Most restaurant goers know that treating your waiter with respect is standard when it comes to dining etiquette—and absolutely necessary if you fear your food being tampered with by an unhappy server. But just when you thought you had avoided the chance of spit in your drink, you may be all wrong.
Some gestures that customers perform in an effort to be helpful can cause servers a whole lot of headache, and you really would never know if you haven’t worked in the business yourself. Think you are helping out by stacking your cups and plates at the end of your meal? Check out number two on this roundup of ways you are annoying your waiter and didn’t even know it to see what your server actually thinks about this kind gesture. And for more insider tips and ordering hacks, subscribe to the new
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You might be out for an anniversary or a special family dinner and want to commemorate the night with a photo, but the last person you should ask is your waiter. They have a schedule to keep so they can keep all their customers happy and serve them in a timely manner.
“I hate that every table I serves needs a […] group picture. I’m a waiter not a photographer,” said Reddit user jdizzle3192.
Either ask the hostess when they seat you or another patron of the restaurant.
It’s the end of the meal and your waiter has been great, so you decide to help them out by stacking your plates at the end of the table so they can grab them quickly. However, your act of kindness might not actually be helpful to the waiter.
“I know it’s done with good intention, but if you hand me a stack of plates here’s almost a 99% chances they aren’t stacked correctly,” said Reddit user danam524. “It’s fine to be helpful and move things off to the side but PLEASE don’t try to add your plate to my stack to try to help.”
However, other restaurant workers disagreed with this comment and said they really liked it when customers tried to help—just be mindful that you’re not stacking the plates so the napkins are stuck to them.
There are many ways to get the attention of your waiter when you need them, but snapping at them is not one of them. “Servers are not dogs,” said automator3000.
You might think it’s cute to fight with your dinner companions about who gets to pay for the meal, but your server does not!
“Figure out who’s getting the bill before I drop it off […] I can’t pick a side because then I gotta deal with the other getting all pissy at me,” said Blackdragonking13 on Reddit.
You don’t actually like what you ordered or your waiter mistakenly forgot the ketchup, but don’t take it out on their tip just because you didn’t say anything says Reddit user PinkWhiteandGreen.
“This might seem counterintuitive, but I hate it when customers don’t complain about something, at least not until after the fact when it comes time for the bill and it’s too late to try and fix their issue. I’d rather have you happy with my ability to accommodate you when it comes time for the tip than to have nothing to do”
We’ve all been there — you go out to eat, but you’re just not that hungry, so you opt for an appetizer or side salad. If that’s the case, be clear with your waiter you want it to come when the entrees do, unlike one of BraskytheSOB‘s customer.
“Salad course comes out for table, Suzy Q gripes with a valley girl tone, ‘umm, like, where’s my caesar!!??’ […] I specifically confirmed if you wanted the caesar as your entree or with the salad course.”
When you know what you want to order and stick to it, it’s more likely you’ll get the food you wanted. One Reddit user was waiting on a family who thought they wanted a spicy pineapple dish but then decided to not order it. The waiter confirmed with the family they didn’t want it and they said yes, but when their food arrived and the spicy pineapple dish wasn’t there, they complained.
“Our company policy is to make everything seem like our fault basically lmfao but I’d been working 12 hours at this point and I was exhausted and I almost snapped.”
The moment has finally arrived…your food is here and you can’t wait to scarf it down! As amazing as this moment is for you, it might not be for the waiter or runner who is serving you.
“I hate when as a food runner i’m holding very hot plates and the family of five has no idea what they ordered as i repeat ‘derp burger’ four times. Meanwhile my flesh is burning away,” said probreaux on Reddit.
Remember what you ordered not only so you can get your food faster, but so you don’t annoy the wait staff.
Unless the restaurant says to seat yourself, just stick to where the host sits you. If there’s one way to anger the restaurant staff, it’s to ask for a different seating assignment. As AmyXBlue states on Reddit, “Window seats are always popular. and i hate servers having to play musical tables.”
Again, you might just be trying to help your waiter out, but holding your glass during a refill really makes it harder.
