I want to state at the outset that I’ve never worked as a waiter. I can preach all I want about what a tough job it is, and my words would ring hollow because I’ve never actually done it.
Still, I’ve observed enough and have read enough to know how difficult it is, and to appreciate the good service I receive. I reward good service, and probably tolerate bad service better than most. I remember many a time, lingering behind to throw down an extra wad of cash after my dad left a $1 tip for a $100 meal.
I like to believe that I’m an easy patron. I don’t make unusual demands, and even after getting bad service, I won’t trash the table or stiff the waiter by leaving a penny. What I will do, however, is write about how a certain type of waiter drives me batshit crazy! Yesterday was a case in point.
No sooner had my wife and I been seated at Zinburger, a curiously upscale hamburger-and-wine joint, than our waiter made his appearance and introduced himself. My first thought: “Oh dear god, we’ve got a squatter.”
One thing I hate even more than a bad server is the overly friendly server, and among these, the very worst is the guy who hunkers down at your table while explaining all the specials, and remarking upon how each entrée is more delicious than the last. I’ve actually had one guy who pulled up a chair, but a squatter is worse because he’s just that much more inside your personal safety zone.
What I want … no, what I need … is for you to take my freaking order, pal, and then bring me my food in a timely manner. Cut through all the frills, and this is still just a hamburger joint, for crying out loud, so I’m really not interested in wine pairings or upgrading my burger to Kobe beef!
Even my wife, who’s a lot nicer person than I am, remarked later that she hadn’t gone in there looking for a new best friend. And to be perfectly honest, I’m certain our waiter wasn’t looking to become our BFFs either. What he was looking for, in his own unctuous way, was a good tip, and we gave him one, though nothing out of the ordinary.
Here’s what I want from my server:
- List any specials in a quietly unobtrusive way.
- Take my order after it’s apparent that I’ve stopped perusing the menu.
- Bring me a glass of water in addition to any other drink I might order.
- Refill my water glass if I empty it, or ask if I want a refill of my other beverages.
- Bring my food to the table while it’s still hot.
- Ask if there’s anything else that I require.
- Take my plate when I’ve finished, and ask if I want dessert.
- Bring my check in a timely fashion.
If you can do these things without getting up in my grill, I will really, really appreciate it, and I’ll leave you a generous tip. Anything more is liable to drive me batshit crazy!