The Insane Waiter

Running wild on customers, chefs, owners and managers since 1997. I bring to you, The Insane Waiter. What do bring to your table? A crisp bottle of San Pellegrino ? Perhaps a lovely seared Sashimi Tuna? Start off with a wonderful bottle from Tuscany perhaps? Why I'll be more than happy to bring you your White Zinfandel and Chicken Caesar. No you can't order the mac and cheese off the kids menu and sorry no, we don't serve cheese sticks....

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Top 10 Pet Peeves Redux

Well here's another quickly until I finish a couple longer posts I was working on.

I noticed a few things in the last week or so that really irked me.

Plus these things always get great comments, I love messing with the customer!

For those in the "biz"

Well you know what I'm talking about...

Top 10 Pet Peeves:

10. Blenders and the drinks that come with them.

9. The "Purse Cleaners" those who empty their change purse on the table as a tip.

8. People who think I'm a bank teller. No, I won't get you $50 worth of fives and ones, either go to the bank or try your luck with the bartender (he'll probably just give you a surly look)

7. Bar customers that seat themselves at a filthy cocktail table...
When there's a clean one right next to it! I'll just let you sut there and look stupid.

6. Those who are unaware that the host desk is IN THE FRONT and wander around looking for someone to seat them, preferably a waiter with twenty pounds of past bowls on his arm. I don't care if "there was no one up there" wait and someone will be.

5. Early diners (and I have a complete tale for this one cued shortly), those who show up fifteen to twenty minutes before opening and expect service. You won't get it. Can't understand why not? Too bad.

4. Late diners, those who come in ten minutes after close and expect us to welcome you. For those not in "the biz" it would be like your boss calling you when you're on your way to your car after work and expecting you to work another hour and a half, with no notice. Except instead of 5:00 in the afternoon its midnight, not such a good idea now is it? Now multiply that by ten and that's the number of people you are keeping there.

3. The table bussers, customers who think they need to stack all the plates and think its a help. Now that would be nice, except for the fact 90% of the time there is a plate with olive oil, pomodoro sauce or some other highly stainable liquid hidden in the mess. All ready to be dumped all over our nicely pressed WHITE shirt.

2. Customers that think that the brass bar rails are a place to stand between and rest their arms. Not noticing the fifty drinks they are hovering over and the horde of pissed off servers waiting behind you, of course. Plus a bartender will NEVER, EVER help a customer in such a position, get back to the end of the line like a good child...

1. Guest who believe that the empty table next to them is theirs to do with as they please. This includes setting coats on the chairs, using the table top as a defacto office complete with laptop, notebook and diagnostics as well as wet clothes or rain gear. Especially this issue as well, putting their dirty plates on the clean linens and messing up the table settings. This is never a place for empty glasses, bread baskets, appetizer plates what have you. How grossed out would you feel if the host brought you to your table and the boars next door decided that it was the ideal place to set the torn off tails from their shrimp entree? Don't do it!

And yes, I caught a table setting their shrimp leavings like that just yesterday, they seemed surprised that I reprimanded them and seemed unaware that it would even be a problem.


At 5:54 PM , Anonymous sexybarbabe said...


as a bartender i can add a few peeves: 1-people who ask you to "hook them up" on the alcohol before you've even made their drink, 2-people who think holding their beer/money in the air and waving it around is going to make me run right over and get you another, 3-people who give you $3 for a $2.75 beer and say "keep the change" like they're doing you a favor, 4-people who pay for each drink with a credit card instead of running a tab. and FINALLY 5-people who buy everyone they know a drink, showing off like they have money, and then get pissed when the bill arrives and stiff the bartender.

At 8:36 PM , Blogger KristieD said...

what about people who bring their wild banshee kids to a nice restaurant and then let them run around and you practically tripped over them and the parents still dont say anything to their "darling" children?????? I am a mom and i know the limits of my kid and i just dont take him places that arent kid friendly or when he is having a bad day.

I have so many other peeves, but you touched on the big ones. ;)

At 4:54 AM , Blogger Wendebular said...

Since quitting my "nice" restaurant and finding myself waiting tables at a cosy little place in central Turkey, my customer pet peeves have changed a little. Lately the big ones have been the customer that asks too many questions about how a New Zealander got to Turkey (planes and buses mostly) and the customer that pressures me to dance to the live music when I'm obviously busy.

Meanwhile, all your peeves are totally valid. Although I would like to note that number 3 (the table bussers) are not only inconvenient, but plate stacking is potentially more dangerous than your paragraph suggests. I wrote a nice long rant about it last year.

