The best servers know how to keep their cool under the most stressful situations. When your savings depend on tips, learning how to be graceful, witty and self-effacing is your biggest asset.
These stories are not about those servers. Instead, a Reddit thread asked customers to dish about the worst customer service they've ever experienced -- and wow people did not hold back.
Here are 17 true stories that will make you feel more forgiving toward that waitress who forgot your ketchup.
But wait. There's more.
Remember, there are always two sides to every story, so we've given servers the chance to reply. Twenty-one servers, managers, and drive-thru workers regale us with the tales of their wackiest customer interactions ever.
Having dinner with my now-wife who had just recently moved back to Massachusetts from California, so she didn't have a new Massachusetts ID yet.
We go to order drinks and the waitress takes my wife's California ID, immediately proclaims, "this is a fake," snaps it in half and hands it back to her. Like in the blink of an eye just destroys her only current ID for no reason.
Manager ended up getting involved and agreed that the waitress was out of line and I think offered free drinks or something, but my wife was furious and we ended up just leaving.
2. Fusion confusion
Went to an Asian "fusion" restaurant with my family where they offered yummy delectable dishes such as beef teriyaki with mozzarella sticks, and other culinary abominations such as tonkatsu with french fries. They really "fusioned" it up.
After we finish eating, I head to the bathroom. One of the chefs is in there already peeing, wearing his apron and hat. While I'm peeing, he zips up and walks straight out. My mom sees that I'm upset and I tell her.
She waves the manager over and I tell him that I saw a chef use the bathroom and not wash his hands. Then he just stares at me, grinning with his goofy teeth, not saying anything. It was weird.
We got up and left. We never went back.
3. Baguette up for me
We were in a restaurant in Paris last fall. We ordered our food which NEVER came out.
We were finally able to tell the manager who went and got the waitress. She claimed we had already been served, ate it all, and this was a scam to get second dinner. The manager believed us, but it felt like we were defendants in a criminal trial.
4. Chickened out
Went to Chili's for lunch with my husband.
The place is empty. We are finally seated after a ten minute wait (it was this or nothing, and I was starving). Waiter arrives, takes our drink and appetizer order. He never comes back.
More customers arrive, maybe four tables, and he goes and sits with what we assume are friends of his. We flag down another waiter, who practically throws our drinks at us. He takes our entrée order. Throws those at us.
I cut the chicken and am surprised it didn't cluck and jump off my plate, it was so raw. Original waiter comes over and i show him the still-pulsing bird and he rolls his eyes and says, "It's rare. You want me to microwave it for you?"
I explain I want it cooked through, not heated, and poultry isn't served rare. He snatches the plate and leaves. I never got my food back.
Meanwhile, my husband is waiting on me (he's too polite) to eat. I finally tell him to go ahead, at which point he opens the bun and finds a fake fingernail. We attempt to get someone's attention so we can pay and leave, but 15 minutes later we just got up and left. I've never gone to another Chili's.
5. No way buffet
Went to an all-you-can-eat buffet. It was supposedly replaced with new food every 30 minutes.
It was not.
The food was disgusting and everything was dirty. There were pieces of plastic from the food bags in the food itself and people were literally eating from the bins of food and putting half chewed food back into the bin.
6. People in glass houses
I was sitting in a greenhouse kind of glass structure eating a steak in a restaurant in Ohio in the middle of winter.
The next thing I knew the glass above me shattered and I got kind of woozy. I'd been hit by a big block of ice that slid off the roof three floors above me and had fallen through the glass and clobbered me in the head.
The EMTs showed up almost immediately took me to the hospital. I checked out fine except for a good-sized bruise.
7. Royale with cheese
There's a burger joint called Big Kahuna Burger here in São Paulo. It's a Tarantino-themed restaurant, as you could probably guess by the name.
I went inside the restaurant and Pulp Fiction had just started on the TV. I saw the whole movie while my fries, burger and dessert went to other tables. Every. Single. Order. I left fuming. But the burger was very good.
8. A bam! shame
I went to Emeril's restaurant in Vegas when he was really popular.
