View Full Version : Waitressing horror stories?

03-08-2007, 02:54 AM
I've done just enough waiting of tables to know it's an absolutely miserable job. I think I lasted three days in an airport lounge before coming apart at the seams. (Plus the bus boy kept stealing my tips and my manager wouldn't do anything. I think he was cutting her in on the take.)

Can I get some waitressing (or waiter-ing?) horror stories? Looking for funny-in-retrospect or grr-I-can't-believe-the-customer-did-that! type stories, for a romance novel involving a smart ass waitress as the heroine. If I use your scene, I'll give you credit ... with pseudonyms cheerfully allowed. You know those customers that really just pissed you off ...? They so need to be immortalized.

(Obviously, no guarantees I'll sell it, but hey, it'll be fun to write.)


03-08-2007, 03:00 AM
I have about a year of experience with a new story every day. Glad I quit. Anyway, I cannot come up with a single story at the moment except the one which led to the end of my job... which is already in my novel. Sorry! :( I have to say, though, that I will be checking in again to see what some of you come up with.

Oh, there was that guy that grabbed my ass and pretended that it was his friend. Hello, I saw you. He was drunk. Very.

03-08-2007, 06:53 AM
Remember one night working at a Howard Johnsons wantabe where the hostess seated a customer at a table where the tip hadn't been cleared yet. The sixteen year old waitress asked the customer what happened to her tip and he lied. She comes back to the window where Jud and I are cooking and breaks into tears. Jud goes tearing out and demands the dude give the girl her tip. The stupid hostess starts yelling at Jud and I just sixteen at the time go out and just stare at the customer. He coughed up the tip and actually left one! Sometimes being ugly has its advantages.

Sandi LeFaucheur
03-08-2007, 07:23 AM
I was a waitress for four years in a Big Boy. I left when I could no longer keep up my seemingly single-handed fight against the grime. (This is in the mid-seventies.)

I remember the cook--a big, fat Greek guy--stomping on a mouse running across the kitchen floor. A huge cut of meat--I swear it was a giraffe leg from the size--dripping blood all over the same floor.

The boss, George, used to call me "Mouse" because I was quiet of nature. He had a habit of pinching the waitresses' bottoms. One day, in the middle of lunch rush, he grabbed mine just once too often. I wheeled around and delivered a right hook to his chin. "Sorry," I said (being well brought-up). "I didn't mean to hit you that hard." He never called me Mouse again, and kept his hands to himself, as far as I was concerned.

I remember carrying four cups of coffee, three empty cups, and three of those little metal teapots on saucers. The whole lot went. I had to clean up the floor before I could shove my arm under the cold tap. I got a yellow blister on the inside of my forearm about five inches by two inches by an inch high. Tips were fantastic when the customers saw it.

When I started, we wore these really heavy-guage vinyl aprons. You built up such a sweat under them, that they acted as a fantastic tummy-slimming device!

And I made the world's best hot fudge cake. Especially when it was for me.

Sandi LeFaucheur
03-08-2007, 07:24 AM
And I only spilled coffee in one customer's crotch, in four years. He richly deserved it.

Tsu Dho Nimh
03-08-2007, 06:56 PM
Semi-horror ... my 4-year old nephew went around a Denny's and collected ALL the tips. He brought them back to his mom and said "Look, mom, people are leaving money all over the tables."

We cleaned out his pockets and handed it all to the manager to sort out. It was right at one of those mid-dinner lulls where a lot of people have left, so the kid picked up a lot of money.

Sleaze customer story:
I was serving table "A", with my back to table "B" when the man sitting alone at "B" placed his hand about half-way between knee and crotch and started sliding it upwards.

I spun around, flipping the tray as I moved, and dumped four servings of the spaghetti special onto him. Head to lap, he was dripping with sauce and pasta.

Then I looked him straight in the eye and said "Oh, you startled me!" so he knew damned well it was 100% deliberate.

