So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Top 100 things that a guest should try to avoid doing, #76 – 100

And now, for the butt end of the list:

76. Don’t assume that we have ingredient X or dressing Y in the kitchen. No, my restaurant doesn’t have dashi. No, my restaurant doesn’t offer Green Goddess. I’m sorry. If you’ve brought your own green food coloring, I’d be happy to bring you some ranch if it makes you feel better.

77. If you order a well-done salmon, please don’t assume that it’s not going to be as dry and hard as a brick. Obviously, the same thing goes for a well-done steak. And please don’t order a rare swordfish. Or rare lamb chops. Or rare veal. The former is dangerous and unsavory, the last two too mushy. Both lamb and veal benefit from being cooked at least medium rare. It firms them up a little while still retaining a nice dark color.

78. If you order coffee black, please don’t tell me after the fact that you want sugar. Yes, I know that coffee stays black when you add sugar. But the usual term for black coffee is unadulterated coffee. If you want coffee with sugar only, please just say “coffee and sugar” please. It will save me a trip.

79. And if I ask if you want sugar, don’t assume that regular sugar is the only thing I’m going to bring.  They have these newfangled devices called “sugar caddies”. They hold cane sugar, Sweet & Low, Equal and Splenda (and Sugar in the Raw, or any other sweetener in a packet that the restaurant might offer). I guess it’s OK to ask if we have Sweet & Low or Splenda – it’s just a little redundant. But by all means, feel free to ask about Sugar in the Raw, because most restaurants don’t offer it.

80. No, I really don’t want to pick out the portobello mushrooms out of the mixed mushrooms. And if I don’t like it, imagine how the chef feels about doing it at 8pm on Friday night.

81.  I’m sorry, but I can’t make the restaurant “a little less noisy”.

82, Don’t stiff your bartender or to-go person on a tip just because “they aren’t waiting on me and don’t provide table service”. First of all, yes, they are waiting on you. They took your phone call, wrote your order, transmitted it to the kitchen, boxed up your order and delivered it to you. Second of all, yes this is a “service”, right – it’s just not table service? No, you don’t have to tip the normal 15 – 20% because it’s true that they aren’t providing table service to you. But you should at least tip 5- 10% for the service and convenience that they are providing to you. Just remember that a to-go server is relying on your tips just as much as a table server. If you don’t do the right thing and tip something, eventually you won’t be able to get to-go food because they can’t pay someone minimum wage or less to ring $1500 worth of food and run their asses off for dozens of customers on a decent to-go shift.

83.Please don’t ask me to box up a piece of filet about the size of a postage stamp. If you want to save it for your pooch, just ask for a napkin.

84. No, it’s not a good idea to ask for Creme Brulee to go. It’s baked in a dish and caramelized on top. Scooping it out of its dish destroys it.

85. Please don’t ask for anything to go if it’s just going to sit in your car for 4 hours while you go see Bruce Springsteen. Of course, if you’ve acted like an ass the whole dinner, please feel free to ask for your food to go so that you can eat it after Bruce. You should enjoy your food poisoning the next day.

86. No, we didn’t give you food poisoning because you got sick two hours after you ate with us. Well, if you did get sick that soon after you ate with us, I will probably be sending a bouquet of flowers to your funeral since I’ve probably just given you botulism. And if you’re sick 6 hours after you dined with us, you don’t have eColi, so stop freaking out.

87. Despite what you’ve read on the interwebs, I don’t automatically hate your child. However, if your child is generally a handful when you take them out to eat, please don’t take them out with you as an alternative to having pay a babysitter. If you need to train them to act nicely in public (and they should be exposed from an early age to dining out), start at kid-friendly places and work your way up the restaurant food chain. Gentle acclimation is best. And, you know what, I love well-behaved and polite kids even more than I love big tippers.

88. Please don’t be mean to your kids when you’re sitting in my section. Guess what? If your kids are unruly, demanding, loud, and generally unmanageable, it’s more a reflection on your parenting skills than it is on them.

89. Please don’t let your kids write on my tablecloth, smash cracker packets, empty sugar packets or run around unfettered through the restaurant. Please feel free to ask me for paper for them to scribble on but please bring your own crayons or pens. My restaurant might not keep crayons around for the kiddies.

90. Please don’t change your infant’s diapers in the dining room If you absolutely must nurse a child, please don’t do it at table. It might get that horny guy in the corner some weird ideas.

91. Don’t take on-line reviews of my restaurant at face value. Use them only as a loose guideline.

92. If you are a foreigner on vacation, please don’t forget to actually read about tipping guidelines in the US. And if you are a regular American tourist, don’t be classless and tip an absurdly low amount simply because you know that we’ll never see you again. That’s just low class.

93. If you’ve stiffed me on a tip, don’t expect me to have turned in the Raybans that you absent-mindedly left on the table.

94. If you are a local official or a fellow restaurant industry employee, don’t take tipping lightly. If the case of the former, I’m not saying you have to bribe me or anything, but you also shouldn’t screw me on the tip either. Remember, I’m in contact with a wide section of the community on a daily basis. In the case of the latter, if you aren’t tipping fat, then shame on you.

95.  If you are a struggling musician, don’t use that as a pretext to make me a struggling waiter.

96. If you had a great time, don’t forget to write my corporate office and I’d also appreciate a name check.

97. Don’t hate on me if our menu prices went up. I didn’t redo the menu.

98. Don’t hate on me if we took your favorite menu item off of the menu. I’m neither the corporate or executive chef. and they didn’t do it because they hate you.

99. Please don’t tell me how great my service was and how pleasant I made your dining experience and then leave me 14.5% on the subtotal. Geez, at least try to hit 15%, will ya?

100. Finally just don’t forget that I’m a human too. I can make mistakes, I have feelings and I’m dependent on your goodwill for my living. Ask yourself this – am I perfect in my job? How would I feel if I got docked actual money each time I made a mistake or had a bad day?

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4 responses to “Top 100 things that a guest should try to avoid doing, #76 – 100

  1. PurpleGirl November 5, 2009 at 12:55 am

    “Despite what you’ve read on the interwebs, I don’t automatically hate your child.” Speak for yourself. ;0

  2. waitroness November 7, 2009 at 2:40 am

    how about this one for the customers:

    Please don’t pile all your personal belongings on top of the table! Where am I supposed to set your drinks and food when your keys, phone, wallet, purse, ipod, sunglasses, and gifts for your dining companions are in the way. Move your shit! I also would like the ladies to stop setting their giant purses next to the table right where I need to walk. I’m going to step on them. Put them under your chair, not next to it.

  3. Pingback: A bird? A plane? No; it’s daddy’s credit card! « Tales from the Bar Side

  4. Tales from the Bar Side November 7, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    This is great reading; thank you.

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