The waiter was a huge jerk. I'd been a server for a few years at that point and know how it goes some days, but this guy definitely had an arrogance about him that we didn't belong or something.
I ordered the Ahi Tuna salad. He responded, "That's it? That's all you're getting?" in a very snobbish way.
Well. Yeah. It was $28.
Even now that's relatively expensive, yet alone a decade or so ago.
What came out were four small pieces of tuna, a couple of snap peas, and some drizzled balsamic. No lettuce. Nothing else. Just that. Never again.
9. The waiting game
Ordered take out from a nearby pizzeria, showed up 15 minutes later and the guy at the counter goes, "Oh, I'm so sorry, we forgot to make your order. Do you want to cancel or should we make it now? It'll be about 10 minutes."
I was still hungry so I asked them to make the order and I took off to wander around a nearby Best Buy for awhile. Came back a little while later, asked about my order and the same guy at the counter sheepishly goes, "It'll be another 10 minutes."
That time I stood there and waited for almost 20 minutes for my order. They took $2 off the $10 bill as an apology. Never went there again.
10. Uno, d'oh, tres
Went to a Mexican restaurant that was completely empty on a Saturday night. Highlights included:
Dust in the salsa.
Music cranked up so loud that the water on the table rippled.
An empty dancefloor, a DJ that came out, stared at us and counted to three in Spanish over and over again.
A toothless man wandering around near the cash register with a guitar just laughing to himself and spouting nonsense.
A pretty okay enchilada, though.
12. Sticky rice, stickier situation
Was eating at a Chinese restaurant where you order rice by the bowl. From the angle I was sitting I saw the waiters taking half uneaten bowls of rice and dumping them back into the rice cooker.
13. Joy ride
This wasn't the restaurant's fault, but it was the worst dining experience my husband and I have every had. We decided to go to a very nice steak house on a whim. Valet park the car and go in. Place our order, appetizers come out and are great.
We see the manager and the seating host going to every table, but they look very concerned; not the typical, "How's your meal?"
The manager gets out our table and he asks if we valet parked the car and we said yes. He then asks if it was a red Nissan. We said it was. He then asks us to follow him out front. We get outside and there's a cop car.
I'm thinking someone hit my car or something. NOPE! Two kids hopped in my car and took off.
Right from the valet. I was in total shock as this had never happened to me before and it was a broken-down 2004 Nissan!
The manager and head valet were falling over themselves apologizing. We got a free meal and they offered to pay for a cab. My husband goes inside to fill out some paperwork and I'm sitting outside in shock.
The cop pulls back up and said, "We got 'em!" We got to ride in the back of a cop car to pick up mine in the middle of the 'hood. Felt like the movie Date Night for a while.
At least we got a free meal and a good story out of it.
14. When life throws lemons at your head
I had a lemon thrown at me.
Well, actually, the lemon was thrown by a server at another server – his aim was off so it hit me instead.
15. Full of bologna
We got scammed at a fake restaurant in Bologna. I can't believe we fell for it.
The place got me by looking all bohemian and rustic, so of course you think it's a local place right? Plus it was off the beaten track. Usually these traps are right in a major tourist area.
Since it's right outside our bed and breakfast, I make a reservation. I should have known something was up when he wanted a deposit. If this happens to you in Italy, run, don't walk, towards the door.
The scam is that the owner's afraid that you'll hear the truth about the restaurant when you tell someone you are going there, and then you won't come for dinner.
Second warning sign: no prices anywhere. You are going to get hit with the "idiot tax." And we did.
We were served frozen entrees and old shellfish. I had the scariest spaghetti alle vongole ever — I swear the garlic was piled on to hide the stench of rotting clams.
My husband had an obviously frozen vegetable lasagna. The veggies for everything, including the antipasto, must have been weeks old.
The waiters were sweet as pie, because they know it's harder to complain when you're given a free drink here, a little extra dessert there. They also know that you are on vacation and don't want to cause a scene in a country where you don't know the rules, and that you don't want to ruin a nice evening.
