Hey folks! Okay, not going to lie, this was inspired by a pretty bad shift at my night job. I had multiple tables that failed to follow at least two of these steps. So, just in case you didn’t know, here are some simple guidelines for not being an ass while dining out:
1. Be clear, ask questions, and be honest
“Be clear” means to make sure your server is aware of all of your food restrictions. Let him/her know if you would like something prepared in a particular manner, so as to avoid future return trips to the kitchen. If you have questions about how something is prepared, how something is served, or if substitutions are available- ask them! We can’t clarify things unless you let us know what you don’t know! If your server asks if everything is okay, or if you need anything else- be honest about it! If your burger isn’t done well enough or if your orange juice tastes watery just tell him/her. S(he) will be able to fix it quickly and won’t internalize his/her guilt later when s(he) realizes s(he) forgot your ranch or that coffee to go. Speak up!
Speaking of which….
2. Speak in a clear and loud voice
Have you ever heard Dane Cook’s skit about working at Burger King? In it he mentions the painful experience of a guest ordering food in a quiet voice. Let me tell you, his words may be funny but he is telling the truth. It is incredibly frustrating and difficult to take an order from someone who can’t speak louder than a whisper. It’s even worse when you politely ask them to repeat and they either refuse or give you a sassy look as they restate their order in a lower voice. It’s not that hard to speak up a little bit so your server doesn’t have to hunch over and ask “pardon?” three times to write down that all you want is some dry toast. Seriously.
3. Use “please” and “thank you”
Not gonna lie, this goes a long way. It makes your server feel appreciated (they are, you know, doing you a service) and much more likely to go above and beyond to make your experience at their restaurant a good one. Plus, it’s just good manners.
4. Just tip them
The bottom line is if you can’t afford to tip, you shouldn’t eat out. Plain and simple. Restaurants are required to pay their servers half of the state minimum wage in Ohio. Servers rely on tips to at least cover the other half. If your server did the bare minimum- brought you food and drink in a timely manner and fixed any mistakes- then they deserve that 15%. They just do. If they were absolutely terrible, mean, and just a generally awful experience, then they may not deserve such a great tip. But please, for the sake of giving people the benefit of the doubt, leave them something. And of course let them or the manager know that the service was shitty so they can fix their mistakes. Jeez, there’s that “be clear” thing again.
5. Treat them like a person
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at the amount of people I serve that treat me like I’m some sort of service robot. I exist only to bring them their drinks, their food, and their check. In that order, with no conversation and no interruptions. I get talked down to regularly, and I get treated like a slave on occasion. I once had a guest throw a sausage at me because it was too well done for him. That’s right folks, a fully grown man threw a sausage at me because he was upset. That is not something that a well-adjusted adult does to someone they respect. It’s not hard to give your server the general, expected respect of being another human. In addition, your server is providing a service for you. S(he) is there to make sure you have an enjoyable experience, not be your control-freak punching bag when you can’t control anything else in life.
Following these 5 steps will not only make your server happy, it will also provide you with a better experience while dining. Your server will feel appreciated and respected and, in return, so will you. Servers are not required to bend over backwards for you, no matter what you may think, but some general respect, a “please” here and a “thank you” there will take you very far. You will enjoy your experience and the staff will actually want you to come back. So please, keep these in mind the next time you eat out and you may find that the reason all of your dining experiences suck is because you suck (at remembering how to be respectful).