I was eating by myself at a chain Italian restaurant. It was about 7pm on a Saturday night so the restaurant is packed and the servers are running hard to make sure everyone has what they need.
Shortly after I was seated, a family of six were seated at a table next to mine.
It looked like a pair of grandparents, a pair of parents, and two middle school aged kids.
Since we’re in the same section, we have the same server.
From the start this family was running the poor server ragged.
Server: “Welcome to Italian Place. My name is Server. Can I start you off with a sample of…”
And the rest of them chime in with their drink orders without ever looking up or acknowledging the server as a human being.
The server brought their drinks and started taking their orders. All six of them ordered an appetizer and an entrée each. And by the time the server was done taking their orders the dad had finished his coke and demanded “Where’s my refill?”
This family complained the entire time.
“There aren’t enough olives in the salad!”
“I want more dressing!”
“Where’s the marinara and alfredo dipping sauce for the breadsticks??!!!??!!” (Side note: they hadn’t ordered any dipping sauces for the breadsticks. Which explains why none had been brought.)
“We need more cheese on this salad!”
And every time the server went dashing off to get a new item for them, one of them would suck down their drink and complain when the server brought them what they asked for.
“How hard is it to keep our drinks topped off? This is terrible service!”
The server ended up bringing them two drinks each to try and reduce the number of times he had to run back and forth.
The sever offered to get his manager for them multiple times and the dad always declined with a “I don’t want to see the manager, I want you to do your job!”
They had complaints about every one of their entrees.
“This chicken alfredo is dry. Why are they so stingy with the sauce! I want more sauce!”
“I need more cheese on mine!”
“This looks sloppy! Why did they plate it so sloppy?”
For all of their complaints, they demolished all of the appetizers and all of the entrees.
Then each of them ordered their own dessert.
Side note: As a Fatty McFatterson myself, I am NOT judging them for the amount of food they consumed. People should be able to eat as much or as little as they choose without comment or judgment. Mostly I’m making note of this for two reasons:
1) How expensive the bill must have been
2) The fact that in spite of all their complaints about how horrible the food was they ate every bit of it. I don’t know about you, but if my chicken parmesan actually tasted “like cat food” I don’t think I’d be able to eat every single bite of it and wipe up all the sauce with even more breadsticks.
The server drops off all their desserts. Again with complaints:
“This looks smaller than I remember! Why is this slice so small?”
“Where’s my coffee? How am I supposed to eat cake without a cup of coffee?” (Side note: she didn’t order any coffee when she ordered the dessert. And she’d been drinking soda all night so it wasn’t like her normal drink was empty.)
“This cheesecake seems really cold. Has it been defrosted? I’m not eating frozen cheesecake!”
The server rushes off to do their bidding again, at this point the poor kid has probably completed a marathon just in the steps he’s taken between this table and the kitchen and back.
The manager has finally made it over to this part of the dining room doing her normal “How’d everything going tonight” check.
She makes it to this six top and the dad lets loose a tirade:
“Terrible! This is the worst experience we’ve ever had in a restaurant! The food was inedible! Our waiter keeps disappearing! None of us can get a refill of our drink! He refused to fix what was wrong with our food! He refused to get a manager when we asked for one! Our night out has been ruined!”
And here, dear EHell readers, is where I may have stepped over the line.
I have been a server before.
And I watched this server run around like a dog for these people. I watched him give truly outstanding service to a table that made it clear from the beginning that there would be no appeasing them. Then I watched this dad lie to the manager’s face about it.
So I opened my mouth and piped up with, “That’s not true. The server has brought them extra of everything they asked for and he’s been running back and forth bringing them refills all night. He also offered to get them manager for them several times and was told they don’t want a manager.”
The dad leapt up from his seat, knocking his chair over, and unleashed a profanity filled screed like I’ve never heard before. “Shut up you fat b-word! You don’t know what you’re f-word-ing talking about!… (Lots of incoherent whirlgarble, lots of curse words, more screaming…) Get your stuff! We’re leaving! I’ve never been so disrespected in my life!”
This guy’s family all grabs their stuff and heads off. The manager steps in front of the dad. She says “Sir, you haven’t paid your bill. If you leave now I’ll be forced to call the police.”
The dad grabs his wallet, pulls out a single dollar bill, throws it on the table with, “That’s all this meal was worth! There you go!”, stomps around the other side of the table slamming the chairs in so he can squeeze by, and stomps out of the restaurant.
The server starts apologizing to the manager. The manager tells him not to worry about it.
I apologized to the manager for opening my big mouth, since that’s what set this guy off into full blown tantrum mode. And I try to explain that I just couldn’t stand seeing the sever get in trouble after he worked so hard trying to make the table happy.
The manager told me not to worry about it.
So, I’m asking you guys. Where is the line between polite spine and busybody?
I fear I might have crossed it here. I was just a bystander. It wasn’t my place to stand up for the server.
And by saying something I escalated the situation from unpleasant to full blown scene.
Should I have just kept my mouth shut? 1228-17
I would have waited until the family left the restaurant and then spoken with the manager about what I witnessed. The red flags were already waving that this family were entitled narcissists. People like this purposely create drama as a manipulative tool to avoid either paying for what they received or to get what they want. That level of drama is proven tactic that exploits people’s desire to not have conflict. Dad created that much drama banking on the manager not wanting any MORE drama of calling police. In other words, it likely was a scam to avoid paying for the meal.