Oh yeah, they also "don't speak English." Then you get the bill. It's going to be double or triple any other place. Maybe quadruple. And there is nothing you can do. You just pay the idiot tax and write a scathing review on TripAdvisor hoping that helps someone else.
16. A literal carry-out order
Ordered sides at a steakhouse.
Waitress: "Baked potato or fries?"
Me: "Fries please."
Waitress arrives with a baked potato.
Me: "Excuse me, I ordered fries."
Waitress: "No you did not!"
Me: "Yes I did."
Waitress: "Fine." Proceeds to grab the baked potato with her bare hands off my plate and takes it back to the kitchen.
We were in a restaurant we've gone to sporadically over the years. It's usually reasonably good. We're seated and our drink order is taken. I mention to the waitress that there's no silverware on the table, and she says, "Oh, no problem, I'll be right back."
She shows back up 10 minutes later to take our dinner order. We order, and I again mention the lack of silverware. "Oh, right, hang on". We don't see her again for 30 minutes. Drinks are empty, no silverware, nothing. Can't even find her in the restaurant.
After 30 minutes, she shows up again with our meals, both pasta dishes. She sets them down, and I again mention that we have no silverware, and can't eat our dinner. "Oh, I'm so sorry, hang on". She disappears again.
There's something horrible about being very hungry and staring at your meal while being unable to eat it. Stomach's rumbling, you're salivating, you're ready to dig in... but you can't.
After staring at our dinner for at least five minutes, I get up, go to the setup table and grab two full sets of silverware and napkins, and return to the table. We eat, waitress is MIA. Twenty minutes after we've finished our meals, still no waitress.
I get up and ask to see the manager. I tell her what happened and she accuses me of trying to steal the silverware. Blew my mind.
The servers and managers respond
We've heard the worst of the worst from customers, but it takes two to tango. Here are [number] of stories from restaurant servers and managers about the craziest customer demands they've ever witnessed.
1. Hats off to you
I've always hated the Red Hat Ladies. They are a group of ladies that come in wearing red hats. Parties of 15 or more.
They all want their bill split and all pay with 50 or 100 dollar bills. Their total is usually less than $20 per person because they order water and a side salad.
Now, this wouldn't be so bad except they start complaining when their change doesn't come in time. Ladies, I'm not a freaking bank. I don't have $200 in ones and coins sitting in my small apron. Neither does my bartender. And it's not like they're not busy too. If you want to leave earlier, use your debit card.
On top of that, they always leave a $2 tip. So generous, thank you. I hope you drop your vibrant red hat in a pile of dog doo.
2. Beyond rude
He called me an illiterate Mexican and threatened to call immigration. His wife said I should learn English. She said that I should hop back over the fence with “my people.”
I'm half Filipino and half Irish. I was born in Florida and only speak English.
3. Ignorance is not bliss
I can’t stand patrons that don't acknowledge you at all.
Like when I ask if they want anything to drink other than water. Or if they are doing okay. Or if they would like a box to go.
4. The mayo lady
I worked at a Beef O' Brady's while going to college. We served a chicken sandwich, which is really just a fancy McChicken.
This lady and her family order and she requests extra mayo — no big deal.
Since it's slow the order comes out fairly quickly and before I can put the rest of the baskets down she's already complaining about not getting extra mayo. There was already a side container of mayo on her basket, plus the mayo on her sandwich, but she wanted more.
I apologized and grabbed another two plastic cups of mayo. Before I can even set the cups down she responds with, "Are you deaf?! I WANTED MORE MAYO."
I'm a little taken back and frankly a bit annoyed since she now has three 2oz cups of mayo, including what's on her sandwich.
She has me call my manager over and berates me.
My manager has me grab one of the soup bowls and fills it with mayo. This is easily a cup of pure mayonnaise, plus what is already on the table. I drop it off at her table and ask if there is anything else I can get them. Her response was, "Now you're just being a jerk."
She wolfs down her sandwich and every drop of mayonnaise. I am not exaggerating when I say she consumed over a cup of mayonnaise for a chicken sandwich.
They quickly pay and bolt before I could come back around the corner. They left me a $0.27 tip.
