When you go out to eat, you want the server to be on your side. It’s kind of a no-brainer that you want to have a friend “on the inside.” Unfortunately, many people just don’t seem to get it. Instead of treating their servers like a helpful tour guide on their culinary adventure, some act as if they are too good to be bothered. Wake up, people, your servers are not a bunch of bottom-feeding burn-outs. Many of them are intellectuals, working their way through school, and many of them probably make more money than you. I’ve compiled a list of eight common behaviors that are sure to get you on their bad side.
1. Asking for water is not an appropriate response to “hello, how are you?”
As you may know from, uh, real life, first impressions are everything. When a server comes to greet you, you’re both working from a blank slate. There’s probably no worse way to get on your server’s bad side than by completely blowing off their greeting. You know what? Your server’s not an idiot, obviously you’re going to get your water, but there’s a series of events that has to happen first. Perhaps it’s a weird concept, but a simple exchange of pleasantries to start things off really goes a long way.
2. If you don’t like the sound of a dish, keep it to yourself.
Please refrain from rolling your eyes in disgust when I tell you about the pepper-crusted grilled veal chop special. First of all, I didn’t create the dish and second of all, you’re the one that asked. And just because you think something sounds bad, that speaks more to your poor taste than it does to the quality of the food. So, how about keeping the snide remarks and goofy facial expressions to yourselves, huh? 3. Read the menu before asking a stupid question. “What does the duck come with?”
“Um, everything that’s listed next to it?”
4. Crying wolf with allergies.
This is a growing trend among restaurant-goers. Somewhere along the line apparently aversions became allergies. Don’t tell me that you’re allergic to onions when you simply don’t like them. It’s a huge pain for the kitchen to go out of their way to accommodate these sorts of requests and being frivolous with them makes your server unsympathetic to allergies across the board. And don’t get me started on gluten “allergies.” These celiac sufferers are often the most demanding people in a restaurant, treating their condition as if it were life and death. It’s not. They just get the shits.
5. Don’t talk to me when I’m at another table.
This is beyond rude and I can’t even believe that it happens, but it does. Usually it’s the elderly crowd, perhaps they don’t know any better, but it doesn’t matter. If you think that tugging on my apron when I’m talking to a table (that I probably like better than you) is going to get you what you want you should probably think again. 6. Don’t flail your arms to get my attention from across the dining room.
Are you drowning? Are you choking? No? Then how about you calm yourself down and act like a grown-up just for one minute? Think you can do that? Yeah, I see you waving your arms around like a crazy person, but I probably won’t acknowledge it.
7. We’re not trying to drug you with caffeine.
People think that servers are like that creepy moustachioed guy hanging out at a bar full of people half his age. We’re not trying to slip you anything, folks, RELAX! “This is decaf, right??” “You better give me your phone number so that I can call you when I’m up at three o’clock in the morning!” Yeah, guess what? I work in a restaurant, I’ll be up at three o’clock. Go ahead, call me up, we’ll party. I’ve never met a server that would give a person high-test coffee when they asked for decaf. If anything, you might get a decaf if you ordered regular but that’s really not a big deal.
8. The dessert bully. Every table has one and I need to ask you to stop. “Can I offer you anything for dessert?” You go around the table and everyone’s all set. Except you. You dessert bully. “If I get something, will you have a bite?” And then the dominoes fall and, before you know it, you’re mired in a hell of decaf cappucinos and hot teas. Please, don’t push your dessert on the people around you. They don’t want it and you don’t need it.