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Response to the 5 ways YOU delay your meal

April 10, 2013

Well, if you didn’t know who The Bitchy Waiter was before, you probably do now.

For those of you who don’t, The Bitchy Waiter is a server in the food industry, as you probably already gathered from the title. He runs a blog as well as many other social media pages and has even been seen on Dr. Phil and, most recently, been the topic of much heated discussion based off his article, Eat This List: 5 ways YOU delay your meal .

Now, some of you are already aware that I am a bartender and sever at three different restaurants and have been in the food service game for a decade. I’m not looking for a medal here, nor am I really interested in what you think about those facts. I choose to mention this so that when reading this you understand where some of us are coming from and that we do not all necessarily have the same opinions. I am also saying this in hope that you will get that this is just my opinion, and that I am a different, front of house, industry kid who just wanted to touch a little on the aspects I agreed and disagreed with in, not only this article, but people’s general comments pertaining to it or food service people overall.
Incidentally, although many people seem to think servers are mostly incompetent and that they have no idea what they’re talking about, even when it comes to their own job, it turns out that most of us do know a thing or two about what goes on in a restaurant (I know, weird right?) and that The Bitchy Waiter and even my little ole self may have some valid points.

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Let me start off by saying that I by no means think that I am not flawed, I make mistakes at my job just like everyone else does. But lucky for you and I, it’s just food. Maybe some drinks. It will be okay. If I’m wrong, I can fix it in a matter of minutes, sometimes even seconds.
No one will die, unless you don’t tell me about your peanut allergy or something. So calm down.
However, make no mistake, I kick ass at my job, but yes, servers are people too, and sometimes we mess up.

So, anyways, the motivation behind this post spawned from an article that The Bitchy Waiter, who I follow on Facebook and twitter, wrote about five simple ways you, the guest, can make your dinning experience quicker and an overall more pleasant experience. Since the post went viral it has caused a lot of discussion and argument and has even made the topic of discussion quite a bit on CNN.

Now I can see each side of this argument both as the patron and as the server/bartender/general FOH employee. And I’m not going to lie, I did agree with several of his points, but I also disagreed with almost as many of them. Isn’t that cool how not everything has to be so black and white?
So, people had a lot to say about this article. Many comments were left from varying sides, some from other servers or some from our beloved allies who may not work in food service, but have common sense enough to understand that there are a lot of steps that many of us take to make sure you are beyond simply satisfied with your experience, even if you never think about me again, I want you to love this place you’re in as much as I do.
And then you have, the ‘others,’ the people who hate on and feel the need to put down a server simply because they chose a different path in life than said ‘other’ did. This is for those people.

If you’re not familiar with said article you can check it out or if you don’t feel like going through all that, here are the overall points and my feelings on each:

