The Blabby Waiter

by admin on April 11, 2011

I took my mother out to a local chain restaurant tonight. We both like the food and we’ve been there before and never had any issues with the service. So this story is not about our waiter but the waiter at the booth behind us. He’s apparently a talker and likes to share personal stories with his customers. Not a problem, a lot of people like the personal touch. I personally don’t need to know my waiters’ life story, I only care about courteous service and getting what I order.  However, this gentleman was a sharer, as I mentioned. He was also loud, which is how I can relate the following.

He was telling his new customers stories about his children before they ordered. One of them got steak so when he delivered the food he began to tell a story about how he had one customer who ordered a steak done in a particular way that apparently he thought was incorrect, so when he delivered that customers’ steak he made a joke about their preference. That customer did not think it was funny, so he bragged that when the customer brandished their steak knife at him he went back into the kitchen and told the restaurant owner that he had an upset customer. The restaurant owner talked to the customer and then told the waiter that the customer was getting a free meal. The owner also had another waiter take over that table and told this waiter to stay in the kitchen until the customer left.

This waiters’ current customers apparently responded that they didn’t understand what was so upsetting about the joke he told. Encouraged, he went on to tell another story about another customer that he did basically the same thing to, including the owner having to give that customer a free meal as well. Then he went on to say that his personal philosophy was that he didn’t like stupidity or people with no sense of humor so his preferred method was to mock that person so that the other people seated with that person laughed at them.

My mother and I were shocked and appalled at this point and left. All the way home my mother talked about how inappropriate that behavior was. I only marvel that the waiter is still employed. How many free meals does the owner have to give out on that waiters’ behalf before he tells the waiter that he shouldn’t talk to customers like that? And the whole time he was talking his current customers were eating and being forced to listen when they should have been able to talk to each other. I wonder if they tipped him? 0411-11

I really dislike waitstaff who interact with me, the customer, in what I describe as a faux  friendly intimacy.  It tends to lubricate their mouths excessively and I am sometimes placed in an awkward situation where my food is staring at me invitingly but I have to pretend to listen to a chatty waiter who won’t leave me in peace to eat it.  I nod and don’t look directly at him or her while concentrating on the food before me in order  to send those lovely non-verbal signals that any normal person would understand to mean, “I’m busy.  Go away.”

And just a hint to other blabby waitstaff, if I and my husband are eating and leaning into each other across the table to talk with each other, that is a certain non-verbal clue that we really don’t want you interjecting into the conversation every 3 minutes asking us how the food is or telling me some story about your life.

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Just Laura April 11, 2011 at 8:47 am

I agree with the OP and admin. While I realize that waitstaff are people too, when I am paying for the restaurant experience, please be as unobtrusive as possible. Be friendly, but don’t initiate a conversation with me. I don’t go on about my life to clients where I work.

In addition, as a person who is extremely sensitive to how my steak is done (I want a good vet to be able to bring it back), I don’t know that I could have just smiled when my preference was mocked.


samihami April 11, 2011 at 8:55 am

Ugh. I hate that as well. I’m not there to make a new best friend; I’m there to enjoy a meal with the person I’m dining with. I’m all for being friendly, and a moment of chit-chat can be pleasant, as long as it’s only a minute. I don’t need to know the servers’ entire life story.

I had the perfect waiter just a week or two ago. He was knowledgeable, efficient, anticipated our needs, not intrusive-yet attentive and clearly paid attention to our cues. I think being a good server (which I admittedly have never been) means that you should be able to read basic body English and able to exercise good judgement when dealing with customers-let the customer set the tone.


Michelle P April 11, 2011 at 9:08 am

Totally agree with admin and the OP, but that waiter sounds like he’s doing worse than just being overly chitchatty.

Once, I had the flu when I was a teenager, and my family was going out to eat and I had to come along. The waitress stood at our table and talked the entire time we were there. Not only did we want to eat, but I was sick and didn’t need someone in my face. To be fair, my mother is a talkative type and did initiate the conversation, but after a few minutes it was clear we wanted to eat. We were finished eating and walking out the door before she left us alone! Side note-got home and barfed it all up in the ditch outside.
Another time, my husband and I were on our honeymoon, and the waiter where we went the first night would not leave us alone. If he had been funny that would have been different, but he was complaining about his job. He sat down in the booth with us at one point! We were young at the time and didn’t say anything, but he finally left us alone halfway through. Good grief.


