Everyone who's worked in a restaurant has their share of stories about weirdness, frustration, or plain old fury. Sometimes, you've got terrible customers. Other times, it's your coworkers who are being awful.
There are other times when you approach customers at the exact wrong moment. It can be hilarious, awkward, or something different altogether.
That Date Went Sour Quickly
“As I approached the table, a lady brushed me out of the way and sat down next to the couple there. The couple was obviously on a date. The lady turns to the woman on the date and said, ‘So, I’m his wife. WHO are you?'”
There’s No Right Time, But This Is The Worst
“I’ve been on both sides of this one.
When I was 12, my mom took me and my two younger brothers to Chili’s for dinner. After we ordered our food, she started telling us that she and our father had been having a lot of problems and would be getting a divorce. Just about the time she finishes her spiel about both of them still loving us, the food comes to the table and all three of us start crying, with my youngest brother especially bawling his eyes out.
Fast forward about 15 years and I’m waiting tables at your local crab hut. As I walk out of the kitchen towards my table, I see the four children at the table start to tear up and cry. The parents avoid eye contact as I set the food down. I really wanted to tell those kids that things would still be okay.”
Right Place, Wrong Time
“A guy and his girlfriend come into our restaurant for dinner. This guy then secretly tells me he has a ring and wants to propose to her and wants it to be all special. I was to wait until a specific time and come and ask if the table ‘needed anything else,’ and then he would say ‘I do, I need her,’ and then get down on his knee. I thought it was cheesy, but hey, I wanted to help the guy out and be a part of something like that, so I said I’d do it.
I get to the table and ask the question, he then pops the question, and she burst into tears. But not good happy tears. She then blurts out that she wants to break up and that she was in love with another guy, apparently a friend of his.
I just slowly backed away from the table as his entire world came crashing down on him.”
Comedy And Misfortune
“I walk up to my table where a mom, dad, and son are seated. The mom is going nuts. I guess another waiter was walking by with a pepper mill and it fell out of his hand and hit her on the head. Not hard, but it’s also not a small thing. Well, she’s going crazy, I’m trying to figure out what’s going on, and the table next to them is laughing at her freaking out.
She keeps yelling, ‘He hit me! I want to call the cops! He hit me!’ while the waiter is apologizing profusely, but she’s not having it. She yells, ‘That’s assault!’ and the table next to her that’s laughing quickly replies ‘No miss, that’s a PEPPER!’
I lose it and have to run to the back. I finally get it together and come back, and the little kid is in hysterics now. The dad has had enough of his wife’s scene and is threatening to leave if she doesn’t calm down. Starts telling his wife ‘Do you want me to leave again? Do you want me to go?’ while the kid starts bawling and yelling, ‘No daddy please don’t leave again. Mommy act normal! Please stay daddy!’
The lady finally drops the psychotics and finishes her food. We comp everything and they don’t leave me anything for a tip.
I really don’t blame them, because after their incident, I was a ghost. I avoided them like the plague.
The Sugar Interview
“We once had an old guy between 60 or 70 come in and sit by himself for a while. He was then joined by an attractive 19-year-old blonde girl. I knew she was 19 because I had to ID her. She looked super young.
Anyway, she ordered a drink (or rather, he ordered it for her) and he had another for himself. I assumed she was just the granddaughter or something, were it not for the fact she looked so uncomfortable. Their table was right next to the bar I was tending, so I couldn’t not listen in. I noticed him touching her in a way that a grandad does not, and heard her telling him about various daddy issues that sounded ever so slightly made up. ‘He was never there, but I’ve always needed a father figure,’ etc.
Turns out it was a sugar daddy type deal. He was finding out what she could ‘offer’ him and he had a ‘couple more people to see’ as well. He escorted her out, hand on the lower back, full on creep mode. I shuddered and thought no more of it until I saw the guy in another bar when I went out for drinks after work. He was on the phone, saying things like ‘You in bed now, babe? I’ll tuck you in, daddy’s here. I’ll let you know if I choose you in the morning, what you wearing baby?’ and so on.”
Public Punishment Is No Good
“It was about a year ago and I worked at Red Lobster. At the time, our current promotion was endless shrimp, so we would get some pretty interesting people in there.
Well, on this late Sunday night, I get a party of ten people, and four of them are kids. You can imagine what kind of mess those little rugrats left me. They also let me know that they came in to celebrate a birthday. I swear these people ordered fifteen orders of shrimp linguini. Anyways, throughout the entire meal, the dad had been yelling at his kids and it made me super uncomfortable, but I just ignored it.
