Waiter Confidential: Defensive Dining Class

I know, times are tough in our business. The belt-tightening evidence is everywhere. Restaurants with dollar menus are lining their pockets, while the full service industry is pretty much taking it in the shorts.

Still, even with frugality the fashion these days, it's hard to abide those who wear their cheapskate genes out to a nice dinner. Spending less is one thing. Pinching pennies at the expense of what's appropriate is quite another.

So, listen up. I'm only going to say these things once:

To you half-glass of wine orderers, who imagine, apparently, that you imbibe in a world staffed by those who see your hair-splitting requests as reasonable...We don't. A whole, single glass of wine is as low as we go, unless we're selling flights and tastings.

To you "poor man's lemonade" concocters, who insist on plates full of lemon wedges for your "water"...We see what you're doing with those sugar and Sweet 'N Low packets. For shame.

To the multitude in general...Ease up on the bread baskets, folks. Unless Jesus appears in the dining room, there's only so much we can do.

To plate-splitters...Our pleasure, just remember how half-portions look on whole plates, okay?

To cup of coffee sharers...Whatever.

To the can-I-substitute-the-soup-instead-of-salad crowd...Sure, if the menu reads soup "or" salad. But if the soup's listed on its own on the menu with a price attached, then the soup's listed on its own on the menu with a price attached for a reason.

To steak sharers...Again, no problem, provided you understand that we can't cook one side of that steak medium-rare and the other medium-well. Compromise, for chrissakes!

To the "Waiter, I'd just like a cup of very hot water, with honey on the side, fresh orange wedges and mint leaves, if it wouldn't be too much trouble. I brought my own tea bag."-type...Tea-bag this.

And lastly, to folks who split paying the check...Think nothing of it. It's common practice, of course. Again, and as we all know, money's tight. Having said that, if you're that guy or gal who tries to get away with shorting my tip on your share...Kiss half of my ass.

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