David April 11, 2011 at 9:15 am

Once at a restaurant, the waiter came up behind us, bent over at the waist and thrust his head between us while we were talking.

Since we had been leaning in a bit in order to speak quietly, the net effect was one person almost getting a mouthful of waiter hair while the other almost got a mouthful of waiter nose. He thought he was being very friendly. We literally (in the true meaning of the word) were unable to speak more than three complete sentences to each other before he was back at our table trying to sell us something.

I’ve never been back to that restaurant in the fifteen years since that happened.


Michelle April 11, 2011 at 9:21 am

Once when my then-bf took me out to dinner, we had a waiter actually sit down in the booth with us while telling us about the specials and taking our order. I was so shocked, I said nothing. I guess I could have asked him to please get out of my seat. Or asked for the manager.


Xtina April 11, 2011 at 9:32 am

A good waiter is a whiz at picking up on body language and verbal cues; if they are observant, it is not hard to pick the skill up over time as they do their job. I, too, dislike it when waiters are too chatty, especially at the wrong times (please put my food order in quickly and don’t hang around too long when you bring my food out), but I do like to converse with the waiter and enjoy a short chat when the time is right. Also, a savvy waiter can be quite helpful when you are traveling—it’s always good to get the perspective of a local.

The waiter in this story must be extremely dense not to realize that he needs to filter what’s coming out of his mouth—he’s obviously rubbing customers the wrong way, and management isn’t going to keep him around too long if he doesn’t change his ways!


Marlene April 11, 2011 at 9:33 am

I don’t understand the waiter’s tactics; how does getting the person a free meal aid in making that person look stupid?


--Lia April 11, 2011 at 9:43 am

I’d like to know what the joke was that some found offensive and others didn’t. That doesn’t change anything about the service and how some people must like intrusive waitstaff, but it would shed some light on to what sort of personality we’re dealing with.

The manager might give some supervision and advice on what good customer service consists of. I know that at some restaurants the waitstaff is supposed to check back with each table every few minutes and is supposed to speak every time they come to the table. Even if they’re only filling the water an inch, and if they’re interrupting a conversation, they’re supposed to speak. I avoid those restaurants, though I’ve had friends who seem to like them. It seems to me that after the first comped meal, the management might have supplied some guidelines about what sorts of stories and jokes are appropriate.


Allie April 11, 2011 at 9:53 am

I have recently encountered this problem. A coworker of mine discovered a wonderful little gourmet sandwich place near our work. The sandwiches and soups are all homemade, delicious and reasonably priced, but the owner could talk the hind leg off a mule. To make matters worse, she can’t seem to multitask, as in ring in your order and take your money, while she is talking. My coworkers and I are wracking our brains to think of a nice way gently to tell her that her chattering is over the top and may be hurting her business. Any suggestions would be welcomed.


ashley April 11, 2011 at 10:13 am

I don’t like my preferances mocked either so I can completely see how his “jokes” could be taken offensively. He might say that they should have a sense of humor, but his customers should have told him to get a sense of etiquette! Also like the OP I have to marvel at how this guy still has his job as well. I mean I can see how the restaurant owner might have excused the behavior the first time and expected the waiter to learn from the mistake. However I don’t see how the owner could have excused it if it happened a second time, thats just odd to keep an employee who mocks your customers and costs you money by having to give away free food.


Louise April 11, 2011 at 10:14 am

I think it’s ironic that a waiter who claims to dislike stupidity acts like such a moron.


Mippa April 11, 2011 at 10:14 am

I am inclined to agree, but I would go so far as to say that this entire ‘over-friendly waitstaff’ issue is almost non-existent in the other countries I have visited. Why? The absence of the horrible tipping system. If we did away with that, there’d be no reason for waitstaff to essentially throw themselves at the mercy of the patrons to make even minimum wage.


Serenity April 11, 2011 at 10:22 am

While I can understand it being bothersome if a server did that to you, it wasn’t done to you….it was done to the persons sitting behind you. I think you’re making a big assumption by saying his customers were being ‘forced’ to listen. As said, being a good server means having to read body cues, etc., it’s quite possible the persons he was interacting with were giving the signals that they wanted him to continue talking. While I agree that it’s inappropriate to talk disrespectfully about other guests where you can be overheard, it is also not up to you to dictate someone’s conversation that you’re not involved in.


