Top 5 most annoying things servers say: A tiny rant

waitress-2.jpg
"Are you still working on that?"
The front of the house is what makes the back of the house dance in the footlights. What would Meritage be without Desta Klein? It's her touch of genius to create an atmosphere in which the lovely French-kissed food coming from the kitchen is delivered to the right table at the right time with the right flourish. At 112 Eatery, Nancy St. Pierre's leadership out front provides a stage for showcasing chef Isaac Becker's culinary highlights. One happy similarity between these two very different restaurants: wait staff who understand the food and the customer.

The flip side, of course, is the restaurant where it seems wait staff are brought in off the street. The attitude seems to be: If you're breathing, you can wait tables. And due to the code of niceness to which we have sworn allegiance, Minnesotans are forced to put up with the most annoying conversations when all we want is a good meal and a pleasant experience. To wit:

5. "Hi, my name is {fill-in-the-blank]." This passes for being friendly but, really, who cares? Some people swear this is ubiquitous, but I ask, do I need to develop a personal relationship with my server? What's charming is for a server to have checked the reservation book and greet the table by name. And while we're at it, lose the first names until invited. (In the interest of full disclosure: When I worked as a waitress--yes, that's what they called me--I had my server name. It was sort of like my stripper name but designed more for eliciting tips than whistles.)

4. "Would you like pepper on that?" Please, please, let the customer taste the food first. Just maybe the chef has sent it out from the kitchen perfectly seasoned. Ability to cook good food is why chefs are hired in the first place. Close cousin to that question is "What wine would you like with your dinner?" Novel idea: Let's select the food first, then the wine. Or, if you have a beautiful wine I must try, talk me through appropriate menu pairings.

3. "Are you still working on that?" Well, it's been onerous, but I'm just about done with my meal. Would it help you if I ate faster? Did the dishwasher order you to collect all the plates from the dining room?

2. "Did you save room for dessert?" This doesn't even make sense. Is there space in my stomach for more food? Was I so gluttonous with my first courses that I can't push another bite into my gullet? Why am I being guilted? And why is the server shooting self in foot? Add a dessert to the bill and the tip goes up--unless the last question is:

1. "Do you want change?" No, I usually tip 80 percent. When a server grabs a $20 for a $7 tab, it's probably a sure bet that change is an expected outcome of the transaction. 



Wait staff work extremely hard for their money. It's tough physically and exhausting mentally. They deserve to be rewarded for their work (and there is a special hell for chintzy tippers), but they up their chances by limiting their questions to "What may I bring you?"








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35 comments
Bs
Bs

This is the stupidest shit I have ever heard, as a server I don't know what else you would expect from someone WAITING ON YOU. Pretty much if you want someone to treat you like shit and not care to even introduce them self's, save your "tip" money and find the nearest Country Buffet, sit your fat cheap ass down and plow that fork into your hole. I wait on the nicest people that ENJOY my service and not annoying questions. Clearly you have never waited on anyone or worked in the service industry, keep writing your crap articles.

linz
linz

 First of all, this article is idiotic. Second of all: TOP 5 most annoying things guests at a restuarant say:

1) Server: Hi my name is ____, how are you today? Guest: Bring me an iced tea. Seriously? Are you that thirsty/rude/socially awkward that you can't just respond with a simple "I'm fine, how about you?" although, does this cross the line into developing a personal relationship with your server? Idiot.

2) "How much is that?" I'm sorry that most of the time, drink menus dont have prices listed. But if you have to ask, you probably can't afford it. Especially if you're ordering shots of Patron. Just saying... This is an extreme peeve of mine, especially when its happy hour and I've already informed you everything is half off. If you can't afford a $4 margarita, please go to taco bell next door.

3) "If I send this back, are you going to spit in it?" As much as I would like to sometimes, I would never spit in your food. I'm not a five year old. If you are friendly with me, and don't act like your steak being undercooked is the worst thing that could ever happen to you, I have no problem fixing your food for you. Believe it or not, I want you to be happy! Just don't over react, please!

4)  "Wheres my food" Ummm, being cooked... in the kitchen? I'm sorry, but if you are in a hurry, dont go out to eat. If you go to a restuarant, please respect that fact that we are actually cooking your food. Well done steaks take awhile... unless you just want me to throw that in the microwave for you.

