Everyone who plans on ever dining out should be forced to serve, at least for a month or two. Then maybe folks would have a little more compassion for the fine ladies and gentlemen who take care of them from the greasy spoon diners to the upscale steakhouses. While we don't expect y'all to rush out and do a stint of serving for empathy's sake, we do have some suggestions on what you should never do to make the restaurant scene better for servers and you alike.
The Order Switch You've put in your order and then decide you want something completely different ten minutes after you told your server. Too bad. The kitchen is already making your meal, and is likely close to being done with your ticket and sending it out. It's too late to change it so don't make your server feel crappy just because you're indecisive. If you're not ready to order or unsure, ask for more time or ask for suggestions. Otherwise, you can try out your second choice the next time you come.
Mid-Rush Megalomania Don't go to a restaurant during peak dining hours and expect to be the only person your server serves. That's what crazy people do. They have other tables. They know you're there. You're just going to have to be a little patient. If you went to a high volume sit-down restaurant on your 30 minute lunch break, it's silly to even expect to be back to work on time. Get fast food, but just don't demand your food is cooked faster and your server serve you before everyone else just because you're in a hurry. Good food takes time.
NO TOUCHING! This should be a no-brainer, but seriously. It's really not cool to put your hands on a server unless you know them and you know it's okay. A server isn't your therapist and they certainly aren't your plaything just because you're planning on throwing a couple bucks their way in a little while. That sort of thing isn't even tolerated at strip clubs so whatever got you thinking that you can put your hand on your server's lower back or touch the back of their arm or worse needs to be reconciled--like yesterday.
Low-Ball Breakfast Tip It's not clear when the myth of tipping 15% at breakfast or lunch and 20% at dinner first became a thing, but no. Servers at breakfast and lunch joints usually do just as much work as their dinner counterparts and likely have smaller tabs because booze is bought less and specials are king during those meals. Throw them a bone and tip 20%. Chances are they're already making next to nothing off of your $6 sandwich special with a $1.50 drink so tacking on a little bit extra isn't going to kill you.
P.A.S.S. (or the Passive Aggressive Service Suggestion) Servers really try their hardest to make your dining experience a pleasure. They're pretty much saints. So if you're not pleased with the way something is going, say so. They'll reconcile it as best they can in hopes that you'll leave happy and return often. If you don't like the way your burger was cooked and they offer to exchange it and you decline, you certainly have no room to mumble and grumble and sigh. Help them help you. Polite, direct people always get the best service.
Oh, and did you notice how stiff your server or walk out on a tab aren't on there? Yeah, that's because those should be so unacceptable that it's common sense. No excuses.
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