At 7:40 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I noticed you complain about this before, but apparently you don't like my posts so it never made the light of day.

If there is such a problem with so-called "early diners" that come in before you even open, why do you accomodate them? If you're not open, why are your doors unlocked? If you open at, say, 11am, why would your doors be unlocked at 10:30? That really makes no sense.

I understand staff needs to be there before you open, but every place I've been to that opens for brunch at 8am has their doors locked until 8am, and surprise surprise - full staff is there to greet and serve me when they open their doors. Go figure.

At 12:59 PM , Blogger Secret said...

anon- I don't edit/cut posts unless they are related to outing me which is the unfortunate cause of my comment mediation. So I'm sorry if one of your comments didn't make it, it was unintentional.

What I really disgree is your argument. "If you open at, say, 11am, why would your doors be unlocked at 10:30? That really makes no sense." It really isn't the customer's buniness now is it? We open at say 11 for a reason, the restaurant isn't set up, the kitchen isn't ready and the entire staff may not be there.

Some restaurants accomadate these diners because they are afraid of a bad comment card or call to the owner/corperation.

The door can be uunlocked for any number of reason, staff arriving, deliveries, wine and food reps and suppliers. But the clue for customers is the time on the door. You have no business arriving at any time before that which is noted.

At 2:11 PM , Blogger Brad #1 said...

#6 is perfect. Yesterday at lunch, I was behind the bar, which is next to the kitchen. (It's an open restaurant with the bar sharing the counter with the kitchen counter) A customer came up to the kitchen counter and told one of the cooks that he was sitting with 3 other people outside. Ummm, that's not the person that gives a shit about where you're sitting, dumbass!

At 2:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog is really entertaining and I don't even work in the restauarant business.

At 3:10 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing that no matter where in the world you might be doing food service, the same shit happens. I went through all ten things when I was serving as a very young woman in a city in the southwest US, and again the past ten years in a dinky (1100 people and 350586 cows kind of dinky) town in the upper midwest US.

You nailed them all.

At 6:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a table busser. After we've finished eating, it's nice to get back just a bit of the space instead of having dishes all around. I'd like to think I'm a *sensible* table busser. (Avoiding olive oil spills, etc. If I can't carry it, I don't expect you to.) So what am I missing?

At 9:27 PM , Anonymous Debbie said...

SO true #9, #8, and #1. Especially #1 where I work. Most people really don't think of a restaurant as a place of business (we need that other table to give to another paying customer, etc.), just a place to be served.

At 7:20 AM , Blogger Wendebular said...

To the anonymous table busser:

I understand the need for a little space. By all means move your plate/s away from you if there is ample room on the table. If you had an attentive waiter, your plates will be cleared as soon as the last person on the table has finished eating (or here in Turkey, as soon as you yourself have finished eating).

It also depends on the kind of establishment you are eating in, but it is not seemly for a waiter/waitress to lean over and pick up a stack of plates with two hands. We cannot be polite and unintrusive with moving more than one plate at a time.

In case you didn't see the link I posted earlier, you can read more here. I hope this helps!

At 8:27 AM , Anonymous Jay said...

one of my biggest pet peeves is table-timers. people who have only been seated for 20 second and claim they've been waiting to order for 20 minutes!

At 9:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wendebular: I'm not talking about fine dining, i.e. attentitve service. Mostly inexpensive ethnic restaurants and just praying to finally catch a server's eye! We don't do "good eating establishments" for the most part.

At 10:14 PM , Blogger Beth said...

I once had a guy pay for a three person meal in change. $56 and a $2 tip. All in quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies. I almost cried when I saw all that change scattered around the table.

At 4:08 PM , Blogger Brad said...

"If you had an attentive waiter,..." Yeah, that'll happen.

At 10:55 PM , Anonymous moose said...

I admit it. I'm a plate stacker.

Well, not in nicer restaurants. But at Denny's, I'll stack the plates. Mostly because the wait staff is too overworked to remove things. But I do try to be concious of what's on said plates. Salad bowls with dressing go on TOP. Plates with a few crumbs and otherwise dry go on BOTTOM. Anything with food on it doesn't get stacked.

I know I'm bad. But I try not to be too bad.

1000 lashes for me.

As for emptying out the change in my wallet -- IF I do that it's for tip jars in coffeeshops. They probably don't like it either, but I figure most people don't even tip them.... I'd rather leave them a few dollars in change than be a jerk and not tip at all.