Maitri April 11, 2011 at 10:34 am

I dislike when people think that their personality is the only one that is “right” and so they try to enforce it onto other people.

At a previous job, I had to navigate heavy traffic to get to work and so was often grumpy and stressed out when I arrived. I would walk in and the security guard at the front desk would greet me with a happy chirpy “Good morning, how are you?” I would smile and nod and go about my day, but wouldn’t verbally respond. Eventually I tried wearing headphones so he wouldn’t expect me to answer, but he still said the same thing. Finally one day he said it and I smiled and nodded, wearing my headphones, and he loudly said right by my ear as I was signing in, “I’m great, thanks for asking!” I whipped off my headphones and said, “I wish you wouldn’t do that!” to which he replied “Well YOU are really rude for never saying hi!” I’m introverted and shy, and honestly didn’t feel like chitchatting that early in the morning, but somehow he thought his personal preferences should trump mine. Bleh.


Wink-n-Smile April 11, 2011 at 10:45 am

How does that waiter stay employed as such? Chattiness in a waiter is fine, in limited quantities, but not to the point that it stops you from enjoying your meal, particularly if you are there with people and want your OWN dinner conversation.

The worst part, though, was the waiter’s judgement of the customers as stupid and without a sense of humor. Stupid because they ordered their food in a way of which he disapproved? What, steak too well done? Too rare? Not the exact same way the waiter liked it? And then he mocked the customer UNTIL the customer’s companions laughed at him? Not just one bad joke, but a slew of them? While the customer was a captive audience? UGH.

I had something similar happen to me, once. I was at a diner, with an open kitchen, and asked for my eggs to be cooked hard. I like my yolks to be firm. The waitress brought me eggs sunny-side up. I sent them back, and asked the eggs to be cooked on both sides, with the yolks broken and cooked hard. I got back over easy with unbroken, runny yolks. Once again, I explained to the waitress that I like the yolks broken before they are cooked, and cooked hard and solid. “Like rubber,” I told her, just to make it clear that I want the eggs thoroughly cooked.

Well, the short-order cook started screaming at the waitress, shouting that NO ONE likes their eggs like that, and she surely got the order wrong. She was to bring out what he gave her, and call it good, because HE knew what he was doing, and no STUPID (^(#^(#& CUSTOMER was going to tell him how to cook eggs!

I realized, at that point, that the waitress had been trying to give me what I wanted, but the cook refused to oblige. When she gave me sunny-side up again, I just sighed, and asked her to please bring me scrambled eggs, which she then brought, so runny I couldn’t stand to eat them. At that point, I just gave up and ate around the eggs.

I gave HER a large tip, and a note telling her I knew it wasn’t her fault and I hoped she could find a better employment situation, and that she certainly didn’t deserve that sort of behavior from the cook. I probably should have asked to speak to the manager, but I had this horrible fear that the cook was the manager, so I just left, and never ate at that diner again.


Ashley April 11, 2011 at 10:48 am

Sometimes talkative waitstaff are okay. There is a restaurant in my town that my fiance and I frequent, and I am fairly certain every member of the waitstaff has helped us at least once. Some of them know us really well and don’t even have to ask our drink order. At that particular place, I don’t mind chatty waitstaff because these people are genuinely interested in us. Wait staff that aren’t even assigned to a section anywhere near us will come say hello if they see us. So SOMETIMES it is okay to have chatty wait staff.

In the incident mentioned in this story though? Not so much. If I would have heard that I would have asked to see the manager myself even if I had just overheard it from another table. I KNOW restaurant staff talk about customers back in the kitchen, that’s unavoidable. But you NEVER EVER say anything like that where a customer might here you.


livvy April 11, 2011 at 11:11 am

I’m amazed the owner didn’t fire this guy. I also find that people who claim to dislike stupidity in others are so often guilty of it themselves.

In general, I really dislike being forced to make small talk with waiters, masseurs, hair stylists, or any number of other people with whom I am engaged in a business transaction. A minute or two of polite chat, fine, but beyond that, it just feels exhausting. I do know some people like to chat all the way through, but that’s just not me. As Admin says, the best servers will have the skill to pick up on the cues the customer gives.


MetalRose April 11, 2011 at 11:15 am

It’s a give and take. I was a waitress for a short time and hated it so I was overly friendly. Sometimes I would joke with the customers if they came in laughing and had that kind of aura to them. Other times, I’d leave them alone.

