When working in the food industry, one can expect to meet an array of interesting characters. Although, interesting is not always a good thing. Some customers think just because they're paying, they can treat the wait staff however they please. Which, is never the right thing to do. Unfortunately, that did not stop these customers.
Waiters and waitress on Quora share their interactions with rude customers. Content has been edited for clarity.
People these days! Content has been edited for clarity.
This Conversation Should Not Have Had To Happen
“We call him ‘The Walrus.’ This man has been coming in at least once a week for probably 30 years. He was never the sort of person you wanted to serve. Even as a younger, well, middle age man, he was perpetually crabby, unpleasant, unpleasable, picky, and complicated. No matter what you did or what he ordered, the most you could hope for was a dollar (and actually, his most frequent order came out to 10.19, he would simply round up, netting you $0.81). However, as he has aged in the last 5 years or so, he has become so much worse than your typical unpleasant customer.
He insists on sitting at the most central table in the restaurant, the one absolutely everyone must pass every time you do anything. He is clearly not homeless, it’s possible he is now dealing with the poverty of disability, but he was clearly a decently upper middle class professional back in the day. He is joined most weeks by two gentlemen who work at the Capitol or the state building, I don’t know if they are lawyers or what, but they are fairly reasonable. They’re a bit dismissive and we are clearly beneath them in their minds, which is typical of men who work at the Capitol. But they aren’t rude per se, not like The Walrus is.
He clearly is struggling with some health issues. If he had ever been kind to anyone that I had seen, I would probably try to have compassion, but he’s just such a total dirtbag. He has something going on with his feet, maybe something to with diabetes? All I know is that they are disgusting. He likes to take them out of the moccasin style shoes he wears and sort of just rests his feet on top of them under the table. They are just so hideously gross and the smell that wafts from them is putrid. In fact, putrid is his entire being. He reeks of body odor and unwashed hair, urine, and worst, feces. He must wear an adult diaper of some kind, and he is not shy about, ahem, using it for its intended purpose. He sits there, grunting and visibly straining, before we are all treated to the smell of fresh poo. Again, right at the most central table that everyone has to walk past. They must be pretty low quality too, because more often than not he leavev skid marks, revolting brown smears, on his chair.
It’s been marginally better lately. He’s still rude and he still reeks, but our general manager (who started as a busboy over 40 years ago and has been the general manager for as long as this guy has been coming in) had a talk with him. He told him if we have to clean poo smears off his chair one more time he would be banned from the restaurant, no matter how long he’s been a customer.
He is still the most dreaded customer though.”
“A Nasty Miserable Person”
“My dad and I ran a kitchen in a little local neighborhood bar for a while. Just a little part-time gig to bring some more customers in (keep the existing happy) and put a few dollars in our own pocket. I thought it was good food. Basic bar food. All homemade, except for the jalapeño poppers. We had real triple ground burger, half pounder with chips for $4.00– 50 cents more for fries, 50 cents more for bacon.
We had REAL fries. What I always considered ‘Carnival Fries.’ A bit dark, double fried, super crispy and blistered, moist tender inside. The kind of fries that have to eaten with malt vinegar. Onion rings. Half pound of chicken, pounded, seasoned, breaded and fried on a bun for $5. Cheese sticks were home made. Real chicken tenders– the actual tenderloins, 5 of them (almost 10oz), for $6. Wings, of course. Fish and chips on alternating Fridays with chowder. Tuna melt. Just pretty decent food for cheap.
Anyway, there is this one lady that came in every so often. She drank White Russians (remember, I was only on the food side). She would bring her own milk in. She insisted that her White Russian was in a pint glass and then complained non-stop that her White Russian didn’t have enough Kahlua in it because it didn’t look like chocolate milk. She pretty consistently ended up with 4–5 drinks worth of Kahlua in her drink just so nobody had to listen to her. Every time she ordered food, she complained. The second to last time we served her, she wanted wings. She had always complained were never done enough. She wanted them down in the fryer for 25 minutes. She got exactly what she wanted, bone with chicken leather on it. There was not a drop of moisture in any of it. Basically mummy chicken, not even moist enough to be considered chicken jerky.
