Servers truly are the real heroes. No matter how terrible a customer is to them, these brave souls have to smile and ask them for their order. That said, the people in these stories were pushed to their breaking point by some truly atrocious customers. Be sure to give that waiter or waitress a generous tip; ya never know how much they've been through. This content was edited for clarity.
"So last night was probably the busiest night we’ve had for at least a week. This particular couple had me FUMING beyond belief during our peak hour of the night.
The front lobby was packed with guests waiting for a table while reservations were being seated as soon as possible. The hostesses have a system on an iPad to let all managers know which guest is seated where, how long they’ve stayed, etc.
I was bussing a table at my section when I overhear one of the hostesses try to speak to a pair at my section a booth over. This couple walked in to the restaurant, saw the amount of people waiting for a table, and decided to seat themselves with NO reservation. They also sat at a dirty table, and here I’m thinking, 'are these people for real?'
Hostess: 'Excuse me sir? You didn’t come up to the host stand in order for us to find out what reservation you had?'
Man: 'We don’t have reservations. Someone needs to clean this messy table.”
Hostess: 'I’m sorry sir, but if you don’t have a reservation, the wait is going to be an hour. Someone has already requested this booth by the fireplace, and they need to be seated.'
Man: 'We don’t care about reservations. We’re hungry, and we’re going to eat. Get someone to clean our stupid table! I’m not asking a third time!'
After that failure, the hostess looked at me pretty shaken up. She never dealt with any guests THAT rude and upfront before so it was understandable. With my Latina blood boiling, I went over to the terrible couple.
Me: 'This is my section, and after hearing that conversation, you both have no right to be served. There’s a family waiting for this table, and I’m going to ask you to leave. Unless you want me to get a manager to remove you.'
The couple squawked at me, demanding I get them drinks while I went straight to my manager who saw what had already happened with the hostess. The couple was taken out and were told that they weren’t welcome back."
"One of my favorite coworkers is a woman who's been serving for over 30 years. She's not well liked by many because she's meaner than a bag of piranhas, but if you can fire back (and do your job right), she'll respect you and be your best friend.
She told me a story today from back in the '80s when she started. She saw this guy come in wearing a real nice suit, and she watches him take the cash someone left as a tip, right off of the table as she's going back into the kitchen.
She walked up to him and said, 'I saw you take that. I want that money back on the table when I get back out here.' She returns to the floor after a minute holding a pitcher of water. Lo and behold, the money isn't there.
As she passes the table, she 'trips' and dumps this pitcher of ice water all over this guy in his nice suit (in the middle of a Michigan winter). She goes into a fake bout of apologetics. 'Oh my goodness I'm so sorry sir! I'm so sorry!'
She leans in and whispers, 'I'll be back in a minute with the coffee you pathetic turd.'
She comes out a minute later, coffee pot in hand, to find that her money has mysteriously reappeared."
"I had three guys come in that looked about my age. When they sat down, I greeted them and then asked them how many shots they were going to be buying tonight. They were fairly loud and seemed in a good mood, and I said that mostly to be funny. The last guy told me he would need a few shots if I was going to be his server. I chuckled and thought we were joking, so I went and got their drinks.
They ordered their food, a few more drinks, and they said it would all be one check tonight.
I went to pick up their credit card receipt, and there was $0 in the tip line. Ok, maybe they’ll leave cash, no big deal. But as I am thanking them for coming in, one of the guys interrupts me.
He tells me that I probably noticed he didn’t tip me. I am honestly kind of embarrassed to be having this conversation, and I was flustered, so I just replied with something like, 'Oh, that’s okay, have a nice night.'
He then proceeded to tell me, 'I didn’t really feel like shelling out an extra 20 bucks for you, because no offense, but you could step it up a bit. All the other waitresses in here are very cute and earn their tips. You should try putting on more make up or going to a gym. I am just being honest with you, if a guy was into you, he’d tip you better.'