5) "Do you guys do anything special for birthdays?" Sure, if you're ten. 40 year olds do not need servers to sing them happy birthday.

Remember, I'm your SERVER not your SERVANT!

CathySUCKS
CathySUCKS

Trust me, no servers WANTS to give you their first name. Its usually required by their ridiculous restaurant policy. A lot of your complaining about what servers do it designated by their restaurant policy. "Are you still working on that?"- Because 90% of the time the plate is completely empty and a rude customer will freak out if you take the empty place. It is extremely polite to ask you before the plate is cleared. Nobody cares if you want pepper on your food, its a required questions. There are tons of other tables that need attention and to babysit you while you wait to taste your food would be ridiculous. You know if you want extra pepper, so just answer the damn question. I agree with a lot of what you rant about- like you I would prefer not to be interrupted during the meal, and just be given information if I ask. Sadly most restaurants do not encourage this of their servers.  ALSO "Do you want change?" legitimate question. Just ANSWER it. Often times customers EXPECT that the server knows that they don't want change, and then when the change is brought to them they get angry. More often than not when I have asked this question it is because I don't want to assume that the money is tip- it is polite- so just be polite back. 

Amanda
Amanda

I'm usually not one to comment on anything, but as a current restaurant manager who started working in the industry as an eighteen yr old full-time college student working the night shift, I actually have something to say.

1. "Name" There are several reasons why a server should tell you his/her name. The biggest reason is to avoid the obnoxious waving across the restaurant for your server. Next, believe it or not some guests will actually have a conversation with their server!!! It's a great way to establish regular guests. If you have a great server, wouldn't you want to make sure you had that person next time you dined at that restaurant?? How would you do that if you didn't know his/her name? Also, many servers are either college students or graduates trying to get by while they find a position in their career field. It's a great way to network. I'm not saying the server should approach the guest and ask what line of work they are in, by any means, but I have received countless job offers and business cards slipped into checkbooks letting me know to call them if I'm looking to do something else. But, guess what, I enjoy my line of work! I don't care if you forget my name as soon as I tell it to you. I like how you said "when I worked as a waitress- yes, that's what they called me." So.....what do you call "waitresses" now....servers? Hint: it's nice to call servers by their REAL name.

2."Would you like pepper on that?' Agreed, as it would offend some chefs I know if someone wanted pepper on the dish; however, instead of keeping salt/pepper on tables, some restaurants require their servers to bring a grinder to table and ask.

3. "Are you still working on that?" When you are finished with a meal, don't you want it out of your face? Although I think a server should wait until all guests appear to be finished, sometimes you just have to ask! Some people will literally sit there for ten minutes and not have a bite. Although they may be just taking a break before finishing, it can sometimes be hard to tell. Servers can't read minds.

4. "Did you save room for dessert?" You just said that you felt rushed when I asked if you were still working on your meal. Now you want me to assume you don't want dessert and just bring your check? It's simple. Drinks? Appetizers? Entrees? Coffee/Desserts? Check? They are just trying to please you.

5. "Do you want change." Agreed. A server should always assume the guest needs change unless told to keep it. However, tables turned, a guest should always let them know before the server wastes his/her time getting your change just to get back to the table and told to keep it.

Spencer
Spencer

You're a pretentious ingnorant retard that has obviously never worked in the service industry. Servers love to hate idiots like u. Youve the kind of person that expects the server to have some magic telepathic powers to know when youre finished or when you're ready for dessers. Hey chief news flash, the only way we know what u want and when u want it is by asking you. Which asking such questions usually comes at out dismay because of you're persistent attitude and lack of manners. Why SHOULD we give u good service anyway, so u can treat us like shit and tip 10 percent. Thanks but no thanks. All I'm saying is that I hope one day u come into my restaurant and sit in my section and order the clam chowder. I'll have something waiting in it for you. :)

Tjohnson1
Tjohnson1

This whole article is ridiculous. What a douche move writing this. Some of us work this job to pay for college, rent and LSAT prep classes (all at the same time, might I add, as wel as volunteering 10 hours a week, chairing a student org and running Track and Field for our college as well). We love it when jerks like whoever wrote this lame article come in and act like the sun shines out of their butt hole. If you don't want to be annoyed by a server, don't freaking eat out. We get paid $4 an hour, which mostly gets reduced to between $1.50 and $2.00 an hour after the tip claims are subtracted. We work late hours and if working for a corporate company, are literally forced to say this crap to you. So get over yourself, make some ramen, and sit in your living room alone where you can't be bothered.

