That’s What She Said: 5 Tips for Behaving in Public: Restaurants (Part 1)


I’ve written a few posts complaining about people’s behavior in public and it occurred to me that maybe people have forgotten how to behave in public or maybe they never learned in the first place. Either way, I think some people need a refresher course.5 Tips for Behaving in Public: Restaurants
1. Don’t insult your server. Working as a server, I’ve seen this more times than I care to count. Mocking your server’s appearance or choices is just a dick move, especially because the server you’re picking on is more than likely a stranger.Example: I have a small tattoo of an elephant on the back of my wrist. I acknowledge that not everyone likes tattoos and that by getting a tattoo in a visible location, I open myself up to criticism and judgement. However, I don’t think that justifies someone being rude when all I want to do is take a drink order.
Customer: *pointing to my tattoo* Is that a stamp?
Me: No, it’s a tattoo.
Customer: Wow, do you even remember getting that?
Me: Yes.
Customer: So it wasn’t a drunken mistake? Wow. Do you regret it?
Me: No.
Customer: *rolls eyes*
Me: So . . . did you want something to drink other than water?
Bold move, dude. Especially since he hadn’t yet ordered his food. I’ve never messed with someone’s food, nor would I ever, but just because I won’t doesn’t mean someone else wouldn’t. Come on, we’ve all seen Waiting… and the scene where the kitchen takes revenge on an obnoxious customer.
Go ahead, eat it.
Go ahead, eat it.
I’ve also had customers mock me for getting my Masters in English (apparently it’s a useless degree) and I’ve overheard other customers call one of my fellow servers “ugly” (this particular server, by the way, is actually a very pretty girl). Just because someone is working in a restaurant does not make them fair game to berate and insult just because you feel like being a dick.
2. If you self-seat at a dirty table, don’t get mad about it.Sometimes restaurants get busy and when a table finishes their meal and leaves, a server isn’t able to clear it immediately because they are busy tending to their six other tables. I’ve seen customers come into a restaurant and, after reading and ignoring the “Please Wait to be Seated” sign, circle a table like a shark until the previous customers leave and then immediately sitting down (sometimes before the previous customers have fully stood up). The new customers then look around, immediately irate that their table is still dirty.
"Um, why wasn't this table cleared in the .05 seconds between the last table and me?"
“Um, why wasn’t this table cleared in the .05 seconds between the last table and me?”

Don’t be this guy. First of all, don’t self-seat when the restaurant is busy and signs are clearly posted asking you to wait to be seated. Secondly, if the table you’d like still has dishes on it, politely ask a server if that table is available and I promise they’ll hurry and clear it off for you. But don’t get angry about it, especially if the server is busy. Servers are human and there is only so fast they can move. Ideally, every server would be issued a pair of winged shoes with their apron but those are usually on a really long backorder.

It's the same story with the hats.
It’s the same story with the hats.

3. Don’t argue with your server about the listed price of menu items. Servers are not responsible for setting the menu prices and arguing with us isn’t going to affect the total cost of your bill. If you think the prices are too high, fill out a comment card or mention your views to the manager. Or eat somewhere else. But complaining to your server and demanding “what are you going to do about this?!” isn’t going to get you anywhere.

"Sir, I just want to make it through a shift without wanting to cause bodily harm to myself or others. It's not my fault you think $9.99 for a burger and fries is highway robbery."
“Sir, I just want to make it through a shift without wanting to cause bodily harm to myself or others.
It’s not my fault you think $9.99 for a burger and fries is highway robbery.”

4. Don’t physically assault your server with your check. I understand that sometimes you need to pay your check in a hurry and get on with your day of work or vacation or silly bicycle riding or whatever it is you do.

Do what you gotta do.
Do what you gotta do.

But just so we’re clear, improper ways to give your check and method of payment to your server include (but are not limited to): * Shouting, “WOOHOO! WOOHOO! WOOHOO!” and waving the check presenter in your server’s face while they carry a large tray of food for another table. *Hitting your server repeatedly in the arm with the check presenter while they take another table’s order. *Taking it upon yourself to wander into the kitchen and attempt to hand your check to one of the line cooks.

"Um . . . what?"
“Um . . . what?”

If you’re in a hurry, try and flag down one of the servers or if you really have to run, take your check up front and someone will be able to assist you. In summary, the basic rule of thumb is polite asking = good and physical assault = bad. 5. Tip your server. I feel like everyone complains about this on the internet but it’s still a pretty big problem. Servers are paid less than minimum wage because the assumption is that they will be tipped to help compensate their wages. If they aren’t tipped, servers don’t make enough to do things like pay rent and buy groceries. As a general rule, tip your server 20% of your total bill. You might think they are merely carrying food between you and the kitchen but they are also: *Trying to provide you with friendly service *Taking your order (which sometimes includes several modifications for your “special” diet) *Managing your order with the kitchen (which is backed up with every other table’s order as well) *Checking on your table and keeping an eye on your drinks *Bringing your food out to your table in a timely fashion *Ensuring you’re enjoying your food and at times running back and forth to fetch more ketchup/mayo/napkins/etc. *Clearing your plates as you finish *Ensuring your bill is correct We’ve all seen the pictures circulating on the internet of receipts with notes written on them like “sorry, single mom.”

This makes me want to set things on fire.
This makes me want to set things on fire.

If you can’t afford to tip, don’t go out to eat. If you think the server wasn’t perky enough, consider for a moment how perky you are at your job. Does your pay get deducted because you’re having a bad day after a tow truck does a hit and run on your car? Or what about if your dog died? Or maybe someone broke into your home–should your pay lessen or do you feel entitled to having an off day because sometimes circumstances are just shitty? People who work in customer service are supposed to be cheerful all the time but for crying out loud, they’re still people who have to deal with crappy life realities. Basically, unless your server does something really heinous like telling you to go fuck yourself after calling you a fat, retarded cow, tip them 20%. By going out to a restaurant, you’re paying for the luxury of not having to cook and care for yourself for the course of the meal. You’re paying for someone to prepare food for you but you should include a tip to pay for the service of having a server attend to your needs during the course of the meal.

Pretty much this, but usually with more crying (me, not the customers). From The Oatmeal
Pretty much this, but usually with more crying (me, not the customers).
From The Oatmeal

Personally, I think restaurants should include gratuity with each check but most places won’t do that unless you are a part of a larger party. But make sure you monetarily take care of your servers–they are usually working this job because they need to, not because they enjoy being abused by strangers for less than $5/hour.  



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.