Servers have to deal with a lot of rude people. But, sometimes a customer does something that just totally crosses the line. These people couldn't believe what they were seeing when a server got treated like dirt.
Here are the stories of the absolute worst things people have seen done to a server. Content has been edited for clarity.
One Rowdy Regular
“I worked at a tiny cafe for about a year. We had a regular, Chris, who knew my manager. He had some brain damage from an accident and would act like he was best friends with everyone. He was nice and always got his coffee every day for free as the owner’s treat. However, at night I would close alone. He’d regularly come in from the bar next door completely wasted.
I have to mention that I lived less than a block away from this cafe, so I walked to and from work every day.
One night, Chris came in as I was closing. I was at the doors, letting out the last few customers before I locked the doors. Chris came running to the door, stumbling because he was hammered. He proceeded to attempt to hug me but I backed away and he fell. He became irate. Screaming at me. I’m not sure what he said because he was slurring his words, but I know it wasn’t nice. Somewhere in there, he said something about kissing me.
Thankfully, one of the customers I had just let out intervened. He offered to stay in the doorway until I left, just in case Chris came back.
I had never been so afraid to walk home. The walk was so short, going any other way would take so much longer and bring me around a not-so-safe area.
The same customer who waited for me to close offered me protection on my walk home. He was also a regular who I trusted.
So, my most disrespectful customer interaction was made better by an amazing customer.
Even after this interaction, Chris still came every day. He seemed to not remember the interaction. My boss had too much pity for him because he was a veteran and got a traumatic brain injury while overseas. Apparently, he was not ‘like that’ before it. I quit soon after.”
“This was during my hotel training days. A guest who had a reputation for being pretty harsh turned up and ordered tea. Now, what was peculiar with this guy was if he orders tea, you don’t serve him sugar on the side. You have to mix a teaspoon of sugar in before bringing it up to him and then serve him. He absolutely hated it if you did otherwise.
A fellow waiter, naive and unaware, did exactly what he was not supposed to. So when he served it with sugar on the side and not mixed, the guest asked him to tear the sugar packs and mix it in the tea. Once the waiter did that, this guy grabbed the waiters finger, dipped it in his cup of boiling tea, and mixed the sugar with it. Then he drank it!
Apparently, he was making sure this guy or anybody around would never forget how he likes his tea.”
Impossible To Please
“About ten years ago, my then-fiance and I stopped at the Denny’s in San Clemente on our way down the coast of California. There was a sweet waitress there who was in her very early twenties. Seeing as we were seated close to the back, we could hear her on her phone while she fielded calls from her babysitter when she wasn’t on the floor.
It was about ten o’clock, she was probably early into her late night shift. Her kid was apparently in bed and the babysitter was telling her that he/she was leaving. The waitress was obviously distressed and begging the babysitter to stay until she could find someone else; she was telling the sitter that even though the kid was asleep in bed it wasn’t safe to leave her alone and she couldn’t leave work. She was almost in tears. But, by the time she came back out to our table, she had drummed up a smile, and her service was fantastic, especially considering the situation. We weren’t having to wait extra time due to her personal issues for our food or refills.
The table next to us, though, had a teenaged kid and his apparent grandmother. The grandmother was complaining the whole time about this waitress. I can’t imagine why, she was fine. At one point, the lady ordered a piece of pie and the waitress brought it out. The grandmother snapped, ‘This pie’s cold!’ The waitress politely told her that she’d warm it up for her, no problem. When she brought out the now-warm pie, the grandmother barked at her about how there was no ice cream. Then she went on about the extra charge when the waitress explained it cost more to have your pie a la mode. After the waitress had taken the pie back yet again to serve the ice cream with it, the grandmother muttered to her grandson that she wasn’t getting a tip. The grandson protested weakly, but sure enough, a few minutes later they were gone without a cent on the table.
My fiance and I looked at one another and then started to scrounge for some extra money. When we paid our bill up front like usual, we put ‘cash’ in the tip line and then went back and left two separate piles of bills on our table — one with our receipt, and the other with a note that said: ‘This is to make up for the table next to us.’
I’m sure much worse things have happened to waitstaff, but it just felt so wrong and horrible at the time. Surely the table next to us had to know what was going on as well and would have been able to hear every word as we had.