Tjohnson1
Tjohnson1

Obviously, this person has never been a server. We love saying that as much as you like hearing it.

Margaret
Margaret

I think it has a lot to do with things servers don't say, too. The eye roll when you ask to split the check, impatient answers to simple requests, a general sense of entitlement that makes you feel like you ought to be serving them (I know you're working on your Master's degree, but could I please have the side of ketchup that goes with my fries?). I was a server for many years, a year and a half of that time at Meritage, and I understand all the annoying things that customers do, the fatigue of the job, etc... but what I learned from working at Meritage was a true sense of the meaning of HOSPITALITY. I'm glad Desta is getting some props for the server "do's" she instills in her FOH employees. 

Jane Doe
Jane Doe

The only one that would annoy me would be 1. "Do you want change", because that's ASKING for a tip rather than letting the customer decide on what to give or if they want to give a tip even.

Here's some of mine:

1. Ask if you have been there before?(Especially if you have, it's irritating anda time waster).

2. Make comments about what you order whether good or bad, by basically puttingtheir opinion into what you are ordering. It's not your business and it's notnice, so don't go there unless specifically asked to.

3. Servers that ask you to remind them when you have modifications like addingsome condiments. NO, you remind yourself by your written order. Those serversdidn't even want to write the stuff down they were so lazy. I have had 4servers over the years ask me that.

4. Servers that don't take "NO" for an answer trying to convince you toget a dessert such as me and my husband have had a server that was like "come on, you've got to get dessert" after we had ALREADY said "NO."

5. Auctioning off drinks and/or food when YOUR server is the one that took theorder. The servers should be going down the line from a starting point and makesure the food goes in front of the correct person. The only way the server hasa good excuse to mess up on this is if the customers switched spots, because thenI could see not knowing, but most servers are TOO LAZY today to compare theirwritten orders to what is in their hands, the plates of food or glasses ofdrinks. Once, I had a waitress in a party of 4 auction off drinks. Iwas like, how stupid and lazy can she be? FOUR drinks, when she WROTE them downeven as to how lazy she was to make us state who had what drink. That's not ourjob, that's our server's job.

Duh
Duh

Wow, all of you need to get a life. If the semantics of how we ask you about what you need to make your dining experience a good one is getting picked to shreds, then let me share how you irritate the shit out of us:1. If we didn't ask you about wine, you would complain that we didn't.2. If we didn't offer you pepper, you would complain that we didn't.3. We ask you if you need change because we are not going to open the check presenter in front of you and count the money. It is an act of courtesy. If we stood in front of you, counted the money and then either assumed you did, or did not need change, you would complain that we are rude. We don't have x- ray vision. 4. Depending on the restaurant, some servers are required to tell you their name. It may be a requirement where if we were "shopped" by the company and did not follow the standards of service set forth by management, we could lose scores and be written up. If you don't like it, send your comments to management.5. I ask if you saved room for dessert or if you would like to see the dessert menu because I have assumed that the nice restaurant that I work for had fed you a good and satisfying meal and as a bonus, we have some wonderful dessert. If you think this statement is a personal attack on you, I can give you the names of a few good psychotherapists who can help you with your paranoia and esteem issues. It's just a simple question, not a judgement. Get a damn grip.6. I ask you if you are still working on your meal because you have been sitting with your mostly eaten meal in front of you for 20 minutes without touching it. Would you rather I didn't ask and didn't box up the remainder for your late night snack? Would you rather I left dirty plates in front of you after I drop the check? I'm not rushing you, I just want to make you comfortable. Honestly, I think your complaints are so stupid. Pull the stick out of your ass and just enjoy the fact that someone is trying to take care of you. Be happy that you can afford to have a nice meal in a decent restaurant where many people can not. Arguing the semantics from hard working people that are just trying to help you have a good experience and a nice meal makes you sound like a total tool. " oh my god I hate when my diamonds reflect too much light in my peripheral vision and I can't see my nanny's tears when I scream at her". Douchelord problems.

essy
essy

This Top 5 list only confirms that maaaany people do not understand or fully respect the system of dining out. People go to restaurants to enjoy a quality meal, maybe something exotic, maybe a night off their feet, free from stress. They expect these things. I understand that.