I don’t remember if she complained about that or not; it was a take out.
The last time we served her, I wasn’t there. It was just my Dad. It was just a burger and fries– 8 ounces of real burger, nice bun, lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese (2 pieces always). Eleven ounces of really good fries, full size pickle spear, and a pepperoncini for garnish always on every meal.
My dad brings her plate out and she starts complaining about how much ($4.50!) such a tiny burger cost (8 real ounces, half pound) and it looked bad. My Dad, being the very politically correct person he is, just simply picked up the entire plate of food (and it was a good size plate of food) and walked behind the bar and SLAMMED the entire meal right in the garbage can, plate and all.
He sat down, ordered himself a drink, and stared at her until she left. She ordered food a few times after that, but we never actually cooked it. The bartender would take her order and we would just trash it. The bartenders knew, she wasn’t getting another crumb food out of that kitchen. She eventually figured it out.
And yes, my Dad went a fished the plate out of the trash after she left.
She was such a nasty miserable person.”
“I Thought I Was In Deep Trouble”
“While I was in college and during a nasty divorce, as well as a custody battle, I had been working at a retirement home. I was a ‘server.’ I had been working there for about a week when I was informed about a lady who no one wanted to serve.
I had gotten her in my section. I was curious why no one wanted her in their sections, until she opened her mouth.
The first thing that came out of her mouth, ‘I hope you know how to serve a customer?’
I answered, ‘Don’t worry about that, because I know that you always serve on the right and clean up on the left. I am sure that if I am doing something wrong that you won’t hesitate to tell me.’
She huffed and put her nose up at me. She started to complain about the food wasn’t hot, that it was warm. That I need to bring it back to get a hotter dish. I told her the health department suggests all dishes be served warm in a retirement community, because the elderly’s tolerance for hot temperatures change.
She still huffed and put her nose up at me. Then she complained about how I wasn’t filling her beverage glass efficiently. I told her I am very busy with the other tables I have and that inhibits me keeping an eagle eye on her glass.
Still, she huffed and put her nose up at me. By the end of the lunchtime. I was called in to my bosses office. I thought I was in deep trouble. My boss praised me for handling Norma well. I told her I suggested to Norma that since she doesn’t seem to be happy with the way the server’s serve her, perhaps she take all of her meals in her room. My boss agreed with me on that suggestion.
The next day, I noticed Norma wasn’t in the dining room. I asked the hostess where she was. She answered Norma decided to take her meal in her room.
I replied, ‘I am glad that she finally listened to someone.’
The hostess asked who was that.
I replied ‘That person was me.’
Then she patted me on the back while saying ‘Good job.’
Norma continued to take her meals in her room until she passed away.”
At Least They Were Never Bored
“There were several regulars we all avoided or dreaded.
The older woman who every week ordered delivery of a case of St. Polly Girl and a salad. She always answered the door in a lingerie, and pretended she didn’t realize we were coming. She would ask us in while she searched for her purse, practically dragged us inside and closed the door (always a bad idea). At various times she would drop her housecoat or see-through robe, or fake trip and have to grab onto us and rub up against us, etc.
There was this family who ordered an entire weeks worth of food every Monday, with specific directions in writing as to how to prepare each item for each day. We followed it exactly every time, it was a very large order to prepare and took two people to deliver it.
Every single time we checked it and double-checked it, the owner would check it again. Sometimes he would go with us to deliver it. The husband would always check it and thank us, pay what was owed and offer a fair tip. The wife, on the other hand, was always terrible. She’d claimed we messed something up, or something was missing or we didn’t follow her exact directions. Believe me, we did not. She was always looking for a way to get out of paying or not pay what was owed. We would leave and she and her husband would start fighting over how cheap and rude she was to us. She never tipped at all.
We had a guy who used to come in who was wealthy and drove several fancy sports cars. He was often with a different much younger girl. Always flashing his cash, showing his watch, shoes, or some other thing and telling us how expensive it was. He would be rude to the staff and play big shot demanding to talk to the chef (owner) and made a scene every time he came in. Often he would pay cash and leave before we could get back to the table. He would short change the bill or not leave any tip even after he demanded we treat him like a king.