At 1:09 AM , Anonymous Arianna said...

I'm thinking about becoming a waitress as a second job. I'm 17 and am just looking for some more spare money to have around.
All in all, do you think it's a good job? I mean you rant and rave on here. yes, it's your job, trust me I understand that, but is it really that bad?

Just looking for some advice!!


At 6:17 AM , Blogger Wendebular said...

Anonymous table busser: No problem then. I don't know how many times I've gone to Chinese restaurants and wished that I was allowed to clear tables by throwing everything in a huge bucket or just picking up the tablecloth with everything in it. As I said, it all depends on the type of restaurant.

Brad: I hope you're not really so bitter about good service. It does exist in the world and I hope you find it sometime soon!

At 8:35 AM , Blogger Nicole said...

I waited for years and always appreciated when customers stacked plates, so I don't think that one is quite universal.

At 10:21 PM , Anonymous Ms. C said...

I admit, I stack plates. It's a habit that I picked up since my very first job as a bus'boy' when I was 14. Sorry, I thought it would be appreciated........

At 2:19 PM , Anonymous Eustacia Vye said...

Plate-stacking is appreciated when the customer uses common sense.

Larger things on the bottom, smaller things on the top. Not too difficult, people.

I prefer those who stack the plates to those who, when I ask if I can take any plates out of their way, start thrusting everything at me at once.

At 6:27 PM , Blogger Brad #1 said...

Wendebular - someone seems to have hi-jacked my name.

At 10:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nephew Dude:

Well, I happen to LOVE my margaritas frozen!

For me it's like they're grown-up icee drinks.

Or grown-up popcicles.

If the bartender resents having to make such a concoction, then why the fuck is the goddamn blender there?

That's not my problem---that's between the bartender and management.

So gimme your bar menu's best, kick-ass frozen margarita---which I only order in Mexican restaurants anyway---and I'll tip waiter AND bartender well.

And, as you know, I'm writing as one who waited tables 3+ years.


Uncle R.

At 3:04 AM , Anonymous British Steel said...

I have to say, I like the plate-stackers - in my restaurant, they generally are pretty sensible about how they go about it.

Kitchen talkers and gawkers were brought up in the comment - I have at least twice seen patrons try to place orders with a cook. The only appropriate response is my single favorite: "first time dining out, sir?"

And one pet peeve I'd like to add: You feel the tightness in the stomach, you can see it coming, here it this it? Yes it is! The dreaded verbal tip! "You were great" = %10 or less. Blech.

At 1:06 AM , Blogger Ospite said...


At 3:11 PM , Anonymous apronshiek said...

. Late diners, those who come in ten minutes after close and expect us to welcome you. For those not in "the biz" it would be like your boss calling you when you're on your way to your car after work and expecting you to work another hour and a half, with no notice. Except instead of 5:00 in the afternoon its midnight, not such a good idea now is it? Now multiply that by ten and that's the number of people you are keeping there.
also another peve id like to add, when you ask how everything is and they ask you for say butter, you come back they ask you for more dressing, you come back and little timmy needs a refill , you come back and granny needs more coffee. just ask at once its alot easier and a sure fire way to piss me off

hahah i practically fell of my chair when i read this. if you come in to a restaurant 10 minutes before closing you are guarteed to piss of everyone in the restaurant and get terrible service . it happens everynight to me

At 2:40 AM , Blogger briliantdonkey said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2:47 AM , Blogger briliantdonkey said...

only wanted to edit my comment not delete it ,,,,oh well here goes again....


I just came across your site while surfing for other like minded ones.

great post!!!

one at least that i would like to clarify or add comments to....Plate stacking....I dont think any server minds having the dishes stacked for them if they are busy. The 'good' servers may feel bad about you having to stack them instead of us pre-bussing them before it got to that point but other than that i dont mind at all. UNLESSSSS.....unless you stack them like a total moron. ie; 4" bread and butter plate on the bottom, 2" ramiken(little cup for sauces)on top of that,10"appetizer plate on top of that full of rib bones,silver ware,or whatever other 'anti stacking' component is involved on the next level, and topped off with a nice 14" oval platter. Trying to carry this is like playing jumanji.....on a rushour....If you use your brain when stacking beleive me the gesture is appreciated. In fairness, waiters/waitresses are not immune to this either. Not a day goes by that i dont walk back to the dishpit and find servers have done the exact same thing. (Stacking plates on top of ramekins etc;)I often wonder how many of them are the same ones that bitch about customers doing the same thing. I could add to the list of pet peeves but i will save that for another time. Thanks for the laugh, i am glad i found your site and will be back.


