1. “What’s good here?”
You’re pretty much asking us to shit on at least some of the offerings of our fine-dining establishment. If we tell you, “Everything is good!” we’re not getting anywhere. If we list our favorites, they might not align with your food preferences, and if you ask us, “Which is better?” we’re just going to pull out the strong points of each dish and hope you don’t push us further. Once it gets to a tug-of-war ending in “But if you HAD to pick,” we get super frustrated, because then if you hate what we shared, it’s all our fault.
2. “Can we have that table instead?”
Spoiler alert: Your food is going to taste the same wherever you sit. I know this is piece of information is earth shattering. Do not request that we ask the couple currently occupying the corner booth to move because you’re so adamant on dining there. We have no desire to appease whatever ridiculous reason you’ve thought up in your head that you feel makes this table is better than any of the other seats in this restaurant, because it won’t make your meal taste any better.
3. “Can I order off the kids menu?” (from a grown-ass man)
The “12 and under” fine print isn’t there for kicks. No sir, you cannot have four chicken tenders for $5.95, just like you can’t get into a movie for the price of a child’s ticket, or get the senior-citizen discount until you’re 60. If we had a ball pit or bouncy castle, that would be off limits to you too.
4. “It’s so loud in here!”
Yes it is, because you’re dining out on a Saturday night at a busy, popular restaurant. No, I cannot ask the table next to you to keep it down. They’re having a good time, and are paying for their meal just like you, so they’re entitled to laugh loudly in their space. If you want a nice, quiet dinner, where the only sound is you and your companion speaking softly to each other, do us both a favor — have dinner at home.
5. “Can we have separate checks?” (Especially when said at the end of the meal)
So, you want us to divide your table’s check into six separate ones…because you can’t do basic math? You really can’t stand the thought of just splitting this evenly due to the fact that your chicken dish was $3.35 less than the other things your friends ordered? Or are you trying to appease the cheap friend who didn’t drink anything, and only ordered a side salad for a wild $12 night out on the town? Sure, we’ll get that done for you right away…as soon as we’re done trying to remember who had which cocktails, since you’ve all been drinking like fishes for the past three hours.
6. “Does this come with anything?”
Particularly in the United States, which typically serves a starch-laden side with every meal, an item listed on an a la carte menu might seem to be lacking if there’s no mention of fries, potatoes, or anything other than the dish itself. Sorry if you’re used to getting the value menu over at McDonald’s, but that menu description was written that way for a reason — to detail everything you’re getting when you decide to order it. If it’s not listed below it, look around the rest of the menu. If you still can find it, ask a friend.
7. “It didn’t say that it came with (insert item here).”
Actually, it did, you just didn’t read the description the entire way through, and now the kitchen staff, manager, and owner are all angry at us for your mistake. Oh, you want to fight about whether or not that item was listed in the explanation, with the server who has looked at this menu every day for months or even years? Yes, we will bring you the menu and show you exactly where it says “topped with olives,” but you’re going to feel awkward when we prove you wrong.
8. “Surprise me.”
This is the equivalent of a client you’ve never met before, and know nothing about. He/she walks into your office and after you ask them, “What can I do for you?” that person replies, “Surprise me.” You have no idea what this person is partial to, what they hate, or even what they’re allergic to. When our tip rides on whether or not you like what we’re bringing you, this isn’t a gamble your server wants to take. So please, at least give us some guidelines here so that we’re not sticking you with an EpiPen post-oyster-shooter, after finding out you’re allergic to shellfish.
9. “I absolutely hated it.”
Look, we’re here to make your dining experience as pleasant as possible — because our bank accounts depend on it. When you hate what you ordered, suffer in silence, and wait to tell us your true feelings about your dish until after you’ve choked down the entire thing, no one wins. You’re unsatisfied, and therefore you’re going to tip us poorly, or leave us a subpar review, when we could have had the chef fix you something to your liking. A simple, “I’m not crazy about this” could have helped avoid all of this in the first place.
10. “Is this your real job? What else do you do?”
Imagine if we came to your office and asked you the same thing. While there are plenty of students who work as servers to pay their expenses during college, and artists who wait tables on the side while pursuing their creative endeavors, please try to understand that there are actually people who enjoy this profession, and earn a living doing so. Not everyone was born to sit behind a desk for 8 hours a day.