Burning your hand on a hot plate, dealing with demanding customers, and doing your best to please a capricious chef: a restaurant server usually experiences all three during one single shift. It doesn’t stop there either, oh no! They have to wake up the next day, slap on a smile, and do it all again.
So keep this in mind the next time you go out to eat — don’t be the person who gives a server a hard time. They’re juggling a lot, after all, and by following some simple rules, you can ensure both your experience and theirs is a pleasant one. In fact, there are some things your favorite restaurant servers would love for you to know…
1. Do your tip homework: Nearly every serving position in the United States is paid less than minimum wage, since guests leave tips. Learn proper tipping etiquette before entering a restaurant. It’s easy to Google, and your server’s livelihood depends on it.
2. Don’t stack your plates: You might think you’re helping your server by stacking all of your dirty dishes in one pile, but this often screws up whatever system they have for clearing the table. Just sit back, take a sip of your drink, and let them do their job.
3. Don’t change your dish: The dishes on the menu are cooked that way for a specific reason. Sure, asking for a vegetarian option is fine, but when you start making multiple substitutions, you’re changing carefully-constructed flavor profiles, and ultimately, the entire meal.
4. Keep the splits simple: Servers have no problem splitting the bill for people when it comes time to pay. However, if it’s not an even split and guests start calculating odd amounts based on how much they ate, it becomes a mathematical nightmare.
5. Taste before asking for salt: Chefs hate when a customer asks for salt before they even try a dish. Lots of thought goes into seasoning food, and it’s a slap in the face when someone immediately assumes it’s not up to their liking.
6. Look your server in the eye: Isn’t it uncomfortable when you’re trying to chat with someone and they refuse to look you in the eye? Well, it’s equally as uncomfortable for servers when they’re taking your order and you won’t even glance up from the menu.
7. Put away your phone when ordering: One of the most annoying things a server deals with is the lack of attention they get due to cell phone usage. Everyone is so absorbed in social media and texting they ignore the fact someone is trying to take their orders.
8. Know your kids: Bringing children into a restaurant is fine so long as they know how to behave. Just because you’re enjoying a cocktail with your friends doesn’t mean the waitstaff needs to assume the role of babysitter. Leave rambunctious kids at home, plain and simple.
9. Don’t yell: Shouting at anyone is just plain rude, and deciding the quickest way to get your meal is to raise your voice and berate the person who’s taking care of it is completely unacceptable. Check your lack of manners at the door.
10. Don’t snap: Just because a server is taking your order and delivering your food doesn’t mean they’re your servant. Trying to grab a server’s attention by snapping your fingers is a sure-fire way to wait longer for whatever you need.
11. Closed means closed: Servers, just like anyone else who has a job, want to get home to their families and friends after their shifts are over. Hanging around a restaurant chatting after they close up shows blatant disrespect for the employees’ time.
12. Clean up after your kids: If you’re bringing along children to eat, make sure they don’t leave the table looking like a war zone when the meal is finished. You might walk out satisfied, but now someone has to spend time cleaning up your disaster.
13. No reservations, no griping: If you show up to a restaurant during its breakfast, lunch, or dinner rush without a reservation, don’t complain if the host seats you at a table you don’t like. When it’s that busy, you’ll be put wherever there’s “technically” room.
14. Make room: A server’s job is to deliver everyone’s meal quickly and efficiently, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give them a hand along the way. If the table is crowded, refusing to help them clear any room is just plain rude.
15. Don’t order things that aren’t on the menu: Items on menus change all the time; maybe they weren’t selling enough, or they could have been using seasonal ingredients. Either way, they’re off the menu for a specific reason, so asking for them doesn’t make any sense.
16. Payout your bartender: Sometimes before you’re seated it’s nice to have a drink at the bar. If you end up ordering something, don’t leave while the bartender is making your drink and retreat to a table without saying anything. It’s a huge waste of their time.
17. Help servers limit table visits: Try to think of everything you might need at once in order to limit the trips a server needs to make to the table. Sure, asking for something like pepper is fine, but making them return to the table multiple times for one single request is frustrating.
