According to The Simple Dollar, the average American eats out between four and five times a week. That’s a lot of restaurant time and a lot of time being waited on by servers. Are you aware of what your server is judging you for? Maybe you should be.
We asked waiters what they really learn and judge about their patrons’ dining behaviors, and they didn’t hold back. Read on to hear what they had to say.
1. Your interactions
Reddit user thorneykins likes to keep an eye on how close restaurant patrons are. Is a group laughing a lot and having a good time? Is a couple fighting?
“I work at a small family owned pizza place, and if a couple comes in and seems to not talk much/be angry at each other, I will purposely bring their food out in a way in which they will have to share a serving spatula or something of the sort. Also, if a family orders a whole pizza to share instead of each of them getting a sandwich meal or something of the like, I assume their family is closer.”
2. Special requests
Another Reddit user gets frustrated when people make special requests, like asking if they can purchase ingredients and silverware used by the restaurant. “People would say, ‘Can you go ask your boss/chef if I can purchase a jar of your pickles?’ or ‘Can I buy some of these plates from you?’ This isn’t a grocery store. The restaurant can’t make money selling its plates,” says Reddit user Gehalgod.
3. Is Pepsi OK?
“I’m sorry that we don’t have Coke. If you roll your eyes and act like it’s the end of the world, I will assume you are a difficult person. 9/10 times I’m correct,” says another Reddit user. If your waitstaff can’t meet all of your requests, remember that it’s often not their fault. Waiters and waitresses aren’t typically in charge of choosing menu items.
4. Being respectful of your waiter’s time
“It’s amazing how much weight the phrase, ‘When you get a chance’ or ‘Next time you come by’ has. It lets me know that you realize that I have other tables and that I can’t do everything at once. A little patience and understanding is much appreciated,” says Reddit user Kristorian.
5. How chatty you are
According to this article in the Wall Street Journal on “How Waiters Read Your Table,” if you’re particularly talkative, your waiter will assume that your table is friendly and ready to party. The article suggests that your waiter then may offer more drinks and desserts than if you were at a quieter table.
6. Asking for a different table
This roundup of waiter preferences on Fox News includes two complaints about restaurant patrons asking for different tables. They mention that asking for a different table can mess up the rotation and seating chart, and that if you ask to sit at another table, there’s a chance you won’t get the best service because that waiter or waitress may have a busier section.
7. Saying ‘thank you’
“It’s the most obvious one, but a simple thank you goes a long, long way. More than you’d think,” says Reddit user spottyboy. “When someone gives me a sincere thank you, it really gives me a great feeling that I’m helping make sure they have a good time on their night out.” Think of all the work a waiter has to do to ensure you have a nice meal. Saying “thank you” doesn’t take much on your part.
8. Stacking plates
A lot of diners think that stacking plates is helpful for waiters, but, in actuality, it can throw off their whole cleanup routine. “I might want to stack three entree plates on my arm and then put other small plates and silverware on top of that. If everyone stacks things, I can only bus two people’s plates,” says a Reddit user to Fox News.
9. What you tip with
Sometimes, restaurant patrons “tip” with religious literature instead of money. “If you happen to be a religious person, that’s awesome. Good for you, I respect your decisions to believe in anything you want. But please, please do not leave us those little booklets about how we are going straight to hell unless we find Jesus,” says Reddit user GamerKitsune.
10. Teaching your high schooler to tip
Just like it’s not okay to only tip with religious literature, it’s not okay for a teenager to barely tip just because he or she is young. When you’re teaching your kids about money, be sure to include a lesson on how to tip.
“I work in a very busy restaurant and we have groups of high school kids coming in all the time. They have no clue how to tip even though we have ‘tip suggestions’ at the bottom of the receipt,” says another Reddit user.
11. Lying about allergies
As different diet trends (gluten free, dairy free, etc.) gain popularity, more and more people are lying about what they’re really allergic to. For your safety, and in the interest of saving everyone’s time, don’t lie about your allergies.
“If you have a serious dislike of some particular food, that’s fine — tell us, and we’ll recommend something that doesn’t contain that ingredient, or we may even be able to alter a menu item for you. But if you lie and say it’s an allergy, it’s a huge deal for the kitchen,” says another Reddit user on Fox News.
12. Grabbing the wine list first
According to the same article on the Wall Street Journal about how your waiter reads you, if you take the wine list first, prepare to have all the wine questions and explanations be aimed at you. If you don’t want to be the designated wine guy or gal, don’t grab the wine list first.
13. Being on the phone
“If you sit down and are on the phone, I’m not coming to you until you hang up. It’s rude for me to interrupt a phone call. It’s rude to the person on the other end of the line. Order first, then make your call/answer your phone,” says Reddit user throwawayserver.
14. Coming in right before closing
Think about how excited you are to leave your job and go home at the end of every day. Would you really want to keep someone else from being able to go home after a hard day of work? Even if the waitstaff tells you it’s no big deal and that it’s OK for you to take a seat, chances are, their boss makes them say that.
“Do not go to a restaurant if they are about to close in 5 to 10 minutes. We’re already getting ready to close around that time. Everyone will be forced to stay in the restaurant until you leave,” says another Reddit user on Fox News.
15. Whether you treat them like a human being
“In the end, eye contact, pleases and thank yous, and simple manners go a long way. If you’re cordial, tip fairly, and treat me like a human being and not a servant, then when you walk out the door I’ll probably think ‘Well, they were nice,’” says Reddit user Kristorian.