Every industry has its own downsides. But working in the food service industry is something else. You have to cater to customers' needs in the most professional manner; no matter how much they insult and disrespect you. In this article, patient servers share stories of being insulted by high-class snooty customers. It's so sad that some people can be extremely rude over the most insignificant ordeals.
[Source can be found at the end of the article]
The wind is UNACCEPTABLE!
I used to do valet at the Fashion Show Mall on the Vegas strip.
I remember bringing this little old lady (who was wearing one of those stereotypical “old women with old money rich person” hats) her Lexus. The wind was gusting a bit and she looks to me and goes:
“This wind is unacceptable.“
I nod in agreement and then she just stands there and gives me this look like “Well?”
So I say “Well, unfortunately, there’s nothing I can d…”
Her (leans into me): “UN-ACCEPTABLE!” and then gets in her car and drives off.
Getting yelled at for mustard
A girl I know got screamed at for not opening the mustard she served. She works in a relatively posh place, and the mustard comes in this little individual glass pot (I think Colman’s or whatever.) She hadn’t opened the mustard for them and was yelled at. “I work for (local paper) they will be hearing about this! I’ve never been so offended! Disgusting behavior.”
She just stood there aghast and like, “did you want me to open the mustard… now?”
More yelling ensued.
She’s not the only educated one here
I was 21 and bartending in a snooty restaurant often frequented by yachties. “Oh you look about my daughter’s age, except she’s away at college. A career is really important to her.” I was graduating that year and off to grad school the following year. “Wow, that’s great. Another Grey Goose?”
What hostess hear on a daily basis
I was a hostess working at a fairly high-end restaurant opened by a celebrity chef.
The amount of times I’ve had a comment that mentioned “I make so much more money than you, now seat me immediately!” is ridiculous. If I literally have no tables, I can’t accommodate you! Do you really think I like having you breathe down my neck and ask me when the table will be ready while you berate me? And I’m a hostess – everyone who could afford to eat at that restaurant probably makes more money than me!
Hard to find good help nowadays
A true high-class person would never stoop to insulting a waiter… It’s a waste of wit.
What they do instead is explain to you in the most condescending way imaginable how you have failed to do your job by not telepathically intuiting what they wanted without them having to go through the bother of actually articulating it. Honestly, you can never find good help these days.
Are you serious?!?
Used to work in a “high end” tea room, and we had this regular who was an absolute jerk. I was on my knees cleaning up a drink that another customer had spilled and this lady needed to get past me. I said “Sorry, I’m almost done!” and she said, in the most condescending way possible, “That’s quite alright, I like having people at my feet.”
This community college professor
Brought waters and menus, did the welcome speech, and asked if they’d like to order drinks right away.
The man glared at me and told me that I’d have to do better than that if I expected a tip. He wanted the best service.
I was a little befuddled, smiled and said that I’d do my best to make his visit an enjoyable one.
“DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!”
When I admitted that I did not he was really offended. He then informed me that he was a professor at the community college the next town over.
Seriously. The community college.
His wife was shushing him and face-palming. Poor woman.
Shoe shining for some documents
Just a couple days ago I was serving a very important business meeting, important enough to where one of the gentleman flew in from Hong Kong for it. I guess they left some documents on the table that got thrown away and they came back in a couple hours later franticly looking for them, pulled me aside and said “Look, I make more in a week than you do in a year. Find me those papers or I’ll have you shining my shoes just to make a little extra.”
What does chloroform tastes like?
I work at a country club, this one lady comes in every weekend for breakfast and sits there for hours until her husband and his friends are done golfing.
A couple weekends ago, she said her omelet tasted like chloroform. I just want to know how she knows what that tastes like…
Looking down at all the trash
Had some friends that worked at a super-expensive restaurant in Boulder, CO. It was on top of a mountain and overlooked the town. One of the waitresses told me that an older couple goes there at least twice a month, sometimes weekly. She overheard them talking and they said something along the lines of, “It’s like looking down at all of the trash.”
Good tippers though, apparently.
Getting talked down
Honestly, the really rich people are usually nice enough they come in often and tip well enough to make up for it if they aren’t. Sometimes we get less affluent people in and they’re the most demanding. I think because they don’t dine in high-end restaurants (maybe?) they want the most bang for their buck.