He tried to have me fired, but the boss just asked me "What did he do", I explaind the hand headed up the inside of my thigh and went back to work

Crap from other waitresses story:

I was not a full-time waitress, so they liked to assign me to tables with supposedly low-tipping customers, like large family groups and construction
workers. However ... making sure the coffee cups were full and smiling at the cute kids went a long way to increase tips. And the construction workers - although really dirty and tired - were great tippers.

03-08-2007, 07:45 PM
Later, when I'm done with work, I'll have to write you up several stories. I was a hostess, server, and shift manager at a Denny's for 6 years.

I have a bunch of good ones.

ETA: I worked 3rds too, so they're really good stories.

03-10-2007, 02:02 AM
I waitressed drinks at a cheezy strip joint. I've got quite a few horror stories.

03-10-2007, 06:21 AM
I'm not sure if this counts as waitering, but one time I worked at a concessions stand and across from us was another concessions stand operated by a different fund raised. The fund raiser who earned the most money by selling concessions would get...the most money.

I was getting a little annoyed that the other stand was getting more people, so I started waving my hands wildly, and hawking my wares like an 18th century vendor. It didn't work. In fact, I smashed my hands together and broke one of my thumbs.

But in the end, my stand sold more. Mostly because I wasn't there anymore, but...you know.

03-10-2007, 06:36 AM
My story isn't particularly horrid, except that I worked at a Zeller's Skillet (inside a Walmart-type department store) for a total of three weeks before I couldn't stand it anymore. It was in the late 70's and the shit-brown polyester uniforms were very stinky.

It was one of those 'get'em in and get'em out' places. No lingering over a cup of coffee, just move those customers out of there so we can fill the seats again.

I'm one of those list-makers - the type who likes to deal with orderly tasks. Waitressing doesn't involve any kind of order, even when you're taking orders, ha ha. I was frozen with the fear that I'd bring the wrong order to the wrong table, or a customer would be pissed that his food wasn't brought fast enough. I hated it with every fibre of my being.

During one of my breaks, I headed through the mall to the camera store, told them what an f-stop was, and they hired me on the spot. I headed back for the restaurant and gave one day's notice.

It was quite a few months before I could walk into Zellers without feeling sick from the smell of vinyl.

03-10-2007, 04:32 PM
My gran once threatened to hit a customer with a heavy silver tray if he didn't pay for the drinks he'd had.
He was well-known in the pub where she worked for pretending he'd already paid, and usually got away with it. This time, he didn't - and he always asked for my gran to serve him, after that.

03-10-2007, 10:14 PM
My gran once threatened to hit a customer with a heavy silver tray if he didn't pay for the drinks he'd had.
He was well-known in the pub where she worked for pretending he'd already paid, and usually got away with it. This time, he didn't - and he always asked for my gran to serve him, after that.

Have you ever seen the episode of Cheers when Harry the Hat cons Diane like this? It involves a pool table and a cover, I think.

03-10-2007, 10:39 PM
I was eating out with a huge group of people that I barely knew. I saw a tip on the table when we sat down, and then I looked over again and it was gone. When our waitress got over to us, I announced loudly that I had seen her tip SOMEWHERE around here. Perhaps one of the people at the other table was holding onto it for her. It reappeared a little later.

And me, my brother, and a couple of other people EACH left her about ten percent of the entire bill. Poor chick worked her ass off, and the rest of the party didn't pay any tips, so it was the least we could do for her.

Rolling Thunder
03-10-2007, 10:52 PM
I was at a club one time and a group of people sneaked out, leaving the waitress with a $100+ bill. She was in tears, having just returned from work after having a baby and money was tight. I mentioned it to my friends and we gave her the usual 20% plus the money to cover the deadbeats.

I had my own restaurant for three years, just finalizing the sale of it this month.

Worst. Business. To be. In. Ever.

If you think writing is tough, try food service. Writing is a stroll in the garden when compared to waitressing.

03-10-2007, 11:16 PM
I've never waited tables (fingers crossed for continued good fortune) but I have a little something from a customer's side that might fit nicely into a novel.

My mother-in-law was a lovely woman who either made a big dinner or took us out to dinner nearly every Sunday. However, her idea of a perfectly adequate tip was $2 and had nothing to do with the size of the check. The Tip Calculator we bought her as a not-so-subtle hint went unused.

