Thursday, July 26, 2007

Want Some Spit With Those Fries?

Malystryx and I were discussing pet peeves that come along with the job of waiting on people and we thought we'd put up posts on our blogs with the items that top our "shall I spit in your food for you?" list:

First, I will make it clear that no matter how much you might tick me off, I have never nor will I ever spit in, drop on the floor then serve, or otherwise make someone's food unsafe to eat. I have my integrity even when faced with a table full of mannerless idiots who, if there was any kind of justice in the food industry, would snort pinto beans down their windpipe and hack up a vital organ or two every five minutes.

I will also make it clear that I AM IN THE MINORITY. There are many servers out there who wouldn't think twice about planting a little surprise in your food if you make them mad. I am always amazed at those who treat poorly the one person with the power to wipe your steak across a toilet seat before serving it to you.

Top Ten Pet Peeves:

1. Do not interrupt me when I'm greeting you. I can't tell you how many times I've walked up to a table and said (with my customary cheerfulness), "Hi, I'm C.J. How are ya'all -" only to be interrupted with a brusque "Sweet tea!"

Putting aside the obvious breach in good manners that is "interrupting", what you've just told me is "You are not a person. You are beneath me, a pack mule, and I don't have to give you even the basic common courtesy of a polite greeting before demanding my tea."

I consider it the height of self-restraint that I don't spike your tea with pepper vinegar or tabasco. Others will.

2. Do not tell me how to do my job. Ever. If you think I've somehow taken 30 seconds too long to return with the Coke refill I promised you and that your opinion somehow entitles you to lecture me on the art of waiting on tables, you are an arrogant horse's patoot. I don't know what you do for a living but I bet anything that there are outside factors that affect how quickly and efficiently you deliver and you certainly wouldn't appreciate a customer with no expertise telling you how to do it just a little bit better.

Chances are I had to answer a question from a new server, fill up the ice bin to make your Coke in the first place, go to the dish room to get a new glass for you, mop up a spill before someone broke their neck, or take a few extra seconds to grab the three other things the table next to you needed.

Of course, I could be slow getting back to you because you kept interrupting me...

3. Do not rant and rave at me about items on the menu. I understand that you wish the gravy didn't contain mushrooms or that you could get your steak done just like Aunt Gertrude used to make but seriously, I don't care. What do you expect me to do about it? The menu is what it is. Order something else.

4. When I arrive with your food, move anything you need to out of the way, QUICKLY, so I can set it down. I don't appreciate standing at your table, balancing a tray with 30 pounds of dishes and food, and blistering my fingers (which I've done too many times to count now) on your very hot plate while you either ignore me to finish a conversation or dither about which way to move your purse. Tonight I announced to a particularly difficult table that I could always just take their food back to the kitchen since they didn't seem to want it.

That got them moving.

5. Don't walk in the door five minutes before closing and stay for an hour and half. I realize that you are enjoying your evening out or the end of your workday or whatever and that you probably have lots to talk about with your dining partner. However, if you stay for an extra hour and a half, the entire restaurant staff stays too. I'm tired. I've put in a long shift on my feet. I want to go home. We all want to go home.

If you do stay late, make up for it with a very generous tip. Show me that you appreciate all the extra time you took from me. Do that and the next time you show up at five til close, I'll roll out the red carpet for you.

6. Don't leave your table looking like a pack of wild dogs ate there. I don't mind clearing your dirty dishes and wiping down the table and seats. That's my job. I DO mind picking up silverware, napkins, bread, sugar packets and whatever else you chose to drop to the floor and then not pick up again. Do you act like that at your own dinner table? It's completely disrespectful.

I especially hate when families come in and let their children trash the place. I can say this because I have three boys who are just as high energy as any boy out there and they are trained to be respectful when we go out to eat. They do not yell or scream or throw things and if they drop something, they promptly pick it up. I don't expect anyone else to clean up after my children or myself. I am constantly shocked at how many people don't share that same standard.

7. Do not wave your glass in the air when you need a refill. Not only is this disrespectful toward me (simply making eye contact will work just fine) but you look remarkably ridiculous in a condescending sort of way. I am an excellent waitress. My tables never lack for great service. If your drink is empty one of two things have happened: One - I've just been double or triple sat and am running around trying to meet the immediate needs of several new groups of diners or Two - you are excessively thirsty and have drained your glass in the time it took me to walk away from the table after your last refill.

8. Never take plates off the tray I'm carrying. This is just flat out stupid on your part. I have the tray balanced according to the weight I'm planning on removing next. Throwing that whole equation off by reaching up and grabbing your food three seconds faster than I could set it down for you will cause the tray to tip and everyone's food to hit the floor. If karma works, of course, the entire contents would end up on you.

9. Do not make up pet names for me. I am not Sweet Cheeks, Honey, or Babycakes. I am C.J. Two letters you've been able to pronounce since kindergarden. I don't call you Moron. You don't call me Darling.

10. Don't touch me. Period. Do not tug on my apron to get my attention while I'm at another table. You're liable to get your hand slapped. Do not grab my arm while talking to me. I have boundaries that deserve respect. And if you want to escape the combined wrath and creative vengeance of every server in the building, don't ever pat me on the behind as I walk past. I'm liable to "accidentally" smack you upside the head with a loaded tray on my next pass through the dining room and so is everybody I work with.

That's My Top Ten List for what to avoid. If you want to make your server love waiting on you, be respectful. Treat them like the smart, talented person they are. Understand when the restaurant gets crazy and you send me back and forth to the kitchen five times in a row for things you forgot to ask for, that my response time might lengthen as I have others asking things of me too.

And most of all, TIP WELL. I make $2.13 an hour. I get your drinks, your refills, your salads, your extra this and that, your bread before your meal, I lift and carry and tote and burn myself, I smile as your children scream in my ear, I make multiple trips for things you've forgotten, I never slow down, I never sit down, I do everything you ask. Start your tips at 20% for basic service and work up from there. Don't make me cry because I gave you excellent service and all you could bother to part with is $2.

Well, there it is. I'm willing to bet (not that Mal will be betting anything against me for a long, long time...the recently inflicted Poker to the Death wound still festers...) that his list will be different.


  1. This should be nailed to the front door of every restaurant.

    You could become the Luther of the dining world!!!!! :-)

  2. Ha! I am a burgundy-aproned agent of change!

  3. haha. Wow. They're pretty alike. These are all so true, people just dont realize how dumb they act over food.

  4. People need to learn to SEE the ones who take care of them and treat them with respect.

  5. Heh. Most people don't realize how dumb they act over a lot of things.


  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. My mom pointed out to me that while all of this is true, sometimes you get a SERVER who just stinks at their job.

    I know this.

    If I go out to eat and don't see any mitigating factors that should affect the service I receive and I get bad service, I still tip, but I don't tip over 20%.

    However, the norm for us servers is people who want to be waited on but then clutch when it comes to rewarding those who serve them. And the norm is people who are rude, demanding, condescending, or childish instead of acting like respectful adults.

    This is my small way of trying to educate others about proper restaurant behavior. Who knows?? Someone may read this, change their behavior, and unknowingly avoid copious amounts of spit in their entree.


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