It takes a lot to rattle an experienced server, but everyone has their tipping point. Whether they were overly needy, total cheapskates, or just downright rude, these servers would be glad to never see any of these diners in their restaurant ever again.
"We have this guy, Gary. He is in his 70s, a retired marine, and certified cuckoo. He eats with us once every few weeks. When you come up to his table, LIGHT THE CANDLE, no matter how bright or sunny it may be. Also, you'd better bring him extra napkins. He orders an appetizer and an entree. You must understand though, that he'll take 30 minutes to eat his app, so don't put his dinner order in too soon. However, he expects you to have his dinner on the table the minute he's done with his app, so you need to know exactly how long it will take him to finish and how long it takes the dinner to cook. Then you have to watch him eating slowly, I've seen it take as long as an hour to finish a dinner. Then you're there at the EXACT minute he finishes to get his dessert and coffee order. The longest yet I've seen him take to eat was 2.5 hours while sitting at a prime two top. He also has this fun thing he does where when he talks to people, he isn't afraid to say anything. He asked a bald man where he got 'that haircut' from. One day, he started talking to a Korean family about the war, and those poor people just wanted to eat. We consider him to be a sort of initiation for new servers."
"We have a summer patio and our wait-lists can exceed two hours sometimes because of our capacity. I was hosting this day, looking around the patio and making time estimates for what to tell customers, when I noticed a table of two went inside to go to the washroom. They had finished their meals, but their dirty plates were still sitting on the table. Then I looked back around and an old couple had snuck in from the back and sat at their table. I immediately went over and told them about the wait and they brushed me off like I was no one and had nothing important to say. Then the original couple came back, but they said nothing about the older couple. They just went inside and paid. I was left to bus this table for these old people, and they had gotten away with jumping the entire line."
"I work for a famous restaurant chain that requires us to bring a bottle to the table with us when we do our greeting. Not bringing a bottle is a fireable offense, otherwise, all the servers would constantly 'forget' them.
Walking to the table, a typical family of five, I see that they have pushed their glasses to the very end of the table, as if they were a pack of poisonous snakes and they were trying to get as far away as possible. I've seen this behavior before and knew they wouldn't want any samples.
Tucking the bottle under my arm, I try to respect their obvious lack of interest (instead of automatically pushing the bottle on them as required) and proceed to take their drink order. As I am about to leave the table, the father of the family points to the bottle and asks, 'What is that?'
Figuring I must have misjudged them, I show him the bottle and start my spiel. He interrupts me seconds later to state, in his most stuck-up and holier-than-thou voice, 'No thank you, WE don't drink.'
"A family walked in, two twenty something daughters and their parents. I greeted them and sat them at a booth near the front of the restaurant. I handed them their menus, and it was only AFTER I filled up their water that they ask me to move them to the other side of the restaurant. I smiled and told them it wouldn't be a problem. Without grabbing any menus or glasses I'd just given them, they walked over to the new table and sat down. I then tried to maneuver around them to get the tables together, they made no effort to move. I then had to make two trips to grab the four menus and four glasses of water and clear the dirty glasses off the table they chose to sit at.
The father asked me about vino, so I asked him what kind he would like. 'Red,' he replies.
'Okay, sir, this whole side of the menu here is reds, which would you like?'
'I understand, but can you tell me what you would like.'
'Something dry.' At this point, I realized the guy was a moron and asked the manager to recommend one, which the father rejected. I bring a second one, which he does like. The eldest daughter asked for a half glass, which we don't have, so I gave her a full glass. The daughter looked at it and asked me if it's a half glass. 'No, it's not, it's a standard glass.' She demanded that I take it back and she not be charged because it looked like a half glass. WHAT KIND OF MORON THINKS A GLASS SHOULD BE FILLED TO THE TOP!?
They then kept me from my other tables by asking me pointless questions, ordering and then canceling orders and ordering again. To give an example, the eldest daughter asked for something with chicken. I worked at this restaurant for years and knew the menu very well. I told her that you can get chicken with any dish, and asked her to be more specific. She just said, 'Nothing to dry.' I had to repeat myself at least three times, telling her chicken was available with any dish. Then they argued with me about the price of peanut sauce, which was a dollar, seriously. And the fact that they were demanding was just part of it. They would not look at me when they spoke, they were condescending, so much so that the owner of the restaurant deliberately made the food so spicy that they would never want to come back. After years of waiting tables, those were the only customers that I genuinely disliked."
"At a restaurant I used to work at, the kitchen would try and close at 10 pm. We kept on two servers and a bartender till the last customer left the restaurant. It was 9:45 pm and I'm one of the last two servers working the outside tables. We still had a bus/runner working as his mom was the bartender and was the one give him a ride home at the end of the shift.