I was so mortified I didn’t even say anything. I could feel my face turning red, while every guy at that table stared at me. Nobody said anything."
"The pub I worked at was close to a major city, so we also got a lot of arrogant businessmen commuting from the 'burbs. This particular night we had been pretty slammed, and so closing down was taking a while. We called last orders and gave everyone the twenty-minute warning to drink up and leave. This one group ordered a round for last orders, knowing that they’d have twenty minutes to drink them. This one guy, we'll call him Jeff, ordered a pint.
So we merrily go about cleaning up and we notice that it's been half an hour since last orders, and this group hasn’t left yet. Jeff still has most of his pint as well. We give them a quick heads up that they really need to leave, as we’re almost done and will be locking up soon. We’re super polite and they all nod and apologize. All good.
FORTY FIVE minutes after last orders, and the group is still there. Jeff still has most of his pint. I walk over and start apologizing, but they need to leave now, as we are closing up.
Jeff: 'But I haven’t finished the pint I paid for. You can’t just serve us and then kick us out when we haven’t finished.'
Me: 'All due respect, but we gave you plenty of notice and have actually given you more time than we should have to finish up.'
Jeff: 'Why are they still allowed here? (pointing to our coworkers)'
Me: 'They work here and are helping with shutting the place up, we were a bit understaffed.'
Jeff: 'Well I’m not leaving if you’re not telling them to leave too.'
By this point his friends are clearly uncomfortable and are trying to get him to leave, and he is belligerently refusing because he hasn’t finished his pint.
Jeff: 'I tell you what, if you won’t let me finish my drink, this is what I’m going to do with it!'
He then pours the nearly full pint over my head.
I wish I could say I dodged the stream and roundhouse kicked him in the throat, but I think I was too shocked from someone being this appalling, and I sort of just stood there. He put the glass down and laughed, and then realized none of his friends were laughing and sort of booked it out of there.
He didn’t get very far because he didn’t anticipate my battle axe of a colleague chasing him out of the pub and down the street. I have an image of her dragging him back by his ear, but I think that’s wishful elaborating on my imagination’s part. But she did drag him back and informed him he was barred for life, and to go die in a hole."
"It was my first day at a pizza restaurant. Things were moving pretty fast, but I was doing surprisingly well. I will never forget this couple that came in and sat down at table 24. They were an old couple. I’m talking both gray haired and over dressed to be at a pizza restaurant. I will say I did give them excellent service despite my anxieties of starting a new job. I felt great about handling all of my tables, until I did mess up.
The man at table 24 handed me his card to pay the bill. I go to the computer and swipe his card. Admittedly, I forgot to print out the itemized receipt, which I get can be very frustrating. Man at table 24 had every right to be upset. But instead of asking me to grab the itemized receipt, he began to LOUDLY, with a deep and firm tone, tell me how horrible I am at my job. That no wonder I only got as far in life as working at a pizza shop. He kept going on with these TERRIBLE comments and wouldn’t let me walk away when I tried.
So now all of my other tables just saw me get ripped a new one, and I’m in trouble after wasting time getting yelled at by this guy. The owner of the restaurant must have come in at some point. He saw this man yelling at me, came up to the table and did the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.
Owner: 'Excuse me sir,' he says to the man at table 24. 'I am the owner of this establishment. I’m not sure what the problem is here and frankly, I don’t care. What I do care about is you belittling my waitress. So I’m going to ask you and your wife to leave and not come back to my restaurant.'
Man at table 24: 'Fine but you’ll be losing our business.'
Owner: 'I really don’t care, and I don’t want people like you in my restaurant anyway.'
The owner STOOD THERE AND WAITED for these people to leave. It was so awesome.
After they left, the owner came up to me and said, 'Forget those people. You’re doing a great job, and I wouldn’t have hired you if you didn’t show potential. If anyone else talks to you like that I want you to tell them to get out. I don’t want their money.'
Coolest. Boss. Ever."
