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Irritating Guest Habits


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Just read the thread about irritating server habits and although I agree that the standard of service in most places is just a little better than that at a fraternity party, I thought it would be funny to flip the question and ask everyone who has been working as a waiter what guest habits annoy them the most? Having worked as a waiter/bartender myself at both michelin starred restaurants and busy cafées and according to egullet tradition, I'll start myself :o)

- Sitting down at a dirty table (so you not want me to give you a good experience?)

- Snapping their fingers or whistling! (I'm about to snap that finger off!!)

- Talking while the menu is been presented (more so at upscale restaurants)

- Informing the waiter that you, as a guest, do in fact pay my salary (Duh...)

- Finishing the entire meal even after you've been at the table asking if everything was alright and then complaining that the meal was to cold, no cooked enough, etc.

- Ignoring the waiter as he/she comes to the table to take your order.

And just to finish off this round.. The waiter yoyo, a term I guess we invented at a cafe I worked at, meaning that the guest decides on another item they'd like after you've gotten the first one and repeating this 4-5 times e.g. "I'd like a large coke." and then when you return with the beverage "I'd also like a piece of pie" and when you return with the pie "and a cup of coffee." and so on and soforth..

Looking forward for some entertaining experiences :o)

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I haven't waited tables in a while and my experience is limited to a diner in high school BUT...I have experienced some embarassing guest moments while out with others. I think the most mortifying was while out to brunch with my in-laws. My MIL got an (admittedly) overcooked poached egg. Now, we weren't at the Four Seasons and I know people have different beliefs on when to complain or send items back. Honestly, I probably would have just eaten the egg but that's beside the point. Not only did she complain but she proceeded in explaining to the waitress what a proper poached egg consists of. "A poached egg should have a runny yolk when pierced by a fork." Did she think the waitress was back there poaching her damn egg? I wanted to crawl under the table. Afterwards, she asked her children (in their 20s and 30s) and me if we were embarassed. They said no. I was already under the table.

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Demanding a free meal for any random reason.

A long long time ago, in fact, the last time we ever brought my mother and stepdad to one of 'our' restaurants, they caused an embarassing scene.

It was an upscale Chinese place, very small, something like 8 tables in the whole place. Two servers, one old guy, and one teenage-ish girl. We knew the family that ran it, which made this even more upsetting. The girl was carrying a full pitcher of water and a few glasses, and she tripped, dumping the whole tray on the floor. She was about 3-4 ft away from our table, but some of the water splashed on the cuff of my stepdad's jeans...

He complained loudly, and to anyone that could hear, about clumsy staff, and how he deserves a free meal for getting 'drenched' and how dangerous it was, with the glass everywhere. He repeatedly examined his pants and lifted his cuff, to poke around at his sock and shoe. When the poor girl happened by our table, a few minutes later, he caught her elbow (chalk that up to another unforgivable habit...grabbing the servers) and said "Honey, you got me all wet! I think you may have hit me with broken glass. Something needs to be done, here, we should get a free meal or something!" We shut him up, and when the owner came by, we played it off, like he was kidding. I thought the poor girl was gonna cry.

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Boy will I second the being ignored while you're trying to give the specials or take a drink order. I will add to that:

1)Guests that put their dirty plates on clean tables next to them seconds after they've eaten their last bite.

2)Guests who hang big purses on the backs of chairs.

3)Longlegged guests who stretch out causing me to trip while I'm delivering their dinner. I just love having to apologize everytime I bring something to the table!

4) And my newest favorite pet peeve (really happened this weekend) Guests who flirt with and ask permission to kiss wedding ring adorned servers while sitting next to their spouses.

5) Guests who drape their arm over the chair next to them causing me to reach over the arm thereby touching my breasts to said arm.

good thing I have a few days off

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Excessive indecision about ordering

I have a good friend who is notorious for doing this at a restaurant. She used to make the waitstaff stand there while she talked to herself through the different menu items. "Should I have this? Well, I just had something like it a couple days ago..." and then will try to converse with everyone else at the table while the waitstaff is standing there trying to take her order.

I put a stop to that. Now when we dine out, I "ride herd" on her :hmmm: once we're given our menus and make sure she arrives at a decision before the waitstaff returns to take our order.

