r/TalesFromYourServer is a well-known subreddit where patrons and servers congregate alike to share their restaurant stories. These are some of the most notable highlights.
That Day Changed Tom Forever
“I worked at a restaurant ages ago with a man I’ll call Tom. He worked days and I worked nights but seemed like a nice guy. The thing about Tom is that he was morbidly obese. I say that not to mock him, but because it’s important to the story.
One weekend I picked up a day shift, Tom was working and he had the section next to me. We had over an hour wait for a table and we were in the weeds up to our eyeballs. Not far into our shift, the air conditioner went out. It was already a hot day so with all those people and with us rushing around, it warmed up quickly. I was on my way to the kitchen when a table flagged me down. It was not my table but I stopped anyway. The man demanded a manager and I asked what was wrong. He pointed to the end of the table, where I could see it was wet. I grabbed the clean towel from the back of my apron, ready to wipe it up but he stopped me.
Customer: Do you know what that is?
Me: Water? I…
Customer: NO! It’s sweat. That … that TUB O’ LARD of a server has been dripping sweat on our table. When he delivered our food, he also delivered THAT!
I had noticed that Tom was sweating profusely as he ran around, more so than the rest of us. I myself was sweaty but it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t hide it from my tables. Tom wasn’t so lucky.
Customer: This is DIS – GUST – ING!!!!
I had to agree but at the same time I felt bad for Tom. It wasn’t his fault the air was out and it was super hot inside. I apologized and went to get the manager. As I was going up the stairs to find him, I saw Tom who looked frazzled. He was looking at his notepad and missed a step, causing him to stumble. As he did, I noticed a bunch of sweat drip off his head onto the tiled floor. Ugh.
The manager looked like he wanted to cry when I told him about Tom’s table. He went to the table, hunkered down to their level, and talked quietly but the customers were not so kind. I could hear snippets of them yelling about germs, someone mentioned the health board, and it got to the point the bar manager joined them to see if he could help. The adjoining booths customers were listening in and I knew that wasn’t good. Tom stood at the top of the stairs, watching as his table loudly called him childish names like fatty and pig.
Finally they got up and left, their bill comped (They had not touched their food). The manager gave gift cards to the tables who had witnessed the chaos but made it seem as if they were because of the air going out, not the server.
At the end of our shift, Tom went into a meeting with the managers. He handed in his stuff and quit, he was so mortified by what had happened. They begged him to stay, he’d been there years, but he was so embarrassed he simply refused and left without another word.
A year later, Tom returned to the restaurant. He had lost over 130lbs and looked like a totally different man. He told us that day had been his wake up call. He’d not only gone on a diet but he’d gone back to school and was on his way to doing something (I can’t recall what field of work he was studying) so he’d never have to wait tables again. He even showed off a tattoo he had gotten on his arm. It was a pig wearing an apron, holding a heavy tray of food. The pig was struggling with the weight of it and was sweating. He said the tattoo reminded him of where he had been and where he’d never go again. All these years later… I barely knew Tom but I’ll surely never forget him.”
Kill Them With Kindness!
“This happened years ago, but it still feels like it was yesterday. I (29f) was serving at a Steak ‘n Shake and was about 70 lbs bigger than I am now. I’m very white, with blonde hair, so you wouldn’t know by looking at me that I’m almost fluent in Spanish. As I was cleaning a table one night, the one right next to it was seated for me. While wiping the dirty table, I heard the new table talking loudly about me in Spanish. They were saying how big my butt was, how fat I was, how they didn’t want to be served by someone so disgusting, not knowing that I 100% understood them.
My initial reaction was anger and tears; I wanted to give them bad service and not even try to be nice. But, I wanted to be the bigger person. I walked to the table and did my ‘Welcome to Steak n Shake! My name is Brandi and I’m here to help you out,’ but I said it all in Spanish. The look of shock and embarrassment on their faces gave me one of the greatest feelings ever. Then, I listed every burger, every milkshake flavor, and every side item in Spanish. For the entire meal, I spoke no English at all, and I gave them the kindest/most attentive service I’ve ever given to anyone. The nicer I was, the more humiliated and ashamed they were. When one of them asked quietly if he could have some more water, I already had a tray in my hand with his water on it. They refused to speak Spanish to me, and would hardly even look at me.
