How to Treat Waiters, According to Waiters
"Diet Coke" is not a greeting.
Illustration by Brandon Celi for VICE.
They say you can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat restaurant workers, and no one understands the truth in this statement better than servers themselves. These food-slanging soldiers deal with a lot—the occasional condescending customer, picky eaters, bad tippers, drunks—all while carrying hot plates and making sure drinks stay filled. They've memorized the beer list, know their wine pairings by heart, and can recommend a meal to satisfy just about any of your obscure food allergies. Next time you go out to eat, show some respect. Here's how to treat waiters, according to waiters.
(Don't) Say My Name
I hate when people ask my name so they can yell it and wave me down while I'm talking to another table. This happens a lot. I'm clearly talking to guests at one table, but people from another table will shout at me from across the room—or worse than that, they'll interrupt me while I'm speaking. There's a lot of entitlement at play there. -Anne, 27
I get really uncomfortable when people buy me shots and expect me to drink with them while I'm working. I work mostly day shifts at a sports bar, and this happens a lot with the older male crowd, who'll come in for lunch and order a round of shots with an extra one for me. I don't judge anyone for drinking during the day, but I'm at work! Saying no is really awkward, and depending on how drunk they are, people sometimes get hostile about it. Turning down shots has gotten me called a snob, a bitch, and a buzzkill. It even got me stiffed on a tip once. I don't come into your office on my days off expecting you to get drunk with me, so please don't force me to take shots of well tequila at 2:30 on a Tuesday afternoon. -Jazmine, 23
How About a Hello?
My biggest pet peeve about serving has to be when I walk up to a table and say, "Hi, my name is Lisa! How are you doing today?" and the only response I get is "Diet Coke." OK, I'll just go fuck myself! Worse yet is when they just ignore me altogether. Being nice isn't that hard. Try it sometime! -Lisa, 26
A Tip About Tips
Maybe it's because I work in a higher-end place, but people seem to think that muttering things about my tip under their breath while I'm in earshot is an OK thing to do. It's a dick move to threaten me with a lower tip for any reason, but especially for things I can't control. I'm not cooking for you, and I can't do anything about kitchen backups or your taste buds. If you don't like it, I'm happy to work with you, but only if you're not a raging asshole. -Sam, 28
I hate when people ask me about wine pairings and then don't trust me when I tell them what I recommend. I know what I'm talking about; this is my job. Don't ask me what wine is the most full-bodied if you're just going to get a Pinot Noir! People assume I'm recommending things in order to get them to spend more. I've heard "It's all about the sale for you, right?" a lot before, and it's really not. I'm trying to give everyone the best possible experience! -Anne, 27
We Sea You, Scammer
We have a regular who comes in every few weeks, orders fish and chips, and sends it back for being too "soggy." The first time this happened, my manager comped her meal, even though she'd eaten most of it and what she left on the plate looked crispy to me. I guess she thought this was a good way to Joanne her way into a free meal, because she's tried it at least four time since and gets upset when we won't take it off the bill again. Her husband is always apologetic and tips well, but no one can understand why she keeps trying the same trick with the same dish at the same place. -Sara, 22
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