I still think of that every time I drive to L.A. and pass that Denny’s. I wonder where she is, and if she ever found someone else to watch her kid that night.”
This Escalated Quickly
“This is a very short story, and if someone ever did this to me, it would be an equally short story.
One of my coworkers asked a woman for her ID after ordering a fruity drink. She was probably in her late 20s. Everyone agreed that she was definitely over 21, but the law is the law and our job is our job. She wasn’t American and probably wasn’t used to ID laws being strictly enforced. She was livid.
The next thing I know, her husband is marching over to the service station where we are putting orders into the computers. Without a word, he walks up to my coworker and spits in his face.
He was on the ground before anyone knew what happened. The waiter swept his feet out from under him, put him in a chokehold, and dragged him out the front door. He was very lucky we didn’t call the police. Trust me, several of us wanted to but management didn’t want any more of a scene than the one we already had.”
When The Milkshake Run Turns Dark
“One evening, a few friends and I were high and we decided to get milkshakes. Around here, Denny’s has the best: birthday cake flavored. So we ordered online and somehow made it inside to pick up our flavorful treat.
As we’re waiting for the shake, we notice this loud and obnoxious table by the counter. This slightly older lady, almost 50s maybe, is leaned over the table and calling for the waiter. She’s saying, ‘Hey, hey…hey!’
After the third time that she called out ‘hey’ he tried explaining that he was with someone and would be with her in a second. Her response, ‘Hey Krispy Kreme!’
He was a heavy set guy, but the sweetest I have ever met. He shocked me with how he didn’t let it affect him and continued on with his customers. Security had walked up to their table by now, but my shake had arrived. I knew if I had stayed, it wouldn’t have been pretty. I’m not a light girl, so even though it wasn’t directed at me, it still hurt.
Now, if I ever get that specific waiter as mine, I tip him a little extra than I would. Bless him and his ability to let insults go so easily.”
They Wanted A New Server For The Worst Reason
“There is a great farm-to-table restaurant near me. It’s the kind of place where the menu is upscale, but the atmosphere is rustic and casual. My sister and I often go there on weekends to sit at the bar and have a few drinks and appetizers.
One night last year, there was a huge commotion in the dining room, which adjoins the bar. As it turns out, a party of ordinary-looking older diners had called over the manager, Will. They were insisting that they wanted a different server. Why? Because their server, Andreas, was gay, and they wanted a straight server. Andreas was fairly flamboyant; more importantly, he was also both an excellent server and a total sweetheart.
Will’s response to their request is something I’ll love him for forever. He called them out on their homophobia and showed them the door. Some people, when I tell that story, say it was unwise, that it could cost them business, but the place is still thriving, and who wants bigots in their restaurant anyway? Andreas doesn’t work there anymore, but I felt so awful for him. He literally did nothing wrong, and these idiots made a huge scene in a crowded restaurant just because they were homophobic bigots. I 100% agree that kicking them out was the right thing to do.”
“My mom is a server. A guy came in with his wife and asked for some coffee. He specifically insisted that he pour his own coffee. It’s customary for the server to pour your coffee for your first cup. My mom went to check on another table and as she glanced back at the man and his wife, she saw him unscrewing the lid of the coffee pot. She goes to ask if everything is ok, she assumed something was wrong with the coffee since she saw him unscrew the pot.
He says everything is fine, then begins to pour his coffee with the pot that he loosened himself, and dumps boiling coffee all over himself. She apologizes profusely and offers to help him clean up while he calls her a name and says he’ll clean it himself. Not only does he file a complaint about her, but he sued the restaurant for a few thousand dollars…and won. Turns out he does this for a living.”
“Servers Are People, Too!”
“For some reason when you are a woman in a professional environment or simply doing your job, I have found that people forget that you are a human being. Of course, there are diners who will treat you like a slave. I have dealt with many difficult people and have taken the heat for things that are not my fault in order to soothe an irate guest. Sometimes men will hit on you, rather aggressively, and even when you tell them that you are with someone or uninterested they will not relent. Sometimes they get physical. One time, when I was 16, I told a man who was around 30 years old that I was underage. He told me he would return when I was 18. He then proceeded to stand outside and stare at me through the front windows for an hour. He waited at my car for me after work. Luckily I had asked a male coworker to walk me out that night so I was unharmed. The police also ensured that this would not happen again.
