MSN posted an article, “20 Secrets Your Waiter Will Never Tell You.”
Apparently Reader’s Digest writer Michelle Crouch got 2 dozen waiters from across the country and asked them to reveal those things they wish they could say to their customers but can’t.
It was broken into 8 sections:
What We Lie About
What You Don’t Want to Know
What You’re Really Swallowing
What Drives Us Crazy
What We Want You to Know
What Tells Us You’re Trouble
How To Be A Good Customer
What You Need to Know About Tipping
The article is entertaining to say the least. Mostly it contains the extreme possibilities, and a few interesting stories. I didn’t find a whole lot that actually covered the broad spectrum of waiters. So I’ve done a little editing.
What We Lie About
1. Food. Yeah, if we don’t like it, we’re not going to tell you that. Just because we don’t like it doesn’t mean it isn’t good. I don’t like mozzarella sticks, or chicken parmesan, or sesame tuna steak, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t make them well. Maybe we’ve never actually had it because it’s too expensive for us to order, but it’s one of the most popular dishes, so that’s what we tell you. We’re not lying, we’re being honest. Would you prefer it if I told you that the idea of mozzarella sticks ignites my gag reflex? Didn’t think so.
2. Our Lives.
“How are you all doing today?”
“Good! How are you?”
“Great! Can I get you something to drink?”
We’re both lying. Your father’s dying and your kid just went emo, I’m up to my eyeballs in credit card debt and have to pee like a racehorse. But we just smile and play the game. C’est la vie.
3. Where in the world your server is. Most of the time, I just don’t know. “I’m not sure, I’ll go find them for you.” They could be anywhere, but I’ll admit, if they’ve been gone awhile there’s a good chance they’re out for smoke.
What you don’t want to know
1. Food Gets Dropped on the Floor. Not often, but I have seen a filet play the five-second-rule game. They cleaned it off, but I’m still not entirely sure if that is sanitary.
2. Your Soup Is Cold. That’s because it’s been sitting in a metal tin waiting for you to order it, hoping that the hot water underneath it would keep it warm. If it’s legit cold, send it back. But if it’s just ‘not hot enough for you’ expect to get it back at a cool 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Eat me.
What you’re really swallowing
1. Coffee. Decaf. I don’t care if you ordered regular, it takes 5 minutes for a new pot to brew if it’s empty. DO you want your coffee now or in 5-7 minutes when I remember that I was waiting for it? Now. Ok, so decaf. Decaf is always the go-to because everyone can have it. Nobody says, “I can’t have decaf it’s bad for my heart.” So really, we’re saving lives. Nobody’s having caffeine palpitations on my watch.
2. Soup. Yeah, it’s all that extra stuff. It doesn’t mean it’s bad for you. It just means you’re not getting an 8 oz fillet of salmon in your soup. It’s the ends, the extras that make the soup. Deal with it, it’s still delicious.
What drives us crazy
1. Snap at me again. I dare ya. I am your server, not your dog. I’m not a slave for that matter either.
2. Sitters. I want you to enjoy your time there. I do, so I put on my best show. I laugh and joke and talk and serve and make sure you’re enjoying everything. But when it’s over, it’s over. If you’ve eaten, you’re not ordering anymore, or if you’ve paid – move out. Crouch quoted a Chicago waiter, “Do you stay in the movie theater after the credits? No.” Peace out!
3. “Could I get a water?” “Sure, does anyone else need anything right now?” Silence. I bring the water. “Oh could I get some tartar sauce.” It’s baked haddock but sure. I bring the tartar sauce. “Um, could I get a water?” Sure. PEOPLE. When you’re asked if you need things, look at your plates and glasses! This isn’t brain surgery, it’s pretty clear what you need when you need it and I have five other tables, so let’s try and make this happen in one trip please so I don’t have to keep running a marathon just for you 4.
What we want you to know
1. Be nice. We’re nice, especially if you’re nice. It gets you better service. Sorry, it’s the truth.
2. Lemons. It’s true. People peel the stickers off, cut them up and throw them in your water. I personally make it a point to wash them, but not everyone does. So if you’re worried about getting sick from the germs on the fruit, ask for your drink sans fruit.
What tells us you’re trouble
1. When you don’t know any of this.
How to be a good customer
1. Know your server’s name. If you ask me how I am after I’ve asked you, and then ask my name – I’m stoked because you’ve treated me like a person. That’s a damn good start and you’re probably going to get star treatment.
2. One quote Crouch got is perfect, Charity Ohlund said, “Trust your waitress. Say something like “Hey, it’s our first time in. We want you to create an experience for us. Here’s our budget.” Your server will go crazy for you.” It’s true. We’re not there to sabotage your night out, we want it to be the best it can be, that’s our job.
What you need to know about tipping
1. If you walk out with the slip you wrote the tip on and leave behind the blank one, the server gets nothing. It happens all the time, especially with people who’ve had a few bottles of wine.
2. That said, I’d also like to say that 10% is not a tip. If you’ve racked up a bill that’s $250, and part of it was an $80 bottle of wine, you should be able to leave at least $40. If you’re not willing to hit at least 15% tip when you go out – don’t go out. Stay in, cook for yourself, serve yourself, and clean up after. This is our livelihood. I wouldn’t hire a babysitter and then pay him for half the job because he couldn’t cook macaroni and cheese the way my kids like it. We are the servers. We don’t cook the food. We bring it to you. We (usually) don’t make the drinks, we bring them. It’s just how the game is played.