I'm not sure if it's a control/power issue with her or if she just likes annoying the waitstaff or if she was totally oblivious to what she was doing.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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Oh god, I have a friend like that. He wants to think aloud while the server is standing there. I have laerned to leap in and say 'can we please have a few more minutes?', to abort that process.

And of course, asking for the extra time throws a tiny spiral into the otherwise smooth flow of service, which can occasionally result in our waiting rather long to have our order taken.

I just cant stand watching the waitperson stand there twitching while my friend ums and ahs.

I also have to remind this person to close his menu once his mind is made up. Otherwise the server is never going to know when to come take the order.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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I just cant stand watching the waitperson stand there twitching while my friend ums and ahs.

I also have to remind this person to close his menu once his mind is made up. Otherwise the server is never going to know when to come take the order.

There's a word for your buddy's problem: aboulomania, the condition of pathological indecisiveness! :wink:

It's fine with me if someone (whether a dining companion or a guest) takes a long time to decide what they want, as long as they are open to collaboration (or suggestion) and happy with what they ultimately decide upon. Sometimes I take forever, too, even in places where I know the menu.

At this point in my career, the capacity to suspend disbelief is as valuable a part of my arsenal as is my food and wine knowledge. One thing, yet, makes me swoll: improper disposal of TRASH (on the part of the guest) in the restaurant.

I love catching, out of the corner of my eye, a guest (by which I mean a grown adult, a potential payer of the check) making his or her finest attempt to be stealthy about this matter. Birthday card envelopes, paper bags from the wine shop, little wrappers from candies, sodden and soapy paper towels in the bathroom, even expired gum: don't be shy- I'll throw it out for you. It'd be my pleasure, really. I'm not being sarcastic. Just don't try to hide it from me, because I see you, and I note your lack of respect for your environment. I can only imagine how little respect you have for me. It's high time littering INSIDE became cause for shaming the way littering outside tends to be.

"What was good enough yesterday may not be good enough today." - Thomas Keller

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I love catching, out of the corner of my eye, a guest (by which I mean a grown adult, a potential payer of the check) making his or her finest attempt to be stealthy about this matter. Birthday card envelopes, paper bags from the wine shop, little wrappers from candies, sodden and soapy paper towels in the bathroom, even expired gum: don't be shy- I'll throw it out for you. It'd be my pleasure, really. I'm not being sarcastic. Just don't try to hide it from me, because I see you, and I note your lack of respect for your environment. I can only imagine how little respect you have for me. It's high time littering INSIDE became cause for shaming the way littering outside tends to be.

I don't really understand this..what are they doing, trying to drop papers under the table or something? :blink:

Kate

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Then there is the customer point of view. :wink:

Sitting down at a dirty table (so you not want me to give you a good experience?)

Sometimes there are no clean tables and no one bussing.

Talking while the menu is been presented (more so at upscale restaurants)
Ignoring the waiter as he/she comes to the table to take your order.

Keep an eye on us, we will let you know when we are ready to hear the specials or to order. Right now we're enjoying each other's company.

Longlegged guests who stretch out causing me to trip while I'm delivering their dinner. I just love having to apologize everytime I bring something to the table!

Guilty. I apologize to past and future servers. And a dedicated, ongoing apology to the wait staff at Carman's.

Excessive indecision about ordering

You'd think that on the entire menu there would be one dish that appeals to me. Also, What was the seventh special that the server recited?

CELL PHONES IN THE RESTAURANT

How do you think I amass the funds to pay these prices? (I do believe in putting the phone on vibrate and at a certain level of dining or when with guests, stepping into the entryway or the bar.)

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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hehe, this turned out better than I thought, I normally kid around with my colleagues about these things, but it's really funny that most of the things are the same internationally. Here are a few more extreme examples from me (and yes, ALL of them has happened):

- HEY!! OR HALLOOOO!!!! is not a proper substitute for excuse me, when trying to contact the waiter after 2 min at the table.

- I'll second the unruly kids and up it with kids running in staff only areas e.g. behind the BAR

- Lifting up my appron and CUPPING my groind (not making it better that it was a man).

- Overexcessive flirting with the bartender only trying to get free rounds for her and her friends.

