30 Comments

  1. I am easy to please. Be somewhat attentive, if I ask something about what is being served, know what is being served. Keep my water glass full, and don’t do the macarena on my table(Joes Crab Shack, thanks but your shoes, and my food are too close to each other). I am basically happy. Ignore me, let my water glass get empty, be completely unattetive, and it aggrivates me, and your tip drops to ten percent.

  2. Theresa
    1/19/2010
    Reply

    Amen to civility! I proudly waited tables and served as a bartender for 15+ years, and although most people were wonderful, I felt that so many had “a chip on their shoulder”, and were justified in taking it out on their server. BTW, I think most waiters do act professionally, unless their point of tolerance has been reached.

  3. 1/19/2010
    Reply

    Perhaps affluent diners at upscale restaurants are largely a bunch of narcissistic cretins with entitlement complexes?

  4. Evan Tallas
    1/19/2010
    Reply

    I’ve never waited tables, and I have a great deal of respect for those that do, and do it well. Every single customer is different and expects something different. I like to be left alone, and not interrupted most of the time. “Most of the time.” My own mood changes and so do my expectations. I always leave huge tips because having to put up with people and continually smile is probably one of the hardest jobs in the world.

  5. Well, it’s different for every person but…maybe it’s that when people are being waited on by a nurse, social worker, minister, etc they are usually in pain or upset, feelings that put you in a position of vulnerability. As such you’re more apt to be humble and considerate. Whereas when people are being waited on by those in other service positions, servers etc, they usually are feeling perfectly well and fine and feel quite free to be their normal selfish selves. Hence their propensity to take servers for granted. Also, perhaps some people think that server’s don’t really *do* anything deserving of much consideration. Servers aren’t the ones who make the food after all, they only deliver it. They don’t consider the work that servers actually do.

    For me, I don’t really like to talk to people I don’t know. Servers fall into that catagory. I tend to ignore servers unless they ask me a direct question or I need to ask them a question. I just feel uncomfortable making chit chat with a stranger. I know that can come across as cold or perhaps even rude, though it’s not my intention. That’s my two cents anyway.

  6. johanna
    1/21/2010
    Reply

    actually, you are not in the only profession where personnel are treated badly. believe it or not, EVERYONE in a profession that requires them to be in contact with others gets treated badly –esp nowadays. yes, even doctors and veterinarians and lawyers. (being one of those myself, i would say that people may in fact give those types of workers MORE flak than restaurant personnel–possibly because of the stress and expectations around these types of visits?). somehow it is part of our culture now to take it–”customer is always right”. i do believe that there are subtle ways to put the offender to shame, w/o offending them, for their actions/words, but it takes some savvy knowhow and good self-image to do so.
    however, it is just par for the course when you are in a profession that deals w/ lots of people. i say, at risk of offending (not my intention), that if you can’t take it, don’t be in a service job. there are ups and downs in every profession–it’s part of life.
    on the bright side, letting others’ bad behavior ”roll off your shoulders like water” as someone once said, is a good way to keep positive in life and self-image. the truth is, most of the time, their behavior has nothing to do with you.

  7. Seems to me the issue here is common courtesy — no more, no less. Regardless of whether we meet our fellow men in a professional or personal context, we owe everyone that fundamental, baseline level of respect. My guess is that the people who are rude to waiters are the same ones who go home and kick their dogs.

  8. 1/25/2010
    Reply

    Yikes. It saddens me that most of the people you encounter are like this — I was always under the impression that majority of people are somewhere in between. I think that yes, it has something to do with that feeling of entitlement.

    However, my experience has been the opposite. I feel like since I am a 28 y/o with the voice and appearance of a 17 y/o, many servers ignore me, make faces, and at worst, snot at me (for questions like what my options are for salad dressings i.e., things not written on the menu). And I don’t even make special requests to alter meals and have never asked anything to be returned. Throughout this, I’ve always smiled sweetly and made eye contact (which, in retrospect, emphasizes the false youth), and depending on the ambiance, returned small talk with polite and sincere answers, and give out compliments and thanks.