"It was a group of middle-aged guys. They’re regulars, but they’re so annoying, and they always ask for the hottest server. As a host, i usually just sit them with whoever.
The last time they came in, I sat them with 'D,' a really sweet black girl who happens to be one of our best servers. They were FURIOUS. They never said anything to me or a manager, but they claimed everything was wrong. The food was too cold. The drinks were flat. She was way too slow. She was rude. They left a 25¢ tip and left not long after.
This time, they specified they wanted a hot WHITE server. I said, 'Okay!' and with a smile, I walked them over to their table.
I specifically sat them with the only male server, a tall, black, bodybuilder who towered over all of them. He’s a really cool guy, but he can be slightly intimidating to people that don’t know him just due to his stature.
They never said a word."
"I’m a full time student getting my PhD at age 30, and I work full-time as a server, I’ve been working at this Greek bistro for the greatest people for almost 15 years now. I started bussing at almost 16 and I’m now a manager.
So a few months ago it’s around six and one of our regulars, I’ll call him Andy, comes in. Andy is a friendly regular who works at a mattress store and always comes in for lunch. Andy shows up after work with a woman who’s maybe a good ten or so years older than him. It’s obvious they're on a date. So we make a fuss over him, the owner's wife gets him our best table, and we bring them a complimentary glass of bubbly.
He orders our platter of meat and she orders a vegetarian platter. They are eating and I hear her gasp.
Andy’s face is blue and his hands are over his throat. So I go over and I give him the Heimlich while the owner calls 911.
I’m giving him back blows when his date whacks me with her purse. 'Your hurting him! I took first aid and that’s not right!'
She’s screaming in my face. He’s still choking, the owner pulls her away from me she’s screaming still. Andy’s piece of steak goes flying, and he’s able to breathe. The paramedics are there and she’s telling them I hurt him. The paramedics tell her I saved his life.
They end up taking Andy in because he was wheezing a bit. She throws me a dirty look and follows them out.
Two days later Andy comes in for lunch with his co-worker, and he thanks me over and over. Then he tells me that was the first and last date with that woman. He brought his newest girlfriend in yesterday. She loved the restaurant, and best of all, she’s nice."
"So I was serving a family, and the parents were clearly in their 50s or 60s, with their kids in their mid-20s. When ordering an adult beverage, I carded the kids but not the parents. The mom pipes up with the whole, 'Hey I don't look that old, why didn't you card me?!'
I respond with, 'Okay, let me see your ID, then.'
As it turns out, mommy dearest left her wallet at home. I inform her that, unfortunately, once requested, I am legally not allowed to serve her adult drinks unless she produces a valid ID.
Obviously, she's FURIOUS about this, so I send the manager over to confirm with her that I am not allowed to serve her. It almost goes without saying that I didn't receive a tip, but hopefully this idiot learned something today."
"I waited tables during college and this is one of the best memories I have of my manager handling a rude guest.
One of my tables was a gay couple at a booth. They were holding hands across the table basically the whole time they were at the restaurant. At one point, a lady with two small children flags me down from across the dining room (her table wasn’t in my section so I assumed she just wanted me to go find her server).
I go over and ask her what I can do for her, and she says, 'What the is wrong with you? How can you possibly allow THEM in here? I’ve been coming here for 20 years and I’m appalled that they’d let these sort of people eat here. Do me a favor and move THEM to a different table so my kids don’t have to see that sort of disgusting behavior.'
Literally all they were doing was holding hands. Get over yourself lady. I wanted to tell her off for being so intolerant, but instead just said, 'One moment ma’am and I’ll get a manager for you.'
I went and told my manager what was going on and he promptly went over to her table. He told her that if she had an issue with other guests minding their own business and eating their food, then maybe she’d be better off not eating out. She grabbed her kids and left without ordering."
