A restaurant server’s job is, simply put, to help inform you of menu options at their restaurant, to take your order, and to help conduct your food to you, along with the help of runners and other staff. Your server’s job description does not include being your comedic audience, being your personal meal consultant, serving as the complaint department, or being treated as an object of romantic interest, all customer behaviors that most servers strongly dislike
Yet far too often servers have to deal with these boorish behaviors and so many more. We surveyed dozens of current and former restaurant workers and scoured social media sites to come up with eight of the worst customer behaviors that servers find the most exasperating. Sure, they’ll keep on smiling and doing their best work, but just know that if you engage in one or more of these behaviors while you’re dining at a restaurant, you’re probably being judged pretty harshly by the staff.
One thing that every server has dealt with a thousand times and that’s a frustration every time is when diners say they are all ready to order, only to proceed to ask lots of questions and clearly have no idea what they’ll be getting. One former server responded to an Eat This, Not That! poll on the topic with: “They say are ready but actually [just] started reading the menu!”
If you want your server’s attention, eye contact and a little wave are all that’s needed, they will immediately understand that you’d like them to come on over. If you want a server’s attention and their enmity, then by all means snap or whistle or call out, but if you want to maintain an air of respect and conviviality, just don’t. As one server said on Reddit to the agreement of so many others: “Do not snap at me. Do not whistle at me. Do NOT holler at me when I’m at another table.”
Most servers are more than happy to have kids come to dinner with mom and dad, assuming mom and/or dad (or the adult guardian on hand) don’t stop parenting once the family sits down to dinner. One server sharing on Reddit said in part: “Look, I LOVE kids … but if you permit your children to act like little monsters and completely ignore me when I ask that you have them sit down? GTFO. I am NOT a free babysitter.”
Multiple respondents to the Eat This, Not That! poll shared how much servers hate when customers are chatting away on their cellphones when the server just wants to take the order and do their job. Not only is this behavior universally rude on its own, but what’s worse, many servers reported customers acting as though they had been rudely interrupted just because the server had the gall to approach and try to take an order. “Let’s go a step further with this,” comments one person. “People talking on cell phones with Bluetooth earbuds in stores and you think they’re talking to you!
Hitting on a restaurant worker is creepy and unfair, but it happens all the time. This is a person whose job it is to approach and engage with you multiple times throughout the course of a meal, and by engaging in unwanted advances, a customer makes the employee feel uncomfortable or even unsafe, yet the server can’t just rebuff them and walk away as they could in a non-work setting. One server related how she hated “men hitting on me, even asking for my number. It’s a restaurant, not a bar and I’m working. Always feels like if I didn’t humor them enough I get a sh—y tip.”
It’s perfectly alright to divide up checks between two, three, or even more credit or debit cards, but that’s only assuming the customers are asking the server to divide the check evenly. Asking a server to determine who owes what is just not okay. One server commenting on Quora said she hated when customers would try “to get the waitress to count how much each of you have to pay. That is your job.”
Once you and your party are done with your meal and the bill is paid, it’s pretty much time for you to leave. It’s OK to sit for a few more minutes and chat, but only for a bit. Hanging out longer, which many restaurant workers call “camping,” is just not OK. A server sharing on Reddit said in part: “This is NOT okay. Not only are you interfering with my work (because I NEED to turn tables quickly to make money) but you’re also being insanely rude to people waiting at the door.”
It may seem hard to believe, but it seems that many restaurant customers basically don’t know how tipping works, per many servers sharing on Reddit. One experienced waitress said: “Five dollars is NOT the default tip amount! I’ve had three tables in a row leave me 5.00 on 55.00 checks, and this latest table leave me 5.00 on an 85.00 check!” The comment drew an outpouring of shared experiences from other servers.