When they left, they closed their ~$25 check, then left me a $50 bill under a plate for my tip. Such a glorious day! Everyone always asks why I didn’t spit in their food, give them bad service, or ring in their order wrong. Kill people with kindness baby! That’s the way I do it.”
The Pettiest Customer
“My restaurant has switched over to carry out only due to current events, which hasn’t been too horrible for the most part.
That is until we started seeing a new, weekly customer. Now, it isn’t the worst thing we’ve had to deal with but after a while, it starts to grate on your nerves.
A normal interaction with him goes as such:
Me: Hi, how are you?
C: Ignores everything
Me: Are you picking up?
C: Nods his head once
Me: What’s the name for the order?
C: sighs the most long-suffering sigh you ever did hear Tom
Me: Alright, your total is $12.62]
And that’s usually it. But ever since I had the nerve to remind this customer that they have to wear a mask indoors due to the Governor’s orders, he’s become increasingly snippy and combative.
C: Well, I only have $100
Me: I’m sorry unless you have a card you have to pay with smaller bills. The gas station down the street might be able to cash it for you.
C: I only have $100 and I don’t think I brought my card.
Me: Sir, this is a small store, we simply don’t have the change.
He finally put the stack of bills away and magically had a card. I was stupid to think that’d be the end of it though.
He came in and put down two rolls of coins. $10 in the form of quarters and $5 in the form of dimes. Once again he had this smirk on his face like he won a game he created.
Little does he know that I’m super petty. I will play someone’s game and I will win it.
So, I unwrap the coins and start counting them out in front of him. After I’m through with the quarters, I go to pick up the dimes and he interrupts me.
C: It’s wrapped for five, you can just put it in and give me the change.
Me: I’m sorry, I have to make sure it’s all there. We have had trouble with this before.
So, I count out the rest of the change that I needed from the dimes and, instead of giving the dollar bills he probably wanted, I scooped the rest of the dimes up and gave them back.
Granted, it was super petty and I shouldn’t have done it, but I’m tired of customers coming in like they’re God’s gift to Earth just because of the current state of the world.
He came in and tried to pay with $100 bills for a $12 order. When I informed him we don’t accept $50 or $100 bills (and even pointed to the prominent sign which said so), he got this stupid smirk on his face.”
A Very Touching Reminder
“I know we live in a world where it is easy to assume the worst of people. Especially in the service industry, because we literally see hundreds of people a day.
But tonight I served a man. Everyone he had interacted with said he creeped them out. ‘He’s just really weird, I don’t know what’s wrong with him.’
A guy at the bar going on about, ‘That guy is crazy. I don’t know what he’s on. He was pacing in the bathroom and asking everyone if they worked there.’
People asking me if I was okay every time I stepped away from the table since I was there for several minutes every time I went up to him. Which is fine, yeah I’m great. Always great. But everyone was assuming the worst!
This man had an intellectual disability and was treating himself to a nice steak dinner for his birthday. But because he was alone, because he was a little hard to understand, because he was trying to ask for help to get the soap dispenser working in the bathroom, because he wasn’t acting ‘normal’ many people assumed he was on pills of some sort.
People with disabilities are allowed to go out to eat by themselves! And they should not be subjected to simple-minded people thinking the worst of them.
No one deserves to be judged by people who don’t know them based on how they look, or how they speak, what they are wearing, or literally anything else. Every person is a PERSON first and deserves to be treated as such.
I’m very frustrated with the world, but I’m glad this man sat with me and I was able to provide him with good service and a nice birthday dinner.
We have to do better, everybody does.”
Yeah, They Weren’t Missing Much
“Friday night I (manager at a corporate casual dining place) refused service to a table of four because three of them refused to mask up. It’s been a local mandate for eight months here now, it’s clearly posted on the door multiple places.
The wife was wearing one. The two teenage boys were doing the old pulling your tee shirt up over your face because ‘yeah that totally counts, man.’ The husband claimed loudly it was stupid and we (as a corporate restaurant) shouldn’t be involved in political nonsense and sheeple-ing and that Covid wasn’t real. Then the begging began. When that didn’t work, he called me a moron, then he left. The wife looked completely mortified and was begging the man and her kids, ‘Just put it on, it’s in your pocket!’ They left in a trail of profanity and political slurs.
An hour later, he comes back, still no mask, and slaps a receipt from the shady restaurant next door on the host stand. Double barreling middle fingers at me, he proudly proclaims ‘This is what you missed out on, buddy! This is what you didn’t get, idiot!’
