1. Don’t say “we’re ready” if you’re not ready. There are few things more irritating and uncomfortable for your waiter than having to stand there for another three minutes while everyone hems and haws and argues over the nuances of the lunch menu, when they’ve already said they were ready to order. (Not to mention, it’s so unfair to everyone at the table when one person just sits there in silence staring at the menu while everyone awkwardly stares at them.)
2. Put down your phone when your waiter comes to your table. Ignoring your date for a full hour and a half meal because you’re busy checking your work email is totally your (awful) prerogative. But making the waiter stand there awkwardly while you flip through your Facebook notifications is unacceptable. Phone goes completely away when waiter comes over, it’s not complicated.
3. Take care of your fucking children. If you let your children run amok in restaurants (particularly restaurants that are not intended for children, because why the hell are you taking your child to a trendy small plates restaurant at 10 PM on a Thursday so they can throw truffle fries at each other), you are the absolute worst. People who let their children run, scream, pour salt on the table, be an asshole to waiters, smush their food around, and generally be horrible children in adult restaurants should not be allowed to go out. Period.
4. If something is wrong with your food, don’t take it out on them. Explain it kindly and patiently, and ask what is possible to be done for it. Don’t immediately get all bitchy with your waiter (who had nothing to do with your food) because you’re not happy with your meal. Chances are, with a little kindness, everything will go 1000 percent smoother and everyone will end up with what they want.
5. Don’t fight with your SO in front of your waiter. Why in the world would you do that to someone?? Why would you make a stranger who is just trying to do his/her job have to awkwardly stand by and watch while the two of you scream about how the passion has gone out in your sex life? If you really need to loudly argue that badly, get that shit to go.
6. Look them in the eyes, almost as if they were a human being and not your personal servant. You would be shocked at the number of people who don’t think it necessary to make eye contact with their waiter. They just sort of say their order off to the side while not taking their eyes off their tablemates/the conversation they’re having. And it is so unbelievably rude. It takes two seconds, stop what you’re doing and look at them.
7. Don’t keep them running back and forth for your bullshit. Use common sense. Yes, sometimes you can ask for extra this, more of that, another one of these. But if you are sending your waiter back and forth ten times for a one-course meal — and a lot of people do this, for their extra ketchup and straws and cups of ice and more parsley and more pepper — you should probably chill. Just because you can monopolize their time at the expense of their other tables doesn’t mean you should.
8. They are not the ones in charge of how long your food takes, so if you have to ask what’s taking so long, do it nicely. The desire to unload all of your personal problems and the sins of humanity on your waiter — because they’re in front of you, and they can’t say anything back — is obvious. But it doesn’t mean you should abuse that power by snapping at them the second something is taking too long (that they are incapable of making go faster).
9. Tip. It’s not a debate, and if you try to make it a debate, you’re an asshole. 20 percent for good service, that’s how it works now. You don’t want to do that? Don’t go out, and lobby your local politicians to get the servers in your state a livable wage, so they don’t have to rely on your completely inconsistent generosity. This is the way the world of eating out works, if you don’t want to participate, don’t. But good tips for good service is not optional.
10. When the restaurant is packed and clearly understaffed, be understanding. It’s not your waiter’s fault and he/she is doing their best. It’s not personal, and acting a fool about it is only going to make things harder/slower on everyone.
11. Say “please” and “thank you.” It’s a total of three words. It couldn’t be easier, and we are all capable of doing it in plenty of other settings. Do it with your waiter.