1. Asking for water for the entire table
Okay. I don’t really care if this happens. I just usually automatically bring waters to my boozin’ tables because I find that when I don’t they ask for it anyways. And a lot of people like waters when they’re drinking, myself included, so whatever. It usually gets me bonus points with them too. Neat.
I do not however, enjoy when people ask for water and don’t drink it and I do not automatically grab waters if you’re drinking a soda.
So. My advice to servers, if you’re busy let them know you’ll get the waters as soon as you can, make a joke about how the alcohol is the most important thing and you’ll be getting that to them first. Often times when you give people the heads up about having a wait on something they can be pretty understanding. Plus it’s almost guaranteed that their mood will improve instantly at the sight of their frosty beer.
Or if you happen to know a larger party is coming in ahead of time, grab a bunch of waters and just place them at the table right before they are seated.
It’s not always going to work, it’s not always going to be okay. Sometimes you’re so busy that every extra step you’re having to take feels like an eternity, it happens, but I’m not going to be mad when they lady drinking dirty Martinis wants a water to drink to maybe ease the hangover that will inevitably come, she may just have to wait a minute though.
As for my advice to patrons just, well, dude, if your friend orders a water, a soda, a beer, whatever, and you are going to want one too, tell me that then, so I can do it all at once, not when I have returned with the beverage your friend sitting directly next to you, within your earshot, just ordered, ‘oh, I’ll take another one too!’
Really? I literally was just over here taking drink orders and now you’re all ordering one at a time. Rude.
Also. If you want a lemon with your water, say that when you get it. I do not automatically assume all people want a lemon. I hate water with lemon and feel that once it’s touched the glass, it’s over, the whole drink tastes like some sort of cleaning supply to me.
2. Saying you’re ready to order when you’re not ready to order
AHHHHH. I could not agree with this more.
You sit there with the menu and I ask, ‘are you all set or do you have any questions?’ If you say you’re ready and then proceed to sit there for a couple minutes, not to ask questions, but for fear I will leave and never, ever come back again to ask what you would like to eat, it’s rude. Obviously if I am standing at your table, around an empty restaurant, I’ve probably got some extra time, but when you see a crowd of people waiting at the door and every table is sat, chances are I got shit to do, and you have no idea how much that extra minute or two you kept me at your table, because you selfishly thought you were the only table I could possibly be taking care of, will help me get caught up on some other things that may need to be done, maybe even things for you!
I assure you, I will be right back.
But I get it. Sometimes servers just suck. Boy do we servers get that far more than you…‘others‘ as I will now refer to you because i’m already sick of saying patrons.
This is my job. This is how I put food in my belly and pay my way, I rely on being awesome at it because otherwise I’m not getting tipped.
If you’re a teacher I’m sure you can see the flaws in how others teach, same goes for servers.
When I got out to eat and it takes five minutes for me to be greeted and my server sucks at refills, I’m just as annoyed as you would be, if not more, because you know what I’m thinking? ‘Man, I could do this so much better. You make the rest of us look bad.’ Just like you would with someone who sucks at your job.
But much like everyone else in life, no two people are exactly the same, so just because your server at Champs was awful does not mean I will be too. Give me the chance to suck before you start demanding things and snapping your fingers at me like I’m not going to get your order right. ‘Oh, you’re not writing this down…?’ No sir. I’m not. Now watch your order be fucking perfect yet you will still act like this.
I also am able to tell when someone is ‘in the weeds,’ as The Bitchy Waiter and many other industry people refer to it, and able to understand that maybe she forgot my refill because she is the only other server working in a crowded place. Or maybe has a large party, whatever. Sometimes though, servers just freaking suck, plain and simple, and again, just like regular people.
But if you see that your server sucks just because they suck, by all means, complain.
