I’ve been working in restaurants for three years now, and although it seems like a long time to me, I’m considered a baby compared to the veterans of the restaurant business. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2.6 million servers working in more than 600,000 restaurants in the U.S in 2016. Employment in the serving industry is expected to increase 7 percent by 2026, so let’s talk about unacceptable restaurant etiquette and 10 reasons a server might spit in your food.
1. You’re a squatter
If you sit in a server’s section for longer than average, you’re being a bad customer. Think about it. In Wisconsin, server wage is $2.33 plus tips. We expect to earn anywhere from $3 to $10 per table, depending on the bill and, at the restaurant where I work, tables tend to flip every 20 to 40 minutes. Don’t waste our time and take our money by occupying a table in our section for two hours. You and Nancy can talk as long as you want at the Starbucks down the street.
2. Your order is absurd
A menu is a menu, not a guideline. I understand if you hate tomatoes or prefer cheddar instead of swiss, but our establishment is not open for you to build your own meal. If you want something that is not on our menu, do us a favor and make it at home.
If you have any dietary restrictions, are vegan or vegetarian, or suffer from allergies, look up the menu before you come. Then, if you still have questions, feel free to ask them at the table. I am a vegan, or at least I try my best, and I look at the menu beforehand every time I go out to eat. No one want to listen to you ask 15 questions about which menu items are gluten free.
3. You’re needy af
There is nothing worse than a needy group in the middle of a rush. The tables at every restaurant are split up into sections, which can include anywhere from 3 to 15 tables. If your server looks busy, they probably are. If you aren’t the only table in the restaurant, don’t expect your server to treat you like you are.
4. Your kids are insane
Do not let your kids run around my restaurant like it’s a McDonald’s PlayPlace. There are chains for that: Chuck-E-Cheese, The Mineshaft, StoneFire Pizza or Dave & Busters. Those sugar caddies on the tables are for coffee, not your child’s game of 52-sugar packet pick up.
5. You’re a bad tipper
Please see #1. If you can’t leave a decent tip, don’t go out to eat. We are on our feet all day, carrying dangerously hot plates full of delicious food we can’t eat even though we skipped lunch, dreaming about the nap we’re going to take as soon as we get home. We work hard for you people. A good tip is 20 percent, but if your server goes above and beyond, tip accordingly.
6. You’re rude
National Waitstaff Day is May 21st, but you should treat your server with respect every single time you go out to eat. Listen to their opening statement, ask them how their day is going, thank them for bringing you your food, and leave a reasonable tip.
7. You blame us for things we can’t control
If you had to wait 45 minutes for the table, don’t complain to us about it. If your food comes out wrong, more often then not, it’s the cooks’ fault. When you forget your doggie bag, it is not our responsibility to keep it safe for you. If the group behind you smells like pot, we can’t change that.
8. You’re a chronic check splitter
Servers try their best to remember every item that every person in every party ordered, but we aren’t perfect. Most of us are more than happy to split a 2-top, but no way in hell will I split a 15-person bill in the middle of a rush. See #6.
9. You come in on holidays
People eat all day every day. Consequently, servers work all day, every day. We work days, nights, weekends, holidays and sometimes even our birthdays. Don’t comment on how horrible it is that we have to work on Christmas Eve, Jessica from table 2, because your pancakes are the reason we’re here. See #6.
10. You dine and dash
Please re-read #1 for the third time. I make $2.33 per hour. I live off of my tips, so next time you think it’s “cool” to dine and dash, remember that your server thinks you’re a huge douche. See #6.