  9. 1/25/2010
    Reply

    If only everyone could walk in restaurant service shoes for a while to see the other side. It won’t change the dog-kickers (they’ll get their due someday) but it might shed light for many others who have no clue what it’s like to be gracious under pressure. I applaud you for rising above and staying true to your profession.

  10. 1/25/2010
    Reply

    In my version of a perfect world, anyone allowed to dine in a restaurant should first be required to put in some time as a server. There’s nothing more humiliating than eating out with people who can’t emphasize with service staff and/or be a little flexible if something does go wrong.

  11. 1/25/2010
    Reply

    When assessing a person’s character, there are 2 things high on my list – how they treat servers (any type: restaurant staff, store clerks, receptionists, etc.), and how they treat animals. Being kind and gracious is a way of being we get to choose, or not, even on a bad day. In fact, how we act toward others on bad days is probably number 3 on the list…

    Thank you, Brooke, for bringing this to our attention! For some reason I’m hearing John Mayer’s “Daughters” lyrics in my head, but it’s “Diners be good to your servers, servers be good to your diners, too!”

  12. 1/25/2010
    Reply

    You may honestly be an excellent server, but for every irate, irrational customer story, there are poor wait staff stories. To give you my worst, I once asked a waitress for the dessert menu. This was at the end of a fairly poorly served meal which my husband and I had borne up with. She looked a bit confused, then told me she couldn’t find the menus and could I come ask the chef? Now if I had raised hell about all of this, would I be seen as disrespectful? Would the management placate me and then call me a difficult customer when I left?

    My answer to the treatment I received was to never step foot in that restaurant again. I know this is a one-off situation. There have been others in other places.

    I believe there are good stories and bad stories on either side.

  13. Brooke, when I worked as a cocktail waitress at the Balboa Café in San Francisco in the ’80’s we had to wear Laura Ashley outfits. In those days, Laura Ashley was heavily into the milkmaid style and I inherited a few of those dresses from another girl, but bought some other a bit more “preppy” ones one my own (solid color dresses with wraparound sashed waists, cotton dirndl skirts & white blouses with little string ties). There was a marked difference in the respect level from customers when I wore the more “button down look.” But in those days, I took no guff from the “ups,” as they were called. Some young college boy called me the “c” word because it was closing time and I tried to take his drink. I threw a tray of empty glasses on the floor in front of him and ordered him out of the bar. I guess that was across the street from the “Bal” at the Dartmouth Social Club. In those days I drove a Harley, these days I’m just a Japanese farmer’s wife. No more throwing trays (though I still have a temper). –Nancy

  14. I totally respect servers if they respect us. My boyfriend waited for a few years and while we are chatting I always see his eyes dart back and forth watching whats going on with the servers and kitchen. Sometimes he will whisper to me, ‘they are hustling tonight’, ‘they are short staffed’, or ‘our waiter is just standing there’. We give great servers fantstic respect and of course tips since he really knows some of the ‘abuse’ they have to deal with.

    recently I went out to Post 390 in boston and while the food was amazing our fantastic server really made the whole dinner come together.

  15. 1/27/2010
    Reply

    To live in this world comes repsonsibility. The most important responsiblility in this society is to care for others, and treat everyone with the same respect that you expect for yourself. Sound familiar? “Do unto others…” Not exactly a new idea – it does not need to be. Well, as one’s individual goals become less about other people, they are going to start acting this way in more facets of their lives. And, often (not always), the more money that someone makes, the less time that they have for their fellow man, because they are always working. It does not have to be this way. Wherever I go, I do my best to acknowledge anyone with whom I come into contact. I try to be especially kind to those who are kind enough to serve me: a waiter, a gas station attendant, the staff at the recycling center, the director of the swimming pool, the mail carrier, the bank teller – everyone. If I am so fortunate to meet someone who gives of him/herself every day to me, they deserve my respect. That’s all there is to it. And a little note to Brooke – it is good to “hear you” on your website! – Darren

  16. 1/27/2010
    Reply

    So nice to have you speak up on this issue. I only wish I could have the people most guilty of these offenses read it! So many people don’t realize the skill that it takes to be skilled in your position. Notwithstanding the necessary skill involved, you are still a human being that deserves respect.