But yesterday while I was serving him wine, a guy gave me a talk about how all Chianti is at least 80% Sangiovese and that actually sulfites in wine don’t cause flushing and that’s a common misconception, don’t worry. I didn’t feel talked down until then.
Ouch, that hurt
I started off as a server assistant/food-runner (I’m a server there now) at a real ritzy steakhouse. Anyway, I was super nervous when I first started and one time I asked to clear a guy’s plate. His plate was empty so clearly, he was done.
Me: “May I clear your plate, sir?”
The guy looks up at me and says, “You got any other bright ideas?”
I took his plate and smiled. Then I went to the first aid kit in the back for my burn wounds.
No clearing the table!
At the restaurant I worked at (and everywhere I’ve ever worked in the U.S.), managers get really angry if you don’t “pre-bus” the tables, which is just always be removing empty plates once people are finished.
I guess it’s sort of old-school rude to clear plates unless EVERYONE at the table is finished, as this one time I asked if I could take the three ladies’ plates out of their way while the older man happened to still be eating.
He looked at me said, “We do NOT clear the table until EVERYONE is DONE! GO!”
It was humiliating. And I’ll never understand why people allow their friends/ family members to speak to others that way.
This rude old doctor
I used to deliver pizzas in an affluent part of town. We had this repeat customer who would always ask us what we were doing with our lives. I had a coworker who was the nicest and most hardworking guy ever, a psychology undergrad, who went to this guy once and was berated because this old man thought psychology was pointless. He literally said, “why don’t you go to school for something useful to society so you can make six figures like my son does?”
The man was an old doctor (or something to do in medicine) in his 90s, and I think he died recently; somebody else moved into his huge mansion.
Getting this server’s attention
I used to work at a nice seafood place. I had a long ponytail and one older gentleman pulled my hair to get my attention and order another drink. I just smiled and opened my eyes very wide, probably twitching to try not to say anything. My boss saw it and told me he’d put a bullet in his head if he did it again.
Owning the restaurant
I was bartending one night when a rude man asked how I was ever going to get a job with all of my visible tattoos. I responded with “Well, as you can clearly see, I am at work right now.” He gave me a condescending half smile while I poured his drink. I responded to that with “And I own this restaurant!” I then chugged a beer in front of him I had just poured and said “It’s great to be the boss!” In hindsight I wish I chugged his drink.
I do really own my own restaurant and I work every job there when needed.
The flying chicken bone
I was working a catering job for a 4th of July party at an exclusive yacht club.
Went about my business and was clearing used plates from tables. After stacking as many plates as humanly possible, I turn and start walking back to the kitchen. Next thing I know I feel something hit me in the back of the head. A chicken bone. A grown man who was watching me the entire time, with his four-year-old son at his side nonetheless, decided he didn’t want to wait the 5 minutes it’d take for someone else to come by and clear again, so he chucked it at my head. And then cracked up while pointing at me.
Calmly set down my tray, and just walked on out without saying a word.
Whining over 20 seconds of game
Somebody went up to the bar and asked if we could put a specific sports game on TV (we only have 2). The bartender started to change the channel but a customer started yelling and swearing at him because there were 20 seconds left in the game that he changed the channel on.
I kind of understood why he was upset until we changed the channel back and he said “Finally. You almost just lost your job, buddy.”
This guy thinks he holds our jobs in the palm of his hand because he may have met the owner once or twice. I’ve never seen an adult whine and cry that much over 20 seconds of a game.
A sudden change of mind
Once I had a job as cocktail waitress at a bar in Hollywood, it was very “A List,” lots of movie stars & celebrities in there all the time. One very busy Thursday night I’m running drinks back and forth from the bar to tables. One of my tables had about 5 women that looked like a girls night out, they were probably in their late 20s. Obviously had money, I could tell by the purses, shoes and snotty attitudes. I put their order in for their second round of drinks and I’m rushing by their table holding a tray full of drinks including martinis going to another table. The one girl decides she wants to change her drink order so as I pass by her she turns and grabs the back of my dress to stop me so she can change her order. Of course my tray tips when I’m jerked back and the drinks crash to the floor. I turn and give her a withering look and she just says -“instead of a cosmo I want a grey goose on ice.” then turns back to her friends like nothing happened. I was mortified and furious.