A couple came in and sat in my section. No worries, I only had two other tables and this wasn't unusual. They each order a drink and I let them know the kitchen is closing shortly. I got the response, 'The kitchen will close when I get my food.' I knew from that statement this couple was going to be trouble. I brought them their drinks, and the wife immediately declared it tasted like crap and ordered a different one. In order to take anything off their bill, I needed a manager's approval. I let the manager know and expressed my concern about the table's behavior.
I brought the wife her second drink and once again, asked for their order. They ordered an appetizer. I let them know, once again, that the kitchen was closing, so it's better if I could get their full order now so the cook could do what he needs to. They refused to give me their order until their appetizer came. I went into the kitchen and let the cook know what was going on. He wasn't happy, but agreed to stay until the meal was cooked.
Once they finally ordered and received their food, they declared that it was disgusting and the worst thing they had ever eaten and immediately asked for the bill. There was nothing wrong with it and even if there was, you would ask for a manager, not the bill. I found my manager and let her know of the couple's comments. Being an awesome manager, she told me to hold off on the bill and went to speak to the couple. She spoke to them for a while. She came back in and agreed, they were awful. I looked at her and told her they weren't going to tip me. She thought I was right and printed the bill off, with adjustments to appease them. Their bill was $150 after adjustment and I was right, they didn't tip."
"I've always hated the Red Hat Ladies. They all come in with a group of ladies wearing red hats. Big red hats. Parties of 15 or more. They all want their bill split and all pay with $50's or $100's. Their total is usually less than $20 because they order water or what not. Now, this wouldn't be so bad except they start whining when their change doesn't come in timely matter. Lady, I'm not a freaking bank. I don't have $200 in ones and coins sitting in my small apron. Neither does my bartender. And it's not like they're not busy, too. If you want speed, use your fricking debit card for pete's sake.
On top of that, they always leave a $2 tip. Thank you. I hope you drop your vibrant red hat in a pile of steaming dog crap."
"I worked at a Beef O' Brady's while going to college. As a guy working in a family sports bar, tips weren't the best, but I'd occasionally get a few guys watching a game and would get to sit and chat with them. We served a chicken sandwich, which was really just one step above a McChicken. This lady and her family ordered and she requests extra mayo, no big deal. Since it's slow, the order came out fairly quickly and before I could put the rest of the baskets down, she's already complaining about not getting extra mayo. There was already a side container of mayo on her basket, plus the mayo on her sandwich, but she wanted more. I apologized and grabbed another two plastic cups of mayo. Before I can even set the cups down she responds with, 'Are you deaf or just dumb?' I was a little taken back and frankly a bit ticked since she now has three 2 oz cups of mayo in addition to what's on her sandwich. All this time, her family were eating their respective meals and had that all too familiar look of shame. They knew this had happened before and what the outcome would be.
She had me call my manager over and berated me as I tended other tables. It was slow, so it was pretty quiet, except for a little background TV noise, which she easily shouted over. My manager had me grab one of the soup bowls and fills it with mayo. This was easily a cup of pure mayonnaise, plus what was already on the table. I dropped it off at her table and asked if there was anything else I could get them. Her response was, 'Now you're just being a smart aleck!' She still wolfed down her sandwich and every drop of mayonnaise. I am not exaggerating when I say she consumed over a cup of mayonnaise with her chicken sandwich. They quickly paid and bolted before I could come back around the corner. The jerks just left me a $.27 tip. The upside was a regular couple of mine saw what was going on and rightly assumed they would stiff me, so they made up for them."
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"The worst family I served, ever, EVER, was when I work at a Michelin-star restaurant; it's quite fancy.
Mum, dad, oldest sister (around twenty) and her boyfriend, and youngest sister (about eight) come in. I could tell from the first second as they stand at the door that they were going to be awful. The mother's jaw was clenched, her eyebrows were already knitted, and she looked on the edge of tears.
I seated them, gave them their menus, and before I could say anything else, the boyfriend said, 'Get me some bread.' I meekly replied that actually, I was just about to get them some, since that was the policy, I just had to get their water first. Inside, I thought he could wait for his bread now that he's been rude. Anyway, I headed on over to the waiter's station for water, and the mother got up, chased me across the restaurant, slapped a hand on my shoulder, and spun me around.
'What on the menu can we have very quickly? Straight away? My youngest is starving!' I was fairly stunned, so I told her that I'd put an order for an instantly assembled appetizer in and it would be a couple of minutes. Mother sprinted back to the table and I could now collect and serve the water, and the bread.
I poured water for the mother first. She picked it up and slammed it down in front of the youngest sister, who immediately grabbed it with both hands, downed it, held the glass out to me and panted, 'Another.'
