1. The Creepy Flirt
Here's the thing about working in the food service industry: we're being paid to keep the customers happy, and that's it. This really shouldn't have to be communicated over and over like it's a secret or anything, but there you have it: people don't realize you're being overly nice to them out of professional obligation, not because we're totally into you and think you're super cute. We laugh at your dumb jokes and smile a little too much because we want to keep our bosses happy and get a decent tip, not because we wanna grab a one-way ticket to BoneZone USA with you.
So, please, do not be the person who relentlessly flirts with your waiter or waitress - trying to make plans, asking us when our shift is over, "subtly" trying to get our phone number. You're making things weird for us, weird for you, and (sometimes) weird for THE PERSON YOU'RE OUT ON A DATE WITH.
(Yes, that happens A LOT.)
The one nice thing is that they usually leave a decent sized tip. Although sometimes they leave their phone number in the tip section, which is essentially just giving "an awkward attempt to avoid eye contact when we pick up the bill" instead of money.
2. The Group of Teens
Any gaggle of teens is a terrifying prospect, because you have absolutely no idea what you're going to get: they could be mostly polite teens whose parents gave them way too much money (and you'll get a good tip because they don't care enough to be frugal), or (more likely) you'll get a bunch of hormonal teen assholes.
This includes (but is not limited to):
- The kid who opens all of the coffee creamers and turns them upside down so you're guaranteed to make a mess when clearing the table
- The kid who keeps giggling and saying it's someone's birthday, even though it clearly isn't, just because they want to "embarrass" their friend by making the staff sing "Happy Birthday"
- The kid who thinks they're "the funny one", which just means they yell shit the loudest.
- ...and more.
And regardless, they'll all be way too loud the entire time, do the dumbest shit to make each other laugh (from spilling sugar packets to tipping over in their chairs to god knows what else), make a mess in the bathroom, and generally make your life just a little bit worse for the entire duration of their meal.
And at the end, there's a 1-in-50 chance they'll try to dine 'n dash and the restaurant doesn't pay you enough to chase them.
3. Actually, ANY Group of People
Any group of more than 6 or 7 people sucks. There's way too many people, who all want completely different things, are going to have a bunch of different issues with their food, and are going to be loud the entire time. Of course, there's a big difference between a group of dudes out for a bachelor party and a church group out for a dinner of thinking about sin quietly to themselves.
But here's why group rowdiness is a pretty minor deal ultimately: except for rare cases, you're gonna end up splitting the check for each individual person, guaranteed. AND they're not going to tell you they want the check split until the very end, so you'll have to figure out exactly how to split up the 12 appetizers (of varying costs) across 15 people, several of whom shared an entree, and all of whom are going to assume someone else is leaving the tip.
4. Friend of the Owner
There's a calculation that takes place in every waiter or waitress' head when they hear a customer is "a friend of the owner": do I really have to bend over backwards for this person (assuming they are legitimately a good friend of the owner and would pass along how awesome you were being) or are they a full-of-shit dumbass who is the owner's distant cousin who just wants special treatment?
Either way, your job has suddenly become a little bit more complicated, since they're EXPECTING a lot simply by casually dropping that line. And then you're forced to be on constant water-alert, nonstop vigilance at making sure their steak is EXACTLY medium-rare as possible, and living with the creeping awareness that they'll probably leave a shitty tip at the end of all of this.
Here's a hint: we don't like our boss, and we like his friends even less.
5. The 10-to-10 Guy
The most anxiety-filled, tense period of time in any restaurant is in the last 10 minutes before close - because there's always some oblivious guy who wanders in riiiiiiight before you were about to lock the doors and sits down for a nice long meal. It's not necessarily this guy's fault or anything - as far as he knows, you guys are still open, so what's the harm in sitting down?
The harm is THE ENTIRE STAFF HAS TO HOLD OFF ON CLOSING SO YOU CAN MULL OVER WHAT TOPPINGS YOU WANT ON YOUR HAMBURGER FOR 20 MINUTES...AND THEN YOU FINISH EATING AND SIT ON YOUR PHONE FOR ANOTHER 30 MINUTES AND HOLY CRAP WE'RE ALL JUST STANDING AROUND WAITING FOR YOU TO LEAVE, DUDE.
Just go home and heat up a Hot Pocket. Please. I'm begging you.
6. The Rebel Orderer
I don't care who you are - a local celebrity, a regular at the restaurant, a "friend of the owner," my dad - just do not order off the menu. The menu is there for a reason, so please use it. Note that I'm not talking to people who want their cheeseburger with a squirt of sriracha or something minor like that - I'm talking to people who come into a BBQ place and ask if they can get duck a l'orange with a side of pad thai.
If you're really insistent about it, I'll tell you what I'll do: I say I'll check with the kitchen, go to the kitchen, tell them to drop a stray pube in this dude's order when it comes in, and go back out to tell you "Oh, I'm so sorry, but we don't have any duck in the kitchen today, so is there anything on the menu I can get for you? Maybe something kinda messy like pulled pork where I could sneak a pube in real easily?" (I don't actually say that last part)
7. The Full Complainer
Listen, it happens: sometimes waiters or waitresses screw up the customer's order, or the chef prepares it wrong, or something happens where the meal served is different from the meal originally ordered. It's never done on purpose, and we're always very apologetic, and we do whatever we can to fix the mistake ASAP.
Except in one case: when you make the complaint AFTER you've already eaten the entire thing.
"Hey, that steak and mashed potatoes I ate all of had a huge problem - I ordered the steak medium-RARE, not medium-WELL!"
And even this wouldn't be the biggest deal in the world if not for what is either implied by that complaint or straight-up demanded right after: that they want a REPLACEMENT MEAL....to replace the meal they already consumed all of.
If you really weren't pleased with the meal you were served, tell us immediately, for a few reasons:
- You weren't served the meal you ordered, so you do DESERVE the ONE meal you ordered (not TWO meals)
- WE CANNOT VERIFY IF YOU'RE MAKING IT UP OR NOT UNLESS THE MEAL IS STILL THERE. (THIS IS IMPORTANT)
This may seem WAY too obvious to you, A Logical Human Being. Unfortunately, the majority of people you end up serving as a waiter or waitress do not fall into that category.