The upside is a regular couple of mine saw what was going on and rightly assumed they would stiff me, so they made up for them. Greatest couple I ever served, but that's a different story for a different time.
5. The mayo man
I met the male equivalent of the mayo lady.
During the lunch rush, this guy comes in and orders a turkey sandwich with "extra extra mayo."
I loaded him up with mayo, but this guy kept sending it back — more, more, more.
By the end of it there was so much mayonnaise on this sandwich that I couldn't cut it in half without the bread just slipping and squirting all over the place.
I wrap the sandwich and ring it up.
He pays, then unwraps the sandwich, looks inside, and just LOBS the thing at me.
“You moron! I said extra mayo!”
I dodged it (barely), and he stormed out in a huff. The manager rushed back to see what happened.
My coworker was able to back up my story, so she grabbed the sandwich off the ground, rushed out to the parking lot, and open-face slammed the unholy thing right onto the hood of his car.
6. Tipped off
I had a guy put a $20 on the table when I came to greet him. He said, "This is your tip. However, every time you do something wrong, I will remove a dollar."
I thought he was joking, so I chuckled and asked, "like what?"
He takes the $20 off the table and replaces it with exactly $19. Who carries enough bills to do that? He responds with: "Like that."
7. The disappearing tip
Working Christmas Day at my restaurant. Towards the end of the night I collect a paid bill from a table.
It's an older man paying for his family. He hands me the billfold, smiling, and there's a $10 on top.
He says, "I won't be needing any change." I'm thinking that ten bucks isn't the best tip on a $170 bill, but it’s Christmas so I’m a little more forgiving.
I get up to the cash and start counting all the money when I realize that the jerk gave me perfect change, including the $10 on top! He just wanted look so generous in front of his family, the crafty mofo. Well played, but I was so annoyed at the time.
8. Keep your coolth
My favourite was a woman who frantically waved me over one lunch service. It was a fairly hot summer day. The conversation went like this:
Me: Hi, can I help you?
Her: Yes, we need some coolth.
Me: I'm sorry?
Her: WE NEED SOME COOLTH IN HERE.
Me: I'm sorry, I don't know...
Her: COOLTH. COOLTH. THE OPPOSITE OF WARMTH. DO YOU EVEN SPEAK ENGLISH?
This was in Australia. I'm Australian. I speak Engligh.
Blasted 18 degrees Celsius cold air directly on her for the rest of her meal.
9. Miserly mom
My first job was at Waffle House. My parents came in during breakfast to give me some support and see how I was doing.
It was their first time coming to visit, but they picked probably the busiest time of the morning — every table in my section was full and I had only been on the job a few weeks so I was still a little daunted.
My mother stiffed me on a tip because I didn't refill her coffee fast enough for her liking. She thought it was hilarious. I didn't speak to her for a week. She has never stiffed a server since.
10. Diner or diaper?
I bartend at a hotel restaurant. We had a family staying for a few days, (a couple in their late 20s and their two young children).
The adults order round after round of drinks one evening, letting their children run wild. Then proceeded to change an infant’s diaper on the table. THE TABLE. With other guests around trying to enjoy their dinner.
11. Well fed (fed up, that is)
I used to be a chef in a decent restaurant in a small town. We used to get this retired doctor in every week and he'd complain every single time, and not once did he ever have a legitimate complaint.
This went on for about a year until the head chef/owner lost it, and went out and told him to go stick it where the sun don’t shine and banned him in front of the entire restaurant.
It was brilliant.
12. Allergic to common sense
I was working as a server at a well known chain that serves Sunday brunch.
I was working out on the patio and a couple comes in. Before I am even at the table, she tells me that I need to go back inside and get the kitchen manager because she has allergies.
Her husband orders normally and she decides to order the steak and eggs. But she wants egg whites. It can't be the egg whites from the container though — they have to be fresh egg whites because she is allergic to preservatives.
She was also allergic to salt, pepper, shellfish, egg yolks, gluten, peanuts and a whole bunch more. She expected our kitchen manager to clean an area of the kitchen to cook her brunch.