Then finally it was time for us to sing to this dude and I brought five other servers to sing with me. Well, as we all walk in with his dessert and are ready to sing, we see the dad with his son bent over his knee spanking him with his belt that he had been wearing.
I started laughing out of nervousness because I felt so embarrassed for the child and him. We tried to walk away and give them privacy, but the dad insisted on us continuing the little performance. The little boy was in tears during the entire song. I immediately left the table and brought him a scoop of ice cream.
I don’t believe any child should be embarrassed like that in public. Needless to say, they left a less than 10% tip. That is my most awkward serving experience.”
Emergencies On All Counts
“I worked in a bar a while back. One night, this girl was sitting at the bar alone for a while, crying. Totally awkward, so we give her a drink on the house. She explains that the guy she was seeing just dumped her out of nowhere. We feel bad, console her, etc. A little while later, the guy joins her and they’re visibly arguing. He’s straight-faced while she’s crying. The bar is loud, so she’s not wailing or anything, but she’s crying pretty hard. Again, so weird. Why would you do this in public? She and the guy sit there for something like two hours. I don’t understand why you’d stay and drink or hang out with a girl you just dumped.
Later in the night, he starts hitting on another girl at the bar while this chick is in the bathroom.
I go to the bathroom to make sure she’s okay and she’s on the floor, hysterical, and mentioning her inhaler. She has friends standing around her, and they are doing nothing. So I have to go back to where she was sitting and ask the guy which purse is hers. He tries to play macho and act like he doesn’t know until I get right in his face and he immediately points to her purse.
I am just floored. She came here with friends and they let her sit at the bar and be dumped and cry in public, and now she’s needing an inhaler and no one is doing anything?
It was the weirdest situation ever. By the way everyone acted, I assumed that maybe she’s the drama queen of the group and no one wants to deal with it, but still, just don’t hang out with her if that’s the case.
Don’t leave your friend hysterically asking for an inhaler on the floor of a bar bathroom.”
Taking A Heartbreaking Turn
“I had a couple regulars that used to come in on every ‘kid’s night.’ They were a really nice family and always left an incredibly generous tip. It got to the point where I knew their order before they even came in and even got to know quite a bit about their family.
Well, for about a month, they didn’t come in, and I didn’t really think much of it. Eventually, they came back in and she ordered the typical salad, except she wanted Romaine lettuce instead of the normal salad mix. This was no big deal, but what she said after really struck me.
She said, ‘Can you ask them to make it really good because I’m dying.’
She said it so nonchalantly that I didn’t know what to say. I left the restaurant industry a few weeks after that and I’m still not sure whatever happened to her.
I’ll never forget that though.”
Oops, She Did It Again
“Definitely my favorite moment ever waiting tables.
I live way upstate in New Hampshire and we very rarely see anything besides miserable old people arguing at our tables. However, this one night, an elderly couple came in near closing along with the wife’s sister. Now it was very clear they were just visiting the area, as they had tourist garb on, ridiculous visors, fanny packs, shirts from local gas stations, not to mention their thick southern accents. After chit-chatting and introductions, they told me it was their first time up this far north and that they were from Georgia, the ‘Deep Dirty South.’ They were great. Very friendly, asking lots of questions about there area, just nice amicable people.
Since they weren’t my only table in the section that night, I found my self with my back to them, clearing off and resetting another table. The wife’s sister got up to go to the bathroom, and this is when the hilarity ensued. All of the sudden a foul stench began to creep around the dining room. I, usually being the culprit of such artistry chose to ignore it. Mr. Georgia, however, could not.
Sniff, sniff. ‘You didn’t. I know you did, ’cause I smell it, but you didn’t.’
Mrs. says, ‘I didn’t do nothin’ now shut yo mouth.’
Mr. says, ‘I been with you fifty years, and you think I don’t know you when I smell it?’
Mrs. says, ‘You shut up now!’
Mr. says, ‘We on vacation and out at a nice place and you farted. You’s a nasty woman. You NASTY.”
My back was to them during this conversation and I immediately started crying laughing. I gave them a free dessert and they had no idea why. I still hope every day I will see them come in again.”