And Megan Kathleen, I actually have a funny story on the whole littering in the restaurant subject. One busy saturday evening a young couple around 17-18 yrs showed up for a table reservation obviously on one of their first dates. After being seated and having their orders taken, the usual semi akward conversation started and after the first course a waiter notices something falling out of the young mans pocket and his face turning to stone (in the embarassed way). Being serviceminded the waiter goes to pick up the dropped item and return it to its owner but just before she's bends down, she sees that it a small rectangular shaped RED item and quickly walks by. It was, as you've all probably guessed in fact a condom, I'd definately like to see his face if you gave him the whole "don't be shy-I'll throw it out for you" speach :biggrin: The rest of the evening the young man of course spent trying to catch it with his foot and slide it under the table, embarrassed not only that the girl might notice, but that the waiter might as well. The night went on full of uncomfortable squirming and as they get up from the table, the young man's "fishing" not being succesfull, he obviously looked like he was walking straight into the most embarrassing moment of his life, just seing his facial expression when my colleague swept up behind him as they got up, putting her foot over the condom and giving him a subtle smile with a "Thank you and have a pleasant evening" was worth any tip he could ever have given, pure relief :biggrin:

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'Ms. Percher'. A small woman who perchs on the edge of her seat with her purse behind her on the chair. Her chair sticks out further than the two linebackers at the next table. Given the normal amount of space between tables, this is now impossible to get by.

'Mr. Helpful'. As you are clearing a table, (there is only one way to clear and stack properly this expensive china) he will hand you his plate. Now with this extra in my hand, I will have to come back to grab the last few things.

'Mr. Impatient'. As you are clearing the table, he asks that you bring over dessert menus(what and bring up my check average, who would do such a thing?).

'Mr. Promises'. He makes sure to inform you that they are very good tippers and we should take very god care of them(they never are.)

'Ms. Oblivious'. I am standing at your table with hot plates, you have moved your breadplate, coffee cup, whatever, directly in front of you. When you finally look up at me uncertain why I haven't put your plate down. (Make some frickin room for me, lady!!)

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- Sitting down at a dirty table (so you not want me to give you a good experience?)

- Snapping their fingers or whistling! (I'm about to snap that finger off!!)

- Talking while the menu is been presented (more so at upscale restaurants)

- Informing the waiter that you, as a guest, do in fact pay my salary (Duh...)

- Finishing the entire meal even after you've been at the table asking if everything was alright and then complaining that the meal was to cold, no cooked enough, etc.

- Ignoring the waiter as he/she comes to the table to take your order.

Sorry Benjamin the Bartender

we are paying for you to take care of us

that does not make you our slave, but it does prioritize our worth in this relationship

-Have someone to control the flow so we do not have to decide where to sit. If i have to stand for 20 minutes or sit at a dirty table - I'm sitting

- Tell me how to get your attention so that I do not offend your delicate sensibilities. I do not think that I should have to stare at you for five minutes so that i can get your valuable services directed towards me

- I am there to have a nice time and socialize - you need to wait until I am done with my conversation

- I do pay your salary

- Do not ask me at the end of the meal if i liked everything - unless you want to know the answer

- I'm paying - you wait until i am ready to give you my order

You are all about what is wrong with eating out now. You are in the business of providing a nice experience for me. That is what I pay you for. I do not have to worry about if i made it a nice day for you at work.

Find a job you like.

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Yikes! I'm pretty sure this thread was supposed to be a place for light hearted venting by servers.

I'm not a waiter, but its interesting reading the things that bother them. As a customer, it bugs me when patrons do the cell phone thing. Take your call outside. For some reason people talking to one another is fine, but when you're talking in the phone...ugh.

Edited by MattJohnson (log)
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Sorry MichBill

If this topic offended you, it was made entirely for waiters to share funny stories and courious experiences. All the post so far, like my own, are extremes, people who you see once in a while at the restaurant and their complete oblivion to the effect they have on the people around them, which actually sometimes make you crack a smile, but to understand the humour of the situation you would have to be a waiter. I've been active as a waiter/bartender for almost 11 years, so I DON'T make the beginnermistakes that you mention, soooo let's do this one more time:

- The flow of the floor is being control even at the cafées I've worked at people are greated at the door, told which table they'll be seated at and that it has to be cleaned first so they should please wait at the bar for 2 minutes and as soon as you turn your back to get at tray they jump at the table to sit, worrying that it's a country of wild west laws and someone is going to just take it cause they're bigger (especially happens with tourists).

