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Power Off, Rudeness On

A few years ago I booked a table at a local restaurant for my partner’s birthday. We hadn’t been there before, but I had heard very good things about it. It also appealed to me because there were lots of dishes to choose from- I live in a very pretty seaside town that is renowned for its fish and seafood so most of the local restaurants rely on it quite heavily, with only a few non-fishy things available- and neither of us like fish!

I digress. Anyway, I heard the evening we’d booked that there was a powercut along the seafront so I called the restaurant to check if they were open. The manager told me that they weren’t taking business off the street but they were honouring bookings, however we should expect a limited menu. We decided to go anyway. and saw it as a bit of an adventure.

We got to the restaurant to find it bathed in candlelight- rather romantic actually. There were five tables occupied including us. We British are supposedly famous for our make-do-and-mend spirit, and it was displayed that night. All the chef had were gas burners but he still managed to produce some wonderful food- perfectly done steak, pigeon breast, excellent vegetables, and apparently the fish was done to a turn. Everyone got complimentary drinks, and the owner circulated, making jokes and relaxing us all. The odd circumstances got everyone talking, and we all agreed that it was certainly a memorable night!

Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves except for one man who was dining with his wife. He had been told about the reduced menu, but it didn’t stop him complaining and moaning all night- first to his wife, and later to everyone within earshot. It turned out he wanted the crusted lamb, which was not available as it was a slow oven cooked dish, and the oven was electric, so no go. The waitress offered to give him an alternative main course for half price, but that didn’t help matters. The level of his voice rose and rose, choked with outrage that he couldn’t have what he wanted. He was absolutely vile to her- no bad language, but he really picked her apart- everything from her hair and clothes to the way she was standing, even speculating about her morals- and clearly enjoyed her distress. You would have thought she’d offered him poison and a kick up the arse the way he went on. This was a well dressed middle class man, who had apparently got to the age of fifty or so still believing that he should never be denied anything. I felt so sorry for his wife as she was obviously used to this behaviour- at first she was grabbing at his sleeve and telling him not to make a fuss, but gave up when he started shouting and just stared at her plate. I would gladly have contributed to a whip-round for divorce proceedings. He stomped off eventually, having availed himself amply of the complimentary wine, refusing to pay the bill. We all applauded as he left. 0801-12

Note to the waitress:   Never, ever show distress to a rude boor.  They win, you lose, at least temporarily.  Firm up the polite spine and cheerfully ignore the insults.


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  • Missy August 6, 2012, 1:48 pm

    My big brother used to think it was a hoot to go out to restaurants and make requests he knew they couldn’t fulfill. Nothing made me smile more than the time we visited my sister’s workplace. She was a cook and not the one he abused. But she did come out of the kitchen and ask our party to leave. As annoyed as I was (because I was hungry) I was glad someone stood up to him. My parents reamed her for it, but she didn’t care. (I was ten years younger than he and still too scared to tell him he was embarrassing me.)

  • Serena August 7, 2012, 1:54 am

    I managed restaurants for 20 years before I finally developed the sense to get out. A lot of restaurants will give a complainer (even the chronic ones) a hefty discount and/or even a coupon for a free meal on their next visit simply to guarantee that next dollar. In fact, at some of these places the trouble makers get the better deal than the loyal, nice, polite customers. I never understood it. Let’s just reinforce all of this bad behavior, shall we? The final straw for me happened one Sunday a few months ago. I made a small mistake in running this woman’s credit card. She immediately began to berate me, saying I had my head up my *** and all other sorts of profanities. I gave her money back to her and told her to vacate the premises before I called the police. Just then my boss walked up, asking what the problem was. I told my boss that I had made a small, easily remedied mistake when the woman proceeded to cuss me out and I had told her to leave. My boss, again trying to save that almighty dollar, begins to try to reason with the woman. She didn’t cuss my boss out, but she was very rude and verbally aggressive with her. My boss ended up giving her a discount and a coupon for her next visit. That told me how important I am in the grand scheme of things, and I put in my two weeks notice the next day.

  • Onion August 8, 2012, 8:26 pm

    Hi, OP here.
    I don’t know where the manager was, actually, although I must have wondered at the time. It was only a small place so I assume he left the waitress to it for a bit.
    It’s very unusual for me not to spring to anyone’s defence, and I feel bad about it. The only excuse I have is that my partner hates fuss of any kind, and would have been mortified if I’d got involved.
    The round of applause is true! Special sarcastic clapping though.

  • Just4kicks August 9, 2012, 7:22 am

    It has always been a dream of my DH to own an Irish pub, and many years ago we decided to take a crack at it before we had children. One day shortly after we opened, a man sat at the bar and ordered one beer and handed me a ten dollar bill. I put the bill on top of the register, got out his change, then gave it to the customer thanked him for coming to our new place. After tending to other patrons, I hear this man just screaming and yelling that I “stole” his money as he had given me a fifty……uh, no. It was a ten. I told him it was a ten, there we no fifties in my register, nice try buddy…see ya! My hubby was out picking up supplies at this time and not in the pub. We all shook our heads when he stomped out and went about our day. Later in the day, the phone rings and an irate man asks for the owner….guess who? As I was busy, my husband gets on the phone and is barraged for five minutes about how stupid, retarded, ugly and other things his female hbartender that day was… .including the ‘B ‘ and the ‘C ‘ words (yes, THAT one) . This guy said I stole from and demanded to know how he was going to compensated for his trouble! My husband said (and I quote)” that stupid b&*!# is MY WIFE and half owner of this pub. While you are getting nothing except an invitation to never set foot in here again, my wife will be getting a hug and kiss for not falling for your bullsh*t!”

  • Yvette April 6, 2014, 7:21 pm

    Sadly, it’s possible that this man had a mental disorder, or early-onset Alzheimer’s, or early-onset dementia. We knew a woman who began to show early-onset dementia right before she turned 50. It was so sad to see this once vibrant, intelligent woman slowly lose her mental faculties and her social graces. Sometimes, the emotional symptoms of these illnesses appear months and years prior to the physical symptoms. If true, the wife was probably trying to recapture their former life with an evening out. But with people who have these types of illnesses, it can be a real challenge. My guess is that the man in the story probably didn’t remember a thing afterwards, but as his caregiver, his wife underwent great emotional suffering during and after the evening. This is important for all restaurant owners, restaurant managers, and restaurant staff to remember, and if there is a similar incident, the manager and/or staff can quietly ask the caregiver if they would like to be moved to another table where they’d be more comfortable while still preserving their dignity. I’ve been a caregiver for someone who behaved like this man did and I know what it is all about.

  • RedWitch May 25, 2014, 9:12 pm

    I would have been the one saying “You no like, why you stay?”. So many people go red and shuffle out the door when they hear this. I find that phrasing things like this, “you no like, you leave” (pronouncing the “e” on the end of like and leave) makes some complainers realise that they are rapidly becoming an object of ridicule. Yes, for any asking, English IS my first language, I just play with words to make others stop and think for a moment.