Saying No To Customers

During a fifth round of wiping tables, I felt a pair of eyes burning
into my back, and sure enough, a young couple had been sitting in my
section for God knows how long.

“What can I get you folks today?”

“Well, you see, I’m on a diet,” said the stout girl, her tone
suggesting she was about to make my life miserable because she was
insecure about her body.

“We have a few salad options if you look here on the menu…”

“No, no. I was thinking about going with pasta.”

I wondered what the hell kind of diet allowed one to eat restaurant
pasta, which tends to immediately cling to your belly and remain there
for the rest of your life, but dieters are an irrational bunch, so I
kept quiet while she ordered.

“I would like spaghetti and meatballs, but I’m not eating
meat.”

“So, you just want spaghetti.”

“No,” she said, glancing from the menu to her meek boyfriend, her
look saying, why is this waitress such an idiot? “I want something
else.”

I waited with feigned patience while she studied the menu for another
five minutes. I noticed a few other new tables watching me
impatiently, eager to put their own orders through. “Ma’am, would
you like a few more minutes? I can come back.”

“No, I know what I want,” she replied, studying the menu yet
another five minutes. “What kind of oil do you use here?”

“Uh, probably vegetable oil,” I answered with the first oil that
popped into my head.

“Can you go find out for sure.”

I cursed myself for not sounding more confident about our oil
selection. I went to the kitchen and repeated the woman’s question
and was met with irritation, as if I personally wanted to bother the
chefs about oil. “I’m just the messenger,” I said, noticing the
exchange of sour looks.

“I don’t know, olive oil?”

“Yeah, olive oil.”

I went back and reported my findings to the girl.

“Hm, can you ask them if they have a light oil option?”

“I doubt…”

“Can you go find out?”

Defeated, I went back to the kitchen and asked flatly, “We don’t
have light oil…right?”

Joey, one of the younger chefs, crossed his arms and rolled his eyes.
The kitchen wasn’t busy, but Joey is one of those with a
cooler-than-thou, tough-guy persona to uphold. Therefore, he treats
most people, namely women, with disdain.

I translated his glare into, “No, we don’t have any f*cking light
oil,” and again, reported this to the girl.

Finally, she ordered a bowl of gnocchi, with cheese, but not a lot of
cheese, and tomato sauce, but there absolutely could be no meat in the
tomato sauce, and not a lot of tomato sauce either. Oh, and
vegetables, but only green vegetables. Her boyfriend, God bless his
soul, ordered a cheese pizza, no modifications needed.

I studied her boyfriend’s face, trying to detect any sign of
embarrassment or agitation. There was nothing there, just mutual
indifference. It didn’t matter to him that she was being demanding
and unreasonable, nor that I was starting to show signs of hostility
toward his partner. I started to wonder how certain people end up
together, then realized it’s impossible to understand the dynamics
of relationships. I put through the order with the full awareness that
it was going to get sent straight back to the kitchen once it hit the
table, no matter how good or bad it tasted.

Sure enough, the pasta was undercooked. She got mad at me and went
into detail about how pasta should be cooked, as if I were the person
responsible. Her vegetables had come out on the side, and she ate all
of them, then was really confused as to why there were no vegetables
in the pasta.

“I asked for vegetables. Did you hear me?”

“Yes, and that was them,” I said, pointing to the empty plate.

“I wanted them in my pasta.”

Did she think we gave complimentary side plates of vegetables with
every meal? “You could have just put them…okay, I’ll take it
back.”

The kitchen remade her entire meal and despite it being accurately
cooked with vegetables, she didn’t touch it and spent the rest of
the time casting me dirty looks, which said, “You, yes you, you
ruined my day, and I won’t let you forget it until I leave.” I
looked back at her, my glance saying, “No, you ruined my day, and
you did it on purpose.”