Paperwork Over Drinks
“I used to work at a small 20 to 25 seat restaurant that doubled as a bar. The setup was very similar to a sushi bar, only minus the sushi part. Working the line, I literally had about three feet of distance between the customers and myself, so often times, I could hear their conversations rather clearly. For some reason, people would quickly forget about me and have the most private conversations at a normal speaking volume, so I’ve heard and seen quite a few things over my time there.
There’s one instance that sticks out in particular, mostly because it was the last incident to happen before I left. For the longest time, we had a regular in his 50s who would come in with his very resentful teenage daughter. He usually made it a point to sit in front of me so they could watch me work and I guess so they had something to talk about.
The thing is, the daughter didn’t like coming to the restaurant. She didn’t like the type of food we served and she definitely gave the impression that she didn’t want to be anywhere with her dad. Her dad would always order the same things and insist that ‘she loved this dish last time, so she should get that again.’ The daughter would just roll her eyes, say ‘fine’ under her breath, and eat her food begrudgingly for the rest of the meal. Usually at some point during their meal, she would end up getting mad at him and say that ‘he shouldn’t talk about her mom that way.’ There was always some kind of awkward tension between them that obviously stemmed from a strained relationship between both parents. He wanted to try to spend time with his daughter and she didn’t.
They would come in once every month or so and this went on for quite some time. Months passed by without seeing them, so naturally, I ended up forgetting all about them.
Eventually, this guy walks in by himself and sits at a high-top away from everybody. He looked really familiar, but I just could not place where I knew him from. A middle-aged woman that I had never seen before comes in shortly after and greets him before taking a seat at the table. They spend several hours at that table drinking before the server comes over to me and says ‘I’m pretty sure they are dividing assets and hashing out the details of their divorce over there.’ I look over and sure enough, they’ve got stacks of papers that they’re going through and arguing about. They split the bill, she left, and he stayed for another drink before leaving. I never saw them again.
It was until after they left that I realized who the guy was. It dawned on me that it was the same guy who brought his daughter to eat. The whole situation was just really awkward. Why would anybody choose to draw out the details their divorce in public, much less in a really small restaurant? I guess neither of the women in his life had great experiences with him there.”
Sit And Relax With Us
“It’s pretty customary to leave the table if the customers are still unsure of what they want to order and you come back and check on them later.
This one family wouldn’t let me leave. I asked if they knew what they wanted, they said no, I said cool, be back in a minute and the dad very sharply said, ‘No, we’ll just be a second.’
I stood there at the end of their table while they quietly looked over the menu. After it became apparent it wouldn’t be ‘just a second,’ I offered to come back again, and again, he very sharply told me to stay. It felt like I was standing here for an hour waiting for them. It was very weird.”
They’re Gonna Get You
“It was a slow Wednesday when two guys come in and say that they are private bodyguards and there will be a six-top coming in in a half hour, and they want to survey the restaurant before giving the green light for the family to come in.
‘Okay? Sure, uhh, right this way guys,’ I said as I showed them around.
They ordered two drinks and two chicken dishes. When the family arrived, the guys switched to water. It’s all going okay, just a normal family with mom, dad, grandpa, son, daughter, and the nanny. I go to the table, and before I could even say hello, the son rudely interrupts me and demands a drink. ‘Sure, can I see ID?’ I ask, to which he replies, ‘Do you know who I am?’
‘Sure I do. You’re someone that wants an adult beverage but appears to be under 25’ (I was working a double and had already hit my goal for the day, I’m allowed to be snarky). He shows me his ID and, sure enough, he had turned 21 the day before. Anyway, throughout their meal, the son is arguing with the family. ‘I don’t care about your money, you should just die already,’ he tells his grandpa. This kid was a moron.
I give them the bill and they left me $100 and an apology for the son’s attitude.
As they’re leaving, the two ‘bodyguards’ suddenly show their badges and arrest the son. Apparently, they were part of the DEA and got the kid on some dealing charges”
Walking In On A Prayer
“The family of a girl I went to school with came in and I took their order. When I took them their food they were all praying, hands joined.
I considered just putting the plates down in the middle of the table and leaving, but a) the way they were holding each other’s hands made that impossible, and b) that would have been rude, or whatever. So I just ended up standing beside the table holding their meals, which were getting heavier and heavier the longer they prayed. Finally, they finished and opened their eyes and smiled at me as if I had just arrived and it wasn’t an awkward situation.
Actually, I don’t think they did consider it awkward. But it totally was and I was wary of going to that table for the rest of the night.”
