Weekend Contest: Win A Copy of “Waiter Rant”

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The publishers of “Waiter Rant,” a new book that’s getting lots of great press, have kindly offered to give away TEN COPIES of “Waiter Rant” to Amateur Gourmet readers. If you’d like to win a copy, here’s what you do:

In the comments, tell us a funny waiter story. It could be a story about time you spent as a waiter or something that happened to you involving a waiter. The ten people with the funniest stories will win a copy of the book. Make sure to fill-in your e-mail address with your comment so we know how to contact you.

[Note: My blog’s spam filter can be a little aggressive and if you get a message that says your comment is being held, do not worry; I will approve it later on. You’ll see!]

Contest ends Sunday night at midnight.

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71 comments

  1. i worked for a catering company for the summer before i left for college. it was my third day and i was working my first wedding. we were clearing the tables at the end. not only did i remove all the centerpieces from all of the tables because i didn’t realize they belonged to the bride and groom, but i loaded a tray up with two tables’ worth of champagne flutes and water glasses. i was wobbling the tray on my shoulder, trying to get back to the kitchen. one flute tipped over, causing a bowling-pin-like response and sending about 16 champagne flutes crashing to the ground. i dropped my shoulder to try to stop the avalanche and lost all of the other glasses. all of this occurred about 3 feet from the kitchen door. :( they didn’t fire me though!

    also i was waitressing at a mexican restaurant during college and burned my hand on a fajita plate while carrying it to the table and dropped steak fajitas all over my legs and shoes. i reeked of onions for the rest of the night.

  2. When I was 15 years old my employment opportunities were obviously extremely limited so when my mother offered to help me get a job as a waiter at her place of employment I jumped at the chance. I was interviewed, hired and began working shortly thereafter. What I have yet to mention is that my mother was an executive assistant at a retirement community that had a surprisingly upscale restaurant on site. It was a far cry from scrubs and week-old jello with all of the wait staff decked out in vests with bow ties and a menu where it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see filet and lobster regularly. Great pay, excellent free meals to take home at the end of the night and close enough that my parents didn’t mind driving me to and from work. What more could a 15 year old want out of a job?

    The catch was that in addition to serving the people who lived in houses within the community we also served an earlier meal to the live-in residents most of whom had gone a little off the deep end. This was a double-edged sword as they could be difficult to deal with but more often than not had forgotten what they ordered by the time it was placed in front of them so they generally left happy. While I’m sure I could fill a small book with stories about them (there was a woman named Celia who dumped our entire bowl of mints from the host station into her purse on the way out EVERY night with a huge grin on her face) my personal favorite memories occurred later in shifts.

    At the time I had yet to hit a growth spurt, was just shy of 5 foot, rail thin and weak as can be. This proved a problem when I needed to lift trays with 6+ dinners over my head to bring out to the dining room (those old folks sure liked to push tables together!) Fortunately I only dropped two trays in my year working there but both produced memorable results and happened during the same week. The first began with a tray of six dinners over my head. I was walking past a table on my way to another and a man quickly pushed his chair back to stand up knocking my legs out from under me in one clean swoop and knocking Mr. Schur’s beef stroganoff down the back of his shirt directly through the collar. Needless to say he was unhappy. I apologized profusely with a shirt covered in another dinner but even 15 year old me realized that I wasn’t entirely at fault. I reminded him that he’d insisted on placing multiple tables together and sitting in a high traffic area as only a 15 year old can. He was unimpressed.

    The second spill was a few days later and I wish I could remember the name of the woman because she was sweet as can be. I was carrying a small tray of drinks out to her table and about to serve them when my vest got stuck on her chair as I tried to squeeze past (our dining room was clearly very poorly laid out) and she received an unexpected shower of cranberry juice directly on her white blouse. I don’t think I have ever apologized more in my life. I rushed back to get napkins and proceeded to apologize every time I came back to the table the entire night. The funny thing was that her house was no more than 100 yards away and she could have easily ducked out to change but she didn’t seem to care at all. She laughed, enjoyed her dinner with her husband and friends and went home with a mildly entertaining story about a clumsy waiter. I think that is the type of person I would like to be when I grow old. The type that can take a face full of cranberry juice, look up through my dripping glasses and say “what’s for dessert?”

  3. I occasionally work for my aunt at her catering business.

    So I was bussing tables one night, for a group of about 300, 8-15 year old youth bowlers (yes, as in the pins and balls with 3 holes).