"I work at an upscale restaurant attached to a large convention center. We recently hosted a convention for a multi-level marketing (pyramid scheme) women’s clothing company. I’ve never seen so many Karen’s in one place. Not just figuratively, but literally; it wasn’t uncommon to have two actual 'Karens' seated at one table together. This is a particularly dangerous situation as this multiplies the Karen Effect exponentially.
The two primary Karen drinks of choice are typically either a cosmo or chardonnay; it is from these potions that they derive their evil powers. Well, needless to say, the cosmos and chardonnay were flowing like water. The bar started to mix 4-6 cosmos at once and pop multiple bottles of chard simultaneously, just to keep up with the frenzied demand. Trouble was clearly brewing. This was the recipe for disaster.
As the Karens began to migrate from the bar to their respective tables for dinner service, the orders started coming in to the kitchen. Naturally, everything was special ordered to accommodate their litany of dietary issues and whatever fad diets they were currently participating in; keto, paleo, macro, vegan, take your pick.
This is a trap. Special orders take extra time, are more difficult to accurately execute and bog down the flow of the kitchen, and they increase prep times. This is exactly what the Karens want to happen. They were setting up the attack. Little did they know that we were ready and waiting for them. We had called in the cavalry and manned the lines twice as deep. You could see the looks of confusion and dismay on their faces when their orders came out correctly and on time. We had neutralized the Karens.
The night was drawing to an end, before one particularly evil and vile table of Karens came in just before close; no doubt these were pros, not to be taken lightly. Coming from the bar they immediately notified me (their server) upon sitting that they were very upset. Right out of the gate they put me on defense. Inquiring as to the problem they notified me that they were offended that the bar didn’t try to up-sell them from the two glasses of chardonnay to a whole bottle.
This was a new move. I hadn’t seen this one before. Being 'offended' because someone gave you exactly what you asked for? Brava. I was not prepared for this expert tactic. But before I could offer a solution the Mecha-Karen dropped the mother of all Karen bombs:
'I don’t understand why the bartender didn’t offer us a bottle, instead. I just wanted you to know that we feel very assaulted.'
Wait, what? Very assaulted? VERY assaulted?!
I was floored. I’ve seen some horrendous Karen moves before, but this was the most outrageous and disgusting I’ve ever encountered. That’s not the term you use because you paid $12 more for your drink by ordering multiple individual glasses, instead of ordering a bottle in the first place. You don’t throw that word around. That’s on you Karen. Not even knowing how to respond to that, and being short for words for one of the only times in my life, all I could muster was:
'Well that’s certainly very strong verbiage. I’ll give you some more time to look over the menu.'
I left the table and immediately went to the manager. Explaining what just transpired, I flatly told the manager that I was not comfortable waiting on a guest who was not only apparently wasted to some degree, but one that would also use such inappropriate language so casually. Shockingly the manager agreed. She went to the table and let them know that they were welcome to place an order for food through her, but would not be served any more drinks at that point. They thought they were pulling the mother of all power moves, but in reality they had overplayed their hand and crossed the line.
The Karens knew they had been defeated."
"I tend bar while working a day shift. We aren’t a restaurant known for takeout, but we allow it and are set up through the various service apps. Had a delivery order in the middle of lunch hour, and I eventually had a driver brusquely walk in and act a little aggressive when announcing himself. I had the order ready, so I asked him to verify what he was picking up.
He raised his voice, 'It’s for [name], what’s the name say?'
We don’t get a name. I told him that I didn’t have one, so I just needed him to tell me what was on the order. I’ve seen them check this dozens of times. It’s usually not inconvenient.
Again, louder. 'What’s the name say!? Are those the wings!?'
It was three items together. None were wings. I repeated that I didn’t have a name and told him that we didn’t have an order for wings.
He got angry. 'Are those the wings!?'
I explained again that they weren’t wings, showed him that I had three items together, and asked him to clarify what order he was looking for.
At this point, he snapped, and started screaming at the top of his lungs. 'CAN I GET ANY SERVICE!?'
