Working in the service industry is tough, with the long hour, all that time spent on your feet, and dealing with the million indignities that come with waiting tables. The customers are a huge part in determining whether a server will have a good or bad day.
As such, when one server got called into work an extra shift on his day off, he had no idea that he was about to be saddled with the most entitled, obnoxious, impatient customer that he'd ever had the misfortune of meeting. Ben, not his real name, shared his story online, and it is a wild ride from beginning to end.
Ben was a waiter at a fairly high-end restaurant in New Zealand. He typically worked six days a week, with one day off. It just happened to be his day off, but when he got a call from his job asking him to come in and cover a shift, he readily agreed. He enjoyed his job and the people he worked with, so it wasn't all that difficult for him to come in, especially since he'd be helping out his team in their time of need. Plus, even though the restaurant was pretty hoity-toity, the guests were usually very down-to-earth and friendly. "This didn't go for all of the guests, however," Ben wrote, forebodingly.
His first table of the night was a four top that consisted of two couples. Although there were four people at the table, one man took total control. He was older than Ben by several years and, even though no one else at the table looked happy about it, he seemed keen to be the group's spokesman. He went first with his order: tenderloin steak with butter sauteed baby potatoes, asparagus and winter vegetables. When Ben asked the man how he'd like his steak, all the man said was, "Cooked."
Pressed a bit further, the man asked for his steak well done. Now that that ordeal was finished, Ben was finally able to go on collecting orders from the rest of the table. The man's wife ordered a pumpkin, feta and mushroom risotto, while the other couple both ordered Agnolotti with chili and garlic. As he was about to leave to take their orders to the kitchen, Ben informed the table that, because of the high volume of customers in the restaurant that night, their meals might take a little longer than usual to come out. That's when the gentleman dropped a "pearl of wisdom" for the kitchen that took Ben's breath away with the sheer stupidity of it.
In an "extremely patronizing" manner, the man spelled out exactly what he expected the kitchen staff to do in order in order to accommodate him personally: "Tell the cooks to start cooking my steak now and then when they get to cooking the rest of our food, my steak will be ready."
"Sir," said Ben, thrown for a bit of a loop, "I assure you they will do that if they can, but there might not be the pan space just yet."
"Then grill it," barked the man. "Do I need to tell you how to cook the bloody thing? Or would you have me cook it myself?"
"Sir, I will do everything possible to ensure you receive your meal in as quick a time as possible," Ben reassured him. The rest of the table was ominously quiet. It was pretty evident that they had been through this before.
"You will, if you know what's good for you. Did you write down that I want well done? I don't want to see any blood."
"Yes sir, I did get that," Ben replied, biting his tongue as he desperately wanted to tell this pompous jerk that the red liquid that oozes from steaks is not blood. Though he was able to control that little bit of trivia from coming out, Ben couldn't help but try and give the man a bit of advice. He should have known, though, that his input wouldn't be appreciated.
"I must advise you though, sir," Ben began, tentatively, "Anything above medium is not recommended as it compromises the taste and texture of the meat."
It was obvious that the man wasn't happy about Ben's good-natured advice.
"If the steak tastes bad, it is solely the fault of your so-called chefs," the man snapped back. It suddenly occurred to Ben that the guy might be so irritable because he was hungry. If that was the case, the solution was pretty obvious.
"If you are hungry, sir, I can recommend some appetizers so you can snack on something whilst you wait for your mains," Ben offered. Once again, his input was sadly unappreciated.
"No, no, no. If we wanted starters, then we would have ordered them. The concept of starters is not a new one exclusive to this restaurant," the man insisted.
His wife finally broke her silence to try to help out the situation, a welcome distraction from the man's disapproving focus on Ben. She seemed to agree with Ben that a little bit of food might make the wait a bit more bearable. "We could get some bread to share," she suggested.
"I do not want to fill up on bread. I want real food," he argued back. Apparently, appetizers were one of his triggers, because he then went on a long rant against them."Besides, that's how they get you. You order starters solely because you are hungry then you wait a lifetime for the mains but when they come out you are so stuffed full of olives and ciabatta that you are paying the Earth for that you didn't want in the first place that you can't enjoy what you actually came in for." Ben rolled his eyes internally, but politely closed the conversation and headed back to the kitchen to get their order started. The ordering process had been long and difficult, but it was just the start of what would prove to be a rough night.
Every five minutes after Ben took their order, the man would stop him and demand to know when his steak would be ready. He would beckon Ben over "with a disapproving look and come-hither finger curl or by clicking his fingers" and interrogated Ben about how much longer it would take for his steak to make it to the table. He did that at least four times.
