Skip to content

Learn to F*ckin’ Type

Lists of waiter/waitress complaints are one of those bits of Internet lore I barely tolerate. You’ve seen them, I’m sure: litanies rants, complaints, and bitchings by harried food servers about their occasionally dreadful jobs. I completely sympathize with the ones that recount tales of rude/drunk/sexist/arrogant/cheap/crazy customers. It’s bad enough to work in the food industry for minimum wage plus tips. Waitstaff don’t need to be any more belittled or abused than they already are. Having been a busboy and being related to several women who were waitresses gives me even more empathy for the profession. Really: I tip 20 percent even for adequate service.

What gets me are the stories about pranks, stunts, and bad behavior sandwiched in-between the genuine cries from the depths. I’m referring to the frontier justice exacted on customers for daring to ask for more coffee or the guy who sent back a dish because it’s cold. I mean the grotesque, health code-violating practices that some servers inflict on the just and unjust alike. When I hear these stories, I feel like the Establishment is onto something with that whole philosophy of, “Shut up and do your job.” Unless you’re being assaulted, there’s no justification for this behavior. If you <i>are</i> being assaulted, or the guests are simply acting out of hand, tell your boss and get them kicked out or switch to another table. Almost any human annoyance can be endured for 45 minutes.

As an aside, I’d really like to see the breakdown of who these folks are, and whether they’re career wait-staff or just doing it  as a temporary gig. You aren’t really being repressed if you’re in an office gig one year from now, drawing down twice what you’re making as a waitron. Of course by then you’ll be writing blog entries about how you’ve pilfered hundreds of bucks in office supplies in revenge for being asked to work late.

All that said, I’ve noticed how rarely these lists of horrors include good advice for customers to follow (beyond “If you don’t let me ignore you for 45 minutes while I grab a smoke, I’ll scratch dandruff into your salad amidst the parmesan,” of course).

For example:

How to be a good customer

18. Use your waiter’s name. When I say, “Hi, my name is JR, and I’ll be taking care of you,” it’s great when you say, “Hi, JR. How are you doing tonight?” Then, the next time you go in, ask for that waiter. He may not remember you, but if you requested him, he’s going to give you really special service. 
—JR, waiter at a fine-dining restaurant and author of the blog servernotslave.wordpress.com

19. Trust your waitress. Say something like “Hey, it’s our first time in. We want you to create an experience for us. Here’s our budget.” Your server will go crazy for you. 
— Charity Ohlund

See, that’s the way to do it. Oh, you’ll never reach the jerks, but as for the guy who usually tips 20 percent—even for adequate service—right now he’s thinking, “What a nice person. I no longer fear eating out because my waitress might be a sullen piece of crap, eager to infect my food with snot if I look cross-eyed at her.”