We all know that the food industry gets a bad rep for driving employees up the wall. We’ve all been in a coffee shop, dive bar, or some diner where a disgruntled employee has been working too many hours for too few tips and is clearly having a really awful day. Want a way to make their day a little easier, and maybe rake in some good karma along the way? Here’s a list of the 20 things that your barista, bartender, or server seriously wishes you would quit doing:
1. Making a Mess and Not Telling Anyone
We get it. Sometimes, the appeal of eating out is not having to clean up after yourself — no dishes, no pots and pans, no spills. All we ask is that if you do spill something, please, please let one of the staff know. There is nothing more aggravating than only hearing about a spill when suddenly there are “no tables left” — because no one wants to sit down around your mess. I promise, we won’t yell at you. We get fired if we do that.
You’re doing us a favor — cleanliness is definitely something that people look for in a good restaurant, and if you alert us to a mess, you help us keep up our rep.
2. Coming in Minutes Before We Close
Okay, sometimes you do have that 9:58 pm craving for ice cream — but please, if you can avoid it, don’t do this. Come in sooner, we’ll be happy to serve you. Towards the end of the day, we start cleaning up and shutting down machines early — because there is no part of us that wants to stay 45 minutes after closing cleaning up after customers that wouldn’t come in sooner. If you do absolutely have to get your late-night fix, please don’t order the most complex thing on the menu either.
3. Yelling at the Staff for Things We Don’t Have Control Over
I promise you, it was not a personal vendetta against you that we did not receive our shipment of short ribs this week. It is absolutely frustrating to get yelled at because you didn’t notice that there was an extra charge for that side dish that you tacked onto your order — the price is on the menu. The floor staff has no control over what is on the menu, nor the prices that they cost. So spare us the rant and take it up with someone who can actually make a difference.
4. Eating Most of Something and Returning It Because Something Was “Wrong”
Don’t eat most of a dish and then return it because it wasn’t spicy enough, or too salty. Often times, it is our policy to recreate a drink or dish that we messed up, so we can’t refuse you — but come on, dude. We know when you’re just trying to get more food out of your buck. It’s not fair to the other patrons we have, who eat exactly what they paid for — we essentially gave you that second dish for free when we could’ve sold it to someone else.
5. Ordering A Dish That Includes Something You’re Allergic To
Unless you’re in a nice restaurant where they make every dish from scratch, chances are components of our dishes are pre-made and ready to be plated. Even if we wanted to try to prepare the dish sans walnuts, we may not be able to get rid of all the nut residues from the work station. At this point, it becomes a liability — we can get sued for serving you something that could effectively kill you, in full knowledge that you were allergic to it. If you can manage it, just order something you know won’t be lethal.
6. Ordering Something Not On the Menu
Unless you’re at an In-N-Out, I’m guessing the place doesn’t have a “secret menu” that the kitchen staff is ready/trained to prepare. You see that we have avocados, but guacamole isn’t on the menu? Please don’t order guacamole. Simple as that. It disrupts the way the kitchen functions, stressing the chef and the waiters out. We have enough things on the menu that our chef is confident they’re able to make.
7. Leaving A Mess If We Aren’t Full Service
Not every restaurant under the sun has full service. Meaning— you need to clean up your own table, throw away your trash, and stack your tray in the designated place. Some restaurants simply don’t have the staff to clean up after every customer, and if a new customer comes in and sees trash on the table, they’re not likely to use that table. So please, if we’re not full service — bus your own table. If you absolutely have to run out without cleaning up after yourself, keep everything neat and stacked on your tray so we can quickly grab it and wipe up.
#SpoonTip: Stacking up your plates is a really nice thing to do at full service restaurants. No one expects it, and you’ll be making their job that much easier — so they’ll be happier for it.
At Grocery Stores & Movie Theaters
8. Reaching the Register and then Leaving for “One More Thing”
This happens more than you would imagine — particularly in movie theaters. If there is a line of people behind you, do not leave to grab that “one last thing.” Just don’t jump into line if you’re not absolutely sure you have everything you want to purchase. We can’t skip you without starting over. Instead, we end up having to apologize for the wait to the next few people in line, who are now clearly peeved as well. Just don’t do it.
9. Stashing Something You Don’t Want, Especially Perishables
Okay, I will admit — for years, I was guilty of this. But after noticing how irritating it is, I immediately stopped. Do not leave something that you decide you don’t want stashed in a shelf or on the counter. Just bring it to the register and tell us you don’t want it, and we’ll have someone run it back where it belongs or toss it for you.
We’re not psychic, we don’t know when you leave things somewhere. It makes our store look bad, especially if it’s perishable. You don’t want that 6 pack of Chicken drumsticks? Well, if you leave it in the shelf between the Tortilla Chips and Cheetos, chances are we won’t notice it until it has already gone bad and is too dangerous to sell — and there goes good merch down the drain.
10. If I Say We’re Out of Something, We’re Out.
We constantly have employees restocking our products if we run out of things in the front. If we run out, and we say we’ve run out, I promise — we are out. The “back” is not some magical warehouse where I can produce more chicken strips or nacho cheese cups. If you let us know that something is out, and we do have some, we will tell you — “Oh, sorry! We’ll restock that immediately.” But seriously: If we say we are out, do not insist on us “checking the back.” Chances are, we will walk into the back, count to ten, and then walk back out to tell you that there are still none left — because we already knew that.