- You can easily get my valuable services directed towards you without offending my delicate sensibilities with a simple excuse me or eye contact, not by yelling or being impolite or rude in any other way, but by treating me like a human and being polite as you would to any other stranger.

- I'm glad that I have to wait till your conversation is done, then you're not only being impolite to me, but to those of the guests at the table, who are either hungry or interested in what's on their plate. I do apologize in case I've ever served you if I had the nerve to interrupt your enchanting flow of speech.

- If I feel I can joke about people complaining at the end of their meal, I most likely have been at the table to ask if the food was satisfying before they finished.

- Honestly, I don't mind going the extra mile for guests and I love being able to give extra service in any way, but if you look at it from a business point of view, between the extra time it took your waiter to clean the dirty table you sat at, explaining to you that yelling, screaming and waiving won't get his attention faster than a simple nod, waiting for your conversation to be done so he at least can get your obviously dehydrated companion a drink and then trying to keep a straight face through your whole "I AM paying your salary" and your "the food sucked even though I didn't tell you" speaches, he would have been able to sell the table 2-3 times and spend more time at the other tables for better service from which I can conclude that you do NOT pay my salary, you do on the other hand cause the demise of the entire restaurant (slightly exaggerated).

I'm all about happy customers and good experiences and didn't mind travelling 4 hours a day to get to work at my old job, just cause the experience we gave people there was better. This topic was posted because despite the fact that there are waiters who actually like their jobs and carfe about giving good service, there are still customers that'll bring a crappy attitude to the restaurant.

You pay me to serve you your drinks and food, I do not have to worry about if you had a bad day at work and want to take it out on me.

Find a topic you like!

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'Ms. Percher'. A small woman who perchs on the edge of her seat with her purse behind her on the chair. Her chair sticks out further than the two linebackers at the next table. Given the normal amount of space between tables, this is now impossible to get by.

I have dealt with a "Ms Percher" at social functions for the company my wife works at. I had an ah-ha moment recently regarding this particular behavior - although I don't claim this is a 100% covers-all explanation.

I'm a reasonable short guy by today's averages. I have very short legs for a guy (25" inseam - try buying that size off the rack) and have found over the years that some chairs and some booths are constructed such that the padding is not sufficient to keep my hamstrings off of the frame of the chair/booth. What I end up experiencing is a lot of localized pressure transversing the muscles in the back of my leg since my stumpy legs don't touch the ground. This eventually gets painfull and I have to get up and walk around for a minute to give my legs a break. The ah-ha moment came when I realized that the "Ms Percher" that I deal with has really short legs also. I came to the conclusion that she sits on the edge of the chair to avoid the muscle pain I described above. It's still a pain to have to maneuver around her but it did give me some new insight.

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

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Benjamin, holdin' it down! You are clearly a pro. Pow!

My anti-littering speech is one among many that I would never dream of giving to a guest. You can only see my face as I say things like that if you're buying me a beer after work!

What your colleague did with the condom was the only acceptable thing to do in that situation, and completely hilarious to boot! If all of us were that amazing, there wouldn't be misunderstandings on this thread. Can we get back to the point? I'll start:

-To clarify, yes, eskay. Repulsive as it is to the imagination, people do this. I think the process goes something like this: "I must be rid of [this object] NOW. I don't see a trashcan. I think I'll just drop it on the floor." Finally, the rationalization: "someone else will pick it up." Why not just hand it to one of the several Someone Elses who are working?

-The verbal tip, and its questions that linger like a stale fart. "Everything was great? Why only 10%?" I myself do not experience this with any regularity, which I chalk up to having been fortunate enough to pass most of my career in pretty good houses thus far. It's still pretty confounding.

-Putting feet up on chairs, taking shoes off, etc.

-Perching one's heiney on the end of chairs is one thing, but that which the server vernacular for "perching" refers to is another: placing one's belongings on adjacent tables. The inverse of perching- "I need a fork, so I think I'll take it from the next table over"- is curious, as well.