But if diners would only realize that servers and front-of-the-house staff are vital cogs in the restaurant clock, perhaps they'd save some of their petty judgment. Would you prefer to fetch more water, your meal, or extra napkins yourself, and thereby shatter the illusion you sought out in the first place?

There's no excuse for initial and outright rude customer service, to be sure. Every patron AND staff member is entitled to a polite interaction. But consider that, as a restaurant goer, your role is to actually order around another human being. Might you forgive a verbal slip now and then as we flit around the restaurant, trying to remember that table 16 needs more water, table 11 spilled their soda, and table 4 asked for extra sauce? Sometimes we cannot spare another scrap of mental space to consider whether asking if you need change seems more inappropriate than brusquely swiping your money from the table. No one's trying to swindle you. We're just trying to get through the night.

And do consider that we servers aren't permitted to retaliate when YOU say stupid things, and sleazily ASK US for our first names, or tell one more INSUFFERABLE joke that--big surprise--we've already heard a gazillion times. 

Shampt012003
Shampt012003

If these things bother you, you are an idiot

Curtis Meyer
Curtis Meyer

My biggest pet peeve is:  “How is everything tasting?”Aaargh!  What if everything tastes fine, but I need a napkin?This should be standard:  “How is everything?”

HurdyGurdy
HurdyGurdy

Top-of-the-line snobbery from a jerk food critic. "Bring me my food, and if you dare talk to me, it better be something clever or perfectly suited to my particular state of mind and desires." Please forgive the service workers who are too tired, overworked, and underpaid to think about the philosophical ramifications of stock phrases. Yes, you obviously don't want to "develop a personal relationship with [your] server" (elitist for "I don't want to humanize you because you're a servant and my brain has no room for the goals, struggles, and history of another person; so shut up and bring me my curried salmon"), but you demand a lot from people who's misdeed is saying something not perfectly logical or suitable for the occasion. 

I understand that you'd prefer not being bothered by a server, but that's a disingenous demand in a society that lives by "the customer's always right." Customers want servers to give them everything they request and be friendly on command, but also know when they're not welcome. Servers (and retail workers) walk an impossible line where they're expected to understand our (the customers) every psychological and emotional state. And they get paid shit for taking our abuse with a smile.

So get over the imperfect use of language, and continue your much more important and socially-beneficial job of telling people what food tastes good. You have the time and resources to document all the things servers say to you (on your frequent trips to Twin Cities restaurants), then complain about them professionally, so who's really the one who needs to think before they speak?

Russ
Russ

Good list. A couple of comments, though: It might be useful to know the name of the server in some circumstances, such as "we need a fork here", or "I'd like a glass of water"; i.e., something you forgot to tell her/him. About the pepper and the wine questions before one has tasted the food: Yes, very annoying. It would cost the restaurant something, but why not have pepper grinders on every table? I sometimes wonder what "revenge" might be taken on the diner if I say something to the effect of, "how would I know yet?" Same thing regarding the supremely annoying "still working on that". Is this asked at the direction of management, or is it just a stock phrase used unthinkingly by the wait staff? Re saving room for dessert: This is less annoying than the other items on the list. I just assume the server is trying to informal and friendly. Still, "would you like a dessert (menu)?" is better. "Do you want change?" is my number one annoyance. By this time - at the end of the meal - I no longer fear the server spitting on my food, so I'm tempted to respond thusly: "Absolutely, and much more since you asked that question."

blessedarewewithlife
blessedarewewithlife

@linz  OMG's that is hilarious and sooooo true!!! <3 this! hope you do not mind I had to share this with some others on my facebook that i work with!!