We always joked that he was always with a different girl because they quickly figured out what a prick he was and a cheapskate.
There were others. I think every restaurant has them.”
“I Wish This Wasn’t True”
“I served as a waitress many years ago at an authentic Greek restaurant. Most of the time I would work lunch and dinner service, and given that there were only 20 tables. We stayed pretty full.
I still remember the first time this woman came in. I didn’t judge her or have any preconceived notions based on her initial attitude or ‘Resting Brat Face,’ seeing as I also was blessed with RBF. She asked me to put two tables together for herself, her sister, and their 3 young children. I try not to think too much about the two hours following their arrival because it gives me terrible anxiety to this day. Anyone who has waited tables or worked in the service industry knows how truly deplorable, cruel, and degrading people can be.
I was humiliated. I was scolded like a dog. I was told that my fat stomach caused them to feel so sick and they felt the need to call the owner over and ask him to get rid of me for the good of the restaurant. I wish this wasn’t true, but this actually happened to me– not to a fat person, a stupid person, or a clumsy person, but to a fellow human being. People stared at me feeling awkward and uncomfortable, having just listened to the woman pointing out every insecurity I had. Nobody said a word, they just ate their meals. The owner called me back to the office and told me he asked the woman to respect me and his restaurant, even if that means she can’t return.
She did return with her sister and their terrible children. They let the kids run wild and splatter and throw food. She rolled her eyes at me, made a smug face, and still had the nerve to talk to me like I was nothing. By the time they would leave, I would have to completely pull the tables out to vacuum and wipe everything down. It was so atrocious. I think I saw her about four times in total. Looking back on it, I wish I would have quit, but I didn’t think she would keep coming back. You sort of need to have a thick skin when you work so closely with people. I still to this day believe this woman lingers around from place to place causing as much pain and chaos as possible and I wonder how miserable her life must be. I am confident about myself, but reliving her words makes me feel terrible even now.”
They Got Even
“Years ago, a woman came into Wolfie’s in Miami every day for lunch.
As soon as she was seated in a booth, she’d drop the bread on the table into her large shopping bag alongside her seat in the aisle and say ‘Excuse me, I don’t have any bread on my table!’
Fresh bread would be brought and it went into the bag as soon as the server walked away, followed by, ‘There’s no bread at my table!’
The waitstaff complained that she ordered little and tipped even less, but the manager said that it was their policy to put bread out on the table and refill it when it was empty.
The staff thought up a plan and on said day, every full ashtray was carried by her booth. When she wasn’t looking, it was flipped over above her shopping bag and the waiter continued on one’s way.
She never came back.”
She Was Not Helping The Situation
“There were so many at the Chick-fil-A I worked at, I’ve lost track.
One woman was a regular and she had a bad experience at our restaurant one time. I’m not sure what happened or why she hated us, BUT SHE WOULD ALWAYS EAT THERE.
She would pull up to the drive through speaker and rant about her ONE terrible experience, then she would say how she doesn’t want it to happen again.
The issue is, her order was large and extremely complicated. Every item had a special request, so it is very easy to make a mistake.
She would force us to read the order back to her so she could make sure there weren’t any mistakes. But trust me, there was always something wrong.
It was exhausting taking her order and her demanding and critical behavior made everyone more stressed out and more likely to make a mistake.”
“I Was One Of His Minions”
“When I worked at the resort outside of Atlantic City with my husband, we had some elite customers. During a typical year, we would have celebrities and big spenders. With the casinos nearby, some would stay at our resort to get out of the city which could be unsavory.
We had one regular I’ll call ‘Mr. H.’ He was in his 60s and came in on a weekends during the summer. He expected the red carpet to be rolled out for him. He was no more special than anyone else except for the fact that he’d wave money to get attention. I can’t recall seeing him smile and he was very blunt. Shouting was his regular level of talking to people.
He’d palm money to the maître d’ to get the table he desired. He would stuff money in the server’s apron or anyone else working the room to get what he wanted.
When it came to ordering, he’d create the food he wanted instead of choosing from the menu. His order would be given to the lead cook, JW, on the hotline. After his food was served, Mr. H would send the server to ask the cook to come out to the dining room to see him. He would give him $25 (today this would be $43). This money was hard-earned because Mr. H was VERY particular.