11. Asking Us To Break a Hundred And Getting Upset About The Wait
We don’t think you’re a counterfeiter. We’re totally sure that hundred is real. But if company policy requires us to call the floor manager to the front to open the cache or have them check, we have to — or we could get fired. This is actually valid for many places, so unless you’re in a bank, don’t expect to get it broken down into twenties on the spot. Also, if we’ve already called the manager to come break the hundred, please don’t suddenly change your mind and decide to use exact change. Where was that when you first got to the register? Jeez.
12. Staring Into An Open Freezer
There’s this neat thing about most freezer doors in stores — they’re made of glass. You can see through them. Leave them closed until you know what you want, or you’re going to ruin the rest of the merchandise. If you leave it open for long enough, it starts to get fogged up on the inside of the freezer door. That makes it impossible for the next person that comes along to see what is inside the freezer, as I’m sure you’ve noticed in many a grocery store. That starts a whole cycle of people staring into an open freezer and melting/thawing our products, so just don’t do that.
13. Asking For a Discount When You Don’t Have a Coupon
If you have a coupon, we’re happy to accommodate. But if you didn’t bring it with you, we’re not allowed to discount your order. We could get fired. So don’t ask us to because it puts us in a really uncomfortable position to have to say no. Where do you think the money that covers the rest of your tab comes from?
Cafés & Bars
14. Ignoring Our Greeting
I don’t know about you, but I was raised under the impression that “Grande Non-fat No-Whip Iced Mocha” is not the appropriate response to “Hi, how are you?”. We see plenty of customers a day, and this is the little personal interaction we get with each one. We are still human, not robots — so amuse us and give us a “Good, how about you?” before ordering. I promise, we’ll get right to it afterwards, and it’ll make us feel all the much better about taking good care of your drink.
15. “Suddenly Realizing” That a Drink Isn’t Yours After You’ve Already Finished Half (Or More)
Similar to almost finishing someone else’s drink, we know what you’re really doing here. I’m not talking about small things off about your drink — we’re happy to fix any mistakes we make. I’m talking about taking a completely different person’s drink, finishing a good deal of it, and then coming to return it. You seriously couldn’t tell the difference between an extra hot Americano and your Salted Caramel Mocha?
We either call out your drink or your name — so please, pay that little bit of extra attention and take your drink, not someone else’s. Of course, if you do realize that you accidentally took the wrong drink it after a sip or two, let us know. We’ll fix the problem ASAP.
16. Asking if We Have WiFi
Many cafes have WiFi — that is an exception. But even then, any locations that have internet connection usually have it posted somewhere near the register or on a sign near the entrance. If you’re in a bar, please don’t ask if we have WiFi. In this day and age, it’s not hard to check yourself — flip on that handy ‘WiFi’ setting on your smartphone and check to see if there are any public access points that sound like the bar you’re in. If there aren’t — chances are, we don’t.
#SpoonTip: Bars don’t usually have WiFi because no one in good conscience would ever allow you to drunk Facebook.
17. Catching Our Attention To Order And Then Not Knowing What You Want
If you have a question about the menu, this doesn’t apply to you — but if you’re in a restaurant or a bar, don’t flag us down to order unless you actually know what you want. This seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised how often the opposite happens. This is especially aggravating when you’re working a full bar and most of your income is from tips — if people get frustrated with the wait, they’re less likely to tip well or buy as much as they would have. So don’t waste our time by expecting us to stand there while you read the menu. We try to be patient, but not that patient.
18. Cutting In Line Because Your Order Is “Easier”
This is annoying. Not just for us, but also for all our other customers. Just don’t do it. This should be common sense. That dude got in line before you, we’re going to serve him before you. That’s how it works, that’s how it has worked since preschool. It’s not rocket science. Unless the guy before you literally says, “Hey, I’ve got a hefty order so why don’t you go first?”, do not assume that you can jump ahead of him in line.
19. Nagging Us About Finishing Your Order Sooner
We’re working as quickly and efficiently as we can handle. If you’re standing in the hand-off area and staring us down, you’re making us nervous. You’re putting much more pressure on us to get the drinks done quickly, and we’re more likely to mess up. Don’t nag us audibly either. We didn’t forget about your drink, it’s still in the line to be made — there were just other drinks ordered before yours. We can’t do anything about that. Please, be patient.
And Of Course, Everywhere, Really
20. Letting Your Kids Damage Our Property
Alright, I’ve seen enough of my siblings’ tantrums to know that my mother and father were not always able to rein in his wailing or flailing. Still, if your kid is banging on our freezer, playing with self-service machines, or slamming plates up and down on the table — please ask them to stop. As precious as your children are, we do have to pay for everything that needs to be replaced. We will rarely ever ask you to pay for it. So do us this solid, and make sure your kids don’t break our stuff— we don’t want to have to ask you to leave.
#SpoonTip: This also includes your drunk friends after a long night of binge-drinking. See them crashing into things or clearly about to relieve themselves? Get them out of there, ASAP.