I hate writing a post where I have to feel all defensive before I even finish the first sentence, and that’s how I feel about this one, and not for the first time. Yes, I’ve groused before about chummy waiters, and about how unless service is achingly bad, I’ll still leave a decent tip. And I’m under no illusions that the restaurant business is easy, especially during a global pandemic. I truly feel bad that so many establishments didn’t make it to the other side.
Those feelings were pressed home recently when I came across a Facebook meme pointing out these very things, that it’s a tough job and customers need to refrain from being assholes to the wait staff.
But here’s the kicker: Diners — specifically THIS diner — have rights and minimum expectations, and when those are not met it leaves us less than pleased, and that is bad for business.
As we the vaccinated sally forth again into the world of dining out, here’s a short list of things that drive me batshit crazy:
- Unwrapping a set of tinny eating utensils that feel so lightweight and cheap that I could probably bend them with my mind like the Amazing Kreskin or something. Tinny utensils get my blood boiling before the meal even starts. I’d ALMOST rather have a plastic spork than a tinny fork, but that’s just me. Yeah, I know, profit margins are tight and all that, but this is my space to gripe, so I’m griping.
- I have an expectation that your establishment will be clean That much is a given, but I also expect the area AROUND your establishment to be clean, and if I spy a dead mouse on the sidewalk outside your door, believe me, that’s not a good sign. Okay, it was better than a live mouse, but c’mon, people, police the area, it shouldn’t be that difficult.
- There’s an ebb and flow to restaurant service that customers have come to expect, and when you, as a waiter or waitress, do something that rattles the time/space continuum, it’s startling. For instance, asking me “how many creamers” I want with my coffee was unsettling, especially when I hadn’t yet had any coffee. What, are you rationing it? Is this some kind of COVID protocol? My answer, you see, depends on how many cups of coffee I’ll be drinking with my breakfast, and until I have my first cup, you’d better not ask me anything complicated! Just throw down a buttload of creamer containers from the start or automatically leave 1-2 more when I get a refill. Thank you.
- Know how to cook the stuff that’s on your menu. Don’t put eggs benedict on the menu if you don’t know how to make Hollandaise sauce or poach an egg, and for sure, don’t come back to the table and tell the customer, “Sorry it’s taking so long, but the cook is having trouble getting the Hollandaise sauce to stick.” Getting it to stick? Huh? That lowered my expectations a lot more than the lengthy wait already had.
- Watch the temperature inside your establishment. Please don’t crank the air conditioning down to Ice Station Zebra levels, and with ceiling fans directing the arctic blast over literally every table in the joint. Yes, it’s summer but this is early morning breakfast and it’s not THAT freaking hot outside! Could you at least provide an extra napkin to help me cover up any exposed flesh?
- Try not to operate noisy machinery in the dining area. “Holy shit what IS that? Are you testing jet engines over there?”
Yeah, I’m painfully aware that COVID-19 is a bitch and that there will be some rough patches as surviving restaurants get reacquainted with (vaccinated) customers. I like to think that I’m a good customer and a patient customer — nobody got a dressing down from me about today’s infractions.
Just consider this a heads-up from a well-meaning (if grouchy) old man who needs a few less things to drive him batshit crazy!