It was a $30 tab and a $3 dollar tip for a party of four.
I think my staff and I were OK with that, especially considering their initial entrance.”
Hey Parents? Maybe Don’t Be Creepy Like This
“It’s happened a few times now, but today was the most awkward. I was ready to take this table’s order, and the dad goes, ‘So where do you wanna start- the handsome one?’ and points to his 20-something son.
I respond, ‘Well, I usually just start at seat 1 [points at seat 1] and go around the table.’
The dad says, ‘Oh, okay. Do you have a boyfriend?’
I answer, using my ‘nervous and uncomfortable but I can’t visibly be weirded out because my income relies on this’ laugh, ‘Haha, yes I do have a boyfriend, but I’m flattered.’
The dad looks at his son and says, ‘Sorry bud, I tried.’
Thinking the awkwardness was over, I laugh and ask again, ‘So what can I get y-‘
The dad interjects, ‘Do you like your boyfriend? Do you want to trade out your boyfriend?’
I respond ‘Haha… No, I love my boyfriend.’
I supply more strained and nervous laughter, hoping this man will just let me take their order soon.
The dad persists, ‘Would you be open to having multiple boyfriends?’
I answer, ‘Sorry, no, I’m a monogamist.’ More laughter. Finally, I can take their order.
It was just… odd. Parents hitting on me for their embarrassed kids already makes me uncomfortable, but to keep going like that? How the heck do you think that’s funny? And they only left 15% (after complimenting me a bunch).”
Where DO We Go From Here?
“If it matters, I was behind the bar when this happened.
So, tonight I, a 25-year-old female, had a man, 40ish, as I was ringing an order on the register, say:
I looked up at him.
He said, ‘I’m picturing you with nothing on right now.’
‘Oh? Are you impressed by my massive horse dong?’
I have never seen a grown man rethink his existence so quickly.
His friends laughed, many a swordfight joke was made, I (hypothetically) won them all.
I just… there will never be something so satisfying happen to me at work ever again.
Where do we go from here?”
A VERY Close Call
“So once upon a time I worked at a bar that featured live music almost every night (outside of Sunday which was “karaoke night”). In walks a lady in her (I assume) early 60s. She sits on down at the bar and orders a drink while the band is playing a bit too loud and asks for a ‘spiked Redbull soda.’
I repeat over the band, ‘Spiked Redbull soda?’
She smiles and says yes and asks for the special of the night. I put in the burrito and make her drink. I remember thinking it was a really weird order but oh well. I give her the drink in a double old fashioned glass.
She gets her food and 20 minutes go by. We were particularly busy because it was one of the more popular local bands. Suddenly my other bartender comes up to me and asks the most terrible sentence I’ve ever heard:
“Did you put spirits in the drink for seat w15?”
‘Yeah, a spiked Redbull”.
“She said Redbull-soda. She said she’s a recovering drinker so she had to be sure.”
I felt my stomach drop: now THAT was the worst sentence I had ever heard.
I immediately ran over to her and was near tears, telling her I was so sorry and hadn’t accurately heard her request over the band. This sweet lady with her wiry gray hair, glasses, and puffy blue coat grabbed my hand in both of hers and said so kindly ‘I could taste it and asked the Lord to help me out. I was sitting at the bar and the band was playing so I should have known you’d had a hard time hearing. I said you were right when you told me your order. I’m just so lucky the Lord has had my back for 15 years.’
Well, I was in tears at this point because I felt just so awful and kept telling her I was so sorry. She shushed me and told me it was all okay and not to worry. Of course, I comped her whole meal because I wasn’t about to argue with management.
God bless you, lady. I hope you are still doing well.”
Now That Is Aggravating
“So I (19, female) was working in a decent restaurant earning money for university. It was the last few hours of service when a big table of six to seven big guys in their 40s show up. I was pretty sure they were a bit ticked off when they got there, kept trying flirt and get extra drinks, claiming they’re ordered a different one than they got (they didn’t), they even knocked a couple over. Apart from the above, they were generally an okay table. There was no fuss with their order and they loved their food. Everything was going fairly smoothly until it was time for them to go.
They were the last table, we were waiting for a while for them to finish, pretty much all of the close down had already happened. I went to go clear their table and they asked for the bill, went back to take their payment, and started clearing more of their stuff.