Sometimes when I hit a resturant, it’s nice to be joked with, other times, I just want to get in eat and get out.

My favorite one was at a local diner I took my son and Step dad out to eat. My step dad ordered a glass of wine and the waitress said, “And one for me too?” It was so unexpected we couldn’t help but laugh.

But to have a waiter mock someone out right to their face is just flat out rude.


vanessaga April 11, 2011 at 11:34 am

I do NOT appreciate it when waiters mock my food choices. Isn’t that sort of against what theyre trying to do? I appreciate a friendly waiter as well but it can be uncomfortable when they insist on talking on and on.


ilex April 11, 2011 at 11:37 am

The only times I’ve had servers chat with me through a meal, they were friends, so it wasn’t a bother (except possibly to the manager). I don’t mind a little humor — some people tip better when the server is entertaining. What is really out of line, to me, is when a server criticizes or makes fun of an order. When I worked in restaurants, I can recall talking about how we wanted to tell a customer that their order was “wrong,” but you don’t actually do it! A lot of times, there’s a health reason for “weird” orders… even if there isn’t, who cares if some guy wants his steak well done? He’s paying for it.

If the joke was along the lines of “one steak, burnt to a crisp!”, that’s not out of line, IMO. Something like “you ruined a perfectly good steak,” on the other hand, is rude. Oh — and talking smack about customers to other customers so the whole dining room can hear? Very rude!


RP April 11, 2011 at 11:57 am

I’m with the OP: How is this guy unemployed? He purposefully mocks the customers and costs the restaurant money when they have to make up for his poor behavior? He has no business making fun of someone for their food preferences. If the restaurant is willing to sell the food and serve it as requested then it is not “wrong”.

It’s weird how people get all fussy about how other people like their steak done. This doesn’t happen with with chicken or fish so what makes steak a point of contention. I don’t get it.


RP April 11, 2011 at 11:58 am

Gah, sorry, I meant to say either “How is this guy still employed” or “Why isn’t this guy unemployed”. For some reason I merged to two sentences when I typed it out.


Bridgette April 11, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Servers walk an infinitely blurry and wandering line between good and bad service. Every table has different definitions and expectations, and it’s often up to the server to figure it out with no help whatsoever. So maybe help us out and at the beginning of a meal, give a verbal hint as to your expectations if you want to be left alone. Saying “We’re enjoying a relaxing evening together” or for businessmen, “We’ve got a lot of ground to cover today!” will tell me that you don’t want me very involved with your table. Otherwise, I am going to check on you frequently and make sure you have no complaints at all whatsoever, because you are paying my income. I would rather work a little too hard and make sure your every whim is covered than give you any excuse to screw me out of a tip.


LovleAnjel April 11, 2011 at 12:34 pm

@ RP

Undercooked chicken and fish carries a risk of severe illness and death, so customers generally don’t get a say in how well it’s cooked. Many restaurants cook the H out of their chicken & fish (except sushi, natch). Steak is perfectly safe even when raw, so you can order it however you like. There are temperatures & times that best emphasize the flavor or texture of different cuts of steak, so there are technically “correct” ways to cook them. Most people don’t know or care about such things and prefer their meat a specific way (usually dictated by childhood experiences IMO). Often people feel “grossed out” if steak is cooked very differently from their preference – I would not be interested in something cooked to be “like a hockey puck” (I have heard someone order steak that way), and my BIL and MIL want their steaks “still bleeding”.

If you’re a foodie (or just a plain ol’ douchebag) you might get all hepped up about how the steak is cooked “incorrectly”, but no one else really cares. If you’re a waiter and you say so, you should be fired. Especially if you’ve done it more than once.


phoenix April 11, 2011 at 12:52 pm


Actually, as a patron of a restaurant, it is entirely fair to judge the waitstaff as they serve other people. The waiter wasn’t just talking to the other customers, he was relating his behavior and belittling customers from a previous day. Even if the people he was serving for some reason liked the endless talking, it was WAY out of line to make past customers the butt of his ridicule as a waiter.

Are you really suggesting that if you find out the waiter of a restaurant will take what one customer says one day, turn it into a hilarious anecdote, and turn that customers experience into part of his comedy routine, we have no right to judge unless he is doing it to our face?

