Servers are good at being inconspicuous, which can often put them in an excellent position to eavesdrop in on their tables and learn some titillating information about a guest. Sometimes what they hear is just funny nonsense. At other times, however, it can shock them to their core.
(Content has been edited for clarity)
Their Mother-Daughter Talk Was Anything But Inspiring
“I was waiting on a mother and her daughter who looked to be 12 years old or so. The mother was telling the daughter how she had a new family and there wasn’t room for her, so she had to go live with her dad.
When I was taking their order, the mom was bragging about how awesome her new family was and when I came back to check up, I heard, ‘So I don’t have time for you anymore, and you have to go with Dad.’ Lots of tears ensued.
The only reason I didn’t spit in her food was because she already had her food. I was praying she ordered dessert.”
He Burst Into Tears Right There At The Table
“I had a guy start crying right before I gave them dessert menus. He was just saying over and over again, ‘You make me feel like a failure,’ to his wife.
I just dropped them off and said, ‘Whenever you’re ready.'”
Great Parenting, Lady!
“Once, at around 9:30 at night, this couple came in with a small boy who was around 4 years old and in his pajamas. The man and woman made out the whole time they were there. The kid, who was being pretty well behaved, all things considered, said, ‘I wish I could go to bed.’
His mom replied, ‘I wish I had a little girl.'”
After Hearing Him Say That, She Avoided Him For The Rest Of The Night
“While I was bartending, I heard one guy explain to his buddy how great Thailand or some other far east country was because he would essentially just buy girls and ‘do whatever he wanted to them and leave them when he was finished.’
The guy seemed super shady. After that, I left anytime I didn’t have to be serving so I didn’t have to be around him.”
He Takes Their Racists Comments In Stride
“I’m an American-born, Hispanic waiter, so I get a lot of racism. Once, a couple had just sat down in my section when the woman turned to the man and said, ‘Let’s ask him if he can take a picture of us,’ and pointed to me as I was walking through, making sure my section was clean.
He replied, ‘He probably doesn’t speak English.’ I finished wiping a table, walked over and, in the King’s English, said, ‘Hi, my name is Vernon, and I will be your server. I can start you off with one of our signature drinks, and if you would like, I would be more than happy to take your picture for you.’ He did not look happy in the picture.
Another time, it wasn’t my section, but I was passing through, and this older lady turned to her husband and said, ‘It’s cold in here, ask him if he can turn the heat up.’
Her husband replied, ‘He probably doesn’t speak English.’
I went to get two glasses of water and walked over to them. I placed the glasses on the table, slowly, while looking at them with a dumb innocent smile. Then, before I departed, I stood up straight and in the King’s English said, ‘Hello my name is Vernon, and although I will not be your server tonight, I have brought some water for you, and I will request that the management adjust the temperature as well.’ As I was walking away, I heard him say ‘What, how was I supposed to know? He didn’t say anything.’ Stupid me, am I supposed to wear a shirt that says, ‘I assure you, I speak English,’ while serving?”
Someone Was Left Swimming With The Fishes
“I was working at an Italian restaurant. A big guy with a huge scar over his eye walked in. My manager pulled me aside and told me to, ‘Take good care of my friend.’ The big guy’s wife and kids showed up, and I couldn’t help but notice his wife was much younger. All of them were well dressed. The tab was about $300 by the end of the meal, which was impressive. The guy paid in $400 cash and didn’t want change. While I was packing up the leftovers (this was done at the table), he set down his iPhone, reached into his jacket, and answered a flip phone that was the sort you usually use as a burner phone. He listened for a second to the person on the other side of the line for a moment, then said the following in Italian: ‘I don’t care if it’s messy, just clean him up and get the crap to the warehouse.’
I bet he didn’t know I speak some Italian.”
“The Beginnings Of A Divorce”
“I’m fairly certain I witnessed the beginnings of a divorce. I don’t remember the specifics, but it started out as a normal couple, but soon turned to a lot of, ‘Why didn’t you tell me,’ ‘You should have,’ ‘Can we not do this in public?’ And things of the sort. The husband left before the meal was over and the wife was crying. Giving the check to her was one of the most awkward things I’ve ever done.”
