The other night, I met some family in town for a nice dinner. I rarely get to see these family members, so we picked an expensive steakhouse as a treat. The restaurant was posh, and from the reviews I had read online, I was looking forward to a delicious meal. It was clearly a trendy venue, with dimmed lights, weirdly shaped couches and rustic decor. We sat down and our server immediately came to the table.
I was expecting a hearty greeting. You know, the standard, “Welcome. My name is Tiffany, and I will be your server tonight.” What we got instead was an emotionless, “Hello. Do you know where you are?”I heard her incorrectly. I thought she said, “Do you know who you are?” I laughed and said, “Why, yes, I know who I am! Do you know who you are?” My joke was met with little enthusiasm. Her face tightened, and she said, “No, no. Do you know where you are?” Um, excuse me? I was taken aback by her stiff demeanor and lack of emotion. My immediate response was, “Well, yeah, we did choose this restaurant. Do you know where you are?” That pretty much foreshadowed the treatment she gave us all night.
Every time she came to our table, her face was taut, and I swear, she actually had her nose in the air. How could she be stuck up? She was serving us. When she refilled my glass of water, I said, “Thank you.” She didn’t respond. I repeated in my sweetest tone, “Thank you so much.” She turned her lips upward into the smallest of smiles and walked away, stone-faced.
I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy fine dining more than once or twice in my lifetime, so I know we were behaving appropriately for the classy environment. I sat there in shock at how we were being treated. I thought, maybe we don’t look like upper-class customers, but we weren’t just taking up a table in a busy place and only splitting one item on the menu. We ordered glasses of wine, two appetizers, and salad in addition to our filet mignon entrees and a la carte side dishes. We were spending a significant amount of money. Regardless of what we were wearing or how we might have looked, we were customers there who deserved to be treated with respect.
My family and I discussed this at length. We tried to reason our way around her rude behavior. Maybe she’s having a bad day. Maybe she just doesn’t like us. Maybe we’re not spending enough. Maybe we’re not her usual clientele. But no, I put my foot down. I have waitressing experience. My part-time job at a popular restaurant in high school taught me a thing or two about how to serve. I understand how demanding it can be and the kind of treatment people can give you. Some people have no manners, make ridiculous demands, and can make waitressing one hell of a nightmare.
We weren’t like that. And, even if we were, her job is to serve us and give us the best dining experience possible. End of story.
Since being a waitress, I consistently tip well, because I understand the job. I wanted to take her aside, shake her a little bit, and say, “I’m sorry, but are you like this all of the time?” Of course, I didn’t speak up. But this time, the tip we left her spoke louder than words ever could. I left satiated from my meal, but with a distinctly sour taste in my mouth.
Have you ever had a disastrous dining experience? How do you deal with rude servers? Do you adjust your tip accordingly? And if you’re a waiter or waitress, or have been in the past, have you had a bad night on the job and took it out on the customers? How did they react? Tell all in the comments!