Do something! You have a voice, use it. But don’t order a well done burger and be mad when it doesn’t come out in ten minutes. First try and understand why your server isn’t up to your standards and maybe sometimes you’ll find that maybe they are really good at their job but are just having an off day, like you know, again, a regular person does. Unfortunately for us we don’t get the luxury of sometimes being able to simply call-in sick or not talk to people for a little while like many ‘others’ do. If I call-off then I just screw over my co-workers and their tables because they had to pick up for my slack. And for some reason you guys don’t like it when I try and get you what you need by simply darting my eyes around and raising an eyebrow until you respond, so I usually have to speak, even if it’s the last thing I want to do.
Everything we are on the outside is put on display.
3. Letting your child order for him or herself
I don’t really have this problem. I imagine a big part of that is that I work downtown and not in the suburbs.
I do occasionally get parents who are like, ‘Now what do we say, Dylan? Thank you….thank…you, come on Dylan, what do we say?’
Yeah. I don’t have time for all that. It’s a child, I don’t care if it says thank you, they might be shy.
I care if you, the adult minds your p’s and q’s, and a lot of you forget about it.
Don’t worry, I’ll remind you!
4. Not listening to your server
I read through some of the comments that the ‘others’ left about a lot of things, but one comment in particular stood out, I wish I had copied it when I first saw it, because now there are over a 1000 comments on the page and I am not trying to go through all that just to directly quote a rude stranger.
Basically they said that a server having to sometimes repeat themselves up to four times is an exaggeration, and that he, The Bitchy Waiter, needs to just put on his big boy pants, this that and the other.
Okay. Not even a little bit is that an exaggeration.
I am constantly having people say, ‘I’m sorry I wasn’t listening’ after three people who had just ordered before them had asked, ‘and what are my side choices?’
Even though it’s written down right in front of you, I’ll still go through it with you. Each, and every, freaking time you ask.
And yes, it will sometimes be four times to a four top! That is ridiculous.
The draft beers are written down, directly in front of you, you ask, ‘what do you have on draft,’ I answer, even though you can obviously read and simply chose not to.
When you’re feelin’ lazy, I’m there to help ya out, but it would be so nice if you could just listen, I should not have to earn your respect more so than any other human, I am entitled to it just as much.
I think this bothered me the most because if you aren’t and have never been a server you cannot tell me this doesn’t happen.
In fact, unless you are me you can’t tell me what has or has not happened in my life with my tables. And this shit happens every.single.day.
5. Asking for separate checks at the end of the meal rather than at the beginning
I actually can’t stand when the first thing out of someone’s mouth is, ‘this will all be separate.’ This is the one thing I completely disagree with.
At this point I mean, almost no one gets their checks all on one unless they are dating, married, related in someway, or the boss picking up the party’s tab or something. Unless I am told otherwise I simply have every person on their own seat so that way when they say, ‘Me and that guy in the red shirt over there are on one’ I can say to myself, ‘okay that was person one and ten, got it.’
Even on a party of 25, I’ll do your separate checks and have them all ready to split up for ya, I’m just that good! Also it has become just that easy at most restaurants.
I do, however, hate when a larger party asks for two separate checks for each individual; one for their drinks and one for their food. I get it, you want to turn that food receipt in and write it off as a business expense or get reimbursed, whatever. So the booze has to be separate.
But do not tell me this at the end, or be mad if it takes me all of three whole minutes to cash all eight of you out with your 16 separate tabs. Ugh. especially when you pay for one with credit and the other wish cash that you need change for. That is going to take a while. Don’t sit there and stare at me, tapping your foot, when you see all I am doing is for you and I’m doing it as fast as I can.
With this I again warn people about the wait. They still sometimes get salty after a minute or two, and that might reflect on my tip, but in those cases I probably was never going to get a good tip from that jackass anyways if that’s the kind of person they are.
Maybe you could get all the booze on one tab and pull your money together that way. You are adults, figure it out. Or at least tell me that’s what you need. But maybe you can say, ‘hi how are you?’ or, at the very least, smile at me first.

