Waiting tables has its perks: flexible hours, free food and maybe, just maybe, a five-figure tip*. But at times, it can also suck. Really suck. And it might even be because of you.
We asked the Web's best hospitality bloggers, like waiterrant.net's Steve Dublanica, author of "Waiter Rant," to describe the worst customer types they're forced to deal with. Their suggestions? The 16 unbearable people described below.
Did we leave a particularly pesky patron off the list? Have a tale of a personal encounter with one of these types? Make sure to tell us in the comments!
*FYI, restaurantgal.com helpfully suggests: "My standard tip is 30 percent. Because I figure the server is only getting about 60 percent of that, after tip-outs to the bussers and back waits."
The Very Important Person Some charmers can't even take 30 seconds to place an order without taking a cell phone call. "I can't say how many times I want to take that phone and drop it in their water glass," says Steve Dublanica of waiterrant.net and writer of the best-selling book: "Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip -- Confessions of a Cynical Waiter."
The Whoopser A certain breed of over spenders skimp on the tip because they rang up a higher bill than they intended. Darby of atleastcallmemiss.blogspot.com had one customer go rooting around his car for tip money: "He told me that he couldn't find any more change in his car, and he handed me $0.31. Then he mentioned how he wasn't going to be able to pay the toll...so I told him if he needed the change, it was really okay. What else was I supposed to say?? He took the $0.75 [his change] and left his $0.31...weird. And he will still be a quarter short for the toll. If only he hadn't been a COMPLETE glutton, he would have had the money to tip his waitress."
The Finger-Snapper Let's get one thing straight: A server is not the same thing as a servant. The immediate neediness the act displays alone is enough. "Don't make your waitress run around like you're the only people in the restaurant!" says "Bitter" of bitterwaitress.com. Ali of ev-boulevard.blogspot.com has even had customers whistle to get her attention.
The Delicate Flower We feel sorry for people who have terrible allergies, but not when they fail to communicate that fact until after the food has been served. "Don't say, 'I'm allergic to pine nuts,' after you start eating the pesto," says Dublanica.
The Mind Readee The person who is ready to order but continues to read the menu and is annoyed when it takes the waitress longer to check in. This is the same person who is likely to be offended if you check in on them too soon.
The Square Peg
Strict vegans who are angry when a steakhouse can't accommodate them are barking up the wrong tree. "Let's put the shoe on the other foot," Dublanica says. "I walk into a vegan restaurant and I say I want a porterhouse." Doesn't work so much, does it?
The Lingerer Catching up with your friends? Fun. Sitting around long after you've finished, even though it's the height of the dinner rush? Jerk move. "If there's no one in the restaurant and you're making goo-goo eyes at your boyfriend, that's fine," says Dublanica. But if there's a wait at the door, you're keeping others from their meal and your server from her next chance to make money.
The Dieter It's one thing to be a picky eater, but put the brakes on unreasonable requests. Greens instead of the side of roast parsnips? Probably fine. But the chef can't magically extract the cream and olive oil from the alfredo sauce that was pre-made for the night.
The Potlucker Customers who bring their own food really shouldn't even be called customers. As one Insane Waiter (allprowaiter.blogspot.com) blogger states, "A customer spends money." You don't go to a boutique to try on your own clothes, so don't go to cafe to eat your tuna fish sandwich. There are park benches just begging for your company.
The Recessionista Leaving a bad tip is bad enough, but trying to apologize for it ("Sorry, I'm just so strapped for cash!") is extra-tacky. You just ate out -- you'll get no sympathy from the person making less than minimum wage who attended to your needs for the past two hours. In the words of one Insane Waiter (allprowaiter.blogspot.com) guest blogger, is money "so sacred that it is better to snub a fellow human being than toss them a pittance for a job well done?"
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