For two years I worked as a hostess at a popular restaurant owned by some very close family friends. For two years I went through every single customer encounter you could ever dream of—yes, even the ones that you thought only happened in the movies. Unfortunately, they are very real.
When you first walk into a restaurant, the customary scene you'll be met with is one or two employees politely greeting you. What we are met with, is someone immediately telling us the number of their party. If somebody asks you how you are, you answer back right?! Wrong. At this moment, we are right off the bat pegging you as a rude customer.
We warn your server before they get to your table that you're going to be difficult because, obviously, you lack the common manners of most five-year-olds. We don't want them to be surprised when your first greeting to them is "Coffee. Decaf."
Let's say your greeting wasn't as painful, and you actually treated your hostesses as respectable human beings and not 'the help.' You get to your table, but your server doesn't immediately run up to you right as your butt hits the booth. Que the stank face. You are appalled that you are not their only table and cannot begin to fathom how they haven't brought your family of six their complicated drink order in less than two minutes.
Flash to the kitchen. We are 100% talking about you. We've had other employees pass your table to assure you that your server is super busy but is getting your drinks right now. Despite our overwhelming attention to you, you're still wildly unhappy. That's why we've decided to go slower than we usually would. We are in no hurry to help your server gather all of the proper cups for your glass of wine, cup of coffee, and styrofoam cup of chocolate milk for your eleven-year-old.
We've made our assumptions about your entire family already. You are a stay-at-home mom who excels in tennis at the local country club and gossiping about every single breathing human you've ever met. Your husband works a big wig job and because he can afford more ties than the average miserable forty-year-old, he thinks that gives him the 'okay' to treat those around him as though they are physically beneath him.
We already know how this encounter will end. You will leave a less than generous tip, not even hitting the 20% mark which is standard. We don't like you. Next time you come in, the servers will fight over who has to take care of you and your lovely family. We don't have time for people who don't value the work that we do.
A less threatening scenario and one that can go either way is if you're the person who asks for 2349857 things at different times, causing your server to run back and forth from the kitchen to your table. Now, your server is definitely going to be a little bit annoyed. That attitude just comes with the job. It's all about how you ask for things.
If you acknowledge the fact that you are running your server and are adding a 'please' and 'thank you' you're going to be appreciated. It's seriously the littlest things that don't make us hate our jobs. If you're rude and inconsiderate and demanding, then see the above paragraph for how we'll be reacting to it.
It's not hard to be nice to your restaurant employees, folks. Seriously, I promise. You don't have to treat us like we're the end all be all because we are surely not, but you aren't either. We're just working to get by and support ourselves and our loved ones.
And most importantly—if you aren't going to tip your server at least 20%, you should not be eating out.