Myself, I would never want to return to that place lest I find that something I ordered got me into his bad graces and was repeated ad nauseum to people in the future. I know he wasn’t the OP’s waiter, but it’s not as if he couldn’t have decided he didn’t like what they ordered either.

I’m a bit bitter about the “it wasn’t done to you” school of thought thanks to years of watching people joke about disabilities I have and other intimiate issues to other folks standing right next to me, then get irate because “they thought it was funny and I wan’t talking to you.”

IMHO, if you’re in a public place, you get judged by the public. If you behave badly where we can see, you’re behaving badly.


Clair Seulement April 11, 2011 at 12:58 pm

For awhile in my area, it seemed like the gimmick at chain restaurants was to have the waitstaff “pal out” with you while taking the order. One chain that will go nameless obviously used to *tell* the waitstaff to sit in the booth with the party while taking the order, because it happened all the time. They eventually stopped that, thank goodness–obviously no one was too keen on it. It’s intrusive and even comes across as desperate–hopefully you’ll keep me coming back because of the quality of the food, not because I made a new bff while hearing the specials. I never held this against the waitstaff, although if I felt that the waiter was personally responsible for transgressing boundaries, I might be more annoyed.

I don’t mind being asked if the food is OK even if I’m engaged in conversation–this type of interruption is routine, brief, and usually orchestrated politely, and I am in a public place, after all. Also, that’s usually how I get my drink refill!


Mike Johnson April 11, 2011 at 1:15 pm

This is an issue that I had with my wife who spent quite some time as a waitress. She felt that is was rude to not interact with the wait staff while I pretty much limit my conversation with them to telling them what I want and thanking them when they bring it. I hope that I didn’t come across as rude or short but I came to the restaurant with my company and that is who I want to spend my time talking to. That being said a short (and I want to emphasize short) anecdote or joke is appropriate but just because I laugh doesn’t mean that I want a full blown comedy routine from there on.


RP April 11, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Undercooked chicken and fish carries a risk of severe illness and death, so customers generally don’t get a say in how well it’s cooked.

Sorry, I didn’t mean the wellness of chicken or fish, more like fried vs baked which I would consider to be the same thing.

I’ve actually seen a restaurant say that if you want your meat well done then to order chicken instead of steak. I don’t know if it’s because they have something personal against well-done beef or if it’s because their cooks can’t cook a steak well-done without burning it.


Chelsey April 11, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Yeah, I have to agree with the OP and Admin. I never really understood waiters/waitresses who feel they have to chat with you while you’re trying to eat…or who interrupt a conversation I’m having with my husband (or whoever is with me). If you’re stopping by to ask if we want refills or to take our order or ask if we would like the check, fine. The faster we get out of there, the faster some other hungry person can sit down. I get that. But I don’t really care to hear about complaints other customers have had about you or stories about your children.

I also dislike it when they stop by when I have a mouth full of food (EVERY TIME) to ask how the meal is. I’m eating, aren’t I? I’m not looking at it with disgust, am I? Come to your own freaking conclusions. Probably, they’re supposed to do that for one reason or another, but I still find it aggravating.


Elle April 11, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Since the OP was poking her nose into what was going on at another table and this didn’t actually concern her – did it ever occur to her that the waiter may have been serving a table full of his actual friends? Sometimes they do pop in while you’re at work and it is nice to joke around with friends.

Also, and I know this will set up a great hew and cry about “Well I’m a great tipper but I hate this so I tip less when they’re overly friendly.” – BUT on average this kind of faux friendship increases the amount of money in a server’s pocket at the end of the night. It not only increases your upselling but it increases the percentage of the tip. Crouching down to the diner’s level, a little contact with the likely host’s shoulder, and a little chitchat all individuate you as a person and increase your tips. I would pocket on average an extra $50 a night more than on the nights where I wasn’t a faux friend.


sally April 11, 2011 at 1:35 pm

I don’t see a problem with telling an innappropriately friendly waiter that “if you don’t mind, we’d like to enjoy our meal now”, and if they don’t get the hint asking to see the manager. I have found that the people who are too obtuse to read OBVIOUS body language and non verbal cues also are not easily offended by blunt directions from others. They are probably used to it.


Jillybean April 11, 2011 at 1:43 pm

@Just Laura Re: (I want a good vet to be able to bring it back)

Thank you so much for the laugh! That’s hysterical. I have a friend who likes her steak that way as well. And I have a sister who likes it burnt to a crisp with ketchup (go figure!). I’m in middle.

