Food by VICE

How to Eat Outside Without Being a Dick

"I've lost count of how many times I've seen tipsy teens snatching cold, half-eaten nachos from departing guests' tables.​"

by Loek Wijers; translated by Jens van de Meulenhof
Jun 9 2017, 8:00pm

Photo by Iris Bouwmeester

This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES Netherlands.

Where are we? The Netherlands! What's going on? It's hot! What does that mean? All the ice cream at the local supermarket is sold out, all the men walk around in the same pair of checkered shorts, and the entire Dutch population heads to the nearest patio to place their sticky butt cheeks onto chairs in the sun and camp there for the next few hours.

It's nice for the bar owners—yay, profit!—but it's usually less fun for the waitstaff. Pretty much everyone knows you shouldn't whistle at servers, or snap your fingers, or tug at the server's sleeve if you want to place an order. However, when the sun comes out, everybody's inner asshole—blinded by their need for booze and summer vibes—seems to come out with it.

There are plenty of things that make servers want to throw darts at a customer's head. I asked a few current and former waiters for their horror stories.

Raoul, employee at Nel, Amsterdam
Two years ago, a wasp flew around a table out on the patio where I'd just brought three men a new round of beers. I wanted to shoo it away but I accidentally hit one guy's old glass. It fell in his lap, and despite the fact that there was barely a sip of beer left inside, something bizarre happened: He stood up and slapped me in the face. I went silent for three seconds and then asked, stunned, "Sir, what are you doing?" He freaked out even further, and the whole patio was watching.

My colleagues took me inside, away from the guy. He, meanwhile, quietly sat down again and drank his new beer. The two other guys were completely shocked, told their idiot friend off, and apologized to my colleagues. But the guy who slapped me still didn't get it: one of my coworkers heard him telling his friends that he really didn't understand what he had done wrong. When I went out to work again, the whole patio applauded.

Ema, former employee at 'Skek, Amsterdam
What annoys me the most is when people treat the terrace like they're at their own private beach where they can chill on a towel in their swimsuit and play their own music. For example, one time there was a group of Scandinavian middle-aged men on the patio that were on some sort of 'midlife crisis' trip to Amsterdam. There were about ten of them, and they started playing rock music like AC/DC out on the patio with their little speakers.

I asked them politely to turn off the speakers. They apologized, but instead of turning the music off they just turned the volume down. The table next to them also had speakers, and decided to bully their Scandinavian neighbors by starting a battle: They played cheesy German pop hits that were so bad it hurt. Eventually, the Scandinavian guys got the message: they left.

"I've lost count of how many times I've seen tipsy teens snatching cold, half-eaten nachos from departing guests' tables."

Anastasia, former employee at Rose's Cantina, Amsterdam
Alcohol brings out the devil in people on hot days. When it's warm out, groups of sixteen-year-olds often come to [Rose's] to drink cocktails, more often than not for the first time—and then they lose it after one margarita. We serve lots of nachos, and I've lost count of how many times I've seen tipsy teens snatching cold, half-eaten nachos from departing guests' tables. A young girl once took a bowl of guacamole from a random table and started emptying it with her fingers. My manager saw it too, and considering the group was also trying to break some kind of cocktail-drinking-speed-record, it fell to me to kick them out.

And that's not to mention the shirtless guests. I'm all for hospitality, but no one should feel so much at home that they're taking off their clothes. Another time I walked past the men's toilets and saw a guy washing his sweaty belly and armpits with water and hand soap. Hygienic: Kind of. Tasty: No.

"Remember that the chair you're sitting on with your sweaty ass is ours."

But what really, really annoys me, are the people that've been relaxing and drinking in the park during the afternoon and roll up to the patio afterwards, drunk and salty. Once, a group brought their own bottle of wine, and refilled their own glasses under the table every time I turned around. I asked them (nicely) to either order something or leave, because there's a specific phenomenon called 'reality' which requires you to actually buy something on a terrace. Remember that the chair you're sitting on with your sweaty ass is ours. They left with their faces red with shame.

Eva, employee at Van Velsen, Utrecht
One day when the patio was packed, one group of people just didn't seem to get how bars worked: they somehow never got it together to order more than one drink at a time. I was walking back and forth the entire afternoon with one silly glass on my tray. After the fourth time I started to wonder if they were messing with me, so I decided to prioritize to the other guests first. One of the men didn't like that and he tried to grab me to get my attention, but his arm wasn't long enough. So he decided to use his long weizen glass—which is longer than a normal glass—as an extension of his arm and tapped my ass [with it]. I stood there, aghast. Fortunately, my manager was also sitting on the terrace: he immediately got angry and took care of things.

Annelot, former employee at Villa, Amsterdam
Our patio was quite large and located partly in the sun and partly under an awning. My biggest frustration was that guests often tried to transform the terrace itself. The most annoying table ever was one of five middle-aged women who thought they were the queens of the terrace. If I said these people were 'demanding,' it would be an understatement: One of them didn't want to sit in the sun and the other one did, so they were looking for a table with the perfect shadow:sun ratio, and I was the one who had to fulfill their dreams. Every time I tried to bring them their drinks they had moved to another table, because it was 'just a little more convenient,' and they almost broke their own arms waving at me to get my attention. When I accidentally brought their drinks to the wrong table, they got angry. They also continually demanded that their new table be cleaned.

When they asked for the bill, they said, with self-satisfied smiles and a big wink, that I could add an extra $0.50 to the total for a tip. With great effort, I was able to say 'thank you'. I got drunk that night to get those miserable people out of my memory.

outdoor dining