Step 44: 20 Most Annoying Things Servers Do in Restaurants

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1. INTRODUCE THEMSELVES BY NAME.

“Hi, my name’s Glenn and I’ll be your server tonight!” Does anything induce more eye rolls at the table than this sort of chipper opening gambit? We’re going to be in each others’ company for at most a few hours, and preferably about 30 minutes if the meal goes according to plan. This sort of feigned intimacy is just annoying, and always feels a little like a ploy to actually say, “Remember that I am a human being with a name and a family…so don’t stiff me on the tip, you dick!”

2. TOUCH YOU AND THINK IT'S FRIENDLY.

I don’t need a shoulder rub while you recite the specials, or a playful tap on the arm to show that we’re hitting it off. It’s already distressing enough that you are touching the plate that I’m going to eat off of—let’s not allow the intimacy to get out of control!

3. SAY EVERYTHING THAT YOU INQUIRE ABOUT ON THE MENU IS “REALLY AMAZING."

Listen here, homie: You should be an enthusiastic booster of the restaurant, sure, but you are not the chef’s personal hype man. Put down the imaginary Flavor Flav clock and chill. We’re already at the restaurant, so presumably we came here because we thought maybe there would be some good food to eat. The sale has been made—now is your time to do your actual, non-shilling job and help us navigate the menu.

4. WAIT FOREVER TO TAKE YOUR DRINK ORDER, BRING MENUS, OR OFFER WATER.

The lag time between sitting down and getting started with the actual process of eating dinner is one that could easily be stricken from the restaurant experience entirely. Water and menus should just be there at the beginning. And while you might need some time to get acquainted with drinks list, this is not a 20 minute activity. Everyone is a lot more forgiving with a cocktail in hand, so let's cut to the chase and get things cracking. (Some bread would be nice too. Take a cue from Tex-Mex restaurants that have chips and salsa on the table at all times.)

5. ASK YOU IF YOU'VE DINED THERE BEFORE AND IF YOU "KNOW HOW THE RESTAURANT WORKS."

Usually this is code for, “Do you know that we came up with our own bootleg version of tapas so that you can spend as much money as possible?” If the restaurant requires an instruction manual, something is probably wrong.

6. TELL YOU TO WAIT FOR "YOUR WAITER" WHEN YOU ASK FOR SOMETHING.

This phenomenon is perhaps one of the biggest drawbacks of a gratuity-based system, in which no one actually cares about you unless they are going to get a tip out of it. At the finest restaurants, the staff is one cohesive organism of hospitality excellence, designed to ensure that you have the best time possible. At others, you are treated like a minor nuisance by anyone not directly involved in the extraction of money from your wallet. Oh, I need to wait for my “waiter” to get the cutlery that my “waiter” failed to bring me in the first place? That mentality is a real turn-off, and it is cause to reconsider a return visit.

7. SQUAT, TAKE A KNEE, OR SIT DOWN AT YOUR TABLE.

Unless you are at Rao's, or some other restaurant where this move is part of the historic fabric of the place, there’s no reason to get down to eye level to take an order. In fact, it is incredibly weird and kind of makes everyone feel like maybe they are receiving a pep talk from their Little League coach. Ironically, the squat maneuver is particularly creepy when executed on small children.

8. GO STRAIGHT FOR THE UPSELL.

The lobster mac and cheese is way better than the regular one, huh? And that cabernet sauvignon is a steal at just eight times its retail value? It is so blatantly obvious—and upsetting to everyone at the table—when servers try to play you for a fool and recommend only the most expensive dishes and wines on the menu. People who are having fun and feeling like they are not being pushed and prodded tend to spend more in the long run anyway.

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