“I’m Not Dangerous, I Swear”
“I was in an Olive Garden with my teenage sister for lunch, and a few tables away, a family had a child they weren’t trying to keep quiet.
I proceeded to explain to my sister exactly what I’d say to the child to keep it quiet. I’d tell it to shut up and then if it didn’t, I’d tell it ‘Shut your mouth or I’ll kill you and bury you under the shed!’ I was exaggerating to be funny but looked up and the waitress was in the middle of accidentally delivering someone else’s dessert to our table. She got flustered and left awkwardly. I got really good service the rest of the meal.”
Seeking Justice At Olive Garden
“I was working at Olive Garden for a few years around 2003ish. Had a two-top perpendicular to the family table. I was getting this weird vibe from this couple the whole time. The guy looked really strung out, and the girl was nearly sobbing. Just the way he talked to me made me think he was sketchy and would try something like walking out.
Everything I did here is pretty much against any restaurant code of conduct, but whatever, forget this guy. Plus all my managers loved me because I was great at what I did.
I grabbed my Expo, a bartender, and a host. Told them what was up, and had them posted up at three points near the doors ready to pounce. Dropped the check, and waited right around the corner where he couldn’t see me. They get up and start to leave. I run to the table to grab the check and of course it’s not there. Not wanting to rush to judgment, I look under the table. Nope. I look in the seats. Nope. Then out of the corner of my eye, I see a black book under the family table 15 feet away. This idiot threw that thing 15 feet away under the table trying to hide his awfulness and then bolted. I grab it and sure enough, that jerk walked out on his tab and left $2 in the book on an $85 to $90 bill.
I round that corner and tell my scouts that he skipped the bill, and we all bolt out the door. I see him getting in the passenger seat of his girlfriend’s car and I bum rush. This dude was probably about twice my size, but they locked themselves in her car, and I start beating on his window and slammed the white paper bill flat up against it. The girl started bawling uncontrollably, then the guy starts bawling as well. He starts apologizing to his girlfriend for being such an addict and putting her in this position.
Somebody finally went and got my GM and this little lady ran out and yelled at me to get inside. She walked over to the girl’s side of the car, and apologized for me, and said they won’t call the cops, but they’re not welcome back here. GM gets back inside and all she does is give me a bear hug and ask if I’m okay.
I’m like yea, but idiots, and no tip? ‘Are you going to fire me?’ I ask.
‘What? No!’ the manager exclaimed back at me. ‘What do you want for dinner? I’ll get you anything you want.’
She bought me a gigantic steak that night and of course, I kept my job. They loved me.”
Food As A Weapon
“I waited on a couple who apparently came in all the time. Sweet as can be, all lovey dovey, they were apparently together for a long time, but I hadn’t seen them yet because they generally only showed up during the day.
Ten minutes into their date, the woman gets up, throws her panini in his face, and storms out of the diner. I was dumbfounded and my coworkers had no idea what to say. They all were so happy when that couple came in and seethed with jealousy when they were seated in my section. The man apologized profusely and handed me WAY more money than he owed, assuring me that he meant to and that the change was mine.
I felt bad. They did seem nice. I hope they worked things out.”
The Generally Awkward Couple
“A husband and wife, probably in their early 50s, came into the restaurant for dinner every Sunday, without fail. They always ordered the same food and drinks. When they were ordering, they were super friendly, very cheerful. They always wanted their drinks right away, so I’d bring it to them before heading into the kitchen to work on their meals.
I used to dread bringing the food to their table, because by the time I got there, the woman was always done with her drink, and she’d sit with her head in her hands while her husband, who’d also finished his drink, would stare blankly at the table. No talking. I’d set the food down, tell them to let me know if they needed anything, and get no response. They ate quietly while staring down at the table and never asked me for any additional service. When they were finished, they’d leave without saying a word and I’d always find cash to pay for their dinner along with a pretty big tip at the table.
Every. Single. Sunday.
The tip was nice, but I always felt like there was never a right time to bring their food, because even if I rushed, it was never ready before they went from cheerful and talkative to practically catatonic.”
“My wife and I were eating dinner with a friend as he was telling us a story about his aunt and uncle and how they met, how nice their relationship was, etc.
We had ordered some guacamole and the dude comes up and starts making it fresh, next to our table, which was really nice. We kind of all sat there memorized for a minute as this guy made this absolutely fantastic guacamole, as our stomachs grumbled loudly. As the guy is just about finished, my friend picks up where he left off: ‘Well, to make a long story short, she hung herself.'”