public server announcement


My anger toward people continues to grow as I go from restaurant to restaurant, serving and cocktailing. Since I’ve been serving on and off for about 7 years, you can imagine that I’ve seen it all. Complaint after ridiculous complaint. I’ve been personally insulted, belittled, stiffed countless times (or been left prayer books and change as a tip), received nasty messages scribbled on napkins, had every sugar packet emptied out all over my table, people have walked out on their tabs etc. etc. etc. You name it, I’ve seen it. And if it wasn’t done to me, I watched another poor server endure some angry customer’s wrath.

And over what, you ask? Food. Burgers, fries, steaks, chicken wings, brownies, beers and soda. Food. People are very sensitive about it. And this is why we suffer. Well angry customer guy, here’s a complaint for you: If you get this upset over your beer and burger, then I pray for your friends and family, and I wonder how you actually handle situations in real life.

Here is a list of some of my biggest pet peeves in the business (in no particular order).

10. The Finger Snap

Now, I have already introduced myself at your table for a reason, and the reason is so that you don’t have to address me in the same manner that you address the family dog. Do not snap or wag your fingers or whistle or any other variation of dog calling toward me. You wouldn’t do it to your wife in your kitchen would you? Call me by my name, for crying out loud. And if you don’t remember my name “excuse me,” also works.

9. Excessive Modifications

I’d like to preface this one by letting everyone know that I totally understand that every person is different, and I have no problem modifying a dish to suit a person’s needs. With that said- there is a line that people just shouldn’t cross here, and they cross it. Let me give you an example (yes, this is based on real events):

Lady: “Ill have the grilled chicken breast sandwich. Does that come with fries?”

Me: “Yes, and lettuce, tomato, mayo and onion.”

Lady: “Okay well instead of fries I’d like to have another plain piece of grilled chicken. And I don’t want any lettuce, onion, mayo or bread on the sandwich.”

Me: “So you want two pieces of grilled chicken on a plate?”

Lady: “Yes with tomato. And I’d also like a side salad. But I don’t want any dressing, croutons, onions, cucumbers, carrots or tomatoes.”

Me: “So you want a bowl of lettuce?”

Lady: “Yes.”

What I want to say: “Let me ask you something crazy lady. We have a decent sized menu with pretty good food. People come out to eat here all the time and really seem to enjoy themselves. Why on God’s green Earth did you come out to eat at a restaurant for a bowl of lettuce and some grilled chicken on a plate?! Were you sent here by the restaurant demons to piss me off?! ‘Hold the onions’ is one thing, but this?! How would you like me to enter that one into the computer? Go buy yourself a head of lettuce and a package of chicken, go home, make yourself dinner and spaaaaare meeeee!!!”

What I actually say: “Sure, no problem.”

8. You asked for it, you got it

This one is classic. Some people just love to make special requests and then complain about them later, when it’s their own fault. For example: a guy asks for a well-done burger or steak, and complains that it’s overcooked or tough. A lady asks for her cocktail to be made sweet but she complains that it’s too sweet and she can’t drink it. A guy orders the fish entrée but complains that it’s too fishy. I could go on for days with this one.

7. “I just wanted to let you know.”

You’re serving a table; everything seems to be going great. You’ve checked back on them a few times, they seem happy. You bring them dessert and coffee. They’re smiling, you drop the check, and everything went well right? Wrong. Because just before they dip out and pay their bill, they make a comment like one of the following:

“Everything was great, except my mashed potatoes were a little cold and they could have used some more gravy. Just to let you know.”

“The food and service were wonderful, except the (*insert* music was too loud, air conditioning was too high, lights were too dim and I couldn’t read the menu or some other complaint about the ambiance). Just to let you know.”


Well thank you for letting me know. But I’m sorry, letting me know now does NOTHING. What was the point of even telling me? Any of these problems could have been solved if you gave me a heads up earlier, but instead you decide to tell me on your way out, and now a.) Nothing can be done about it, b.) My tip will suffer because you were unsatisfied and didn’t open your mouth and c.) You have really, really pissed me off.

This situation makes me even angrier when they are “just letting” a manager know, because on top of never saying anything to you in the first place they’re making you look bad.

So here is some advice, angry customer guy: if there is a problem during your dining experience, bring it up (nicely) so that it can be handled and we can accommodate your needs. Otherwise, keep your mouth shut. Just to let you know.

6. “I didn’t like it, even though I ate it all.”

This one goes along with number seven, but deserves a number of its own because it happens so often and it’s something that every server can relate to: the customer complains about their food, yet they have eaten everything or nearly everything on their plate (even more entertaining is when they have eaten everything, complain, AND they don’t want to pay for it either!) My response is the same as in number 7. Oh and thanks for the tip, scum.

5. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you.”

Any server will tell you that if a customer says this (or if they say “I’ll leave you a good tip,” or anything along those lines) 9 times out of 10 they WILL NOT take care of you. When they say “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you,” they are better off just saying “I’m a bad tipper,” because you’re getting $5 on a $75. This is a fact. I’ve seen it unfold before my eyes time and time again.

4. “We’re in a hurry, could you have our food rushed?”

Well I don’t think I have a choice now do I? If I don’t have your food rushed then I won’t be getting a very good tip will I? OR you’ll just walk out on me because you won’t have time to eat it and I’ll be left with nothing.

Let me ask you a few questions, rushed one: If you’re in such a rush, why have you decided to come into a sit-down restaurant to be served when you know these things take time? Wendy’s is right around the corner! Does it look like I have nothing better to do than to make sure your food comes out extra fast (not to mention hot and properly prepared)? Do I look like the chef? Did you not notice ALL of the other guests sitting around you who are also waiting for their food, and would like it prepared in a timely manner? You are not the center of the universe!

3. Back and fourth, back and fourth

A favorite of mine. You go to the table and ask if everything is okay, and seat 1 asks you for a refill. You take their empty glass, bring them a new drink, now seat 2 would like a refill. You take seat 2’s drink away, bring them a new one and now seat 4 would like extra mayo…and so on. My maximum “back and fourth” was four times in a row at one table. I was very annoyed. Please people, try and ask for everything you need at one time. Don’t make me run back and fourth 100 times, I’m busy and other tables have needs!

2. Campers

Campers don’t annoy me all that much, but I have seen some servers get extremely angry over them. This is when a table has finished eating, they have stopped ordering drinks and they are just sitting for hours taking up space. There are customers who would love to be sitting in their seats spending good money, but instead your little campers have pitched a tent and since then your section has gone from 5 tables to 4, or 4 to 3. Either way you are making less money as a result. I’ve seen campers hang around all night! It’s funny…when it’s not your section.

1. I can’t think of a number 1,

too much pressure. Can any servers out there think of something super annoying that I may have missed? Don’t get me wrong…even though it is not something I love doing, there are aspects of serving that I do enjoy. But there are times when people can really get to you.

And to those people I have this to say: Yes, I may be just a server. No, my job is not very difficult. But I am the one who has access to your food, the food that you will put in your mouth and consume, from the time it leaves the kitchen until it arrives at your table. Oh yea, and I’m friends with all of the other servers, food runners, and more importantly, the cooks. Don’t f*** with me J

related blogs:

Suggested for #1 (lol):

"Number 1 should be "Yo hook me up son"

I don't know you.
We've never met.
You're probably going to leave me a crappy tip if you leave one at all
Why in the world would I hook you up?!!!

-Big Jay


  1. Helen, you have outdone yourself!! You are dead on. I agree with everything!!! Maybe number 1 could be "I'm not paying for that or I want it taken off the bill" a classic GD line typically encountered at your local TGIF!!

    great post girl, get that paypah!

  2. spot on. i also used to encounter people who would be like, "i come in here all the time, is there anything you can do for me?" aka a discount or some free food.

    but come on now...i don't see banks giving me free money, or stores give me free clothing.

  3. exactly, i swear i'm writing a book about it all one day. and by the way rachel you're welcome, and also samesies and thank you too!

  4. you seem to have a lot of pent up anger...i suggest yoga or meditation. try looking out your third eye, i hear that's suppose to help.

    i hope you realize i'm incorporating all 10 into my next visit to see you. love you!!!

  5. In regard to #7:
    I never understood this until recently. I would rather just not say that anything was wrong, and I choked down many a horrible meal because of it (I should point out, I'm from NZ where we don't tip, so it never affected how much the servers earned).
    It wasn't til I was out to dinner with a chef friend and one of our companions didn't like her meal. He told us that we should always say something, because otherwise we're not giving them a chance to step up and change it.
    It's still hard to change tacts, but I appreciate the sentiment and I'm really trying!

  6. # 1 Touching the server. Do not poke me, tap me, or grab my arm to get my attention. If I'm standing close enough for you to poke I'm probably engaged with another customer. And you're not seven and I'm not your mother. Do not slap my hand when I reach for the empty beer bottle and you think I'm going to take your glass with melted vodka ice in it. I will slap you back.

  7. Haha well said Merlott. I've had my hand slapped for doing that. I'm sorry if you're nursing your drink for an hour and a half and it is now 1 part whiskey 1000 parts water I'm going to try to take it away.

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