I’d not be nice if a waiter told me my preference was wrong. I’d not be nice if a waiter told either one of them that their preference was wrong. Ugh.

That said – a chatty waiter doesn’t typically bother me, unless he let’s it linger too long. Chat me up when we get there, check on me once shortly after the food is delivered and tasted in case we need anything, make sure I have a drink (though don’t refill my water every time I take a sip – huge pet peeve of mine), and then leave me alone. Chat a bit about the desserts and then bring me the check with a smile and a thank you. That’s my idea of good service.


SHOEGAL April 11, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Once my husband were at an odd little restaurant that we had never been to before. We had placed a small order and had settled in when an elderly gentleman began to make conversation with us. We learned that he was the owner of the restaurant and he proceeded to tell us a series of stories about the restaurant – he stood there talking for quite awhile before moving on. He came back a little later and started up again – retelling the same stories. For nearly the entire time we were there – he stood there conversing. In his defense, I couldn’t bear to be rude and give him some signals that we were done speaking – so I listened politely and commented on the stories he told. I sensed he was probably lonely and just wanted to talk. Our waitress had served and took away our meal while this was going on. Even though I would have preferred to have been left alone – I can honestly say, I still don’t know of a polite way of telling him to leave.


The Other Amber April 11, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Just a few observations:
– With something like steak, not only is there a lot of variation to how people like them, but it also depends a lot on where the person is from. I know several people from the UK, where it seems to be normal to have steaks well done. The first time I had a medium steak in front of one friend he was horrified that the kitchen hadn’t cooked it all the way through.
– There are friendly servers, and then there are clueless servers. I appreciate being checked with to see if everything is fine or if I need anything else, but I don’t appreciate mindless bantering. Thank you very much for your commentary on my order, nice to know it was a good choice, I don’t need to know that your brother had it the other day and enjoyed it so much and took leftovers home to his dog etc etc. I have had servers decide to sit down for one reason or another – sometimes that’s fine if we’ve been building a bit of rapport, other times no.
– How a server who has had multiple complaints made to the management is able to keep their job, I have no idea. My first thought is must be related to the owner/manager somehow.


nannerdoman April 11, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I was at lunch once with co-workers at a chain restaurant–let’s call it Dessert Factory. The waiter was overly familiar and chatty, and my group agreed that the only way this sort of behavior would be acceptable was if one was on a very, very dull date with no other entertainment.

As a kicker, though: for dessert, I ordered the Low-Fat [Dessert]. Chummy told me, “Oh, you don’t want THAT!” and tried to browbeat me into ordering the regular (full-fat) Dessert. Hey, Chummy? Your job is to write down what I want, convey my order to the kitchen, and bring it to me promptly–not to tell me what I want.

I’ve never eaten at Dessert Factory since, though it’s a very popular chain in my area.


Zhoen April 11, 2011 at 3:34 pm

This guy should’ve been fired before he could boast about mocking the first customer. And that this was a ‘overheard’ loud monologue makes no difference, since if this kind of loud, negative conversation could be heard from the kitchen, that would have been at least as bad. That kind of experience would make me walk out, and depending on the difficulty of speaking to a manager, I would let them know, or call the owner later, letting them know they’d lost a customer.

As for “Steak is perfectly safe even when raw, ” well, there is the issue of mad cow disease, and there is some risk for any kind of un or undercooked meat, eggs or fish. More or less safe, sure.

I am so with you. And especially older men who will insist on holding a door open, even when it’s inconvenient for me, or I would have to press past them, then expect gratitude. I tend to find a reason not to go through the door. If that guard had been kind or respectful or polite, after the first time or two, he would have just smiled and nodded as well, to put you at your ease.


