Many people hold or have held serving jobs at one point in their life, and most of us know that serving is not a glamorous job. It comes with highs and lows and provides a good balance of human interaction and money-making.
I have served at a fast-casual restaurant, a southern diner and a country club. They are all very different, yet I’ve only enjoyed one. If serving has taught me anything, it’s taught me how to be a better customer. I compiled this list not to hate on customers, but to perhaps enlighten people so that they can know not to be one of these patrons.
1. The Mess-Makers
I list the Mess-Makers first because they may be the only ones that can’t help their negatives. Mess-Makers are people who cannot seem to eat their meal without leaving an extraordinary path of destruction in their wake – pieces of lettuce left about the table, bodies of sugar packets and straw wrappers ripped apart, pools of dressing smeared on the tabletop, a sandbox worth of salt so their drink doesn’t stick to the bev-nap.
The most common Mess-Makers tend to be children, the elderly, and groups of middle-aged women who chat for long periods of time. Children bring with them a slew of extras, including dry cereal, baby food pouches, and baby wipes (gross). All three groups typically leave their messes on top of and below the table, causing more work for those bussing tables.
For the sake of those of us who don’t have the luxury of bus tubs, please do your best to contain your mess. Picking up a napkin with partially chewed food and stepping on a lemon slice are not on the top of my to-do list.
2. The Talkers
The Talkers are not merely people who talk – I love a group of happy people who I can talk to easily and comfortably. The Talkers are those people who continue to talk amongst each other after the server has arrived at the table.
It is my duty as a waitress to let your know the specials the restaurant is providing and to take care of you to the best of my ability, for my own sake and for the restaurant. If you cannot cease your conversation long enough for you to help me reach your glass of water for a refill, perhaps you should have stayed home.
The next time you are in a restaurant, please give the server your respect and your attention. Good service is largely proportional to good patrons. (Exception: prayer)
3. The Camels
One thing that was drilled into me as a server was that drink levels must never reach less than the bottom third of the glass (better yet, not less than half). Many customers also base their tipping on whether they went thirsty during their meal and how attentive the server was to their drinks.
This is a relatively simple task for us to get right, except when someone comes in and drinks as though they had an extended stay in a desert. Just this past week, we had one man drink six Pepsis during one meal, and I’ve had people run me through several pitchers of water at one tabletop.
The problem with The Camels is not how much they are drinking, it is the fact that they expect us to keep up with them! I have refilled a person’s drink and literally come back less than three minutes later to find their glass empty again. Camels should be careful to consider the server will do his or her best to keep up with the dehydration, and then base tips and satisfaction accordingly.
4. The High Rollers
Servers love money. Most of us have these jobs because they are easy to get and there is instant gratification.
What we don’t like is when you pay us with a $100 bill. This is the only time in my life where I think “UGH” when handed a Benjamin. While counting shouldn’t be a real hard thing for anyone to do, most servers will have to go out of their way to make change for a $100 and this takes extra time away from our other tables.
If you can help it, please refrain from using $100 bills. If not, at least try and make our lives a little easier by using them only when your bill exceeds $60. Best scenario: Pay with a $100 bill and tell us to keep the change (disclaimer: only awesome for checks under $80).
5. The Snoots
The Snoots come in several different varieties, but the one I’ll address is the “Fine” Snoots.
When a server comes to the table at any time to check on the welfare of the guests, The Snoots will usually reply with a “fine” without so much as a smile, a thank you, or even a glance. I had one lovely woman last year tell me she was fine before I even asked my question, which was actually for the lady that was with her.
If you are a Snoot, please don’t even bother coming to a restaurant. We are going to come to your table, we are going to interrupt and we are going to ask you questions. If this is not the kind of service you want, stick to fast food.
Servers work very hard on a low base pay and many of our shifts may not reach the state’s minimum wage for us in tips. We are in the business to help you, take care of you, and make sure you have a good dining experience. And just remember: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”