Karma at its best
I had a new-money guy that owned a local car dealership tell me I should go buy another linen tablecloth (we were one short, for a cocktail glass-collecting table) because, “you’ll never make it back to your shop in time. My guests will not tolerate someone in a POLO SHIRT ruining the ambiance.”
Happy ending: I’ve owned my business for 20 years now, his flight dept has ordered tens of thousands in parts from me, and I still tack on 20% extra on all parts he buys as a fee.
Feeling completely worthless over a bottle of wine
I was opening a bottle of wine for this table and I started getting chest pains and I got scared because the last time that happened I had a seizure. I almost dropped the bottle because of how quick the pain started. So I put the bottle down on the table real quick just in case. One lady was like “honey are you okay?” because it was clear something was wrong. The guy who ordered the wine said “We aren’t paying $50 a person for you to die here.”
After a couple seconds which felt like forever the pain gradually went away and I apologized and explained what happened to me last time that happened as I opened the Bottle. Then the guy goes “at least you didn’t drop the bottle — it costs more than your life.”
Tears silently came down my face as I poured their wine. I never went back to that table. The bottle costs $300.
The lady who asked if I was okay came up to me later and apologized for the guy. She gave me $100 in cash tip. But still I remember feeling completely worthless at that moment.
A poetic insult
In college, I bartended at a high-steak chop house. 500+ wine labels, Bartenders would call the cellar and have a bar-back bring the best of wines to the bar and tables. A lot of men and couples would eat dinner at the bar, have a cigar, and listen to the piano player. Cool vibe, horrible customers.
Once, I made cocktails for a middle-aged, dressed-to-the-nines couple. They were short but not impolite (yet). I turn around and this guy claps his hands to get my attention and asks, “Should we just serve ourselves, or what?” I get them menus sheepishly and provide a huge wine list.
He reviews the wine list and asks for a “BO-JAIL-ES VIG-AL-GES.” It took all the effort in my soul not to smirk — this guy, for all his class and pretense, can’t pronounce anything. He wants a Beaujolais-Villages but can’t see his own faux pause.
I go to the phone and call down to the bar-back: “Hello, would you please bring up the ’06 BO-JAIL-ES VIG-AL-GES, please?” The bar back’s laughed his butt off, “Are you joking? Tell me you are joking?”
I thought I did him a solid by not correcting him in front of his lady. But still, the best insult was the one he gave himself. Poetic.
No tip, but the lobsters are SUPER FRESH
I work at a pretty high-class seafood restaurant in Rhode Island and one evening I had a table of people that I assume were not from around there considering their accents. I went to clear their table, all of them had some form of a lobster dish, and one of the men complained that the lobster was not fresh and was frozen. I politely informed him that the lobster was never frozen. He was very adamant that he was the correct one. So I said sorry and walked off, and I passed my manager and mentioned it to him and he said: “Go back to that table and tell them we have 250 pounds of fresh lobster every day.” So I went back and told them again, politely, and once again the gentleman was still convinced the lobster was frozen. One more time I told my boss and he just stormed off to come back 5 minutes later with a cardboard box full of live lobster and said: “Go show them these!” One last time I walked out to them and set down a box full of 10 or so lobsters and said “See. Fresh.” And the guys surprised face was so satisfying. Tip… not so satisfying.
Owning a house
I live in Florida so this table asked me how I fared during Hurricane Irma. I told them that we just had some minor damage to our roof but came out lucky that none of the oak trees in our backyard fell on our house. This lady goes on to say something on the lines of “Well I hope your landlord is taking care of that soon.” I go on to tell her that my fiancé and I own the house and her mouth dropped. She then says “Wow aren’t you lucky to be with someone who makes enough money to own a house.” I simply relied by saying “I actually make more money than her,” and walked away.
