Everything about the restaurant is perfect: The decor is elegant but understated, your favorite album is coming through the speakers, and the food is delicious and complex without ever hinting at pretentiousness. And then your server, Jared—his improv group calls him J-Man, he explains as he slides in the booth next to your date—ruins the night by doing his best Chotchkie’s waiter from Office Space impression.
Being a server is an incredibly difficult job—and tipping 20 percent regardless of your satisfaction is an absolute moral obligation while our country’s minimum wage catches up to the rest of the world—but that shouldn’t prevent us from shaking our fist at the sky over trivial annoyances that we’re privileged enough to be able to worry about. Here are the ten things we never want servers to do again.
10. Asking if you’ve dined with them before
No, I haven’t, but I’ll bet you’re about to explain how you do things a little differently around here. And I bet you’re about to explain how all your dishes are meant to be shared and, and how you recommend ordering 2-7 plates per person because your real job description—probably per management—isn’t so much about providing good service as it is getting me to order more food. Even if you tell them you’ve been to the restaurant, the server always pulls the “Well let me give you a quick refresher…” move before launching into their upsell routine. You gotta respect the hustle though.
9. Insisting that the best dish on the menu is also the most expensive one
Oh, is your personal favorite the 96-ounce dry-aged cote de boeuf with shaved white truffles? Do you recommend pairing that with a bottle of 1947 Chateau Lafite Rothschild shot straight into your mouth with a diamond-crusted Super Soaker? Because that’s totally what I was thinking.
8. Asking if you would like sparkling or still water and not mentioning there’s a third option
Don’t make me say that I want tap water out loud. Don’t make me admit I’m a trash person who isn’t willing to pay for the stuff from an artesian well, and that I’m fine with whatever free stuff you have sitting stagnant in a bucket out back. You know what, just bring me a soaked through dish rag that I can periodically wring out into my mouth and that will be fine.
7. Asking how everything was, knowing damn well they don’t want the truth
“How was everything? No, really, be brutal, this is the only way we improve as a restaurant!” A server once said that to me, and, against my better judgment I didn’t lie. “Everything was great, really. But the carrots could have been roasted longer—some were a bit under,” I said, stupidly. She looked at me like I just punched a small child in the face. If you want feedback, go on Yelp, and if I want to vent my opinions, I’ll annoy my Uber driver with them on the way home like normal people do.
6. Telling you their name
Jared, J-Man, my dude—there’s already so much going on here. First of all, I’m going to forget your name as soon as you start listing the day’s 13 specials. That’s just being realistic. Second of all, I’m going to be interacting with at least one host, one busser, and two other servers throughout the night, and it wouldn’t be fair to John and Kelsey and Carlos and Sarah to only address you by name now, would it? I’m fine keeping this interaction anonymous if you are.
5. Asking if you would like a box to take that home
There’s no avoiding this question: if the server doesn’t ask, then they haven’t done their job, but, if they do ask, it puts you in an unavoidably shitty position. If you don’t want to take the leftovers home—and seeing as the food wasn’t good enough to finish, there’s a 99 percent chance you don’t—then you’re openly telling the server that their food sucked, and admitting you lied every time they asked how it was. Even if you do want to take it home, you know damn well that half a club sandwich is going to sit in your fridge and rot, because only a psychopath would eat a three-day-old club sandwich.
4. Making assumptions based on gender
It’s 2016 everybody—women can run countries and men can order panna cotta. What a time to be alive! Automatically giving the man the wine list, or the check, or assuming he ordered the whiskey/steak/other things penis-having persons are supposed to cartoonishly love is stupid. If you don’t know which of us ordered a Cosmo, it’s as easy as asking: “Who ordered the Cosmo?” Which I will answer by proudly raising my hand, because fuck your gender-normative assumptions, Cosmos are delicious.
3. Sitting down next to you, or touching you, or squatting down to your eye level
First rule of 99 percent of jobs—don’t touch people. That shouldn’t have to be said. Don’t put your hand on my shoulder and, if you spill something on me, please don’t scrape at me with a towel as I sit there mortified. Also, every time a server kneels down to make eye contact with you, you know they all read some variation of an article titled “8 Ways to Make More Money as a Server” (thousands of them exist) and this was one of the many pieces of bad advice in there. Exception for servers who pull up a chair and sit on it backwards like A.C. Slater because that’s just rad.
2. Asking if “you’re still working on that”
I understand the need to ask if your 99-percent empty plate can be cleared, but the phrasing on this is just so weird. Am I still “working” on it? Like eating a plate of food is a physically laborious task, and by not shoveling that entire mess of overcooked and under-salted carbonara into my gaping maw, I’ve somehow neglected an important duty. But then the other phrase, “are you still enjoying that?” is messed up for assuming by default that I was enjoying the food in the first place. “Can I take your plate?” Do that one. That one’s good.
1. Informing you that you made an excellent choice
Ok, ok, ok—this is the worst of all nit-picking, and know that I hate myself for it. Still, all self-loathing aside, I can’t help but feel that when a server tells me how excellent my dining companion’s choice is, they are implying that my choice was terrible. Why is the risotto an excellent choice but the lamb shank isn’t? Why did my date ordering a Vieux Carré warrant an “oh yeah, that’s a fantastic drink,” but all my Cosmo got was silence? WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY ABOUT COSMOS, JARED?