Thursday Server Rants, Raves, and Tips

Drumrollll…this week’s RR&T doesn’t have any rants.  YAY!  Everything went pretty smoothly, and this week, I’m only working 3 shifts (mainly because I just needed a day off during the weekend…seriously burning out on those long shifts).  It should be a good week.

So due to the lack of specific rants this week, I’ve compiled a list of my top customer-related server pet peeves.  This list comes from my four different serving jobs (mostly the ‘bees, to be honest).  It’s in no specific order, but trust me…most servers would probably agree with most of this list, and these five things are relevant in pretty much any restaurant.

1) Self-seaters: Please be aware of signage.  If there is a sign out that says, “Please Wait To Be Seated” or anything of that nature, adhere to it.  Self-seaters tend to be the people that sit there getting angry because they haven’t been greeted or handed a menu.  If you walked right past the host sign, the hostess probably has no idea you’re there, and hasn’t informed a server (or hates that you didn’t read the sign, and is going to make you sit there for a while before passive-aggressively bringing you a menu “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t see you come in!  We actually prefer to seat guests ourselves…”)  Or you’re sitting in a section that doesn’t even *have* a server.  Let the hostess do her job, please.  It will make your dining experience more pleasurable.

2) “We’re ready to order (but we still haven’t decided on…)”: There is nothing worse than getting to a table, asking if their ready, being told “Yes”, and then having to stand there awkwardly for a few minutes while they make their final decision.  Don’t feel bad asking for a couple more minutes!  Once I have you seated and beveraged, I’m in no rush because it will be all up to the kitchen at that point.  What sucks is when I’m waiting for your order that you SAID you were ready to give, while I’m watching people pile in the front door that I have to get sat, or see that my other tables are ready to cash out.
Side pet peeve: also take a minute to look at the appetizer, salad, and/or soup list if you think you maybe might want that.  I’ve never worked a job where I’m not required to ask something like, “Would you like to start with some mozzarella sticks tonight?” or “Would you like to add a soup or salad to your entree?”  Of course the server is going to ask this question!  We have to up-sell!

3) Parents who think they don’t have to parent at a restaurant: If you read server blogs, this is the #1 pet peeve of most waiters.  A restaurant, regardless of how family-friendly it is, IS NOT A PLAYGROUND.  Ladies and gentlemen, I am walking around with cups of hot soup and pizzas that just came out of a 500+ degree oven.  If your kid is running around at 2 feet high, there’s a good chance I’m not going to see him, and he is at risk for 2nd-3rd degree burns.  This is SERIOUS.  It amazes me how parents think they can turn a blind eye to their children’s poor behavior.  Keep your children in their seats.  I love kids, I do, but I hate bad parents.
Side pet peeve: parents who tip 10% after their children (babies) have managed to get their food everywhere except their mouths.  Mac & cheese is a BITCH to get out of a carpet.

4) People who don’t listen the first…or third…time: “What side would you like with your steak?”  “What are the options?”  “Mashed potato, baked potato, herb potatoes, crunchy potatoes, fries, steamed veggies, rice pilaf, or you could add a salad or soup for an extra $1.”  No one wants to repeat that list for all. six. people. at the table.  But if you’ve never served a table, you’d probably be surprised how often I’ve had to do that.  “And what sides would YOU like with your steak?”  “I’m sorry, what are the options?  I know you totally just said them…”  Yeah, I did.  GAH.

5) “Heather, could I please get some more water?” “Heather, thank you so much!” “Heather, I think we’re ready to order.”: I know there will be some servers who disagree with me on this, but I have to say probably my weirdest pet peeve is guests who use my name every time they need something.  I appreciate when people know my name and use it to reference me in an appropriate setting: “Our server is Heather, could you ask her to bring us some ranch?”  But I despise when people use my name constantly AT me.  We are not friends.  I am your server.  I had a group that was unbelievably sweet, adorable well behaved kids, excellent tippers, and easy to wait on.  But it was like fingernails on a chalkboard every time the woman who was sort of the head of the group would use my name EVERY TIME I was at the table).  Maybe because it has always come across to me as condescending, like they’re trying to prove that they deserve excellent service because they think we’re on friendly terms.

People.  I just don’t get ’em sometimes.

Now onto the fun stuff.


-I love regulars who are nice people and who are easy to take care of, and I love making regulars feel like guests in a restaurant.  I’ve had this table of a dad and his two sons come in a few times now and sit in my section, so when I asked if they wanted a diet coke, lemonade, and a root beer instead of just asking what they’d like to drink, it made me happy to catch them off guard and make THEM happy by letting them know I remembered them.  It’s the little things, you know?

-Henry.  Of course.  He dumped a bunch of black pepper on his slice of cheese, and his dad was like, “you’re not going to like it…” but he was all about it!  He also uses red pepper flakes like no four year old I’ve seen.  Yet he still won’t touch vegetables…

-So we have these stands at work for the pizzas.  I had the most adorable child in my section a few nights ago, and I was walking back up with the water pitcher, when I just had to stop because I started laughing.  I don’t think I have genuinely laughed at a kid so hard at work, but he had put the pizza stand over his head (see picture of me re-creating the moment below…not as good, but I had to show y’all), was announcing to his parents he was a baseball, and was growling because apparently that’s what baseballs do.  20120830-105149.jpg

Do you have any server pet peeves?  Do you agree with mine?  Am I the only one that hates when people use my name?


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