18. Don’t assume your server wants to date you: Servers treat their guests with respect because they want them to have a pleasant meal. Just because they’re nice to you doesn’t mean they’re interested romantically and want your number at the end of the meal.
19. Make up your mind: Before you call your server over to take an order, make sure you actually are ready to order. Servers have other tables and standing around while you look over the menu for the fourth time cuts into the time they could spend somewhere else.
20. Think before you complain: Always try to put yourself in the shoes of your server before you launch a minor complaint. Many of them have been working for hours before you arrived, and they’ve probably dealt with a handful of frustrating things already.
Even on a server’s worst days, they’ve likely never faced disasters quite as bad as these employees tackled on their nine to fives. In fact, when you see these bad work days, you might consider taking the day off tomorrow and staying in bed…
1. Yeah, the air conditioner’s cold at your boring office job, and your chair doesn’t lean back as much as you’d like, but on your worst day, you only have to figuratively submerge half your body under what’s hopefully just muddy water.
2. The plastic ponchos, goggles, masks, and five-foot hose make most people glad they can’t see what was inside those port-a-potties. Because the evidence suggests it looked like an absolute war zone in there…
3. Speaking of spraying, before this guy started working, he wore a bright yellow jacket, helmet, and gloves. Then he spray-cleaned an asphalt tank and ended up looking like barely escaped an encounter with a lagoon monster. At least he didn’t blast a sewer.
4. They say a single bird in an aircraft’s engine can bring the whole plane down, so navigating this avian minefield must’ve had these pilots thinking about their safe, comfy beds. But which landing was harder: this, or the next one…
5. Landing a helicopter must be tough enough, but imagine the pilot’s face when he heard through his communication device, “yeah, we need you on a narrow mountain road, so just balance the chopper on the ledge, please.”
6. After spilling an army’s worth of milk in the backroom of Walmart, the employee considered crying. But he realized that would be of no use and took a very angry — and very wet — selfie instead.
7. In other spilled dairy news, this guy didn’t know what to do when he cracked a few hundred eggs on the warehouse floor, but it looks like he tried scooping the yolks back into the broken shells. It beat apologizing to the hens.
8. Who are you gonna call when you’ve totaled an entire pallet of paying customers’ cars by accidentally dumping them into the river? ‘Cause not even the Ghostbusters can help you there.
9. Other painful phone calls include the one where someone had to explain to the very rich owner of this Aston Martin that there was a bit of a loading snafu and that their car might be just a little bit totaled. This person did not have a good day at work.
10. Utility line worker is statistically one of the most dangerous jobs, so companies train their employees well. For that training, companies use lots like this, which look like they could moonlight as a circus training ground, too. Good luck not falling, guys!
11. Some days, you mess up so bad at work there’s nothing to do but put your hands on your hips and stare into the distance. How big of a tractor did these workers need to right this flipped-over tractor?
12. On a positive note, it looks like the workers filled the pothole they brought the concrete truck out to fix. Maybe they told that to the driver of this car as he or she tried to scrape concrete off the hood.
13. Photographer Barbara Joppel had a bad day at work when she found out her camera thief was actually a lioness. She could’ve coined a new phrase: “if you take photos on the African plains, make sure you bring a second camera.”
Barbara Joppel / Instagram
14. This was a man who, after a closing elevator snatched his vacuum, knew true defeat. His body language suggested his parents just sent him to his room for the night without WiFi access.
15. It’s already bad when you’re hired to do home repairs and you do the complete opposite by falling through the roof. But to then have the homeowner bash you with a broom while you’re stuck? Yeah, this guy wished he called out sick.
16. Any electrician walking into a job to see this rat’s nest of wires would probably dream of the warmth beneath the covers. But hey, at least they’re not on the bomb squad.
17. If a photocopier were to become self-aware and lash out at its human captors, the scene would look something like this: a bomb blast of ink just begging to be cleaned up by some unfortunate intern. As if copiers weren’t fickle enough…
18. This journalist might’ve looked up to this volleyball player’s skills on the court, but she literally looked up to a man about a foot taller than her (which wouldn’t jive with television cameras)! So, out came the stool — and off went the heels.