    We were all pretty annoyed by this group already…they were the type (and age I guess) who make swamp water with the salt and pepper, smear food on the tables, overfill their plates and leave half of their food over…

    I already had a good armful of dirty dishes and decided to grab just one more – it was a bit of a greasy plate (hello – napkins?) and had quite a bit of food left on it.

    The plate slipped, the food slid and I watched in horror as some poor pre pubescent kid got to finish his dinner…in his lap.

    Remember middle school? The teasing? The endless picking on of anyone who did anything remotely embarrassing?

    Yeah. Brought me right back.

    At least I had the courtesy to take a bow.

  4. This waiter story is short, but sweet. By sweet, I mean slightly revolting. I was in a restaurant with my family ages ago near the end of service. Our waiter was clearing off the tables nearby, then walked into the kitchen and yelled to the rest of the staff: “Hey! Has anybody seen the clean rag?!”

    This does not put a great deal of faith in the customer for a clean dining experience.

  5. I was about 13 years old and spending a lovely summer night out to dinner in the depths of Michigan. My sister and I had been relegated to the (always more fun) kids table with our friends. When our nice waitress came around to ask if we would like any dessert, of course we said yes. She gave us menus and left us time to peruse them. Now that I think back she must not have been much older than 18 but, at my age, seemed like a hip adult. We looked at the menu and I saw what I wanted to order…Tiramisu. I must have had it before because there was no description – only the title, and yet I wanted it. Neither my Sister or our friends knew what it was, and I couldn’t explain it so after ordering I asked our waitress (like any fancy-interested-adult in a restaurant), “What IS tiramisu?” She smiled and said, “Oh, it’s really good.” There was a pause at the table and my Sister, wanting a more specific description nicely continued, “Yes, but what IS it?” The waitress, now showing her age, responded smiling, “It’s really good, really light. I could eat it all night.” And with that she retreated to the kitchen. We looked around at eachother and tried to contain our laughter. For a while after that, we described any unknown item as “really good, really light, you could eat it all night.”

  6. Each year, the highlight of the year for the 5th graders at my elementary school was the 3 day overnight trip they got to take to Mt. St. Helens. Unfortunately for my two best friends and I, none of our parents had the time to take off and drive us, so we were stuck in a car with the vice principal, Mr. Kimball. Three days of driving in the May sun around a volcano and camping out in the mountains (listening to a tape of Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever on endless repeat), it was a pretty fun trip. The campsite did have facilities, but as far as we could tell Mr. Kimball was not using them–we had been making fun of him for his body odorific stench for the entire trip–we weren’t the most obiedient children. Finally, on the last day, we got to stop at a place called Caitin’s in Centralia, WA for a breakfast before heading home. After we sat, and with no prompting by us three troublemakers, our waitress turned to our vice principle and said “Did you forget to take your shower this morning?”

    We dissolved into giggles that I’m pretty sure lasted all the way back to Seattle.

  7. This is language humor…but in a restaurant service setting!

    So I’ve been frequenting a “cha chaan teng” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cha_chaan_teng) in the Oakland Chinatown.

    The place is called Happy Cafe, which already lends itself to all kinds of bad jokes since almost everything on the menu is named “Happy (food item).”

    But onward to the waitress story. All the lunch specials come with either rice or spaghetti, so when I ordered a baked porkchop, the waitress (a middle-aged Chinese woman wearing a black t-shirt that said “Daddy’s Girl”) asked if I wanted rice or spaghetti.

    The phrase “I’d like rice” is “Yeew fan” in Cantonese, while the word for “spaghetti” is “yee fun.” The dialogue is literally as follows:

    Daddy’s girl: Spaghetti or rice?

    Me: I’d like rice.

    Daddy’s girl: Spaghetti?

    Me: No, I’d like rice.

    Daddy’s girl: Spaghetti?

    Me: No, I’d like rice.

    Daddy’s girl: Spaghetti?

    Me: No, I’d like rice.

    Daddy’s girl: Spaghetti?

    Me: No, I’d like rice.

    Daddy’s girl: Spaghetti?

    Me: No, I’d like rice.

    Daddy’s girl: Oh, rice.

    Me: …yes

    When I realized why she had taken so long to understand, I felt bad and bumped up the tip. Oh, language humor..

  8. More embarrassing then funny. I was a server through most of college…..

    One night, working in the restaurant, had a table come in, server put them in my section, typical restaurant night, blah blah blah. I never payed too much attention because I had worked at this restaurant for several years and knew the inner and outer workings of everything. The two people at my table are really nice, although the gentleman looks really familiar. I don’t interrupt too much because they seem to be having a pretty in depth conversation. I eventually bring the check and they leave a really great tip.