Angeldrac April 11, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Okay – I would love to know what you think of this one:
My extended family were taking my grandmother out to dinner. It was the anniversary of my grandfather’s death, and we decided on dinner to celebrate his life, remember the good times and support my grandmother. Despite us all putting on a happy front, it was a sad occaision.
Both my parents and aunt had bought my grandmother flowers, which were placed on out table.
The waiter (who shall be named “the Joker”), stuck to out table ALL NIGHT. He cracked jokes, did magic tricks (despite the younger person there being 25) and when my aunt (who has multiple allergies) had to order from the children’s menu, he placed the plate infront of her, got a chip in herfork and proceeded to “choo-choo” it to her mouth as though she was a toddler. However the clanger was, when dessert arrived, the lights suddenly went down low, the Joker appeared with my grandmother’s order complete with candle and proceed to begin singing Happy Birthday. My mother and aunt all but forcibly frog-marched him back to the kitchen to explain what the occaision was actually for.
Now, this all occured in one of Sydney’s most well known restaurants. I have since been there for dinners (not my choice) and a couple of weddings and everyone has marvelled at how attentive and entertaining the Joker of a waiter is. I simply can’t help but relay this story when people do start raving about their ‘wonderful service’.


Kippy April 11, 2011 at 3:52 pm

I worked my way through college waiting tables (and a bit after, English majors don’t pay like they used to). I have encountered wait staff who were overly chatty both as a server and as a customer. However, I think people are placing way too much blame on servers, in general. This particular one from OP’s story sounds like a real jerk, and I never spoke about other customers. I come from a small town, and you never know who knows who.

Servers make well below minimum wage, work long hours, and are expected (and should) provide the same level of service at hour 1 and hour 8 of their shift. Many overcompensate to make a decent wage. Some patrons love chatty waiters. I usually kept a professional distance, but I had one couple who would come in when we were slow and invite me to sit with them. It’s all about reading people and giving them the service you want.

Servers aren’t all nitwits, jerks, and ner’do wells, like some paint them. Nor are they foodbot, psychic, perfectionists like others would wish them to be. What they are are people who are working very hard and sometimes just trying to make a thankless and exhausting job a little more personal – for better or worse.


Tara April 11, 2011 at 4:13 pm

I hope I’m not being too contrary here, but… my husband and I eat out a lot. A LOT. And we’ve never had a chatty waiter, ever. At least not ones who tell us life stories uninvited. If I feel like talking to employees, I can get them engaged in conversation without effort, and if not, somehow, they know not to. I dunno if I give off some sort of vibe as to whether it’s okay to talk to me or not, or if some people just are the type that invite conversation without meaning to, but there it is. I’ve had waiters that come by a little too frequently to ask if everything’s okay, and interrupt conversation, but a quick “Fine, thanks,” and then immediately returning to the conversation is enough to end that. And it’s not like we’re rude either… we always say please and thank you, and tip well.


Maitri April 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm

@ Michelle – once at a local chain steakhouse, the waitress told us that they were encouraged to either crouch down or sit at the customer’s table. It was supposed to enhance the feeling of friendliness and down home country chatter, I guess.


Hal April 11, 2011 at 4:56 pm

I believe there is more going on here than one chatty waiter. He an inside track because of a relationship he has with someone higher up. No professional staff supervisor would put up with such behavior. The waiter knows he is safe from censure for some reason. I suspect sex.


LilyG April 11, 2011 at 5:25 pm

When I was in college, one of the postal clerks at the University station wouldn’t give you the stamps you bought until you complied with his smarmy, “Let’s see a smile! Pretty girls should smile!”
I seethed and fumed but didn’t have the stones to call him on it.

Now is a different matter…


LovleAnjel April 11, 2011 at 5:36 pm


Prions are only transmitted through brain or spinal tissue. Steak contains neither. It is perfectly safe.


ashley April 11, 2011 at 5:55 pm

@ Hal- WOW! XD You know I was thinking the exact same thing about the waiter and the owner, but I was too afraid to put it in my post. Theres certainly a possibility of a personal relationship there, if not then how he has still kept his job is still up for debate.


--Lia April 11, 2011 at 6:07 pm

What’s the polite way to tell over-zealous waitstaff that you prefer to enjoy the company of the folks you came with, not chat with them? The first time you say: “I’d like to enjoy talking to the company I came with and not chat with you. I’ll signal when I need something.” The 2nd time they interrupt, you say: “I really meant it when I said I didn’t want chat and interruptions. I’ll signal when I need something; please don’t bother me again unless it’s with our food or the check.” The 3rd time you say: “I don’t know how to express how serious I am about not wanting interruptions or chat. I’ll be deducting from my tip if you bother me again.”