JW left the hotel, so the next cook in seniority would take care of Mr. H. One evening, he didn’t meet Mr. H’s expectations. He was quickly relieved of the duty. I was next up. I followed his instructions perfectly for the baked crab dish he wanted. It was nerve racking. Besides the extra time taken to please Mr. H, we were expected to keep up with the other orders. I was shaking as it was my turn to be ushered to his table. He said thanks as he gave me $25. I was relieved he had no complaints, but not so excited when he named me his new go to cook.
For a time, I was one of his minions. One evening, I was too busy with regular orders to take the time with Mr. H. I decided to pass it over to JD, a good friend of mine who I could trust to make his order correctly. He was on the banquet crew, and had the time since they were done for the evening. I went over the details very carefully with JD. He was very clear he did not want any salt added to his food.
When I went out to see Mr. H for the cash, much to my surprise, I was berated instead. He went on a tirade about how awful his crab was especially due to the extra salt added. Luckily, I can’t remember the exact words said to me.
I was actually thankful to be relieved of this duty. And I secretly relished the sight of the next cook nervously jump to his orders. It was not worth the extra cash. Later, I realized this man was robbing the other customers of the experience they were owed.”
“She Thought No One Knew”
“When I was a server at Olive Garden, there was a couple who would come in about every 2–3 weeks. They would only order waters and a bowl of never-ending soup each, which added up to roughly $6 each. The woman would literally pull out this giant Tupperware container from her purse, and pour her bowl of soup in it when she thought the server didn’t have eyes on the table. So, when the server made their rounds, they’d see the bowl was empty and per protocol, ask her if she wanted another soup. She would get bowl after bowl until her Tupperware was full. She’d get about 6–7 bowls. Every single time she came into the restaurant.
No one wanted to serve her because:
A) This process would run the server ragged. They’d have to bring the whole soup setup (plate, bowl, and spoon) to the dish pit, grab another CLEAN plate, bowl, and spoon (which depending on who was doing dishes that night could take a hot minute to find), pray to God that that particular soup hadn’t run out, pour the soup themselves, and bring it back out to the table. And this is constant the entire time she’s in the restaurant because of how fast she is ‘eating’ it.
B) Their grand total would be something like $13 and they’d tip 15% on the dot, so roughly $2. TWO DOLLARS for 30–45 minutes of being in the weeds.
She thought she was real smooth and no one knew. EVERYONE knew and every single one of us laughed at her foolishness. We just prayed she didn’t get seated in our section when we saw her walk through the door. Even our manager watched her do it one time, but he didn’t say anything. The managers at that location were anti-conflict to the max, to the point of losing money. They wouldn’t have dared confront her.
My solution when I had her? Make her wait. I wouldn’t go by her table but every 8–10 minutes. After being in a restaurant for a certain amount of time with no food in front of you, you eventually get bored and fed up and are ready to leave.
Don’t Back Down
“I worked at a sports bar in an affluent part of town. Most people were awesome and tipped and we never had an issue.
We always had the son of a restaurateur that would come with his hungry friends in tow. He always had his Papa’s credit card so they would run up a huge bill.
He was known for his entitled attitude and running the servers ragged to please him. By the time the marathon meal was over, he would produce said credit card, sign the bill and leave. Never tipped once! Not even a penny. He would just write ‘NO’ on the tip line.
I wasn’t aware of this when I first started, but I was known for not taking attitude from anyone. When he got sat in my section, of course, I served him and his friends with all smiles all night. When it came time for the bill one of my colleagues told me what to expect.
After he signed and was getting up to leave, I grabbed the billfold and said, ‘Oh wait, you didn’t sign in the right place’ he gave me a smirk but came back to look at the bill.
Turning it so he could look, I suavely placed my middle finger on the tip line and said I didn’t think his Daddy would appreciate knowing his son short-changes the wait staff. He turned the color of a tomato, quickly grabbed the billfold and threw a $20 inside it.
His friends were laughing hysterically all the way to the car. Ever since then, he was always sat in my section and he never stiffed me on the tip again.”