So any time she took our family of four out to eat, I made sure I had fives and ones so I could leave a decent tip tucked under the edge of my plate or one of the kids', where she wouldn't see it.

Maryn, who tips hotel maids, too

03-10-2007, 11:32 PM
Thanks guys. *Grin*

My own favorite evil-customer story isn't precisely a waitressing story, but I got them to transfer me to a graveyard snack bar at the airport after the waitressing gig threatened to send me loony tunes.

Had a customer who objected to his expresso on the grounds that it was, well, expresso. It was too strong, he claimed. (!) He'd paid with an airline food voucher (his flight was canceled and he was stranded) but wanted a refund in cash, which I could not do. I couldn't even give him the voucher back by company policy. Per company policy, I could not give him anything else, either. I might note that this company was a bit on the ... draconian ... side, and customer service was a joke for them.

He was screaming at me to refund the money out of my own pocket if necessary -- I might note that we were paid minimum wage, I was a college student who had tuition coming up, and the expresso cost more than I was paid for an hour's worth of work. I wasn't about to pay him out of my own pocket.

Idiot THREW the expresso at me, though he'd been screaming for long enough that, at least, it wasn't hot enough to burn -- and I'd been doing the job long enough to have developed a good 'duck' reflex because that wasn't the first time something had been thrown at me by a customer.

Best part?

The man in line behind this drunken nitwit was a plain-clothes airport detective. *grin* Who promptly hauled the man off to the airport drunk tank. I don't think he was charged for anything, because I was never asked to give a statement, but it wouldn't surprise me if the cop kept him there long enough to sober up ... which, as drunk as he was, would have likely meant missing the next flight.

(These days, I suspect if you threw a screaming fit and chucked coffee at someone in an airport in the US, the reaction would be a bit stronger. This was in 1993.)

Cat Scratch
03-12-2007, 02:44 PM
Here's a gem from my archives:

This couple came and sat in my section, and I knew they would be a problem as soon as they started pulling out their own array of spices. Seriously, they brought about four shakers of spices to a restaurant. They then proceeded to order ONE omelet, which they intended to split, meaning their bill would be a measly ten bucks, meaning my tip would be a measly buck-fifty if they were nice, which I didn't expect them to be.

And their order went like this: "Omelet with ham and cheese, only leave the ham on the side and put it on an empty plate for him, and don't cut it up, just bring it out in one piece--" (which we can't do, because that's ordering a ham steak which costs extra and they were just being cheap) "--and sliced tomatoes on the side, but make sure the tomatoes are REALLY ripe, I like them as red as possible, and an English Muffin toasted well done, but not black, with no butter. We would also like two coffees with one Equal apiece and LOTS of creamer, because we both use a lot of cream. Also bring two waters with three lemons apiece."

So I bring them all of their stuff and the woman complains because I put a sugar caddie on their table instead of the one Equal apiece like I asked. She's all "I SAID we only need one each, we don't need this whole thing," and she pushed it away as if it would explode. She later asked for an extra plate, extra lemons, a fresh refill on coffee, and blah de blah de blah. When I asked how their meal was she went "It's okay, I guess," with a big sigh as if I were forcing her to eat it. I brought them everything they needed with a smile even, and their bill with coffee was about $15.

They tipped me a dollar IN CHANGE. Seriously folks, of you're both picky and cheap you have no business eating out in a restaurant.

I don't feel bad about deliberately giving them decaf instead of regular coffee.

03-12-2007, 04:44 PM
I suppose you didn't have access to strychnine?

Maryn, who never waitressed because she'd find a way to get some

03-12-2007, 05:09 PM
saddest experience:

Cold day, bitter winds outside. No customers.

An old fella comes in and asks me timidly how much a cup of hot water would cost. I figured he had his own tea bag. Looking around to make sure the owner wasnt watching, I gave him the hot water for free. He sat in a booth at the back.... and poured ketchup into the cup. Added crackers from the table caddy. Drank it. Left.

03-12-2007, 05:26 PM
I don't feel bad about deliberately giving them decaf instead of regular coffee.