Under these circumstances, we’re supposed to give a compulsory
“I’m sorry…the kitchen is sorry…the restaurant is
sorry…we’re all sorry,” speech, even if it’s evident the
customer is out of their mind, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
I was tired of apologizing to people for things I wasn’t sorry
about.

Instead, I avoided that side of the restaurant and complained to
another waitress about the dieting-devil I had to wait on.

“If anyone else says they’re on a diet, I’m telling them to go
home and eat lettuce.”

“Some advice,” Verena told me. “Whenever a table asks for
something like that, say no. Always say no. ‘No, we can’t do
that.’”

I thought about this, and my mood improved.

“Can I have my latte extra hot?”

No.

“Can I have some tomato sauce?”

No.

“Can I please have more water?”

No.

“But…”

No!

I could get used to this.
- Tina

2 Comments

  • AndHeDrew

    October 29, 2012

    Oh, I could get used to that.

    No.

    No.

    No.

    Wow, that feels nice. :-)

    “It didn’t matter to him that she was being demanding
    and unreasonable” – this describes every bad customer ever. They rarely care, the just have the look of numb apathy. You have to feel for them.

  • Ali

    November 5, 2012

    I love this website! I can relate to so many stories but this one I need to talk about. I had an older couple come in and at first they seemed pretty down to earth. And then it was time to order. The gruff old man who I originally thought was funny turned into a militant expert on all things about this Restaraunt. He specified that his wife likes extra tomatoes, olives and dressing on the side but no onions on her salad (why she ordered her entree but wasn’t able to order her own salad is beyond me). He ordered spaghetti with soup as his side, no mods or anything. So I bring out the soup and salad. When I go back to check on him, he asks for a soup refill. He could also see that I was juggling 5 other tables. When I returned to the kitchen, I noticed their food was up. Rather than let it get crusty and die, I figured they would want their food fresh, so I brought out the soup refill and their meals at once. When I got to their table I smiled and said “it was all ready!” And the man scowls…angry customers is one thing but I was not prepared for this guy. “HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO EAT SOUP AND MY MEAL AT THE SAME TIME?!? ONE WILL GET COLD!” I cut in, apologizing by telling him I didn’t want their food to dry out in the kitchen but I would be more than happy to take it back and wait for him to finish his soup. “How can I fix this?” I asked.
    “I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY YOU WOULD BRING IT ALL OUT TOGETHER. IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE! WHY DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND I CAN’T EAT TWO AT ONCE!” Now the entire dining room is staring. “I ALSO ASKED YOU TO BRING SOMETHING WITH MY DINNER. WHAT WAS IT?!?” I’m just flustered now. I stumble to say “I….” And he cuts me off “TELL ME WHAT I ASKED FOR RIGHT NOW BEFORE I FUCKING EXPLODE” now I’m just losing it. My face is bright red, and knowing I can’t yell back is just making me insane. So, as my eyes start tearing, he continues “I ASKED FOR RED PEPPER AND NOW BECAUSE YOU’RE SUCH AN IDIOT YOU HAVE TO MAKE ANOTHER TRIP. AND I SAID EXTRA OLIVES ON HER SALAD”. At this point I am openly crying, and I still manage to calmly say that we were out of olives tonight…which apparently was my own personal fault (as if I sat out back munching on all the olives until they were gone just so his wife couldn’t have any) “THAT IS ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS HOW COULD YOU BE OUT OF OLIVES? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?” I reply tearfully “I don’t know, long shift, long day I guess” to which he decides to scream about how every day is a long day I better get used to it. So I finally snap back “we’ll I’m just trying to pay for college” and walk away crying. Thankfully my friends jumped in to help out with my neglected tables (all who were understanding and one couple even found my manager just to express their gratitude for my service and how disgusted they were at the old mans behavior). When I collected myself, I walked back over to check on them and for the rest of the night he continued to antagonize me (“are we feeling better now? Have you calmed down yet?”) the worst part was the 2$ tip. At that point, just don’t tip me. Leaving 5% is actually more insulting than nothing.

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