At First, He Thought She Was Conducting Interviews
“I work at a sit-down coffee shop where waiters come up and take your order, and you can have a running tab. Long story short, a beautiful woman came in, opened her tab and sat down. Initially, I thought that she was holding interviews (a common thing), but it turned out that she was confronting women that were her husband’s mistresses. Five different women came in, one right after the other. She said something along the lines to each of them: ‘I know you’ve been seeing my husband and you can have him,’ in such a calm and professional manner, then she would dismiss them. She then called her (ex) husband and told him that she met with all these women and said that she was at my coffee shop with divorce papers that he needed to sign. Needless to say, he quickly arrived, signed the papers, then yelled at her for ruining his relationships with all of his other women. She was a boss and handled everything so strongly, calmly, and I’m glad she got away from that waste of space. I didn’t even charge her.”
A Bit Of Casual Racism Between Old Friends
“I was serving two old couples. One guy said, ‘Now that a black family moved in next door, I’ll never sell my house!’
The other guy said, ‘If you see him outside when people are looking at your house, ask him about his garden. The homebuyers will just think he’s the landscaping guy!'”
Their First Date Did NOT Go Well
“I used to work at Applebee’s. About a year ago, I was waiting on a couple. They were very young, probably only between 18 or 20 years old. After interacting with them and walking by one or two others times to get to other tables, I was under the impression that they were on their first date. Well, the table across from them was an older gay couple. The older couple left shortly after the young couple arrived.
Then, for the rest of the evening, the guy would not stop talking crap on them and about how gay people have zero rights, and that they are unnatural, and that they were going to burn for the rest of eternity, etc. The girl was very visibly uncomfortable and didn’t say much after that. We exchanged looks a few time when I was at the table, so I rushed things along so she could leave. She was very thankful when he went to the bathroom, and she promptly left. That guy was a huge jerk.”
She Couldn’t Believe What She Heard Him Say To His Son
“I worked as a server at a family-friendly Chinese restaurant; I was about 21 (and I’m female if that matters).
A guy and his young, teenage son come in and sit at a table, so I brought them water and menus and gave them a few minutes to sort out what they wanted to eat.
I started to approach their table again to take their order, and the father leaned over and said to his son, ‘Bet you’d like a piece of that, eh?’ I don’t know if he realized that I heard him since I wasn’t at their table yet. The kid, though, was blushing like crazy. I got to the table, and the Dad kept embarrassing his socially awkward son.
Then the dad asked me if I was a Mennonite because I had very attractive ankles (I know, that makes no sense at all). That the point where I walked away and told my manager that table was all his.
Dad left a deliberately crappy tip. I felt bad for the kid.”
Too Close For Comfort
“Girl: ‘I’ll just lie to my mom, so we can be together this weekend.’
Guy: ‘Sounds nice, I want you so much. But what are we going to do about our dad?’
Birth Order Predicts The Best Housekeepers?
“I was working in an upscale restaurant in Milwaukee when I overhead a wealthy woman explain to her friend why she should only hire middle children as housekeepers. It was because they ‘are used to being told what to do and always know their place.'”
It Was A Spectacle No One Could Look Away From
“I worked at a knockoff Italian restaurant a couple of years in college (let’s just call it Zolive Zarden). A guy and a girl came in, were sat at my table, and then I got their drink order. As I’m putting the drink order in, he came over and gave me a ring and a $20 bill and asked me to put the ring in her drink. The bartender was making their drinks, and I could hear him start to say how much he loves her, how he wants to spend the rest of their lives together and such. I plopped the ring in the drink just as she figured out what’s going on. She got up and screamed, ‘I TOLD YOU NO THE FIRST TIME,’ and proceeded to storm out. Everyone was silent. He ran over, pours the drink out on the bar, grabbed the ring and ran out. I got paid $20 to see their drama.”
It Was Too Soon For Him To Get Back On The Horse
“I worked for a restaurant that had three owners. One of them had a wife that died, but he was dating again. He came into his own restaurant on Valentine’s Day with his new girlfriend and her kids. Suddenly, he began to cry at the table. I was their waiter. It was incredibly uncomfortable for everyone.”
She Said That To Her Own Father?!
“I heard a lady tell her elderly dad, ‘I hope you have money saved up because there’s no way I’m paying for your funeral!'”