An now a story from 25 years ago and before I learned that it’s not impolite to be straightforward. My boyfriend and I were eating at a more expensive restaurant than we usually go to. I hesitate to say that it was fancier or more elegant. It had the trappings of being upscale, but judging by the waitstaff, I can’t say there was better service. They wouldn’t leave us alone. We tried to signal with body language that we wanted to be left alone, but the 2 waiters, working in a team, kept coming to the table to tell us that our appetizers would be right out, asking if everything was all right, asking if they could get us anything, checking back twice to see if we liked everything. We started by assuring them that everything was O.K., then began waving them away. It was like they expected us to find the hidden poison.

After probably the 10th interruptions when our appetizers hadn’t even arrived, the waiter left the table, and I whispered to my boyfriend “if he asks one more time if he can do anything for you, I’m going to ask him to give you a blowjob.” Naturally my boyfriend laughed, and sure enough, the waiter returned to find out what it was he hadn’t heard. My boyfriend kicked me so hard under the table my shins still hurt. THAT was when I learned it’s O.K. to say “please just bring the food.”


David April 11, 2011 at 7:17 pm

While I understand wanting to create a friendly vibe with the customer in order to get more of a tip, I think the waiter in the OP was completely going about it in the wrong way. He was insulting previous customers to current customers and doing it loudly enough that customers at other tables could overhear. This is bad for business.

Two stories about friendly waitstaff and tipping:

1. At a chain restaurant that serves steaks, the hostess kept sitting down at our table even when we were in deep conversation. She would tap my arm to get my attention if I didn’t immediately swivel around and look at her. Since my GF and I were celebrating our anniversary, I found this extremely rude, especially as I had mentioned that we were and wanted to eat before we left for the movie. The only thing I remember bout that dining experience – hostess sat down with us and wouldn’t leave. Tip standard. Have never been back to that restaurant or any of them in the chain.

Went to a privately owned restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner. Our waitress was sweet, smiling, friendly and attentive but allowed us at the table to set the style of our interactions and control the conversation – it was a wonderful dining experience. Tip double standard and a letter to the restaurant thanking them for such a lovely evening with extra praise for our waitress.


Evil Cathy April 11, 2011 at 7:33 pm

That is pretty amazing, as Hal said, that the waiter is still there despite being the cause of a few free meals given – when I worked as a waitress people were fired for poor service. Here, both the over chattiness and the rudeness towards customers for their choices are just appalling. And, I imagine the impact by way of non-returning customers is probably a lot more than indicated by the number of free meals given. At a Perkins a few years back, we had a waiter who not only carried photos to show to accompany his drawn out stories, but also held my dessert about 1/2 inch under another customer’s nose to try and tempt them, before then serving it to me. I found both pretty appalling, but did not complain (second day in the US, a little jetlagged at the time), and I know a lot who won’t complain as don’t want a scene.


Lizza April 11, 2011 at 8:14 pm

You can be a great server and still be friendly/chatty, but there’s a definite line. And this guy was crossing it. Maybe the OP should have spoken to a manager about the waiter’s actions – the way he felt it necessary to deal with “stupid” people – because that can certainly affect business.

My one problem with chatty servers is I occasionally like to go out to eat alone. I go on “off” hours/days so I’m not in the way, and enjoy my meal with a book. (If I notice the restaurant is starting to get busy, I’ll finish and leave.) Half the time the server seems to think I am a lonely, sad figure that needs chatter and attention and comes over every few minutes, often attempting small talk. Please realize I am out because I didn’t want to cook and am perfectly happy! You don’t have to act like my friend.


Catherine April 11, 2011 at 8:36 pm

@Maitri – wow, tough crowd… I’m introverted and shy too, and I’m definitely not a morning person, but people say hi to me when I walk into work every single morning and it’s really not very difficult to respond with an equally polite “Good, thanks!” or even simply return it with “hi.” One syllable. Not the end of the world. I highly doubt that security guard, or any of the people who greet me at work on a daily basis, are really expecting you (or me) to stop and chit chat about life. Those aren’t his personal preferences, it’s just common courtesy.


Clair Seulement April 11, 2011 at 9:04 pm

@Zhoen—I’ll second LovleAnjel, and also assure you that even E. coli is rare (no pun intended) in undercooked steak, because bacteria transferred to the meat during butchering affects the surface and is usually cooked off, whereas with ground beef, the bacteria gets churned up inside—that’s why burgers should be cooked all the way through. I would definitely never fault a server for politely recommending a temperature though. I’ve been to a few chains that won’t even serve medium-rare!


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