Let’s be honest – in an industry where being a smiling, helpful drone means money, it’s hard to keep from wanting to strangle the worst of customers. However, servers do have little outlets to stay sane. Here are a few I’ve picked up on.
1. Make you pay for everything
This may come as a shock to you, but often, you won’t actually be billed for everything at a restaurant. The side of fries that you assumed came with your soup and sandwich? That actually costs $2.50, but if you’re being nice, I’ll just bring it out for free.
While that doesn’t sound like a big deal, imagine it when you have a group of 20 people, all clamoring for this and that. Between all the extra sides, sauces, drinks, and special things for your children, it can be the difference of adding another $20 onto the bill. My restaurant tells me to charge for club soda, which I think is stupid, so I usually don’t do that. However, if you’re being a demanding jerk, you can sure bet I’m going to charge you for everything I possibly can. So be nice. It can actually save you money.
2. Revoking your ice privileges
I get it. You’re thirsty. When I go out to eat, I drink a lot of water, too. But when you’re on your fourth Diet Coke in 10 minutes, I think we can all agree things are getting a bit excessive. So, in an effort to make your fifth and sixth glasses last a little longer, I begin revoking your ice privileges. If you started with a full glass of ice, by the end, you’re lucky if you’re getting a couple cubes. Unless you ran a marathon just to get to this restaurant, nobody needs to drink that much.
Some people say to just bring out an bigger glass, or even just two glasses. You’d think that would be fine, but a lot of people see it as some sort of challenge. “OH, you think I’m drinking too quickly? Well, watch this!” Sorry, but you’re just going to get less ice.
3. The power of time
In the serving business, time is power. The more available time we have, the better service will be. However, when you’re scrambling around on a Saturday night trying to do 15 things at once, time is a precious commodity. There are times when I want to tell a table “look, I have 45 seconds for you to tell me what you’d like. After that, you’re at the end of rotation, and I’ll be lucky to get back here in another 15 minutes.”
However, you can’t really say that. But if you waste my time by asking dumb questions which could easily be answered had you actually opened the menu, or if you are awkwardly shuffling through the menu while mumbling, I’m exceedingly less inclined to get back soon. Just tell me you need a little more time, and I can adjust the 14 other things. When you have 4 tables that have a grasp on how this restaurant thing works, and one table that doesn’t, it’s just a fact that things will go a little slower for the 5th table. I’m trying my best, but you gotta work with me. If you make things slow for me, it’s just a vicious cycle that will turn out badly for you.
4. It’s time to leave
For whatever reason, restaurants seem to be the only place where if you want to stay 2 hours past closing time, nobody will say a damn thing about it. Go to Barns and Noble, grab a book 5 minutes before closing time, and see how quickly they invite you to hurry up and pay so you can bring the book home.
When you stick around at a restaurant, you’re inconveniencing everyone involved. I can’t leave, my manager can’t leave, and nobody is happy. The only thing I can really do is begin to remove various items from your table. If you should look up as your server is removing the glassware, salt and pepper shakers or silverware, you’ll notice that they are not looking at what they’re picking up — they’re staring at you. They’re channeling as much hatred and “you really need to leave now” vibes as mentally possible. So really, once things begin to disappear from your table, it’s time to head out.