Let us continue through the trenches of waiting tables in my next installation of How to Be a Good Customer!
Just pay for the food you ate, okay?
I was trying to think of a time I visited a restaurant, ordered my food, ate more than half of it, and then realized I didn’t like it. I couldn’t recall a single time. More often than you’d think, a customer orders some food, eats a vast majority of the meal, and then complains about something on it. After complaining, the customer almost always asks me to take their meal off the bill. I’ve never really understood this line of thought simply because it should follow the age old rule of supplier and consumer. You ordered a product. We delivered that product. If the product is broken or incorrect upon arrival, we will happily replace it. If you use the product for a very short while, and I mean very short, then we will happily replace it. But when you wear the item down, overuse the hell out of it, and then expect a refund…just stop, seriously. Just pay for the food, and don’t order it next time.
Learn what it is the restaurant can and will do for you!
There are certain things a restaurant is more than willing to do for you. We will change up a dressing on a salad, a protein on a pasta, and even cook something differently than normal within a certain set of parameters. As a server and bartender, I will gladly go grab any kind of condiment, extra topping, or utensil for you. What I will not do is change the menu, completely change an item, or go beyond my means as an employee to do something for you. Here is an exchange between myself and a customer at the bar last night.
Me: How is everything?
Customer: Good. Except this chicken has absolutely no flavor. It tastes like nothing.
Me: Wow, really? I’m sorry about that. We have a lot of condiments, you want some ketchup, steak sauce, BBQ sauce, or something of the like?
Me: I have some salt or extra seasoning I can go get.
Customer: No, you don’t understand. I shouldn’t have to salt or sauce the chicken.
Me: Again, sorry about that. Even though you’re right, those are the options I have for you.
Customer: No, again, you don’t get it. You should immediately know what sauce or spice I need. I’m not going to do it. That’s your job.
This is not exaggerated in any way, nor did I improvise or change up the discussion. This entire thing is word for word. No, I shouldn’t know exactly how you want it. I don’t know if you want sauce for the chicken, nor do I control how much they season it when it’s cooked. Understand and comprehend what I can do for you, and we’ll go from there.
Reevaluate what “just in time” means!
I usually only work as a closer, whether that be serving or bartending. Very rarely do I actually leave before the store is locked up and shut down. When you walk in the door ten minutes until close and say, “Ooof, we made it just in time!”, you need to understand what “just in time” means. You’re there ten minutes until close, so we’re probably already in the middle of closing the store down. Most of the bar is cleaned up and put away, the iced tea and coffee has been cleaned up and drained, and the kitchen staff has already started putting away all of the food. So you decide to stay and order food anyway. This now means that the servers have to stop their closing duties and spend the next 30-45 minutes taking care of you, meaning it’ll be another hour before they get to leave. The bartender, if you order drinks now has to do more dishes, put back together whatever it takes to make your drinks, and is probably stuck there longer because the servers have to tipout on your alcohol. The kitchen is making your food, so they can’t start cleaning the stove tops, the trays of food, or any other tool in the kitchen. You are perfectly within your rights to go in and eat when it’s that close to closing time. The door is unlocked and the sign with the hours says the store is open for another ten minutes. But that doesn’t mean it is morally or ethically okay to do so. The server is making $2.13/hr, and he or she already has to spend the next hour cleaning for only $2.13, and if you happen to leave a lousy tip, you literally stole an hour away from that server’s home life. Just realize that you wouldn’t want your boss to drop a stack of papers on your desk less than ten minutes before you get to go home. Put yourself into your server’s shoes and try to think how you would feel in that situation.