“It doesn’t work and one of us is going to over compensate and a spill will happen. I know you are trying to help but just give it to me,” said psychologythrill.
If you ignore your server when they introduce themselves or forget their name as soon as they walk away, you are absolutely going to annoy them. Knowing the name of your server not only is polite, but can help in awkward situations, explains Cheerio_Buffet.
“If you need me for something, but have to get someone else first saying ‘I need my waitress… she’s a girl… and kinda short…’ doesn’t help at all. Saying ‘Cheerio_Buffet’ lets them know exactly who to get without having to figure it out 20 questions style.”
“On a busy night, it’s usually the little bright spots that keep me smiling and in a good mood; someone saying, ‘Thank you, _____’ really helps, and lets me know that I’m not just an automated ordering machine to you,” says DrunkenZombie.
Restaurants have a very specific system when it comes to how they’re sitting groups. Waiters have sections they’re in charge of and groups are seated in a rotation of these sections so one person doesn’t get too busy while others stand around and wait.
“If you decide to venture out of the section of the server whose turn it is, it can mess a lot of things up,” says figurativelyyes. “On a slow day, where maybe a table will come in every 10-15 minutes or even every half hour, if you choose your own seat, you may be depriving the server whose turn it is of a table, and thereby causing him or her to lose money.”
Putting things on the table should “generally be a no-no” according to Reddit user dt403. This might seem harmless, but last thing they want is to spill on your phone or crush a pair of your sunglasses, and it makes it difficult for the waiter to put your food down.
Similarly to letting the wait staff know when things aren’t good, let them know when it is.
“I hate when I go to a table and ask how everyone’s doing and NO ONE answers,” says radialomens. “If it’s good, everyone say it’s good. I don’t mind if you all speak at once. I can’t walk away without someone answering the question.”
Restaurants plan for everything, so they might have a system you didn’t even consider.
“When I was waiting tables, I got so irritated when guest went out of order. Each seat at a table has a number assigned and I want to start at seat 1 and go from there. Your chances of getting the correct food will be so much higher if you just go in order,” said wookieeTHEcookie.
You might think you’re funny, but leave your dad jokes at home. “If I ask, ‘Is there anything else I can get you?’ And you say, ‘A million dollars.”‘ I will forever hate you” said an anonymous Reddit user.
When the waiter comes to give you your drink, it’s best to just let them do their job instead of grabbing things off their tray.
“When we take a drink off the tray, we are prepared to rebalance the tray with our hand and forearm underneath. If something is removed prematurely and we are unprepared to make the adjustment, the whole tray can become off-center and topple over. I’ve had it happen before, and its kind of a day ruiner when you dump 6 drinks on a 10 year old kid at his birthday party,” said BeatBoxxEternal. “However, if the drink is in my hand and off the tray, feel free to grab it as it’s coming towards you.”
When it comes to asking the waiter for recommendations, wording is key.
“Asking us if something is good. We’re gonna say everything is good. We have to. Instead, ask us what our favorite thing on the menu is. That’s a much safer bet for a quality dish,” said 37the37th.
If the waiter isn’t busy, they’re happy to have a conversation with you, but use social cues to know when the best time to talk to them is (ie. not when the restaurant is packed or when they’re carrying dishes.”
“Light chat/banter is fine (appreciated even so it’s not awkward while I’m there) but diving into a banal/conspiracy monologue is terrible while my arm is dying and I don’t want to be rude and walk away,” said Reddit user Eraser_cat.
If you enjoyed your meal, leave a tip for the waiter, not your phone number. Chance are, that’s not going to work. As randomlycandy puts it, “You expect me to call you for the rest of my tip or something? Yeah, you’re exactly who I’d want to date.”
Most things you do to unknowingly annoy waiters comes from not knowing their hidden procedures, but don’t complain about their obvious ones either. At livvyluvsu’s restaurant, the staff notifies others on the other side of the door by saying “corner” when coming in or out of the kitchen, leaving one customer sitting by the kitchen annoyed.
“Last time someone didn’t say corner two people ran into each other and it resulted in one getting glass impaled into their hand. so get over yourself.”