19. Someone didn’t think through the repercussions of driving with two open canisters of paint in their trunk; even the professional cleaners no doubt hired to clean this mess up thought about going home with head colds once they saw the aftermath.
20. There’s no salvaging the day when you’ve put a crane through someone’s roof. You might as well hop out of the driver’s cabin, hand over your resignation papers, and head back to bed.
An Honest Mistake: You can’t get it right every time, so whoever stitched this crazy-looking Nala plush definitely deserves some slack. Hopefully, this company’s new line of Pumba dolls doesn’t wind up with tusks on the wrong end…
2. When the Cheese Starts Flowing: Who’s ready for some delicious mac and cheese? Only the fanciest places in town typically serve up this kind of fare. There truly is nothing better than a nice big scoop of lukewarm penne gracefully topped with half-melted Kraft singles.
3. If I Only Had Some Clarification: Imagine if this crayon set was the only one available in the Land of Oz. Follow the Yellow Brick Road? That could mean anything! And the Emerald City? What color is emerald? We only have yellow! This is madness!
4. Ahead of the Curve: People used to think using tape recorders instead of notepads to record interviews was absurd, so anyone mocking this guy for using a television remote clearly isn’t thinking ahead. Pretty soon, every reporter will be pointing remotes at athletes like they’re some kind of fleshy TV.
5. Didn’t Think It Through: This store is so dedicated to customer service that it actually added two extra days to the week: Scarmday and Marmday. Unfortunately, most calendars don’t include these days, so after the entire store missed their Scarm and Marm shifts, everyone was laid off.
6. Untapped Potential: In defense of whoever put this drain in, it probably still does its job. Sure, a catastrophic flood would have to sweep through the area for it to have any real impact, but when that day comes, the people of this fair city will surely be grateful for this oddly placed drain.
7. Mistaken Identity: Compare foods may have gotten a little too good at comparing foods, as now they can’t even tell the difference between their produce. Watermelon? Really? This is very clearly a cantaloupe.
8. Here We Go Again: As if beauty standards weren’t unrealistic enough, this company somehow had the audacity to insist that to be considered attractive, a woman needs to have her entire lower body jutting out of her head. When will it end?
9. Foreshadowing: If you’ve got spirit, you let them hear it. But what happens when you’ve got “spirt” instead? Well, “spirt” rhymes with “hurt,” and judging by how oddly thick that banner looks, someone’s probably about to get whiplash.
10. I See You: For those tired of having to manually open the stall door so that others can watch you use the bathroom, this revolutionary new design is here to solve all your toilet-watching needs while simultaneously bothering urinal users.
11. Bread Rights: If humans can identify as whatever they want, then why can’t sandwich rolls do the same? You probably already use hamburger buns when you run out of hotdog rolls and vice versa, so why not ditch the labels and just let them be?
12. The Perfect Fix: Someone really must’ve been upset over Red Box running out of copies of Jurassic Park 3. But don’t fret — a few sheets of sturdy clingwrap should totally be enough to stop this entire strip mall from collapsing.
13. A Minor Inconvenience: Pig Latin is making a comeback! Yes, it’s true that literally, no one speaks it, and, yes, people will probably continue to fly through this stop sign until they do, but this is definitely going to work!
14. Cut to the Chase: Honestly, this is just more annoying than anything else. Try to hold it from the bottom, you get melted chocolate all over your fingers; try to hold it from the top, you’re knuckle-deep in vanilla ice cream. Just smash it all together in a bowl and call it a day.
15. Don’t Cross Megatron: The wise-guy that painted road stripes on this Jeep probably had a good laugh about it, but little did he know that this car is actually a Decepticon in disguise. As soon as the Autobots are no more, you can bet this alien robot is going to be out for revenge.
16. Geography 101: Ah, Asia. What a magical place. With its rich cultural history and pleasing shape, Asia is clearly the superior continent, especially when compared to Australia, its neighbor to the north, and Antarctica, the world’s hottest region.
