My parents opened up their first restaurant when I was nine years old and it’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. I would go to the restaurant right after school in elementary school and have my afternoon snack, beg my parents to fold some napkins or squeeze lemons, or some other chore and go home with my siblings. Growing up in a restaurant has taught me invaluable lessons in dealing with many different types of people with grace. I started waiting tables in high school. Most customers were always generally pleasant, but now at age 40, I can safely say that you can’t take the good without the bad. There was that one time that we had a girl threaten to call 911 because she thought she was being overcharged $2.
But then there was this other time, I was serving a group of teenage girls at the restaurant, clearly dressed like they were on their way to their high school prom. They were also clearly without dates. There were about eight of them, and they were the nicest group of girls. Some gentleman eating by himself asked for his check, and also asked to pay for their bill.
I asked, “Their ENTIRE bill?”
He replied, “Yes”.
I asked, “Do you want me to let them know that you paid for it?”
And this is the part that floored me….he said, “No. Please don’t. You can let them know after I leave if you want.”
I then handed the gentleman his bill, as well as the bill for the group of dateless prom goers, and he quietly paid the two bills, and left. When I told the girls that the gentleman “that was eating by himself, that just left”, paid for their bill, they started crying. It was one of the grandest acts of kindness I’d ever witnessed. So, experiences like that negate all the rude customers, so to speak. However, I compiled a list of certain customer “types” that one should avoid being for the sake of peace in the world. Now that I’m not so much in the restaurant business anymore, I can make fun of everyone! I’m kidding, I would never speak publicly on the internet about any particular customer; however, there are certain “types” of customers that can be lumped together in different groups. Don’t be one of these!
10. The “multiple request” customer – For goodness sakes, if you know you like salt and pepper, lemon in your water, tabasco and ketchup on your eggs, and a warm hug, ask for it all at once. Don’t make like your waiter’s purpose in life is for making multiple trips and make multiple requests for multiple items every 5 minutes.
9. I’m “allergic to life” customer – I’m going to upset a lot of people here. I get that people don’t ask to have allergies to food. But if you’re allergic to seafood, maybe you should avoid going to places called “The Seafood Shack, the Place with LOTS of SEAFOOD”, and demand that your chicken never make contact with knives or cutting boards that might have once touched a shrimp.
8. The “exaggerated hand signal” customer – If you’re going to sign your name in the air to signal that you want your check, then just do you initials, and not the whole alphabet in cursive with your air pen.
7. “I know more than you” customer – If you’re dissatisfied with your dish, don’t proclaim that you can “make steak medium rare with your eyes closed, hog tied and sick with the flu”. If that really is the case, then go right ahead!
6. The “It takes me 20 minutes to make up my mind but I want you standing next to the table anyways” customer – The waiter doesn’t need to stand at the table while you’re mentally tallying up the caloric content of 20 Buffalo Chicken Wings and wrestling with your inner skinny to decide if you want it or not.
5. The “We’re a party of 20, but hey let’s wait until after the meal to announce we need separate checks” group of customers – The waiter will spend the rest of his natural born life trying to figure out what percentage of the $6.99 Chicken Wings gets to be split up among the 20 people that shared it. Then he has to remember, out of 20 people, who had the Chardonnay and who had the Rum and Coke, and which bill to add it on. Just make life easier for everyone and announce it at the very beginning.
4. Romeo and Juliet – the couple that sits in a corner making out while the lights are all on and the wait staff is mopping the floors.
3. “I carry hand sanitizer in my purse, but will demand lemons in my water because they were obviously washed first and thrown into my water using tongs!” – Bar lemons can sometimes be cut in some establishments earlier in the day, so watch your bartender next time you ask for a Vodka and Soda, topped off with lime. My guess is that he didn’t grab that lemon using a set of tongs. Think about how many times throughout the day he’s been dipping his fingers in that lemon bowl. Blech!
2. “I’m at a large table, let me order food for a small third world country and throw in $10 when the bill comes!” – Used to see this all the time when I worked in the restaurant. Never gets old!
1. “I’m at a restaurant, this means I’m at a daycare for my kids and they can pretend it’s a bouncy house!” – Parents, giving the message to your children that it’s OK to run around a restaurant buck wild will backfire when they get older. Children naturally want to explore their world. It’s nothing they’re doing wrong. However, it’s up to parents to set limits and be firm with boundaries. Additionally, it’s one thing for a child to still be developing their eating skills. However, it’s another thing to have food under tables that are 20 feet away.