These people were picky, but isn't that what they pay waitresses to do? Wait on the customer, so long as it's not causing any sort of harm (including harassment) to the waitress? I can understand the other horror stories, but this one seems like skiving off on the job, and not giving the customer what they paid for (i.e., a pleasant meal, complete with the correct order).

03-12-2007, 08:34 PM
I was a bartender/waitress at a local Irish sports bar for six years, so I had newbies and regulars. The guys on the south side are pretty blunt feeling it is their job to comment on your looks. One day a regular, who was a really bad tipper, came in and asked for a beer. As I was pouring it, he said, “You look like you’re putting on weight” to which I responded, “It looks like your forehead is getting bigger.”

Another regular, huge guy asked me, “Are you pregnant?” I responded, “No. Did you swallow a keg?”

I had one regular who was the worst tipper. He’d sit for hours and leave me a 25-cent tip, so I started serving his beer in glasses that still had lipstick smeared on the side.

I had a team of semi-pro baseball players come in to celebrate a win. They got drunk and one of them asked, “Do you want to f***?” I responded, “I’m not in a charitable mood right now.”

Yeah, I was a big hit as the bitchy smartass bartender.

03-12-2007, 08:53 PM
I waitressed for several years in various NJ diners, but I've tried to block out as many of the memories as possible. I'd rather gnaw off my own foot than take another waitressing job.

03-12-2007, 09:39 PM
Most disgusting experience:

A woman came in with a toddler and a baby of about 3 months; proceeded to change the baby's nappy at the table - & dropped the soiled one (& believe me, it had been well & truly used) it onto my tray as I walked past.

I made it to the dustbins outside before gagging - but it was a close thing.

Tipwise - she never left a thing.

Cat Scratch
03-12-2007, 11:09 PM
These people were picky, but isn't that what they pay waitresses to do? Wait on the customer, so long as it's not causing any sort of harm (including harassment) to the waitress? I can understand the other horror stories, but this one seems like skiving off on the job, and not giving the customer what they paid for (i.e., a pleasant meal, complete with the correct order).

Sure, I suck for not giving them the exact order. It was a judgement call--there was no regular coffee brewed at the time, and waiting would have certainly made them irate. Better to give them decaf and refill with regular (which I did) than have them scream at me.

Also, a dollar in change certainly wasn't "paying me to do" much of anything. If you'll note, that was not even 15%, nor was it even minimum wage, as I spent over an hour bending to their every whim. As I also mentioned, I was extremely pleasant and prompt in giving them exactly everything else they asked for, including the ham steak which I was supposed to charge them for and didn't.

03-12-2007, 11:15 PM
I love waitressing and i like everyone as equal. I end up talking to the majority of the customers about all sorts or they end up talking to me, and end up giving me tips.

I did some pint pulling at an executive spot up at Chelsea FC stadium once and there were alot of drunk people, a group started hitting on me and the rest of the employees but, i handled it and they shut up.

03-12-2007, 11:20 PM
Wow, I'm racking my brain for you... I currently wait tables at the Cheesecake Factory. I did have a couple come in the other day with their own drinks (soda in gas station fountain cups). Not a horror story, but also not the classiest move. And it's always nice when you walk up to a table and say "Hi, how are you?" and the answer is "Diet Coke." Ok, I'll get right on that for you...

Stacia Kane
03-13-2007, 04:25 PM
I've been a bartender and a waitress. I worked at the counter at a taco restaurant on South Beach, where I:

a) Once had a guy "make himself happy" under the counter;

b) had the following digusting experience:

We used to get this cab driver in, a real jerk, who we called "Red Beard" (self-explanatory.) Once day Red Beard got some dental work done. he had an extraction. Red Beard came in a couple of days later for food. (Warning: this story still turns my stomach, and it's thirteen years later.)

Red Beard gets his taco or burrito or whatever and asks for toothpicks and a paper towel when he is done eating. he then proceeds to pick the food out of the hole in his gum with the toothpick and wipe it on the paper towel, all the while explaining to me what he's doing and saying things like, "See? That came out of my gum!"

I had to keep sipping soda for hours afterward not to throw up.