17. Only The Best of Intentions: All this poor sign wanted was for drivers to be cautious of cyclists, though in the first week alone it’s caused at least seven bike pileups and a dozen blown tires.
18. A Trained Professional: The first rule of welding is probably something along the lines of “be aware of your surroundings,” so right away this guy is off to a great start. Let’s hope his next job doesn’t involve doing electrical work in full bathtubs.
19. Losing Streak: Whoever stacked these shipments is either completely blind or a total rebel. Yet ironically, these boxes are all filled with Jenga sets; you knock one of those things over, and you’ve just cursed yourself to never win another game again.
20. American Pride: Whoever this factory’s stamp guy is, he needs to be fired immediately. That’s definitely not how you spell “This product was made in the USA, so enjoy a few good uses out of it before it inevitably breaks and you end up replacing it with a Japanese import.”
Even off the job, these people can’t seem to stop failing in epic fashion. All this poor rabbit wanted was to spread some Easter cheer with his chocolate deliciousness. Instead, he was locked in the car on a 95-degree day. But, hey, at least the bow tie still looks good.
2. We all get it: taking down decorations is a real pain. Unfortunately, an unexpected snowstorm can be the difference between having the coolest Halloween setup on the block and being labeled a maniac.
3. Never take your friends advice when it comes to cooking ramen. No matter what they tell you, water is not optional!
4. Anyone who’s accidentally bitten a utensil during a meal should cringe at the thought of taking a bite out of this spoon loaf. Then again, that raisin bread sure looks yummy…
5. Lemon water is undoubtedly the fanciest of all waters. But whoever made this particular batch missed the mark. Dropping two whole lemons into the room-temperature water just screams, “I have more important, luxurious things to do.”
6. In reality, this student was so good at the recorder that he had his taken away so he wouldn’t outshine the other kids. You can take a man out of the music, but you can’t take the music out of the man!
7. They say swallowing watermelon seeds will grow a whole watermelon in your stomach. But there isn’t a saying about how forgetting to grind seeds left in the garbage disposal will cause plants to sprout out of the sink…but maybe there should be.
8. Sure, make fun of the kid for leaving a hanger in his jacket. But the next time you’re struggling to undo the 18 buttons and 3 zippers on your own coat, remember this kid, who probably just hopped on a coat rack and slipped right out.
9. This kid just couldn’t resist the temptation of wearing a green shirt on picture day. Lucky for the photographer, he decided to leave his camouflage hat at home.
10. For an attempt at cooking caramel, this dish gets a big fat F. For an attempt at opening a portal to the netherworld, however, this chef seems to be on the right track.
11. Maybe this was a spare pair of handcuffs left behind by a police officer? Let’s just say that’s what it was – the alternatives are just a little too weird to be considered.
12. You’ve heard of sticking gum behind your ear for later, but this kid takes things to the next level with a bold lollipop-in-the-hair move. Let’s hope he was due for a trim anyway.
13. When Subway announced that they were including toys in their kid’s meals, sub fans couldn’t wait to bring their own kids in for a bite. It turns out their concept of a “kid’s toy” was way off.
14. That’s a pretty small suitcase, so there probably wasn’t anything important in there. That’s how it works, right? Fingers crossed the person who left it behind agrees.
15. This guy gets serious points for ingenuity, but those points are immediately taken away by the Department of Motor Vehicles – fair enough.
16. Playing hard-to-get may work in the dating world, but in the world of injury law firm advertising… yeah, probably not.
17. This tree always dreamed of becoming a professional ice dancer. After someone left a pair of skates on one of its branches in the 1960’s, the tree was finally able to live its dream… 50 years later.
18. What’s the point of the ridiculously tight jeans the kids wear these days if they can’t even hold your possessions in place? That poor guy’s phone flew right out of his pocket the second the bungee cord tightened!
19. The “MacGyver of the Year” award clearly goes to the poor soul who rigged up this masterpiece after forgetting their contact lens case.
20. The funny thing is, this Snickers bar still looks amazing even without its chocolate coating. The ball’s in your court now, Hershey.