  17. 2/17/2010
    Reply

    I credit a jaded dining public and the expectation that service isn’t a value that we recognize in the dining experience. It’s a shame that this is the case. I always try to look servers in the eye, speak clearly and kindly, and gently bring up issues if there are any. It’s really the smart thing to do – if you treat people well, then they will treat you well. I get a lot of my friends telling me they received bad service and I ask them, “how did you treat your server?” The response is generally vague.

    I sometimes wonder (and this exercise might be pointless, but heck), on the whole, do more people in LA receive bad service from servers, or do people treat servers badly? I’d probably aim for the latter, but I think it could be worth thinking about.

    • Food Woolf
      2/17/2010
      Reply

      Matt,
      thank you for your thoughtful comments. I think it would be an interesting study. Based on my own work experiences, I’ll tell you that many people walk in the door with “I’m-going-to-get-bad-service” written all over them. Try as I might to snap them out of it by giving them great service, they refuse to change their attitude. Some people just want to stay angry and maintain their bad attitudes.

  18. Katie
    3/17/2010
    Reply

    Mattatouille & Food Woolf…. The issue of LA being a particular haven of bad service is something I’ve been thinking about recently while interviewing new servers for my restaurant. In what other industry can you come to an interview with the attitude “well I’m an Actress, that’s my passion, here’s my availability, I’d love you to work around my acting classes and give me shifts until my first recurring on a network show”?? I have a number of GREAT servers who act as well, but they are actually interested in in food and the hospitality industry. Those are the servers who give LA service a bad rap, the ones in it for the flexi schedule and cash in hand, but I will also say that I have met the most entitled & difficult guests of my life in LA after working in restaurants in NYC, Hawaii, CO & IA. Last night I had a woman grab my arm and demand a table I was taking a group with a reservation to because she “didn’t know we took reservations!”. sigh.

  19. AmyRC
    5/4/2010
    Reply

    Your blog is spot on and very well written. I am a waitress who is sick of they way that customers treat me – and I am a very nice and talented server. Your article helped me to feel better.

  20. […] day I encounter people who think the work I do is menial, without merit, and unworthy of respect. I read rants on message boards and blogs that say that people in […]

  21. Lea
    3/31/2012
    Reply

    I think this is the attitude that the author is talking about. You bark out demands, a list of ultimatums, and if they fall short, the tip drops. The central focus of the article is the respect the customer owes the server – not the kind you’d save for the president or the pope, but the respect you’d give to another human being. I’ve been a server in the past, a customer service rep at a bank and now in a grocery store. Many customers are just fine, but an alarming number of people treat me and my co-workers like gutter trash. Is it so hard to say “please” and “thank you?” Is it so difficult to throw your trash away in a rubbish bin, rather than dump it on the counter without a word? Basic courtesy and respect is expected of customers as well, even if people often fall short.

  22. Dawn
    11/12/2012
    Reply

    My mother was a waitress in the ’70s. My father always told us girls that he would love us to have any job but a waitress because of the way people treat their servers. My sister became a server and loves it. I went to college and worked in an office until I became a homemaker, have never been a server in my life and seriously doubt I could do it. My daughter is a server while she puts herself through college. I always tip well because I know that there is more work behind those doors than bringing your drink and plate. My daughter gets $10 no matter what, whether I eat a lunch alone or a whole family meal because I pay her rent, but for others it’s a minimum of 20% and then I round up from there. I also know to use cash for tips if I can as it’s preferred over a credit card tip.

  23. j
    1/11/2013
    Reply

    Acceptance is key. Pray. Love…On a side note, I dated a girl who def took care of me, but she treated servers like poop when we would go out on dates, and we were both servers at the time, very strange, very unfortunate…I 86ed her like Prime Rib on a Saturday night.

    • 1/12/2013
      Reply

      Josh, thank you so much for reading. It’s always interesting where and when service professionals struggle to give respect to other fellow service professionals. I suspect that people in the service industry who believe the work that we do isn’t an honorable profession are more than likely to be equally unfair to others as they are to themselves. Thanks for coming by!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *