server life Archives - I Hate Working In Retail



About a month ago, professional wrong person (ED NOTE: and amateur Thrillist senior writer!) Dave Infante wrote a story about how people should stop tipping their servers so that, eventually, the country will understand how ridiculous our tipping system is and how the system needs to be changed. Many people have asked me to respond to this nonsense, and the time has come for me to address it. No one is debating whether the system is perfect. It isn’t; some customers don’t feel that a server’s income is their responsibility and that the restaurant should pay their staff a living wage, while some servers don’t feel that they should bust their ass giving impeccable service only to have some d-bag leave them a 10% tip. In a perfect world, everyone would get paid a wonderful salary for doing what it is they love to do.

Tipping does not actually hurt the customer

No, tipping is not a legal requirement, but it is an expectation. No one who grew up in this country can pretend they don’t understand that when going out to eat, they will be expected to leave a 15-20% tip. Tipping may slightly hurt the customer in one of three ways:

  1. Financially: The additional 15-20% for the tip is going to cost them too much, pushing them over their weekly budget. This could mean that they won’t have enough money to buy snacks at the 99-cent store or will no longer be able to afford to be generous with the “Take a Penny, Leave a Penny” jar at the grocery store. If you can’t factor the tip into your budget, why are you going out to dinner in the first place?
  2. Mentally: Math is hard y’all, and figuring out 20% of a total can be way too much for a brain that is only used to playing Candy Crush and watching episodes of Real Housewives: New Jersey. Download a (free!) app and get over it.
  3. Socially: Once their friends learn about their crappy tipping habits, these cheap-asses may soon be ostracized from their own communities, eventually having to start a new civilization on Fantasy Island where bread baskets grow on trees and every cocktail has a little bit of extra liquor in it at no charge.

Not tipping hurts the server

Yes, not tipping really does hurt the server. Not only are they making the hourly pittance of $2.13 in some states, they aren’t getting any tips from cheap a-holes trying to prove a philosophical point. The thing is, servers have to tip out other people at the end of the day and much of the time, that amount is determined by what is sold and not what they made in tips. In other words, servers have to tip a percentage of sales to other staff like busers and food runners even if they didn’t make enough money to cover it. It is possible for a server to lose money by waiting on a table that stiffs them because whether or not they got a tip from that table, they might still have to tip 3% of what that bill was. It will come out of their own pocket and that can hurt.

Sucks for me, sucks for you, doesn’t suck for… who?

I’ll tell you who it doesn’t suck for: the restaurant. The restaurant doesn’t give a shit if the server gets stiffed as long as the bill is paid. If there wasn’t enough money to cover everything on the check, you can bet that a manager will void off a couple of sodas or some other inconsequential item to make sure the bill is covered, but you can forget about the manager doing something so the server will make a tip. Whether a customer tips makes no difference to most restaurants.

don't stop tipping

So what should you do?

Keep tipping. If everyone stopped tipping, the whole country could possibly grind to a halt. Imagine, if you will, the following scenario: on Monday, no one leaves their server a tip. Every service person goes to their job and comes home with absolutely no money except for their paycheck which is maybe about $30 a week, if they’re lucky. On Tuesday, again no one tips and the servers just assume it’s a bad week. Wednesday comes around and the servers have already gone into their emergency jar of coins to pay for their groceries the night before. They again leave their job with no money. On Thursday, they arrive to work, angry and desperate. After a few more customers don’t leave them tips, the servers revolt, flipping tables, smashing plates, and breaking glasses. Restaurants across the country are in shambles and unable to open for business on Friday. That’s right, every restaurant is closed on Friday, so now where are you going to go for happy hour wings and half-price nachos after work? NOWHERE, BECAUSE THE COUNTRY IS IN RUINS!

Grand Conclusion

I get that Mr. Infante was trying to prove a point and it’s great that he’s standing up for the rights of servers, but there must be a better way to create change in our tipping customs. To discontinue tipping will theoretically make it better in the long run but who wants to be on the front lines of that battle? No server wants to stand up for a cause if it means they don’t get tipped ever again and eventually have to find a new job. I equate it with the way that Black Friday has slowly encroached on Thanksgiving Day. Everyone is against it and no one thinks it should happen, but as soon as Best Buy opens up on Thanksgiving at 5pm, you know there’s going to be a sh*t-ton of people there who want to buy a flat-screen TV. You can tell people to stop shopping on Thanksgiving Day, but people aren’t going to do it. Precedents have been set and there’s no turning back: Black Friday now starts on Thursday and servers expect a 20% tip. F*%$ing deal with it.

[Editor’s note: Due to the overwhelming response after his original piece, Dave followed up to tell the world how he screwed up and what he learned, which you can read here.]

The Bitchy Waiter lives and works in New York City and has been waiting tables pretty consistently for almost 25 years. He has discovered that writing stories on the Internetabout annoying customers is better than poking the annoying customers in their eyes with forks. He enjoys The Brady BunchThe Facts of Life, and cocktails almost as much as he hates your baby. Follow him: @bitchywaiter.


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The Ten Customers That All Waitresses Want To Throttle

Annoying teenagers, overprotective mum and pervy old man. Some customers just make us waitresses want to smash your main course over your head…


There are certain rites of passage all waitresses go through. Text book classics include; being far too drunk to waitress, having your trousers fall down as you’re carrying plates, spilling a pint over your WHITE shirt in front of a busy bar and totally ballsing up an order beyond belief and blaming the chef. The memories I have of my waitressing days are fond, vast and varied, from the day I brought over a ‘cork’ to a Geordie man who’d asked for a coke, to the time I knocked myself out cold on the dishwasher door and ‘came to’ in a sink of shellfish. I can honestly say that some of the best years of my life were spent as a waitress in my local village pub. I can also honestly say that waitressing would be the best job in the world, if it wasn’t for the people. With that in mind, I felt it my duty as a proud ex-waitress to tell you all what us waitresses really think of you and who are least favourite customers are…


You arrogant bastards. With your egos and your I’m-so-busy-and-important-don’t-you-know-who-I-am-attitudes. No, I don’t know who you are. I don’t care how hungry you are. I don’t even care if you’re willing to pay me more money and buy me nice things. You haven’t booked, therefore I hate you. Just remember this the next time you turn up somewhere without a reservation, the waitress wants you dead.

Precocious Teenagers

We know you’re pretending you’re famous or being filmed for MTV. How do we know this? Because you’re fake, you’re dressed like you’re an extra in a One Direction video and you’re looking at me like you look at your cleaner. No, diet lemonade won’t get you drunk, and yes, just to amuse myself I will put the garnish on it to make it look like you’re drinking a cocktail. We do that for purely selfish reasons as it makes you look stupid, not so you can trick the group of twenty-something lads who are staring at you that you’re drinking vodka whilst pushing your 32A padded tits out.

Vegetarians/Lactose Intolerant/Allergy Freaks

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Yes, there is only one vegetarian option. No, I don’t know how difficult or annoying that must be for you. I’m a waitress. I don’t care about your plight and I’m on minimum wage. Have the steak without meat and quit bitching. And you madam, you’re allergic to wheat but still want the Croque monsieur? Here’s some cheese on a plate. I honestly don’t think starving people of this world are this fussy or would complain of a “swollen tummy brought on by too much wheat.” Go f*ck yourself.

People Who Come In Large Groups And PAY  SEPARATELY.

These are often groups of women but can also be; ramblers, church groups or work colleagues. None of them want to be there, they’re normally only there because Julie in accounts has a birthday and they are certainly not going to enjoy themselves. They will always order and pay separately, they are likely to order soda water or a cup of tea and they will treble check the bill, often using a calculator to ensure they’re not paying a dime over what they should be.  Idiots.

Old Angry Couples

No matter where the pub or restaurant is, there’s always a really old, really angry couple. They will always insist on sitting at the same table, even though they hate it. They will order the same food and drink, even though they hate it. They may even insist on having you as your waitress, even though they hate you. Well guess what, we hate you too.

Mothers And Their Children

Yes we will coo over your little angels and get you hot water for your milk. We won’t even judge you for breastfeeding or knocking your wine over because you have an infant hanging off every limb. But if you dare… DARE let your children run around and scream in the path of a waitress carrying hot food… on your head be it. It’s a restaurant, not a crèche.

Pervy Old Rich Men

Everyone has encountered a pervy old rich man who seems to think that snapping ones fingers results in waitresses to be at his beck and call. It doesn’t. What snapping your fingers to a waitress actually results in ranges from us using dirty teaspoons to stir your whiskey to us licking your bread in the kitchen before we smile sweetly as we serve it to you at your table.  The only reason we’re nice to you is due to the small chance you will tip well. So yes, we may loosen our top button a little and laugh at your crap jokes, but that’s only because we want that rolled up bunch of twenties that’s hiding in your top pocket.

Late Bookers

If the restaurant closes at 10pm, these people will expect a table at 10pm. “But sir, the kitchen closes then” is heard as “of course you can have a table as late as possible then expect to be served after everyone else has gone home.” Well no, you can’t. If you turn up at anytime after about 30 minutes before the kitchen closes, we want you to choke on your food and leave.

Loud Drunk Patrons

In every pub, in all of the land there is always an absolutely hammered local who’s in there, every… single… night. Sometimes they’re endearing and their wine soaked charisma charms you into being polite to them. But there’s always that part of the evening where their wandering eyes and hands take it one step too far. That’s when they’ll feel the sharp tongue of a tired and busy waitress. Don’t try us drunkards, we’re far too sober and stressed to entertain your dirty ol’tricks.

Miserable Fucking Women

When I asked my friend, who now has her own pub, what group of customers she detests the most her instant reaction was this, “miserable fucking women.” I had to concur. Every waitress comes across this vile group one too many times. They consist of a group of women so miserable, they look like they’re in pain. They will never ever be happy about a single thing, they will complain about the ice being too cold, the food being too hot, they’ll even complain about the sunlight coming through the window at the wrong angle. They are unbelievably miserable and were clearly born that way and they are the only customers I’ve ever told to never, ever come back to a restaurant ever again.

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16 People You See At Restaurants (And What Waiters Really Think Of Them)


1. The Single DILF/MILF

Hi. Yes, I am hitting on you and yes, I am aware that you don’t have a ring on your finger and I don’t even care that you have a toddler sitting on your lap. I’m going to have every other waiter in the restaurant come ogle at your attractiveness and I’m not ashamed if you catch me staring at you. I realize that you could probably be twice my age but that’s not what I’m thinking about. Don’t worry, most of us won’t make it that obvious that we think you’re a DILF/MILF, and no, we won’t ask anything personal about your significant other or how many other kids you have. You’re just nice eye candy that we enjoy every once in a while.
Alright, not every DILF/MILF are single, sadly, and I will probably glance at you a few times but I don’t want your wife/husband to think I’m creeping so I’ll stay away, but just know you are a gorgeous human being.

2. The Family

I love you guys, for the most part. I don’t mind if your kid spills their drink and I have to get another one — if you’re polite. I don’t mind if it takes you a little longer to order — if you’re nice to me. But if your child is standing on the booth singing “Let it Go” and you’re not stopping them, I hate you. I’m sure you’re aware that your child doesn’t sound like Idina Menzel or Kristen Bell, but you’re clearly unaware that your child is now disturbing the whole restaurant. Everyone is giving you death glances from across the way, but you are so oblivious to how bothersome it is that you don’t stop them. And on top of that you get pissed off when a manager tells you, you need to quiet your kid. You realize you’re not the only table in here, right? Don’t go out to eat if you can’t control you’re little beasts. Also if I ask how old your son is, for the love of God, don’t say 42 and a half months.

3. The Large Party

Oh boy, it’s your daughter’s 2nd birthday? Tell me why it’s necessary to call all your relatives from out of town to have a grand dinner party at my restaurant. Don’t be fooled by our fake smiles we plaster on before we greet you, we are not excited to serve you. We have had too many bad experiences and I’m sorry but we aren’t going to expect anything more from you. I don’t care if one person in your party of 20 doesn’t know what they want yet, I am going to start writing down the other’s orders because it is going to take me 20 minutes to get through this. I do apologize if I come off pushy but the host just sat me again, my other table has a complaint and I’m not even halfway done. Once I am done taking your order it would be great if you saved your drink for the meal instead of me having to refill 15 sweet teas every 5 minutes. Also don’t ignore me when I’m delivering your food; if I look like I’m handing you a plate, please take it, it’s hot and I no longer have fingerprints. If it’s not your food, I apologize but my extend-o-arms can’t reach six feet in front of me, have you ever heard of passing? And then the check — yes, I will split every single one of your bills if you would like, but don’t say “I’m paying for little Johnny.” I don’t know who that is and odds are you’re going to have a random meal put on your bill. And no, I will not split your fried pickles order 9 ways.

4. The Loner

If you’re in a rush and by yourself, I like you. You have a 30 minute lunch break and you know what you want when you walk in the door. Thank you. Now if you come in by yourself and open up your iPad, newspaper, or book, you need to walk out those doors and go somewhere else. I understand that you have some catching up to do on 50 Shades of Grey for your middle-age crisis book club, but here is not the time or place, do that in the privacy of your own home please

5. The “I’m Gluten Free”

If you are allergic to dairy, pepper, wheat, nuts and red meat, I don’t know why you’re eating out. Go home and make yourself a meal. I will try my best to tell the kitchen about your complex diet and weak stomach but don’t blame me when you go home and kill your bathroom. And to the customers who are lying about your allergies? We know, especially when you order no butter on your baked potato but I saw you shove three rolls in your mouth before I got to your table.

6. The Asshole

There are so many varieties of the asshole.
There are the Old People Assholes: To you old, rude people, I hope I never see you again. You think you know it all since you’ve been around since 1901, but really you’re just closed-minded and have a short temper. I don’t want your opinions on my tattoos and gauges and don’t think you’re complementing me if you say I’m too pretty for said tattoos and piercings. It’s my body, back off and I already have two sets of old people breathing down my neck about it.

Then there are The Complainer Assholes: I am truly sorry that your salad bowl is too cold for you and your steak has too many grill marks on it, if you think you’re some chef, be my guest and go in the back and complain to them. I’m your server. I don’t make your salads and cook your food. If something is wrong with your meal, don’t yell at me and tell me I’m “ruining your mother’s birthday” because you’re the real problem. Also don’t tell me you’re not going to pay for something. If you’re not going to eat it and we can’t do anything for you, my manager will take it off your bill, but the last thing I was to hear when I’m helping another table is, “Did you hear me? I’m not paying for this!” Yes, asshole, I heard you the first ten times. Now go back to your table, sit your happy ass down, and put a smile on your face because people are starting to stare. Oh, and thanks for the big fat zero on my tip line. Do you feel better?

The “Last Time I Came Here” Assholes: I am sorry that the last time you came here, we had baked beans, but for the last time, we took that off our menu two years ago and no we aren’t going to special make them for you because they were your favorite side dish. Now learn how to read our menu or go home.

The Last Minute Asshole: If you come in 10 minutes before we close, you are considered an asshole, no exceptions.

Then there’s just The Regular Asshole: I can’t do anything to make you happy and you have something rude to say every time I come by. I can’t wait for you to leave and I am sorry for whatever put you in this terrible mood but a restaurant is the last place you should go if you’re in a bad mood. I’ll take it like a champ but I’m not going to go out of my way to bring you an extra side of ranch or get you a to-go drink. You deserve to have cotton mouth on the way home.

7. The Comedian

Yes, my name is “Bri” like the cheese, and no this is not the first time I’ve heard that joke, and no, I don’t appreciate being called the “cheese lady,” but I’m not going to tell you that. I will still laugh at your joke and watch as your family rolls there eyes. The comedian can be an entertaining guest that can brighten my hour but will eventually get forgotten. For the most part, we have heard every joke in the book, thanks for the effort though. Just because my shirt says “I love my job” doesn’t mean you have to make a comment about it, and no, they don’t pay us to wear it.

Side note, if you’re going to make a joke about anything involving my tip or the bill, I will spit in your food. Just kidding, but really we’re all poor and worried about making this month’s rent, don’t joke about it.

8. The Flirt

Thank you for being nice to me, but no, I don’t want to grab a coffee on my break; no, I don’t want to give you my number and I definitely don’t want to see what you look like in the morning. I find it humorous when a customer thinks we are hitting on them when really we are just being polite. In reality, I would be fired if I told you to back the fuck off for being a pervert. You think you’re smooth by asking for my number and all I can think about is how to avoid this awkward situation and still get a good tip. Thank you for the gesture, but I’m going to go tell everyone in the back how creepy you were.

9. The Drunk

You are loud and obnoxious, but the bartender won’t turn you away because she is going to get a big tip out of you, even if it is 20 minutes past closing and I have to wait for all the guests to leave. You are not to be confused with the flirt or comedian but could be a mix of the two after you’ve thrown a few back. There’s a bar across the street, buddy, you need to get out of here.

10. The Long-Lost Friends

I am so glad that you have found each other once again and are talking about all your memories together and everything that has changed in your life. But please get out of my section, now. I am going to interrupt you mid-sentence, I’m not trying to be rude but y’all put up this force field making it impossible for me to politely ask you what you want to order. I like that I don’t have to talk to you guys but I don’t like being ignored. When I’m asking how you want to pay the bill and you guys start to fight over it, just realize I am internally screaming at you. Whatever you do, you long-lost friends, please don’t stay here all night. I can point you in the direction of seven different Starbucks if you want to just hang out and chat.

11. The Waiter/Waitress

I respect that you too are a waiter/waitress, but realize that I am only taking extra good care of you because I know you’re judging my every movement. I’m not really interested in your horror stories about the table you had that one night because I am probably having a table like that right now. Also if you are or have been a waiter you should know to not chill in my section all night. You of all people know that we need to turn and burn those suckers and I don’t want you staying there, no matter how much we have in common. I don’t go to restaurants and tell my waiter that I am also a waiter because I don’t want to expect anything more from them than I already do. Respect the waiter code, sit down, order, pay, leave.

12. The Compliment Tipper

If you write on the bill “excellent service” or “outstanding job” but leave a 10% tip, know that we despise you. Thank you for the kind words, did you know that my bank will accept these compliments for paying off my credit card bill? Just stop. If you don’t have enough money to tip well, then don’t come out to eat. I’m glad you thought I was nice and had good service but that’s not really what I’m looking for. If I did a good job, you can show me by tipping me.

13. The Geeks

You guys are the best. I love your “I am the Doctor” t-shirts, pink wigs, Deathly Hallows tattoos, and your insight on the world of Rivendell. However, don’t pull out your HearthStone and Pokémon cards and have a full-out battle, it’s weird. And now I just think that you’re going to stay here all night until your Charmander beats his Blastoise. It’s just not going to happen, sorry bro. Like I’ve said, I can point you in the direction of seven different Starbucks, or I’m sure one of your parents’ basements is open for the night. Otherwise y’all are interesting people and we have a lot in common and I’m thrilled when you draw on my receipts and tip well.

14. The Teenagers

We all see you walk in with your young, acne-ridden faces and daddy’s credit card, and we run. You don’t know the first thing about being in a restaurant, how to order for yourself, how to be quiet, or how to tip us. Granted, there are a few teenagers that will surprise us from time to time. Especially if you are included in the Waiter/Waitress category, because they understand how a restaurant works. But can’t you all just stay home and let your parents cook for you? I wish my mom still made me dinner every night. Also I hate you for making me refill your half sweet/unsweet, strawberry with a splash of raspberry tea six times.

15. The Regulars

Please sit in our section, request us as your server. Hell, sit out of our section, across the street and down a block and we will come running for you. If you are polite, tip well, and understand the basic concepts of our job, everyone will love you, know your order back to front, and nothing will ever come out wrong. Now if you are a regular, but you smell bad, tip poorly, and always ask to sit in “the blonde’s section,” we will know you, we will hate you. Go home, take a shower, find something more interesting than the blondes at our restaurant to be infatuated with, and don’t be a regular here.

16. The First-Time Guests

Welcome to (insert restaurant here). I will gladly tell you our veggie of the day and explain what comes on your filet salad. But if you don’t understand the difference between medium-rare and medium, or what ranch dressing tastes like, then you’re gonna have a bad time. The last thing I want is a clueless table that has seemed to have never eaten out. Ever. Were you born yesterday? If so, welcome to planet Earth, please get your shit together.


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