Springs1
Springs1

 "ALSO "Do you want change?" legitimate question. Just ANSWER it. Often times customers EXPECT that the server knows that they don't want change, and then when the change is brought to them they get angry. More often than not when I have asked this question it is because I don't want to assume that the money is tip- it is polite- so just be polite back."

It's not polite to *ASK* for your tip, sorry, but that's not polite, just ask most customers.

Bretski40
Bretski40

jane doe, you should never be allowed to dine until you have put in at least 40 hours as a server. your intolerance and lack of common courtesy is too much to deal with. how awful it must be to wait on you. i bet you dine just to give others a hard time and to make yourself feel superior. guess what, i just feel pity for you.

Jane Doe
Jane Doe

"3. We ask you if you need change because we are not going to open the check presenter in front of you and count the money. It is an act of courtesy. If we stood in front of you, counted the money and then either assumed you did, or did not need change, you would complain that we are rude. We don't have x- ray vision."

NO, you ask because you are TOO LAZY ASS to get the change that you want to save yourself a trip.  IT'S YOUR JOB AS A SERVER TO GET CHANGE!!

You shouldn't be concerned about asking that. You should just say "I'll be right back with your change." Give a second, then if the person doesn't say anything, DUH, that means they want their change.

My husband and I even have been asked by some servers when we have paid with a credit card if we wanted change. It's pathetic that servers are THAT LAZY ASS that they don't want to do their FULL and COMPLETE JOB!!

If you get the change and they leave it all there, well you would have ******EARNED****** that amount since you went to go get it. Don't you get that?

It's not an act of courtesy when it takes MORE OF OUR TIME as customers to have to answer stupid ass questions. It's a TIME WASTER and INTERRUPTER that if people are in conversations, you have to ask them rather than just grab the check presenter and get the change.

It's RUDE because you don't want to make another trip. It shows how LAZY you are. Hard workers would NEVER, EVER ask to shorten their trips for something that is not their decision.

TIPS are CUSTOMER'S DECISIONS, NOT SERVER'S DECISIONS, so let ***US** do the deciding by SHUTTING YOUR MOUTHS and JUST GET THE CHANGE.

If the person leaves it all there, SO WHAT? YOU EARNED IT!! QUIT SOLICITING TIPS!! When you ask for change, you are **ASKING** TO GET PART OF THAT CHANGE. It's the truth.

It is NOT anywhere NEAR an act of courtesy. It's an act of **PURE LAZINESS** is what it's ALL ABOUT!! WHY don't you want to admit that, huh?

Jane Doe
Jane Doe

"trying to remember that table 16 needs more water, table 11 spilled their soda, and table 4 asked for extra sauce?"

WHY are you trying to "REMEMBER" ANYTHING, when you should be ******WRITING ALL OF THOSE THINGS DOWN IN A LIST ON PAPER!!

"Sometimes we cannot spare another scrap of mental space to consider whether asking if you need change seems more inappropriate than brusquely swiping your money from the table. No one's trying to swindle you. We're just trying to get through the night."

YOU SOUND LAZY!! It's YOUR SERVER'S JOB to get your change. WHY are you trying to get out of doing it?

You are trying to swindle, because you are ASKING for your tip rather than it being something you are deciding rather than letting the *CUSTOMER* decide that on their own time and terms.

It's truly I feel all about LAZINESS that you don't want to go and get the change. That's truthfully what it's ALL ABOUT!!

Smarterthanmost Dickerson
Smarterthanmost Dickerson

but what if saying something now setup a bigger tip and less work later?  will i tip you more if i like you or hate you?  well... I don't like people that say "what are we having"?  or calling my wife and I "guys".  Is it bigger than world peace?  no.  but if you are going to get all dressed up and come into work you might as well make it count and use the words and have the demeanor that will result in me tipping you well now and returning to do it again later.  there is no shame in trying harder is there?

HurdyGurdy
HurdyGurdy

Then you ask for a napkin. Tough, I know. Aaaargh!

Dave
Dave

Sounds like hospitality services are a waste of your valuable English BA. LOL!

Jane Doe
Jane Doe

"It might be useful to know the name of the server in some circumstances, such as "we need a fork here", or "I'd like a glass of water"; i.e., something you forgot to tell her/him."

This is very true, but the vast majority of the time I DO NOT REMEMBER the server's name. A lot of people have problems remembering names and even sometimes you forget what exactly they even looked like if you only saw them like once.

" By this time - at the end of the meal - I no longer fear the server spitting on my food, so I'm tempted to respond thusly: "Absolutely, and much more since you asked that question.""

I am tempted to say "OF COURSE, WHY WOULDN'T I WANT MY CHANGE, HUH?"

David Foureyes
David Foureyes

People steal pepper grinders off tables...frequently and especially at fancy places with fancy grinders...

Working in a fine dining place, you quickly learn: suburban jags love to steal shit.

Jane Doe
Jane Doe

"lack of common courtesy"

How is it a lack of common courtesy to want your server to *RESPECT* you and do their **JOB** correctly, huh?

I think it's a lack of common courtesy for them to ask you for your help when they are TOO LAZY TO WRITE DOWN YOUR ORDER OR REREAD YOUR ORDER THEY WROTE DOWN. WHO is the person getting **PAID** HERE, HUH?

"how awful it must be to wait on you."

YOU SOUND LAZY!

" i bet you dine just to give others a hard time and to make yourself feel superior."

NO, but I have proven things on menus at even restaurants I have been to the FIRST TIME even BETTER than the servers did. THAT IS PITIFUL!!

I at times know more about how to do the job than they do, seriously, that is the truth.

You are just an UNCARING, LAZY ASS, ASSHOLE who wants the money without doing the *********WORK********** it takes to do it and you also think somehow it's right for a server to waste your time making stupid comments about what a customer orders. As a server, your job is to DO YOUR JOB, NOT PLAY AROUND!! You EXPECT a good tip, we *EXPECT* GOOD SERVICE. It's only fair.

casroders
casroders

Seriously? You are an idiot. You could never in your life be a server and do the work that we do. Getting change its a waste of OUR time. If you don't need change then it wastes time to have to go out of our way to go get it when we have more tables to take care of who aren't going to be assholes like you. I know sitting on your ass and complaining about the server doing their job and being nice to rude people like you must be so EXHAUSTING, but I have to work to make my money by running around the restaurant taking care of multiple people at once so that I can pay my bills and for my college education. So please stop with your ignorant comments because you have no idea how difficult a servers job can be.

JaneSucks
JaneSucks

I sure hope Jane doesn't eat out anymore. I'm pretty sure the next server who gets her would likely slip smashed glass in her meal. 

Yeesh
Yeesh

WHY do you insist on CAPITALIZING word and putting an ******* excessive ******* NUMBER of words in "QUOTES"?  Do you think people can't understand WHAT YOUR *POINT* is without them *??*  Also, from your comments, it's CLEAR you've never worked in CUSTOMER SERVICE ever, or ***** at least in quite a while.

essy
essy

You've clearly never worked in a restaurant because there's never "less work later," no matter what short cuts you take or how big and genuine your smile is. So I'm expected to read each customer's mind to avoid their personal verbal pet peeves? Oh boy...yeah you're right, I'm definitely just not trying hard enough. Jeez, maybe a genius or a wizard should be doing my job. Hey, do you wanna give it a try? I mean if you're smart enough to realize that calling a group of customers "guys" is an offense equal to receiving a cold meal or a slap in the face, you clearly have what it takes to deal with judgmental assholes all day long. Best of luck!

Duh
Duh

Really? "guys" bothers you? What do you suggest? "Monsior and Madame" all night long? How about you and you? Is "you two" better? Really, I want to know. First names is out. Do I ask your last names when you didn't have a reservation and address you as such?if you do have a reservation I would still have to ask for names since I'm not a psychic and dont know who made the reservation and don't know If everyone in your party has the same name. Do I assume you are married? What If you are married but you don't have the same last name? Would you rather I say "gals", "dudes", " homies", " you dickheads"? In American English, the colliquial usage of the word "guys" has actually become a non-gendered term when speaking to more than one person, as in "hey you guys". Aren't there worse things in the world to be offended by? I am offended by poverty, hunger, poor health care system, irresponsible government leadership, war, etc. Not by someone bringing me food and drinks who says " hey guys".

casroders
casroders

Maybe you should write down your servers name. That's apparently how you should hope to remember things.

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