Apparently, I didn't react fast enough, because mother spat out, 'Come on!' This process repeated until I had to get another pitcher of water and just left it at the table. Meanwhile, the dad was perusing the menu, the older sister and boyfriend were playing with phones, but for some reason, the mother seemed like she was having an aneurysm. Dad stopped me for a lengthy explanation of every dish each time I walked past. By this stage, I had to ask other runners to look after my section because these guys were taking up all my time. Finally, they put their order in. It was a few big dishes that they planned on sharing, so at least that part was easy.
However, now that they've had their apps, they wanted new plates. That's fine, but as I was circling the table, methodically stacking everything, the youngest sister snapped her fingers at me and said, 'Clean it now,' pointing at a mess she'd made.
I just splutter out, 'Now, I've only two hands, bear with me,' and scuttled away to drop the plates. After that, the youngest sister just resorted to holding her glass in the air when she wanted water. The pitcher was right in front of her. Her parents palpably didn't give a crap that they were raising the worst person to ever have lived.
I ended up changing the plates between every dish that they shared. I had to tell the dish washer that the little cream plates needed prioritizing because we couldn't keep up with this family.
And then it happened.
The last, biggest dish hadn't come yet. Rightly so, because I quoted them forty minutes and it had only been thirty. But the older sister, who'd been silent this entire time, finally put down her rhinestone-encrusted phone and just burst into tears spontaneously, wailing, drawing a great deal of attention.
Now, I was trying to relay this table for the seventh time, but I was quite literally pushed out of the way as mother threw herself out of her chair. I fell to the ground, along with all the knives and forks I dropped. This is a loud restaurant, but people were turning around and looking, expecting a fight. The mother ran around to the oldest daughter, cradled her head and stroked her hair, crooning, 'There, there, don't worry, the food will be here soon.'
I was just flabbergasted by this. The older sister is an adult. Dad and boyfriend continue to not give a crap. They ate their meal when it came (the tears turned off the second the food arrived), they paid, but continued to sit there in silence for a good half an hour or so more. I was asked for a pillow so the youngest sister could go to sleep under the table. We asked them to leave."
"When I was in college, I worked at a well known Italian chain restaurant to help pay my living expenses.
Across the street from this particular location was a large church. I don't recall the denomination, but it was BIG and would often let out right before we started lunch service on Sundays. Some of those people still give me nightmares, but one incident in particular sticks out.
It was a very busy Sunday, I want to say it was the weekend before or after Easter. I'd been running around for hours, fetching mimosas for snobby twits AFTER having worked until 2:00 AM the previous night.
Our lovely hostess came over and told me I'd just been sat with a party of 8 that I'd be handling myself because we were short handed and I was the most experienced waitress currently working, BUT they weren't seated in my section because they wanted sunlight, so they were all the way on the other side of a fairly large restaurant. Great.
The party consisted of some kind of church official, I don't know what title he held, but he acted extremely entitled. He had with him six older women and one young man. Every single one of them ordered an appetizer, every single one of them had at least two drinks, and every single one of them ordered the most expensive item on the menu. I couldn't help but see dollar signs. The check was going to be HUGE, and since I wasn't splitting with anyone, as was standard practice, the entire tip would be MINE.
The party took a very, very long time to finish their meal, I mean VERY long. My shift was nearing the end and they were STILL yakking over mostly empty plates. They'd been there a good 3 hours by that point.
I wasn't going to be rude, I didn't want to endanger my tip. After all, I had been racing back and forth across the restaurant for hours for these people, and darn it, I was going to get paid for it.
I casually walked over and asked if anyone would like anything else. Everyone declined. I then asked the head of the group if I could wrap his remaining food (all of like, 6 strands of spaghetti) for him. He gave me the evilest glare you can imagine, coming from a man who's supposed to be religious.
'Missy, are you trying to rush me? I don't appreciate that. I'm paying good money to be here. You just march on back to the kitchen like a good girl. You come back here again before we're ready to go and it'll affect your tip.'
Oh, excellent. 20 minutes until my shift ends and I can't go back over there until they're ready to leave, which I'm supposed to know how exactly? I put on my best fake smile and marched off.
Now, management had been on me about that table for the past hour. It's in one of the nicer locations and is one of only two tables we have that can accommodate parties of 6-8. The shifty was glaring and asking me how much longer they're going to be. I snapped that I only wish I knew and got into a verbal altercation that I will later be written up for.
15 minutes later, just 5 minutes before the end of my shift, I walked over with a pitcher of water. I'd been debating options on how to handle things, and this seemed like the best one. I even had to psych myself up on the way over.
When I got there, I found our dear friend FURIOUS that it had taken me so long. He raged at me that he'd been waiting 20 minutes for the check. Where had I been? Didn't I know how to do my job?