She ordered toast with her breakfast (despite her supposed gluten allergy) and said that once I brought it out, she’d know whether or not she could eat it.
She ate it all, and then accused me of trying to kill her. My manager had to come out and comp the whole meal. Then the lady had the audacity to tell me, "It's okay, I guess I just have to go home and take some Benadryl because you brought me out that bread."
13. Salad days are over
I personally feel my brain melting a little inside every time I take salad orders. I work at a restaurant that includes a salad or soup in the price of the meal, and there are three salads to choose from.
I ask "salad or soup" (learned not to say "soup or salad" so I don’t have to hear that inane “super salad” joke) and when a person replies, “salad”, I list our three dressings.
Inevitably, every night some dolt after hearing, "Would you like creamy parmesan, Italian or Caesar dressing?" they respond, "RANCH!" and hand me their menu. Then I have to explain that no, we really don't have your bloody Hidden Valley.
God people, listen!
14. Gave her a pizza my mind
I worked at a pizza place. This woman decides to get a calzone with no mozzarella or ricotta filling, just pepperoni and sauce. That's a weird request, but okay.
Calzones take a long time to make, and when it finally comes out she says, "Is that parmesan on top? I can't eat this. I'm allergic to cheese."
Why didn't you say that before?!
The menu says that calzones come with a dusting of parmesan and oregano, you'd think someone allergic to cheese would catch that. Even more annoying, you came to a pizza restaurant and expect no cheese to touch your plate? Everything has cheese! The salads, appetizers, pizzas, pastas, and cannolis are made with cheese.
15. Miss miffed
Personally, as a female waitress when any female/male couple comes in, I pay more attention to the female for less drama.
One day a couple comes in, both early 20's, they sit across from each other and I'm pretty sure it's their first date.
While I'm talking I am looking at the girl unless specifically asking the guy something, not once since she has been seated does she look at me. When they're leaving I hear her say, "Well that was rude. I'm pretty sure our waitress didn't even speak to me once, she was talking to you the whole time."
I had a customer demand her meal comped because her pancakes were "too round."
17. Empty stomach, empty head
When I was a server, I once had someone come in, order a meal, not eat it...
Then want it for free, "because I'm not hungry."
18. Running circles around her
In high school I worked at a regional franchise and the guy who trained me on drive-thru was the owner of that store.
While he was taking someone's order he missed an item, so when they came back through he offered the woman the item he missed for free. That wasn’t good enough. She wanted the whole meal refunded.
He refused and she demanded to see the manager. His reply was to say, "Sure! Let me get him for you." He turned around in a full circle before saying, "Hi! I'm the manager."
She flipped and demanded to see the store manager so he repeated his little circle-turn routine and she went nuts, demanding to speak to someone above him.
He replied, "Well the owner is here, I can get him." Turned one last circle, leaned out the window and said "Hi, I'm the owner. Get out of my drive-thru."
19. Finger food
A woman found a black-and-white-striped fingernail in her salad.
She had the other nine of them on her hands.
I waited tables at a place that had a buffet on Fridays. A lady comes in with her twin sons and they all eat at the buffet.
When I bring her the check she flips out on me because I didn't charge her for two "child buffets." I tell her that the cut off age is ten years old. She says her kids are ten exactly.
I point out that:
- her kids are wearing their high school varsity football jerseys and
- I knew they were seniors in high school because I WENT TO THEIR SCHOOL.
She called me a liar, then she tried to name drop the owner's names, but got them completely wrong. She asked to speak to the manager, so I got the manager from the office, who happened to be the owner's daughter.
She pulled the whole, "I am close family friend of the owners" and botched their names again. The manager just said "Well, you're at the wrong restaurant, because no one by that name owns this place and I am the owner's daughter, and I've never seen you in my life."
The lady just gave a, "Well, I never..." and wrote a check. Which bounced.
21. Secret society discount
A woman came into my restaurant and said, "I'm a Best Buy manager now, so you have to give me the manager discount here."
It took 5 minutes of explaining to her that manager discounts only apply at places where you work. She thought it was a secret club discount for upper division employees all over the country.