At 6:11 AM , Anonymous KABass said...

You hit all of the major ones right on. A few I'd like to ad 1.) are the people that have only been sitting at their table for say 30 seconds and then frantically rattle off everything that they want to eat (including dessert by the way) after you have just walked up, introduced yourself, and asked if they would like to start off with some beverages. Then they look perplexed when you ask them if they'd like anything to drink with that. Come on people, there's a reason why servers start you off with beverages and appetizers first. If you're going to order all that shit at once at least give me two seconds to write down your order if you have a million modifications, which is often the case. These people are often times the same people that serve as spokespersons for the entire table not telling you who gets what, but then expecting seperate checks at the end. Sorry I went on a bit of a rant, but the other one 2.) is people that order their steak extra well done and then complain that it's "tough". What the fuck!? That's why I don't order my steak extra well done, because I don't like it tough. I really hate the vast majority of people.

At 7:06 PM , Blogger Girl at the bar. said...

As a cook:

1. people who order things well done and bitch at teh servers when it take more then 10 minutes, who then bitch at me.... when i'm the salad station... if you want a well down steak right it take a while... if you want a quick well done steak? I have no problem nuking it and then setting it on fire so you get out.

As a server
1. People who sit then selves at dirty tables when there an hour wait list, and then try to stop you to clean it... and don;t understand theres a wait list... and I left the table dirty cause i'm to buzy to deal.

2. people who demand more chairs or menus. they don't understand that we HAVE NO EXTRA CHAIRS in the whole damn place and the fact that there a 30 minute wait, and your 2top turned into a 12 top is not my problem, my only problem is your drunk friends are in my way and trying to smoke in non smoking.

1. Forgiens who don't understand we don't except things we can't read... i.e. if you are from hong kong bring your pass port.

2. people who think when i say at least twenty minutes for a table, they come check where they are every five.. and in there heads 5 minutes is 15. i constantly tell people... "i can't make people move, if you would like to go ask other customers why they are taking so long to finish there meal, feel free, until then, theres nothing i can do"

3. constant complaints to the host about service, refusing service, and music, air conditioner, etc... when tell them my responbility is to seat people and i have no control over that and ask if they want to talk to a manager and they just get more pissed and walk away..

I hate people.... but i love the money

At 7:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

as a long time (15 years plus, oh my goodness!) food service worker, i was mortified to see that plate stackers were one of the pet peeves...but as i read through the comments, i realize that some people may think they are "helping" but not possessing any common sense! i stack plates, my friends do as well...but we clear all the extra food debris onto the top plate...and put all the silverware on the top plate as well...and never create a precarious's always done with the thought of making things easier for our fellow food service workers! i love the insight that you provide in your blogs!

At 1:54 PM , Anonymous mainebargrl said...

As a bartender for over 12 years, yes yes yes to the comment about the morons standing in the fucking brass rail area! Do you douchbags not see the servers behind you waiting to get the drinks for the dining room> Sorry for the language, (maybe) but it is so aggravating. And when I work, the blender is ALWAYS broken. My favorites are the sluts that come in and try to hustle free drinks by telling the bartender that "so and so" is buying my drink. Then they get all pissed off when you ask they guy and he's like, no, I'm not buying that girl a drink. Ladies please bring your own damn money to the club or stay home!

At 12:49 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a bartender and tonight I had the biggest jerk-off customer. He always starts off by being nice and the minute alcohol touches his lips he is an ass! He has money it seems and loves to order you around, saying things like, "Come over here, I wasn't done speaking to you! and after he places a food order, he says did you get that or should I repeat myself! He makes up food dishes not on the menu and complains if it's not exactly what he wants! He drinks a martini, 4 glasses of red wine and some cordial after dinner. Says crap like, I want my pasta al dente and if it's not i will know because I am italian! Soo obnoxious! Hits on every women walking in, brags about his money and complains about the restaurant if we are out of a particular liquor he requests and says management is horrible for allowing things to run out! I am such a good sport when it comes to this job and the public, but when is it ok to speak up and tell him to get a life? I deal with soo many hotheads like this, maybe it's the money they have they think they are better than us!? Thoughts?

At 1:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the sheeple that will not make room for you to put down there steaming hot 10lb plate of pasta that's scalding you finger tips off ( either glasses in the way or arm crossed on tables )they either ignore you or stare at you and say nothing. I F-ing HATE THEM!


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