However, that is not the situation in which I was most disrespected. Some of you may have seen a picture on Facebook of this situation being passed around a while ago. I never thought it could be real.
An older man, his wife, and what looked to me like a young grandchild were all out to dinner. They were sat in my section, during a time when we were beginning to get busy, but it was all still very manageable. I greeted them warmly, got their drink order, and brought it back to the table. When I arrived, there were five $1 bills tucked under a knife, displaying every bill evenly at the end of the table. When I saw it, I was confused. I dropped off their drinks and inquired about an appetizer, trying not to look at the money. They ordered something like chips and salsa, and I went to service my other tables while I waited for their food to come out.
I finally dropped the food off, along with plates and extra napkins. When I set down the tray, the group was silent. The man seemed unsatisfied, disgruntled even. I looked down to see that he had removed a dollar bill from the end of the table. I asked if there was anything I missed or anything else they would like, and he stared blankly at me with one eyebrow raised. I waited for a few seconds. He finally huffed an excessively loud sigh and folded his arms tightly across his chest.
‘You forgot the bread,’ he said with a smirk.
Immediately all the blood rushed from my face as I finally processed why the sad looking dollar bills were being dangled in front of me. He would take away a dollar for every time I missed something. The remaining money at the end of the meal would be my tip. I felt sick to my stomach and I swallowed the lump in my throat.
Still in disbelief, I responded to the smug man that if a table orders an appetizer, I usually will not bring the bread out to the table, because more often than not, the party will prefer to eat what they paid for and the bread will be wasted. I also said that I would be more than happy to grab it for him and that I was happy someone was eating it. He seemed slightly more satisfied with this answer.
My heart pounding in my ears, I made sure to fill up the basket with extra to ensure he would not be dissatisfied. He seemed notably happier and had replaced a dollar bill when I returned. The rest of their meal, they were needy, nitpicky, and short. Whenever they needed something new, I was called over with an extremely aggressive hand wave.
Sure enough, when they left, tucked under their $60 tab in the checkbook, were 5 dirty ones. I cleaned their table, which was filthy, and the child had thrown most of their meal on the floor. At the end of the night, I felt astonished as the weight of what occurred hit me.
Servers where I live make $2.13 an hour. The government takes taxes and things out of that $2.13. A 40 hour work week would result in about a $30 paycheck. Servers subsist on tips, that’s why it is so important to tip 20%. Servers at restaurants also give portions of their tips to the bartender, the hostess, and the food runners. If you don’t tip, that money comes out of our pocket.
This experience was so disrespectful because this man was dangling my livelihood in front of me. My rent, my student loans, my insurance, my food, all depends on tips. This man knew that and preyed on human error, treating me like a dog. He watched me struggle to assist my other tables and wanted me to bend over backward for him. He wanted fresh brewed iced tea. His grandchild wanted different sides and I brought him something new multiple times. His wife turned her nose up at me and eyed me nastily. The entire time I served them, I felt helpless and disgusted.
Tipping your server is so extremely important. In the U.S. it is not included because it is expected that if you work hard enough, your tip will be higher. This does not account for hostess errors, mistakes made by the kitchen, and general human errors. Or, in my case, a grumpy old man who used my tip to run me around and disrespect me.
Servers are people too!”
The Kitchen Is Closed
“It was a group of four: two girls and two guys. They came in at 8 pm and ordered nothing but drinks. They racked up the bill and then ordered food at 10:04 pm. The kitchen closes at 10 pm but we usually keep some soups and meats until 10:05 since it takes a few minutes for the servers to punch in the final call. So, the customers ordered food and the server punched it in at 10:07 pm. My co-worker and I said we don’t have any food left. The server voids the order and brings them coupons for free dinners next time they come. These jerks of customers then demand their food or their entire bill to be free. I saw the entire thing cause at the time I felt like it was my fault for throwing out food.