Everyone In The Restaurant Could Hear Them
“Once we had a middle-aged couple hashing out their divorce over some very expensive steaks. It was clear the husband had initiated the conversation and probably did so in a restaurant to prevent a blowout argument. The wife was unhappy and inquired about the woman with whom he played tennis. Based on his reaction, she wasn’t far off the mark. They were seated in the middle of a fairly intimate restaurant, so most of the patrons and staff could hear. We all felt bad for her.”
Both The Husband And The Kids Looked Depressed
“Man, I walked up to the saddest thing I’ve ever seen in public. It was a table of four people: a mom, a dad, and two kids. The dad and the kids sat silently with the saddest expressions on their faces, while the mom had her laptop out on the table and a headset on her head and was cheerily chatting away with someone about the work she was doing on her computer.”
Their Casual Cruelty Took His Breath Away
“A few years back, I sat two women at a table. I walked away to grab their waters and a couple of menus, and when I came back, I overheard one of them say, ‘I just can’t deal with him right now. I really can’t…’ After I placed their order, I walked by to check up on them, but that was when it got worse. ‘Things were getting worse between the two of us, but now I can’t break up with him because he has cancer.’ I couldn’t believe those words came out of this nut case. After I serviced another table, I walked by to check in on them again. I heard the same woman say, ‘He’s been going to his oncologist, but the silver lining is that it doesn’t look good, which means I might not have to break up with him after all!'”
If Only Someone Could Tell That Kid The Truth
“I was working on Christmas Eve at a Tex-Mex restaurant. This family of like, 20 apparent travelers (redneck Appalachians/motorhome-living folks) came in with 15 minutes until closing. Sometime during their time there, I heard a boy, probably between 12 to 14 years old, say to a younger girl next to him, ‘You can’t get pregnant if you’re brother and sister!’
Never saw that group again, thankfully. I shudder to think of what happened after that meal.”
That Guy’s Homophobic Rant Came Back To Haunt Him
“I’m not a server. I’m one of the chefs in the back. I’m in fine dining catering, and I was working some fancy brunch event at a Greek Orthodox church in Redondo Beach. I was on my way back from the bathroom when I heard a guest tell another ‘…and now they’re letting the gays marry. This country is falling apart.’
Three out of the four chefs in the back, including me, were gay. We made sure to be extra gay when plating the food.”
He Absolutely Ruined Her Birthday
“I once had a group of four mid-20s girls come in one day to celebrate one of their birthdays. Halfway through, the birthday girl got a call and left the bar. About 20 minutes later, she came back crying. Her boyfriend of FOUR YEARS dumped her over the phone from a long trip in Peru because he met another girl there and ‘they have so much more in common.’ She spent the next hour sobbing at the bar. On her birthday.”
Worst. Valentine’s. Day. Ever
“This happened on Valentine’s Day a few years ago. There was only one table left in the restaurant, and it was mine. All I wanted was to go home. I’d already done all of my side work, folded a million napkins, polished glassware, etc., so I decided to start closing down all surrounding tables in the hopes they would get the hint and leave. As I got closer, I noticed the girl was sobbing. I was eavesdropping, and I heard the guy say, ‘I love you, I’m just not in love with you.’ Ouch.”
Families And Relationships Fell Apart Before Her Eyes
“I have overheard a couple of bad things:
A woman told her father that he was no longer allowed to see his grandchildren because he was gay. The sad part is that she apparently used to accept that he was gay, but recently became a devout Christian and didn’t anymore. He was devastated.
A guy proposed to his girlfriend, and she tearfully said yes. He grinned and said, ‘April Fools!’ She was furious.
A girl told her mother that she was going to become a boy. The mom burst into tears and begged her not to, saying that she didn’t want to lose her little girl and only daughter and that she already had several sons and didn’t want another one. The daughter ultimately promised her mother that she wouldn’t do it, but looked destroyed afterward.”
His Views About The Middle East Are Controversial, To Say The Least
“I work in D.C., and about eight years ago I was working a small private event for a Congressman. About 14 people were there, it was just a meet and greet with some lobbyists, pretty standard stuff for D.C. The talk turned to Afghanistan and Iraq and what to do about it. The Congressman, who was pretty old, wasn’t saying much before, then he spoke up, ‘What we need to do is wipe them out. Women, children, I don’t care, extinguish them all.'”