So, having read through this article, agreeing with parts and disagree with others, I decided to make my own list.
I think I will call it, Six ways you could probably be less of a douche when you’re going out to eat. What do you think? Okay, it’s a work in progress, bare with me here.

1. Did you seriously just touch me.
Like. A lot. You just touched me very hard, kinda sorta slapped my arm for attention.
Snapping your fingers? Shaking a glass?
Do you respond to that? Neither do I.
I should not have to explain that I am not your dog and I do not do tricks for treats, I bring you the things we have to offer that you asked for when they are ready, again, that is my job.
It’s server, not servant.
I do not take demands.
2. Hey, how’s it goin’?
The proper response to ‘Hi how are you all doing this evening’ is not, ‘I’ll take a water with lemon’ or ‘what’s your soup today.’
The answer is, ‘I’m (insert whatever your mood is here).’ You can even follow that up with a ‘and how about yourself?’ or a simple ‘you?’
It’s called manners people. You want your kids to use them, so why don’t you start.
3. If your food isn’t at the table, it probably isn’t ready.
Now, I said earlier that if you’re having legitimate issues, complain.
But, please, assess the situation. If you see a bunch of servers hustling about carrying drinks, full trays, plates of food, it probably means that your food or drink simply is not ready yet.
Think to yourself, ‘did I order an inch and a half thick steak well done?’ If the answer is yes and the wait has only been 20-30 minutes, cool your tits. That shit takes awhile and you are not the only person here the kitchen is making food for. If you and your friend ordered a salad and you’re sitting there for over 20 minutes then yeah, it’s probably time to say something.
But understand that a lot of the time it is not the server’s fault your food isn’t out. And the kitchen is busy, so I ain’t mad at them either. Yes, sometimes it might take us an extra minute to get your order in because someone needs their third side of ranch in order to feel complete, but as soon as that is put in the computer, I pretty much have no say in how quickly your food gets to you.
Some restaurants have food runners or busters to help, but most of the time the rule is that if food is up, whether you are the manager or the bartender or it’s another server’s food, you take it.
What I am saying here is, 9.5 times out of 10, at most places, as soon as your food is ready, you get it.
And if your plate is hot it does not mean we neglected to bring your food for ten minutes. It probably means that your food came up before the food of the other person or persons you are eating with and your server kind of assumed you might want to eat when everyone else at the table has their food. Don’t be mad at us, get mad at that bitch who doesn’t understand that a extra well done steak is not only ruining it, but is going to take quite a bit.
4. Done eating and drinking?
Sometimes, it’s ten o’clock at night, and I have been at work since it was ten am. I want to go home, and should not have to justify that.
And you’re just sitting there. Not cashing out. And I’m waiting. At times for literally hours, (no, I am not exaggerating with that, Rude Guy) especially at finer dining places. Some servers will ask to cash you out or transfer you, I try not to be one of those. But work with me here, if you see me just kind of doing laps around the restaurant or filling up the salts and peppers in my empty section, chances are, I am good to go. You don’t have to leave. But it would be nice if you offered to cash out when you know that you probably will not be getting anything else. And hey, if we aren’t closed, and you want another beer after you decided to cash out, that’s cool, there is still another server here that I would be happy to send over your way to check on you after I’ve gone.
Or if you see a line of people waiting by the door, chances are they want to sit at that table you are taking up with your empty beer glass and third refill of water.
If it were you waiting for a table wouldn’t you want those people to get the hell up so you can do what they’re doing?
5. So you want to go through with your complaint? That’s cool. But there is a right way to do everything.
It’s sad to say that often times, especially in more corporate places, that a guest complaint about a server can be deadly.
Okay, okay, not literally deadly, but like, you might get their ass fired.
If all that happened was you got the wrong food or beer or your shit is taking too long, speak with your server first and if/when you do speak to whoever their superior might be, think about what you’re about to say.
So you got the Ruben and you wanted the turkey Ruben? My bad, man. But is it really worth getting me in trouble, or possibly fired? Is it really worth the domino effect that can come with not having a job.
I get that sometimes people are powerless in their lives or at work, and they’re the kinda dick that gets off on being cruel to what they see as us, lower beings who are not ‘on the top of the human chain,’ as I believe one person so beautifully put it. It happens.
But for those of you who are not, just think about how serious it is to potentially ruin someone’s life. Maybe only for a month, maybe for a year. It doesn’t matter, that shit sucks.
Years ago I was fired via the phone by some guy I’d never met from somewhere high up above my position off in the land of corporate, simply because a man wrote an email about my nostril piercing. No complaints about me or my service. Just my piercing.
I’m sorry you are so offended by this, but was it worth causing that mess in my life? If your answer is yes then see above, when I mention those who like to make people suffer for their personal gain.
But hey, if your server is straight up a total asshole, you do the damn thing!
6. I am not the same as that other person over there.
I am a very um, we will go with ‘distinct’ looking person, take that as you will. Don’t ask that blonde chick over there who is clearly not me, you remember me, your server who literally just left your table thirty seconds ago, for another round like you have no idea that that it is a completely different person. You cannot possibly have thought that fair little blonde girl was me.
Do not flag someone else down to get you something either, simply ask that server to grab yours, they don’t always have time for you.
And do not lump us ‘lowly’ servers as one, as we do not all lump you ‘others,’ or even ourselves, as one either. Many of us are aware that, as with every minority, we have allies.
And to those people, I thank you.

Phew. Well. That was long-winded. But hey, it’s my blog, I can do that!
But I am going to shut up now, before I think of something else to say, like, 15% is not longer the standard tip rate, much like gas is no longer $.99 a gallon, and close with this; if you made it through this ridiculous rant the article written by The Bitchy Waiterwas one man’s opinion.
And now you have seen my opinion.
It by no means is either of us implying that our opinions represent all servers as a whole. We don’t meet up at gatherings and have meetings to discuss such things.
This is just us, practicing this little thing I heard a rumor about; freedom of speech (‘Merica!).
No reason to get mad at every server as a whole just because you don’t agree with one of us.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, ‘Haters are gonna hate,’ but it’s just the Internet guys!

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