It's clearly better for business, and for everyone, if we the (restaurant) people strive for a happy symbiosis between guests and staff instead of settling for the complex, multivariable low-self-esteem vibe. And when- despite our best efforts- that vibe persists, we can sip the schadenfreude from either side of the bar. When I deign to complain about guest behavior, I do so for a laugh and for a laugh only. One of the many joys of being a server is watching all the funny two-leggers do their thing and kidding myself about somehow being an exception, if only for a moment.

Holly, it's been this eGullet neophyte's happy observation that you are right on. You seem to be a patient, rational and understanding sort. Way more so than I am, even; when I enter a place and see no clear tables and no one bussing, I leave.

"What was good enough yesterday may not be good enough today." - Thomas Keller

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This whole thread is eye-opening---BitterWaitress without the venom.

And Ben the B: You got CLUTCHED by a customer and you lead off with THIS?:

- Sitting down at a dirty table (so you not want me to give you a good experience?)

Looking forward for some entertaining experiences :o)

Looks as if you've had quite enough entertainment for one career. :laugh:

Edited by racheld (log)
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- Sitting down at a dirty table (so you not want me to give you a good experience?)

- Snapping their fingers or whistling! (I'm about to snap that finger off!!)

- Talking while the menu is been presented (more so at upscale restaurants)

- Informing the waiter that you, as a guest, do in fact pay my salary (Duh...)

- Finishing the entire meal even after you've been at the table asking if everything was alright and then complaining that the meal was to cold, no cooked enough, etc.

- Ignoring the waiter as he/she comes to the table to take your order.

Sorry Benjamin the Bartender

we are paying for you to take care of us

that does not make you our slave, but it does prioritize our worth in this relationship

-Have someone to control the flow so we do not have to decide where to sit.  If i have to stand for 20 minutes or sit at a dirty table - I'm sitting

- Tell me how to get your attention so that I do not offend your delicate sensibilities.  I do not think that I should have to stare at you for five minutes so that i can get your valuable services directed towards me

- I am there to have a nice time and socialize - you need to wait until I am done with my conversation

- I do pay your salary

- Do not ask me at the end of the meal if i liked everything - unless you want  to know the answer

- I'm paying - you wait until i am ready to give you my order

You are all about what is wrong with eating out now.  You are in the business of providing a nice experience for me.  That is what I pay you for.  I do not have to worry about if i made it a nice day for you at work.

Find a job you like.

I have never worked in any capacity in a restaurant but the kind of behavior mentioned here by people who have, is never acceptable. I loathe the excuse "I pay your salary" in any situation. No one has the "right" to be disrespectful, demanding and rude. Certainly, I expect the wait staff to be respectful to me also and if they are not, I can do something about that. Of course, the something I would do about it would not include being rude and disrespectful, just assertive.

I don't think they've said they don't like their job, just the parts that are obviously... challenging.

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You are all about what is wrong with eating out now.  You are in the business of providing a nice experience for me.  That is what I pay you for.  I do not have to worry about if i made it a nice day for you at work.

Find a job you like.

what do people pay you for michbill? do they get to treat you like shit for the money?

I mean if they have a nice experience.....it's fine right?

there is no justification for rude behavior in restaurants. none. people with good manners don't do the things you listed.

I understand wanting to have a good time, and not being overly concerned about having to "act pleasant" but if you want to make the rules- buy the joint...

i'll never get it. People with perfectly good manners who act like barbarians in restaurants.

yeesh.

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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hehe, this turned out better than I thought, I normally kid around with my colleagues about these things, but it's really funny that most of the things are the same internationally. Here are a few more extreme examples from me (and yes, ALL of them has happened):

- HEY!! OR HALLOOOO!!!! is not a proper substitute for excuse me, when trying to contact the waiter after 2 min at the table.

- I'll second the unruly kids and up it with kids running in staff only areas e.g. behind the BAR

- Lifting up my appron and CUPPING my groind (not making it better that it was a man).

- Overexcessive flirting with the bartender only trying to get free rounds for her and her friends.

And Megan Kathleen, I actually have a funny story on the whole littering in the restaurant subject. One busy saturday evening a young couple around 17-18 yrs showed up for a table reservation obviously on one of their first dates. After being seated and having their orders taken, the usual semi akward conversation started and after the first course a waiter notices something falling out of the young mans pocket and his face turning to stone (in the embarassed way). Being serviceminded the waiter goes to pick up the dropped item and return it to its owner but just before she's bends down, she sees that it a small rectangular shaped RED item and quickly walks by. It was, as you've all probably guessed in fact a condom, I'd definately like to see his face if you gave him the whole "don't be shy-I'll throw it out for you" speach  :biggrin:  The rest of the evening the young man of course spent trying to catch it with his foot and slide it under the table, embarrassed not only that the girl might notice, but that the waiter might as well. The night went on full of uncomfortable squirming and as they get up from the table, the young man's "fishing" not being succesfull, he obviously looked like he was walking straight into the most embarrassing moment of his life, just seing his facial expression when my colleague swept up behind him as they got up, putting her foot over the condom and giving him a subtle smile with a "Thank you and have a pleasant evening" was worth any tip he could ever have given, pure relief  :biggrin:

I was working at a formal French restaurant when out of a customer's pocket fell not a condom, but a rolled up twenty-dollar bill. No wonder he'd been spending so much time in the bathroom! As it was kind of a corporate-looking crew I discreetly picked it up, flattened it to an unsuspicious shape, and handed it back to him below table level.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I'm lovin' how this thread is turning out, much fun for me and my colleagues (who I gave a sneak peak :biggrin: )

Megan Kathleen, well said indeed, there were never any bad intentions behind this topic...

And racheld, maybe I should have written "Looking forward to seek comfort and some sort of therapeutic effect in similar stories" or "Looking forward to vend my ever so traumatizing experience"? :biggrin:

Busboy, I'm taking that story to work.... And giving you this thought to in addition, ever had a headchef that all of a sudden after sneeze during service was white under his nose? Not good in an open kitchen...

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I amthe guy in the back - Sous chef -a Working Chef - that also deals with the crazy maniacs sitting down but also having to figure out what the hell the servers are trying to punch in to serve the patrons. It is a crazy job being up front and it is crazy in the back too. And excuse me mr mitch was it - yes you do pay for services at an establishment but people in the food industry are treated like shit. If you have had poor service maybe it is becasue of the attitutde you just through out there on this thread. I am alwys greatful when I go out to eat at simple or formal places. While I do have a very picky way I like things - I do take into consideration where I am and then base my reactions accordingly. One sitting down at a dirty table - sounds as if that combination of your post and the places you go - no wonder you are picky. But I work at an open 365 days a year club that has some rich rednecks that only dream of being in the light of the places in Boca Raton / Hollywood / NY and LA. These guys have the same "paris hilton" complex of you are my slave - and you know what - we are here - we are proferssionals serving in what we can only hope professionals ot people. But often get treated poorly by any number of simple things. Like aove - i have had eggs - steaks melted cheese on a grilled cheese was not melted enough to the toast is not brown enough - this job drives people tp drink or smoke or live under a bridge. So I speak for all of us people dedicated to the service of the patrons in the fron - CHILL OUT - have some fun - eat some good food - order like you would at your house - you certainly would not get up 10 times in 30 minutes wouod you - well - your server should not have to run 10 times for things that you can't make up your mind with - the pay my salalry thing - yeah well - the establishemnt has to deal with you - you don't pay me becasue if it were direct I would have grabbed you by the seat of the pants and popped you right out on the sidewalk just like Gordon Ramsay did so long ago ---thanks for the thread - I needed it anfter a bad day of feeling like a slave to the club members....- thanks guys - Chef

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I'll go ahead and chime in as well from another customer perspective--

I don't sit at a dirty table because I want--if I do it's because the place is seat yourself and packed to the gills and it's this or be shoulder to shoulder at the bar (Have a particular joint in mind on that comment, really) Benjamin, I daresay the type of establishment you're working in is more high end than the one I have in mind, so to be fair I can't imagine insisting on going ahead and sitting down at a dirty setting anywhere where tables are actually assigned (I have been seated at dirty tables by a hostess a few times; as long as a busboy is along promptly I don't really mind, usually I find it beats standing and waiting)

As far as how the flow of conversation goes when the waiter approaches, I'm a little confused on that one--obviously it's bad form to ignore their presence, but isn't it equally rude of a waiter to break into a conversation in full flow?

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