What your waiter/waitress wants to tell you

As I’m pretty sure I’ve stated before, I am currently a waitress…just like many other soon-to-be famous/wealthy people out there. Haha, or isn’t that our hope? For waiting tables to one day be a distant memory to laugh about and to become a period of time from which we can draw many character-building lessons? Anyway, that’s a completely different subject. I would like to take some time out to educate the general public on how to be considerate, patient, and more of a joy for the individuals that have dedicated this portion of their professional lives to serving you. I looked around online so as not to reinvent the wheel, because I was so sure that this topic had to have been exhausted. However, I was greatly surprised at the lack of relevant material out there. There are different lists of various pet peeves for servers but none specific enough or personal enough. So, get ready to get educated. These are the things your waiter/waitress wishes they could tell you….but if they are professional and mature, they won’t. I want to say at least 2 of these things on a DAILY basis. And I hear, probably all of them, from my coworkers on a daily basis. (These are listed in no particular order)

I'm not sure why she has fast food, but I like that her mouth is taped. It fits.

1 – “Could you please leave….(so I can make some money this shift, or so I can leave)”::If you want to hang out, that’s fine. But increase the tip so as to make up for the money the server isn’t making by others sitting there. Also, you don’t know if it’s time for your server’s shift to end. I’ve been stuck at work for 1 1/2 hours after my manager has told me I can go home because a table wanted to socialize. AND…they tipped less than $5. I had plans, and the less than $5 tip did not make it feel any better that I had to rearrange my day. Wanting you to leave isn’t personal. It’s just business.

2– “Your children are cute…but I don’t want them near my section” :: Every server knows that if you wait on a table with small children (especially those in high chairs), there is at least 10 minutes of cleaning involved after the party leaves. That is annoying. Why do you give your child food to feed themselves…when they don’t know how to feed themselves? It is disheartening to continue to serve a table when every time you come back, there is more and more food on the table and on the floor. Insist on cleaning up after your children, please. I once had a table say they would clean up their mess if I got them the materials. However, that is just awkward. I appreciated the gesture but declined because we are to accommodate our guests…but had they asked again or even insisted….I would have been quite delighted. Tipping less than $8 for leaving a mess and not even acknowledging it leaves a bad taste in your server’s mouth, regretting your presence, no matter how cute/polite/sweet your child is. Sorry, but it had to be said.

3– “No, you can keep the change”:: Little is funnier or more of a let down than being paid with cash and being told to keep the change when the change amounts to less than $2…or worse, less than $1. Yes, it happens. All servers, let’s say together, “It all adds up.”

4– “SPEAK UP!!” :: Dealing with the general public, servers encounter quite a wide range of people, and some of those people like to whisper while ordering food. There is only a certain number of times one can ask “excuse me? what was that?” without being awkward or insulting. Please, speak up so we don’t get your order wrong. It is also annoying and slightly embarrassing to ask a table a question…only to have them whisper inaudibly and then look at each other like they are speaking their secret unspoken language about how incompetent I am as a server….when YOU are the one that is whispering. I can’t hear you because there is background music on and people talking all around us.

5– “Ask your own server. I’m busy” :: Getting you napkins or refilling your drink is one thing. BUT, if I am not your server, do not ask me for both. And please, don’t ask me to get you more ingredients for your meal (unless your server is nowhere to be found for quite a while…sometimes that happens). Chances are that I have at LEAST 3 other tables of people of my own that are asking me for something. Which is fine. They have been “assigned” to me, if you will. That is my job. And YOU have been assigned to a server as well. So please, wait patiently, especially since no matter how many favors I do for you, you are not likely to tip me.

6– “I’m sorry you don’t like your food. I didn’t make it.” :: Well…that one’s pretty straight forward. Don’t get an attitude with me or worse…leave no tip because you don’t like the food that I didn’t create for the menu or cook.

7– “Please, just leave it on the table”:: Well-meaning customers hand the tip directly to their server. I understand and appreciate your concern for not wanting my tip to get swiped by another shady guest or worse, another server! But, anyone who has waited tables for any period of time knows to watch their table with hawk eyes during the period that the guests could be leaving, so as to prevent this from happening. Please leave the tip on the table. It’s a bit uncomfortable (probably because of pride) to take $4 from a stranger’s hand and feign gratitude. We are grateful either way, but how grateful are you supposed to act? It creates too much internal drama for such a short instance. Please….just leave it on the table. Thanks.

8– “You better use this”:: There is a certain tinge of annoyance every time I clean a table and notice that the very napkins, straw, extra plate, side of mayo, etc that my table has asked for has gone largely or even completely untouched. In this line of work…time is literally money. Another table could have gotten a bit annoyed at my delay because I was meeting your need….that you obviously didn’t really need.

9– “Can you get me a job?”:: Unless you can get me a job with your great company(or know someone who can) or want me to join you on your new business venture, don’t inquire about my studies or future dreams. Chances are I think about that enough already and spend my free time applying for other jobs. I don’t need your help remembering that I’m not as far as I’d like to be….yet. Let me enjoy my day. Today was probably a good day….until you reminded me that I’m not at my dream job…yet. But when you walk in with your cool business-chic outfit and talk about your position, it’s so tempting to to just ask for a little help.

10– “Coming here on your lunch break wasn’t the brightest idea, ma’am”:: And I used “ma’am” because I usually only face this problem with ladies. Why would you expect to come to a sit-down restaurant, order a burger WELL done along with some other stuff, and expect to be out of here in 20 minutes while on your lunch break when many other people are trying to do the same. Either call in an order ahead, go somewhere else, or order something quick and easy. However, it is not reasonable or appropriate to blame me for your lengthy ticket and short lunch break. I’m sorry. And please, don’t feel the need to leave me $0.00 to express your anger. Also, inappropriate.

-key ❤


About lovelyiskey

I'm a disciple of Jesus that happens to write/perform poetry and have a book. I'm a poet that happens to wait tables. I'm a waitress that happens to have a blog. Welcome to my life.
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2 Responses to What your waiter/waitress wants to tell you

  1. Rick Steadman says:

    I’ve asked a younger waitperson what school they are going to and what they are he/she is majoring in and they didn’t seem insulted or resented the question. And I’ll keep doing it when I think it’s appropriate. To indicate that this is not a question you should ask seems bitter on your part.

  2. lovelyiskey says:

    Fair enough. I’ve been wrestling and praying since graduation about being joyful and grateful..seeking to learn from this spot in life instead of resting in bitterness.
    However, I would hope that your server wouldn’t blatantly show offense or resentment toward you for initiating that conversation(or anything else on the list!). It’s a normal enough topic.That would be a bit much. I’m not always miserable about my job, and I’m not always thrown into hysteria and depression after having one of these conversations with a guest. BUT, it definitely tends to carry some sort of weight with it, especially since there is a difference between working through school and work after graduation and having a hard time starting a career. All of my statements were based on things i’ve heard servers express collectively, not just my individual feeling. Sometimes it’s fun chatting with guests about plans and dreams…but it’s a coin toss. Changes with each server..each day.

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