It’s 9 am and we’re smack in the middle of our breakfast rush. I’ve got a 9 top of still-drunk fraternity boys, two 4 tops of new parents with bawling babies, and two 2 tops who keep stopping me to ask about the WiFi. Table 42’s food is in the window, 46 needs extra ranch (for breakfast?), 47 needs more napkins because they’ve spilled their coffee (yet again) and 48 needs another pitcher of water because they’re soooo hung over.
Alas, life as a breakfast-joint waitress. I’m sure most of you have no idea what goes on behind that breakfast counter, but today, you’re in luck. I’m here to tell you what I’ve learned from 4 years in the business of fattening the masses—specifically, how to not be a dick when you go out to eat.
1. Don’t be a camper.
Camper: noun; one who sits at a table for a lengthy amount of time after finishing their food, preventing all the other hungry, paying customers from sitting there, eating and tipping me.
2. Don’t ask your server to make 15 separate trips.
Forgetting to order hot sauce when you get your eggs is one thing, but sending me back into the stock room 7 different times to cater to your every whim is annoying and a huge waste of time. When I ask you if there’s anything else I can get you, which I always do, take a second and evaluate what you need to get through the rest of your meal and ask me for it then.
Legitimately forgetting is one thing, but running your server to death because you don’t care enough to figure your condiment/refill/napkin situation out ahead of time is rude.
3. Don’t wiggle with it.
Contrary to popular belief, I am a waitress, not a dog. Please do not snap, clap, wave, whistle or wiggle your finger at me. It’s rude and I’ll probably ignore you.
4. Don’t talk on the phone.
Very little is more frustrating than walking up to a table with someone yacking on their cell phone while you’re trying to take their order. Many servers I know have developed a no-service policy if their table is talking on their phone. I ask for approximately three minutes of your time to welcome you, thank you for coming in and take your order. If your phone call can’t wait, your belly’s going to have to.
5. Don’t ignore your server.
As previously stated in number 4, I only ask for 3 minutes of your time. Ignoring me when I’m trying to exchange formalities with you and take your order is only going to prolong the process and make your food take longer.
6. Don’t spill stuff all over the floor.
Some of the nicer restaurants I’ve worked at have had actual vacuums for sweeping the floors, but often times that saltine cracker you’ve dug into the carpet with your muddy work boots is swept up at night with a broom and dust pan—which is not an easy task. Try to be more cautious and keep your food in your mouth, not on the floor.
7. Don’t let your kids/siblings/drunk friends be wild.
Sometimes, restaurants can be a dangerous place. There are servers running around with trays full of boiling tea, hot food and tons of glass. Wild/drunk individuals flailing their limbs uncontrollably and grabbing food off of trays is a good way to burn their hands like a crisp piece of bacon.
So responsible ones, please ensure all other members of your party keep all hands and feet arm’s length away from the staff at all times.
8. Don’t come in three minutes before we close.
I know you’re really hungry and the thought of actual food is much more enticing than the fast-food joint down the street, but coming in and ordering a 3-course meal three minutes before we close is going to keep the entire staff there at least an hour longer than before.
Try to compromise; ask one of the staff members what would be easiest/quickest to serve so everyone can still leave when they’re scheduled to, or consider taking it to-go.
9. Don’t seat yourself.
Unless there’s a sign that explicitly says “sit wherever you damn please,” wait to be seated! Restaurants rotate where they seat tables so servers don’t get overwhelmed and everyone has an equal chance to make money. Aside from that, you’re probably cutting in front of somebody patiently waiting to be seated.
10. Don’t stiff your server.
Federal server minimum wage is $2.13 an hour, so ostensibly our entire income comes from tips. Most of the time, even when you get sub-par service, the entire staff is doing the very best they can to give you good food, great service and an overall positive experience.
Remember that we’re human too! And this is how we make our living—so if you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to eat out.
So there you have it, 10 insider tips on how you should really eat at a restaurant. Now go forth with your new-found knowledge and chow down on some delectable Athens cuisine! Carefully, of course–you don’t want to get it on the floor.