After the fourth or fifth time he was summoned to the table, Ben approached them on his own to ask if there was anything he could get them to make their wait more comfortable. "Never mind that," the man interjected, "Where's my steak?"
And once again, Ben had to remind the man that the place was very busy and his order would be arriving soon.
Back in the kitchen, Ben would complain about how rude that one guest was and detail exactly what he was doing to the chefs. Even they were getting angry just hearing about what that man was doing. After one of these complaining sessions, Ben went to take some plates out to another table. As he passed by the man, he felt a hand reach out and grab his arm. If he hadn't had so much experience as a waiter, he might have dropped his load. That's when he lost his temper a bit and told the man off.
Ben snapped, "Don't touch me when I am carrying plates. I could have dropped them." The man couldn't have cared less that he could have caused some serious damage to Ben. He had a one-track mind and refused to be deterred from his mission.
"Where is my steak?" he asked. "I ordered over an hour ago and I am not happy about it. You get me my steak right now." In reality, the man had only been waiting about 35 minutes, which was longer than usual because of how busy the restaurant was that night, but it was nowhere near an hour. Ben, ever the professional, assured him that his meal was up next.
"About bloody time," the man responded, "And why are you taking food to them? They ordered after me."
"These are just appetizers, sir." Ben was rolling his eyes internally again. "They are prepared by a different chef." As Ben continued towards his original destination, he could hear the man complaining.
"Maybe that chef should have been cooking my steak instead of making a garden salad for them." For some reason, this made Ben even more furious, since it wasn't actually a garden salad, but miniature Tuna Nicoise. The fact that this entitled, bossy, obnoxious man couldn't tell the difference just rubbed him the wrong way. But it wouldn't be the last time the man would do something that made Ben's blood boil with rage.
Finally, their food was ready. Ben brought three out of the four plates to the table, purposefully leaving the rude man's food in the window so that he'd be served last. Ben typically wasn't a spiteful or petty person, but there was just something about this guy that drove him to extremes. First, he served the other couple their pasta, then he placed the man's wife's risotto in front of her. As soon as it hit the table, the man snatched it and began digging into it with gusto. Around a mouthful of his wife's food, he informed her that it tasted delicious. Ben went back into the kitchen to grab the last plate and when he returned, the man was still bent over his wife's bowl, furiously shoveling spoonfuls of risotto down his gaping gullet. When caught sight of Ben, he "straightened up, swallowed the last mouthful of arborio rice and wiped the corners of his mouth with the napkin. He promptly shoved the third of a portion of risotto that remained back in front of his hungry wife to make way for his plate."
When Ben finally set the man's steak in front of him, the steak he had been clamoring over for the entire night, the man just stared at the plate for a moment before looking up angrily at Ben. "What's this?" he asked, his brow furrowed and his mouth puckered in disapproval. At that moment, Ben felt his sphincter clinch in anticipation of the upcoming confrontation.
Ben was gobsmacked, he couldn't think of anything else to say other than, "It is the tenderloin you ordered."
"What?" squawked the man, "I didn't order this. I ordered the risotto. Are you saying you made me wait over an hour for my food because you are too incompetent to take an order correctly?"
"Sir, you ordered the tenderloin. You have asked me repeatedly about how far off it is. This is what you ordered." Ben couldn't believe this was an argument he was actually having.
"Are you deaf as well as stupid?" the man sneered. "Take it back and get me what I ordered." Ben tried to argue, but the man just waved him off. When Ben tried to look to the rest of the table for help, they just stared down at the table and avoided eye contact. "Just leave," the man insisted.
Feeling defeated, Ben retreated to the kitchen with the steak to tell the chefs the bad news. The chef who made the steak saw him coming and, irritated, asked what was possibly wrong with the food. "He said he ordered the risotto," Ben said, dejected. You could have heard a pin drop in the kitchen.
Calmly, the chef asked Ben to point out the gentleman in question, then he grabbed the plate and headed towards the table. He gently placed the plate in front of the man, then leaned in close and said, "You ordered the tenderloin. I cooked it for you. Now if you have changed your mind and want something else then that's fine, I will cook you something else. But you are paying for this steak. If you don't want to eat it then I will throw it away but you are not leaving without paying for it." The man's response actually surprised Ben. He actually agreed to eat it, though he expressed his shock that the chef "threatened" him.
The group quietly left a little while later. The man had barely touched his food and didn't leave a tip, which didn't shock Ben at all. The next day, Ben noticed that the restaurant had a new, one-star review on Trip Advisor, bemoaning the long wait times, the rude staff, and the fact that both Ben and the chef had threatened him. Three guesses as to who left it. The manager of the restaurant also received a complaint-laden call. She took the guest's side and chewed out Ben and the chef. All in all, Ben wished he'd just stayed home on his day off.
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