At this point, their taxi arrived and they were going out of the door. One says ‘ah the tip!’ gets out a note and tries to hand it to me. I currently have about eight glasses in my hands so I ask him if he can place them on the table, but he reaches over, grabs my bra strap, and tucks my tip underneath it. I kept my cool during most of this but yelled out ‘Excuse me I’m not some topless dancer’ before he leaves the restaurant. Most of his mates that aren’t ridiculously wasted apologize for him (so like two of them). I go and tell my manager but he’s already gone.
I’m just a bit sad I didn’t get the chance to kick him out.”
You’re Grossing Me Out, Ma’am
“I’ve worked in the restaurant industry since I was 16 (now 22), and I am somehow still baffled by the uncleanliness of customers. One thing that I have always found really disgusting is ‘tiddie credit,’ credit cards that women store in their bras. Tiddie credit is a very popular form of payment at the restaurant I work at. When a customer pays with tiddie credit, I never say anything to the customer about it. I simply go wash my hands or use hand sanitizer.
This lady comes in to pick up her to go order, and she pays with tiddie credit. After I swipe her card, I hand it back to her and get some hand sanitizer. She looks at me to say, ‘Did I gross you out or something?’ I’m not going to say yes because I could tell she was the type looking for a problem. I told her, ‘No ma’am, I’m just trying to be mindful of everyone’s health and safety right now.’
She still gets upset and calls me rude, bigoted, and stuck-up white b, etc. I do my very best to remain professional and I tell her, ‘Ma’am, I’m sorry I offended you by cleaning my hands, but there is a sickness happening that is spread through respiratory droplets and you mask is not covering your nose. I am trying to protect not only myself but my family.’
I guess that wasn’t a good enough reason for her, so she reached across the counter, grabbed the hand sanitizer, and attempted to spray my face with hand sanitizer. I have never moved so quickly in my life. I slapped that bottle so hard, it flew across the restaurant. She then started yelling, ‘Here you go, since I find gross you out so much!’
My manager saw everything that happened, refunded her card immediately, and politely asked her to leave. She didn’t leave, and she demanded that we re-swipe her card and give her her food. My manager told her no because our restaurant doesn’t do business with people who mistreat the employees. She then called the police because we ‘stole her food.’ The police showed up, we showed them the camera footage, and had to arrest her because she wouldn’t leave after they told her to leave.”
“You Broke Me In A Way I Didn’t Think I Could Get Hurt”
“To the boomers who came in 30 minutes before close and had to sit at a dirty table,
I cried tonight. You three came in, ordered drinks and sushi, then two more drinks right before I turned off my open sign. One of you told me,
‘You know, you remind me of Rebel Wilson.’
I told you that wasn’t exactly a compliment. You alluded to my weight not very subtly when you explained it wasn’t meant to be one. My manager and coworker tried cheering me up by telling me she’s beautiful, but not denying the underlying issue I had with your words. I couldn’t keep going with your table so my coworker paid you all out, a $120 bill. You all tipped a big fat zero.
I did the drink count in the cooler and took 10 minutes longer than I needed. My paper mask had wet patches by the time I came out. I’d been on my feet for 12 hours by then and, honestly, I just was shattered. My self-confidence surrounding my 85 lb weight loss is gone. I haven’t eaten today but the thought of getting myself food right now makes me want to be sick.
How can you just… be cruel? Not only are you eating in a dine-in restaurant in the middle of a public-health crisis, but you broke me in a way I didn’t think I could get hurt. One of you drove off in a Tesla.
I hope your kids use their trust fund money for bettering the world. I hope they believe in organizations you don’t and they donate every penny.”
What Was She Thinking?!
“Last night at the beginning of my shift, I had a lady that was giving me her drink order. I asked her, ‘bottle or draft?’
She said ‘hold on a second,’ reached towards my face, and ripped the left side of my mask off.
I was so mad. I felt like I was talking to a toddler. I told her ‘No!’ Very sternly and angrily.
I put my mask back on, put in their drink order, and then gave them minimal service while she moped at her table for the rest of the night.
She had said ‘I’m sorry! I couldn’t hear you.’ But she could hear me well enough to tell me if she wanted a Bud Light or a Michelob Ultra. Regardless of her opinions on masks, she shouldn’t touch people, COVID or not. I would have told my bartender and gotten her kicked out, but I’m on day six out of working nine days straight, and I didn’t have any fight left for drama.”