The bar fell silent. I put the food down and told him to leave. He continued shouting. 'FINE, I’LL LEAVE THEN!'
He continued causing a scene as he made for the door. I told him he needed to get out immediately or I’d call the police. 'WHAT’S IT LOOK LIKE I’M DOING! CALL THE POLICE, THEN!'
Then he spit on the floor, slammed the door open, and stormed off. Bar stayed silent for a few more seconds before people returned to their meals.
Not two minutes later, another driver showed up, verified the order, and left without issue in under a minute."
"I worked at a franchise of a chain of 24-hour restaurants that are notorious for cheap breakfasts and poor service. Big yellow sign with red letters.
I really, truly loved waiting tables and making people's lives a little more pleasant, at least while they were in my section. One of these people was a really pleasant, jovial man and his horrible, nasty wife. She was the kind of woman who got off on being terrible and making other people's lives miserable. I was warned about this couple when they came in, but I had never waited on them before, so I wasn't sure exactly what to expect. I was told that she had a habit of complaining endlessly about everything, demanding to speak to the manager every time they came in and berating the servers and cooks at every turn. The husband (who often came in by himself) was the opposite: friendly, good-natured, well-liked.
As soon as they were seated, before I could even get their drink orders, the husband got up from the booth and walked outside for a few minutes, leaving me alone with the wife. I put on my best cheerful face and greeted her. She refused to make eye contact with me and instead scowled and snarled, 'You would think that, with as much money as we spend here, you people would know what we like to drink! Why do we have to keep going through this? I want ICED TEA, NO LEMON!'
She didn't tell me what the husband wanted, and I didn't ask. I was just so taken aback by the anger straight out of the gate that I just turned on my heels and walked away.I poured her an iced tea (NO LEMON) and brought it back to her. Before I could even set it down, she snapped, 'I already know what I want to eat, and we're in a HURRY!' (bear in mind that the husband is still outside).
I took her order, still trying to be pleasant, and before I could walk away she snarled, 'and the last time you people brought the food out, it was COLD! I do NOT want cold food! And I want EXTRA CHEESE on my scrambled eggs! And SALSA!' Her voice seemed to drip with more and more anger with every word she spat out.
As I was ringing up the order, I thought of a thousand things I wanted to do, then I hit up on an idea. Instead of getting back at her, I was going to not only go out of my way to make her meal as perfect and delicious as possible, but I was going to embarrass her as well. I made sure everything was perfect: piping hot, lots and lots of cheese on the eggs, fresh salsa warmed up to room temperature. By the time the meal was ready, the husband had returned to the table and was happily chatting with one of the servers.
I mustered up my best scared/sad face as I brought out the food to her. As I sat it down, I started to tear up, just a little, and expressed in gushing, flowery terms how sorry I was for how badly she was treated the last time she was here, and how hard I worked to make sure the food was absolutely 100% according to her specifications, and that I felt SO BAD for how she was treated the last time she was here, that I was going to pay for her meal out of my tips and how I hoped that she would be willing to accept my apology on behalf of the whole restaurant for her miserable experience.
I really laid it on as thickly and sweetly as I could.
Her husband, who was happy and smiling and cheerful just seconds ago, stared her down with a sick, horrid look, his face turning bright red. She was MORTIFIED, her face turning equally red. She hung her head and said, 'Um, okay.'
I asked her if everything was to her satisfaction this time, and if it wasn't, I would rectify it immediately. She stared at her plate, pushed it around a bit, and said, 'Um, yeah,'. The husband is staring her down, clenching his jaw. He politely ordered his meal and as I was walking away, I heard him hiss at her, 'What did you say to her? What did you DO?'
She was silent and sulking for the rest of the meal, and he was polite but not overly chatty. When they were finished, she stormed out before he even left the table, head hung. He apologized profusely to me for how she had acted and left a generous tip on top of paying the tab. To the best of my recollection, she never acted like terribly to any of us ever again."