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At Your Service: Don't Be A Dick

People love to eat food they didn't have to prepare and don't have to clean up. It is a little vacation from kitchens with dirty counters and smelly garbage cans. It is a chance to eat food you know you could never prepare by yourself with your George Foreman Grill and subpar cookware. Those stories about your cute little waitress who showed you pictures of her dog do make great stories at the office.

On the other hand, do you have any idea how the restaurant staff perceives you? You probably had no idea what we were saying about you out of earshot. Can you even imagine what goes on in the kitchen? Yes, your food came out awesome. But chances are, the cook that night is a cokehead, the busser was hungover, your server hated your guts and the host warned everyone about what a pain you were. We're half actors and half prostitutes in the serving industry.

The pizza restaurant I have been working at for three years and some change is about 85 percent tourists. There is nothing wrong with tourists per se; only the dipshits that come through our doors. Sometimes I wonder if it is all staged - if all these people are part of some hidden camera, ha-ha-you-thought-these-idiots-were-for-real game show. Then reality sinks in. These people are not only real but exist by the millions. And they all find a way into our tiny little restaurant to make my life miserable.

I should be leaving for work in 30 minutes. I have my work clothes and apron already shoved inside of my bag- clothes that will never lose their pizza smell no matter how many sheets of fabric softener I throw in the dryer. I think it is masochism that keeps me coming back to this job. And the economy. And my that college degree I still haven't quite earned.

Sometimes it's a toss-up between who I hate more: several of my co-workers or the customers (excuse me, "guests") who ask if our pizzas come with cheese or sauce. Or who complain the four-cheese pizza is too cheesy.

But: those co-workers who beg to stay for you if their section is closed before yours . . . and the ones who somehow always manage to take up the entire soda fountain by themselves . . . and the ones who spend the entire time complaining about how much money they're not making . . . I am stuck with them for eight hours opposed to the maybe the hour-and-a-half I must spend pretending I find a table interesting or funny.

Co-worker horror stories are plentiful. But before I give you such anecdotal treats, some rules must be established. These rules should be printed out and carried in your wallet. Refer to them any and every time you step foot in a restaurant.

* Please refer to us as servers, not waiters. Note the difference between "server" and "servant" and act accordingly.

* Never ever tell your server you are broke. We could probably tell the minute you sat down you were a waste of our time . . . don't give us a another reason to wipe the fake smile off of our faces.

* It is perfectly acceptable for more than one person to ask for a refill at a time. You are not special enough to warrant a second trip to the soda fountain.

* No, we do not have anything that is not on the menu.

* Never use this line: "We're in a hurry. Tell the cooks to crank up the heat back there." Laughing after you say it to imply a joke doesn't make you any less of a douchebag.

* Please: if you want separate checks, tell us before you place your order.

* The sugar is not on the table to serve as a toy for your child. You went out to dinner without a single amusement device for your fussy two-year-old? Really?

* Think before you speak. Example: yes, of course your salad will take less time than the pizza.

* Do not under any circumstances think it is okay to make physical contact with your server. This means no tugging on the shirts, no pulling on elbows, no wrist-grabbing. Even if we can't chew you out, remember that you do not know what is going on in the kitchen. Or as you might want to think of it, the revenge room.

* Understand that we survive off tips. To clarify: leave us at least 15 percent although 18 to 20 percent is customary for good service. Verbal tips such as, "You were such a great server!" or "Our kids loved you!" do not put food on the table.


The pseudononymous Patty Hunter brings you tales from the front lines of serverdom every week. She welcomes your comments.



1. From Scott Knitter:

I'm sorry, but I strongly feel this is one rules-for-restaurant-customers article too many. I've really grown tired of waitstaff rants with bullet points.

Bottom line: People should be polite and considerate of others, whether waiting tables or dining out. And people should do their jobs well and with a positive attitude, no matter what that job is. That'll take care of the problems more than this sort of face-slapping of all those oh, so stupid customers.

Very derivative, and very identical to about three other such articles I've read elsewhere recently.

2. From Michael Marsh:

Thanks for the Life at Work column. It has a cynical, slice-of-life vibe.


Posted on June 10, 2009

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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