So, they refused to pay and start calling the server every bad name in the book. She runs to the back crying. She was a young university student and closing full-time server at the time. Our total sweetheart of a manager comes out and doesn’t even get a chance to speak. The customers cuss her out, calling her all the names they had called the server. They then spit on her and threaten to sue her, the server, and the restaurant. Jump to 11pm. My coworker and I finish closing when the police come in. The customers are banned for life.”
A Confusing Allegation
“Very recently, one of my coworkers was accused of being racist. It happened because the customer wanted toast without butter. This was entered correctly into the system, but the chef was on auto-pilot in the kitchen and forgot. There was a mistake. The customer ate three of the four slices of bread, and while eating the fourth, accused my coworker of being racist. He said it was going to give him indigestion or something. I don’t know. It was just completely uncalled for.
I tell this story to you as a black waitress completely flabbergasted.”
“I am not a waiter or waitress, I left the establishment before they could coerce me into being one. However, I have a story that happened to me and one that happened to my workplace best friend.
This first one happened to me. I started working at the restaurant in October of 2015 and it was about December or January at the time. Due to the fact that I was fourteen and it was my first job, I was placed on Saturday nights from 5-close. There was this one old guy who started coming in. My first encounter with him was during a busy Saturday night due to a festival going on in the town. I was cleaning the half-booth/half-tables by the dessert case, which was also by this old guy’s table. Now, I should’ve known something was up with this guy when he shook his cup at me. But, being a naive 14-year-old, I thought nothing of it. So I continued to clean the two tables and set them up with the placemats, etc. For most of the time they were there, I cleaned other sections in the restaurant but the other busser left early for some reason, so I had to go back to that section and clean tables.
When I went back, the same guy was there with his table and shook the drinking glass at me again and then he said gruffly, ‘Raspberry tea.’ I just kind of gave him a look that said: ‘What do you want me to do about it?’ When I was given the job, the person who trained me said: ‘if you are busy, don’t worry about doing extra things for the waiters or waitresses. You have jobs to do too.’ We were incredibly busy that night and there was a line of people out of the door that couldn’t be sat at dirty tables. When I popped up from cleaning the bench, he shook it at me again. I explained that I wasn’t his waitress and that I needed to clean tables to get the other customers in. This guy looked me dead in the eyes in a way that caused me to shiver and said, ‘If we were married, you’d get it for me.’
Needless to say, I was appalled by such behavior. I mentioned that I was underage and asked him not to say that to me. He shrugged and said, ‘Doesn’t matter to me, now get me my tea.’ I huffed and walked away only to be complained about to my boss who reprimanded me for not getting his tea. My boss didn’t really care about what happened, just that he got his tea. Unfortunately, this was not the last time I would see this guy because he started coming in every Saturday since that night and would sit in a different booth. I could feel his eyes follow me wherever I went. When I moved back to hostessing, I would always ask the person working with me to ring him up. She even said that he gave her the creeps. Eventually, he stopped coming in.
As for my workplace best friend, she was easily one of the best waitresses at the restaurant. She was quick and kind. I have seen barely anything bother her. However, a busy night relatively close to my horrible busy night, she had a group of four older people at a table. Everything seemed fine, but I could tell something wasn’t right when I went to go wash off the table. They had sat themselves and it was dirty. They complained that I didn’t clean it off enough. I couldn’t, I wasn’t tall enough to get to the back of the table since it was a booth along the wall and I couldn’t laying my entire body across the table to clean it. I continued with my shift until I heard angry screaming from both men and women. It turns out that the table was becoming aggressive with my friend. They were shouting things like, ‘You’re such a horrible waitress,’ and ‘You should move faster.’ They also said several other suggestive and derogatory things – she was part Hispanic. I had never seen her cry before, but she had to walk to the back where the workers put their belongings and took quick bites while working.
This caught the attention of the boss who was in charge of the kitchen. He came out and told those four old jerks that if they didn’t have anything nice to say to their waitress, then they can just leave. So they left in a complete huff and tipped spare change into the drink glasses which were filled with water and cranberries from the night’s special. I was so surprised with how cruel some people could be to others. But, I also quickly learned that there were some good people out there because the table behind that table had tipped double as to make up for the tip that the horrible table left for my friend.”