I swallowed my anger and left to print up their bill which came to an obscene amount, well over $200. I figured I'd be getting AT LEAST a $40 tip, so I tried to ignore the fact that I'd been at that table 15 minutes earlier (and you'd better believe I was watching the clock like a hawk, who doesn't when your shift is that close to the end) and had been scolded for bothering them and trying to rush them; there had been no mention whatsoever of wanting the check.
I smile politely and hand them the check and not one, but TWO fancy mints per person, then I make my way to the back as to minimize the opportunity for telling Mr. Holier-than-thou what I really thought of him.
I gave them a good 10 minutes, meaning I was 5 minutes past when I should've left, before going over to check out my tip and cash out for the evening.
He tipped me 81 cents in pocket change."
"I worked at a local mid-range restaurant for about two years, starting when I was 14. Started out washing pans and moved onto waiting shortly afterward when the owner realized I could string a sentence together and wouldn't drop too much. Nice family-owned place, friendly staff, owner was a nightmare, the usual.
We had a table of four one night, I didn't serve them, but the head waitress, named Lynne, did. Throughout the meal, they were being rude, dismissive, and demanding. I can't give any specifics because as I said, I wasn't serving them. Anyway, come the end of the night, they were not at all happy. They asked to see the owner, and left shortly afterward, having paid less than half their bill, which would have been around $150. Both the owner and Lynne were spitting mad, maintaining that the food was fine and the table was being intentionally difficult. Personally, I wasn't convinced, I'd seen questionable food served before.
So, just about a year later, I was manning the front restaurant and was having some trouble with a table. They were being very rude, very demanding, and finishing perhaps half of their starters. Most of them had complaints for me to send back to the kitchen. Fine by me, I didn't cook the food. But the chef tasted all of it, declared it fine, and said they were just whiny punks. Then Lynne checked out the table and clocked them as the same four people she'd served the previous year. Knowing what was about to happen, I served the mains, and again they polished off half their plates and rattled off a list of complaints about the standard of the food. They ordered desserts and, again, the food's just no good. I think the only thing that was up to their standards was the complimentary bread rolls.
Come bill-paying time, I knew what's up, and got the owner to speak to the table himself. They chewed him out for the quality of food and the poor service. He listened for a while, then knowingly pointed out that he was surprised they'd returned, seeing as they were so unhappy last time. He took a debit card, smiled politely, took it to the bar, charged the full amount plus a small tip to the card, handed it back and told them to get out.
The job was crap, but I could have kissed my boss for that one. So much satisfaction. It turned out we were not the only restaurant in the area they had done this to, so the owner did a bit of networking and made sure they wouldn't be pulling it off anywhere within a 10-mile radius."
"I worked at a fast, casual seafood restaurant and was waiting on a couple. At the end of the meal, I gave them their bill ($69.74). A little later, I passed by their table to pick up the money and they'd put out a total of $70.74. Wow, great, a whole $1 tip. I pocket it, thinking about how cheapskates should rot in the underworld because I have to tip out 3% to the hostess and bar, so I ended up losing money, having served those scum of the Earth.
So I went about my business, taking care of my other tables, and I noticed the couple was still hanging around their table, unnecessarily, I might add, as I'd already cleared their table, taken care of their bill, and gotten them their doggie bags. I stopped by their table and asked them if there was anything else I could do for them.
'Yeah, can I get my change?'"
"When I was 17, I was a server in a buffet in a casino, which is just as awesome as it sounds (it's not).
One night, I got this middle-aged guy eating alone. He walked in and was already clearly wasted out of his mind. From the moment he sat down, he was rude. When he ordered himself a brew, he got super ticked that I could not serve it to him (being 17 and all) and that I had to flag down a waitress from the nearby bar to physically hand it to him. He sat there, being a jerk, eating his food. As a sheltered 17-year-old, I hadn't dealt with many belligerent people in my life, so I was trying to be super polite and nice, but he was a jerk the entire time.
When he finally left, I saw that he had left me a dime as a tip; or maybe he was just wasted and forgot the dime on the table, who knows."
"One customer called me an illiterate Mexican and said he would call immigration. His wife said I should take ESOL instead of attempting to read the menu and should learn English, then he said that I should hop back over the fence with my people.
I'm half Filipino and half white, I was born in Florida and only speak English.
Another night, we had a group come in that we call The Gypsies (yes, we believe they really are of Romani descent). The 5ish-year-old son punched the host in the hip, telling her to shut up. He punched me when I had hands full of plates. He threw food at a table and told the lady to shut up. He smacked a full to-go box off of one of my tables. The mom stood by each time, just watching. The 12-year-old John Travolta wannabe son held his glass in front of me and said, 'Refill,' even though I wasn't their server.
I also once had a dirty diaper left on my table."