As we rush into the height of the season, it would be good if more people remember the old saying that goes, “A person who is not nice to their waitress is not a nice person.” It seems that often, as soon as people walk through the doors of a restaurant, they feel at liberty to play it fast and loose with the common rules of politeness and courtesy. The intent of these pointers is to serve as a guide for how to treat your server with kindness, patience, and yes, even respect. We are people too, after all.
• Speak up. If something is not to your liking, I want to know about it. I’m not trying to hustle you for a tip. I care about my job, and my job is ensuring you have a pleasant dining experience. When I come around during the meal and ask how everything is, that’s the time to let me know if there are any issues with the food, as opposed to the end of the meal when there is nothing I can do about it. If your fish was dry but you ate the whole thing and didn’t tell anyone, then you’re paying for the fish. Please don’t throw a hissy fit.
• Don’t order off the menu. We are not In-N-Out Burger. There is no secret menu. Just because we have cream and spinach does not mean we can whip up a batch of creamed spinach for your individual consumption. Please don’t get angry with us when we tell you the kitchen can’t do something. It’s legitimately because the kitchen cannot do it.
• Don’t linger. It’s not that I’m trying to rush you. It’s just that I’m trying to seat another table so I can get one more tip before we close for the night. It doesn’t bother me when people stay 10 to 15 minutes after the check is dropped, unless there’s a clear line out the door and the restaurant is packed. Then it’s just rude. Your money isn’t better than anyone else’s. Just because you spent $150 for you and your date does not allow you the right to caress hands next to a wilting tulip for an hour after you’ve paid. (The only caveat being that if you enjoy the ambience so much you want to hang around for half the night, tip accordingly. Your behavior is costing me money, so it would be nice if you left a little something extra to make up for it.)
• Don’t double-dip. You ask the runner for a side of mustard. Then I come over to check on your table. You ask me for a side of mustard. Are you unable to wait the minuscule amount of time it may take the runner to return to the kitchen and then to you with your desired condiment? Is your love of mustard so profound that you cannot last a single second without it? Are you so nervous that no one will respond to your plea for more mustard that you ask three people, thereby ensuring that at least one will heed your request? Unless the runner forgets to bring you mustard, there is no reason to ask anyone else for it. If the runner isn’t back to you within a couple of minutes, feel free to get my attention. Otherwise, please be patient. The runner is dealing with other things. I am dealing with other things. We’re all dealing with other things. The task that it might take your personal chef seconds to perform — walking three feet to the fridge, opening the door to obtain the mustard, bringing the mustard to you — takes just a leeetle bit longer in a restaurant, since you are not the only one dining here. • Don’t point. I am capable of understanding words. In fact, I prefer them.
• Don’t wave. I am specifically talking about the one or two-handed vigorous wave as if you’re a damsel on a train in a 1930s movie and I’m the poor schlub you’re leaving behind at the station. I understand that there’s a lot going on and you’re worried I won’t notice you. That’s normal. But I suggest instead attempting to make eye contact with anyone wearing an apron. If that fails, put up a hand. No, no, don’t move it. Just hold up the hand. Make sure you’re looking around. I know it’s tempting to wave your hand, but see, someone saw you. Whatever issue you’re having will be resolved shortly.