlers who were running and screaming hither and yon throughout the banquet room, while waitstaff was trying to safely serve meals and carry trays of dishes. I jokingly asked the banquet manager what the statute of limitations was for restraining children in the County. She responded that she would look the other way!
Posted by: David
at May 9, 2012 7:30 PM
A lot of times the host(ess) will ask ME if I want a table or booth or they'll bring me over to one or the other and ask if this spot is ok.
Posted by: David
at May 18, 2012 6:07 PM
I had horrible service at Buzzard Billy's the other night. We were seated and so was the table next to us. The table right next to us were immediately helped and got their drinks and orders taken right away. We sat there for a half hour trying to get a waiter's attention and then the people next to us got their food. We still hadn't ordered drinks or anything. Finally someone came by and I said "Can we be helped please?" Five minutes later a guy came up and was like "What can I get you to drink?" We ordered and then asked "Have you had time to figure out what you're going to order?" I said "YES WE'VE BEEN HERE FOR 45 MINUTES." no apology. Nothing.
Posted by: Lyndsey Williams
at May 19, 2012 4:36 PM
I use to work at a fast food restaurant (Burger King) as a teen. I worked there for almost 3 years and had my shares of rude moments (from customers, coworkers, and me, I'll admit), but one incident always stood in my mind.
One day, I was in the front with two other coworkers. A couple walks in and I took their order of a small drink and small coffee. Now, people should already be aware that the cups for those beverages are different. I first handed the cup for the soda (which is a thick paper-like cup) and went to the corner behind me to get the cup for the coffee (which is a thick styroform-like cup). As I brought it to the customers, I noticed the woman poured the coffee in the fountain drink cup!
I told her that see needed to dump it out or else the coffee will burn through it. She ignored me after I told her several times over. She finally set the cup on the counter in front of me, so I went to dump it. When I returned with a new cup, she actually told me, "Well, you were suppose to do that in the first place, you stupid bitch!" I was speechless! She continued with more hateful rants towards me and also said "Where's your manager?! I wanna tell that she has such a stupid, ugly bitch working here!" She stormed away to join her boyfriend/husband. One of the coworkers that was in front with laughed. Laughed! At me! He said it was funny and ran to the back to tell the cooks. The other one actually said that the customer was right! I was soo humiliated!
When my manager got off the phone in the office, I told her what happened in tears. She was very sympathic and asked if I wanted to take off early. When the supervisor came in a few days later and heard what had happened, she reassured me I wasn't in the wrong, and that none of what the woman said was true. But that incident has always left a bad taste in my to this day!
Posted by: mona
at June 28, 2012 9:24 PM
Awful. It's a manager's job to protect his or her employees from treatment like this, or at least mop up after it (emotionally, I mean).
Posted by: Amy Alkon
at June 28, 2012 9:59 PM
I heard a story of rudeness from my aunt at a family gathering.
My Aunt Ellen went up to Tony's-the famous restuaraunt famous for serving huge portions of food up in Birch Run, MI right across from the outlet mall-with some co-workers of hers. As theyh were eating their food, a woman changed her baby's diaper at a nearby table. She had obviously have never heard of taking the baby to the ladies room to change the dirty diaper. She had to change the diaper out in the open, where there were other diners. My aunt was shocked. If that were me, I would have defintiely said something to the effect "Excuse me, ma'am? I hope you know that other diners have to eat at the table after you have changed your kids diaper on it."
I worked retail for years, and if you think customers are rude in restuaraunts, you haven't seen anything until they have been in a store setting! At that point, people will resort to two year olds!
Posted by: Eva
at October 2, 2012 9:24 PM
TJIC, I'm a knitter, and I always bring a small, mindless project with me in case I am waiting for a long time. THe project is normally a sock, and I can get a few rounds done while I'm waiting and talking at the same time. It makes the time go by faster, and I have NEVER once gotten a rude response. I have always gotten a positive responce because of that.
I also belong to two knitting circles. One meets a local Panera Bread, and we usually take over one side of the restuarant that is adajacent to a window. We put on a show for passers by. Nobody has been rude to us, and sometimes, the manager and the employees will give us free treats.
I belong to another knitting circle that meets in a library in a nieghboring town, and we take over one room of the library that is closed off from the rest of the library. I have even been asked to teach a class at that library in January.
Knitting is a popular activity, particularyly with young people. I hope I'm not coming across as rude.
Posted by: Eva
at October 24, 2012 8:53 PM
Ashley, my mom has MS, and whenever we go out to eat, we always ask for a table. She is wheelchair bound, so sitting at a table as opposed to a booth is much more easier for us, and it's more convenient. In fact, the waitstaff always removes a chair for us, and even goes out of their way to help if the place isn't too busy.
Posted by: Eva
at October 24, 2012 9:36 PM
When I was in high school, I was a shift manager at a very small McDonalds in a town in rural Utah. I was nieve enough at the time to think that because it was a small town made up of mostly Mormon folks, that nobody would ever be unkind to a regular kid just trying to make her car payment. I learned very, very quickly that that was not the case at all! I expirienced a rainbow of rediculous behaviors from people that I thought were supposed to be respectable adults. I started my job there right at the hight of the 'beanie baby craze' and saw women with toddlers at their side calling each other every name in the book and threatening each other with physical violonce just to get their hands on that last coveted beanie baby I had behind the counter! I have had a McDouble thrown at the counter in front of me so hard that it bounced up and hit me in the forehead. I have busted people stealing the trays and riding them down the playland slide. I have caught coworkers smoking weed in the top of the play land. I have been yelled at by more people than I can count because some stoned grill person wasn't paying attention and put pickles on a burger that was supposed to be no pickles and other various food screw ups. I could go on forever about other things that I dealt with there, but there is one memory that sticks out more than any other in my ten years of combined restaurant expirience. It was one winter night that I had a closing shift on the front registirs. As a 'front closer' part of my clean up duities were the lobby bathrooms. I started with the womens first, because I dreaded the mens bathroom to the core of my being! It was always infinately more disgusting. I finished up in the womens and went into the mens restroom to see what kind of filth awaited me. The urinal was the normal mess of jerks putting toilet paper into it. So I put on my gloves, held my breath, and squinted so that I could only partially see what I was touching, and picked out all the paper and threw it in the trash. Then I went into the stall. And there in the toilet was paper cup, a lid and a straw. And some freak had taken a dump in the paper cup and threw it right side up in the toilet!! I had to pick up the cup and dump out the Sh*T and fish the lid and toilet out before I could flush it! I was furisous! I felt so degraded and filthy! I still to this day wonder what kind of sick creep could do something like that?! But I suppose I'll never know. And maybe, not understaning how they could think that way is a good thing for me.
Posted by: Amanda
at October 31, 2012 5:08 AM
Is a stop sign red or blue? (required):