The restaurant that cared more about its staff
I hosted at a locals mom and pop breakfast place in San Francisco for 7 years. Despite being small it catered to a lot of high-end people, the Mayor and Giants players, staff, etc. So we’d end up with an hour or more wait sometimes on busy weekend brunch days. My favorite thing that people would do is pull the “I know the owner” card to try and get their party sat faster, totally unaware that the owners both worked the line every day and were right next to us. I’d say “Oh let me get them I’m sure they’d love to say hello!” The look on their faces when they’d come out and say “Oh I’m sorry where have we met?” Priceless. Killed me every time. One of the only restaurants I’ve ever worked at that cared more about their staff than the customer always being right.
Busy night on Valentine’s Day
I worked at a high-end steakhouse during college. To paint a little picture, women’s uniforms were 2-inch heels, fishnet stockings, and a black skirt. It tried to take to the “jazz” aspect of the restaurant (there was a live jazz band there every night). It’s actually a part of a pretty major Steakhouse restaurant chain, super high-end dining, average $90/plate.
On Valentines Day we’d always get swamped. Usually, they would overstaff the servers just to make sure we had enough coverage on the floor. This is all well and good, but that means smaller sections and I have to turn and burn these babies fast in order to have a good night in tips. I had a couple who was clearly on edge the entire dinner, and the husband would take it out on me every time I approached the table. He would criticize things I would say and have a problem with simple questions I would ask, he even mocked me a few times. Total jerk. They ended up staying 20 minutes after I dropped their check which is just a bad move on top of everything, being that it’s one of the busiest nights of the year in the restaurant business. The wife just kept looking over at me and apologizing.
In the end, they left a 20% tip, but I’ll never forget the absolute disrespect I experienced with that table. I think about it, years later, from time to time and just tell myself I’ll never treat a human being that way, doesn’t matter who they are or what role they are in. The guy felt like because I was a young girl dressed all up serving him expensive steaks, he could treat me however he wanted.
Feeling like a second class citizen
I worked in the dining room at a high-class resort. An older lady requested to sit at the Captain’s table ( the large table where guests who were alone could sit with other guests and talk). As a server, I sometimes sat guests if the host stand was backed up. On this day the Captain’s table was near the kitchen, so when I showed the lady to her seat, she looked at me in disgust and said, “you don’t expect me to sit near the kitchen like some kind of second-class citizen, do you?? This is absolutely ridiculous!”
Other older women at the table looked pissed and insulted. One commenter to another saying, “I don’t feel like a second-class citizen.” In the end, the woman ended up sitting alone.
Protecting car seats
I worked valet for about a year at a really classy hotel downtown.
We routinely had Mercedes, BMW’s, Range Rovers, Football player’s candy-colored cars, Porsche’s, etc, pretty much any kind of high end, nonsports car, I drove.
One time, a guy pulled up in a decent Mercedes, not an AMG or anything super high dollar. He seemed cool at first, but after I gave him the valet claim ticket, he casually went to his back seat and retrieved a newspaper.
As I’m still holding the driver’s door open, he starts disassembling the newspaper like he was about to clean up cat urine off the hardwood floor. Once he had 4-5 single sheets of newspaper, he began setting the newspaper on his driver’s seat, as to protect it from my apparently dirty butt.
He didn’t even have to say anything, and it was the rudest insult I had ever received.
The worth of an iPhone case
A few years back, I used to work in a Thai restaurant. Pretty fancy one. It was a slow night on a Tuesday. Two girls with Hermes bags came in and ordered a bottle of Riesling. I went to their table to check on them and they wanted me to take their pictures, as I was about to grab her phone, she said, “That LV iPhone case worth more than what you make in a month, so be careful.”
Name spelled creatively
I work in a snooty people grocery store, so hopefully, this counts. Once when I was ringing a rich lady’s groceries, she took a look at my name tag (I’ve got a fairly normal name, but it’s spelled… creatively) and she said, “It’s surprising you could get a job at all, with a name like that.”
I know I’ve got a stripper name. It wasn’t my choice.
What’s up, doc?
My uncle worked in an upscale place in Boston for years. One night Mel Blanc came in. My uncle didn’t recognize him. When my uncle came over to the table to take the entree order, Mel Blanc looks at my uncle and in a perfect Bugs Bunny voice says, “Well, doc, I’m certainly NOT having the rabbit, I can tell ya that.”
Note: Comments have been edited for clarity.