    For whatever reason, the rest of the shift got really busy and I had to work really hard. One of the other servers cornered me in the wait station and asked if I had any idea who the gentleman was at my first table. I replied I didn’t and they kinda just laughed at me, shocked that I didn’t know what it was. The night got busier and I never got to follow up.

    After the shift was over I ran to a bar a block away to have some drinks with some friends. As I was picking up a round of shots and drinks the same gentleman who was sat at my table approached me. I didn’t know if it was because he wanted money back because he accidentally left too big of a tip but I acknowledged him and he said, “You don’t have any idea who I am, do you?” I replied no and he laughed and said something along the lines of, that is great. He then bought my round of drinks for me and my friends and I thanked him and left. Apparently, one of my friends got a better look at him and it turned out to be John Malkovich. Who, is apparently, a really nice guy and a great tipper.

  9. A waitress through and in the few years immediately following college I have more stories then I would like. I still wait tables on the weekends in a busy Irish pub so most of my stories involve someone who was very very drunk. I don’t actually have one specific storry, but here are some highlights:

    1. Being told I didn’t know something because I “just worked in bar”.

    2.Dancing with a seventy year old drunk man in a kilt (we have live music), who was then told he would be asked to leave should he try to stick his hand up the waittresses shirt again.

    3. Being handed someone’s child and asked if I could “just look after her” while her parents ate. And yes they pointed out her diper bag should I need it.

    4. Being proposed to by 5 drunk rugby coaches within a two day span. 3 of them were already married.

    5. Asking a newly married bride and groom to please refrain from dancing.

    And all this from only 3 years in one restaurant. And again these are the tings that have happened to me. Nevermind all my coworkers.

  10. Funny story:

    I once went to a restaurant and ordered a full meal. After I finished eating, the waiter presented the check, and I shot him. Then I waddled out of the building!

    Oh, wait…. There’s someting about me that I should have mentioned at the start of the story….

  11. We were eating lunch at a new Tex-Mex restaurant that was very busy. I ordered a Buffalo Chicken sandwich and when it came to my table it was a bare chicken breast on a bun. When I asked the waitress about the buffalo sauce and bleu cheese, she informed me that the kitchen was very backed up and if I wanted a new sandwich my order would be put in at the back of the line and would take a long time so I should just eat it as is. I protested, because a naked chicken sandwich was not what I ordered, and she countered with, “Listen Lady, there is nothing I can do for you.” At this point I asked for the manager, explained the situation to him and in less than one minute he had a bowl of buffalo sauce and another of bleu cheese on the table (which was perfectly acceptable to me). The waitress then quit right on the spot and walked out.

  12. Being in the service industry for over 15 years, I have way too many horrifying and funny stories to share…Here’s a short but sweet one.

    I was working a late night shift when Al Pacino had a reservation for 6 at our small LA restaurant. His entourage arrived first, and, much to our disappontment, they were very high maintenance. Regardless, we smiled and cajoled them, and sat the party immediately. The entourage insisted on a “more private” table. Being a small restaurant, there was no such thing. We moved them to the table of their dreams, regardless.

    Al showed up. He was great. Relaxed, funny, considerate. He was all the things you’d hope for in an Academy Award winning actor. 30 min. later, more friends showed–increasing the party size to 8 people. We very quickly made some adjustments to the dining room floor plan and moved the party (again) to a new table–which turned out to be the first table we were going to seat them at.

    Dinner goes off without a hitch.The food was great. Service impeccable. Everyone was happy. Al held court at his table for several hours. So late, in fact, he closed the restaurant. It wasn’t until well past midnight when I was able to sit down to take a quick break (I was a manager at the time) to eat my dinner.

    Around 1 AM, Al and his friends got up from the table to leave. As I got up to say goodnight, Al waved me away and said to me in that trademarked Hoo-Haaaah voice of his:

    “Siiiiiiit down.” He winked at me. “Reeeelax. It’s late. Eat your dinnah. I’m outta here.”

    He waved as exited the restaurant.

    “Siiiit down” continues to be a favorite punch line at the restaurant.

    Brooke

  13. In high school my friends and I basically lived at Denny’s because that’s what you do when you’re in high school, you sit at Denny’s drink coffee and chain smoke right? So a large group of us were at a Denny’s we didn’t usually frequent, and one friend of mine decided to be the “Smarmy suck up to the waitress guy”. When she first approached our table he asked her if she wanted to sit down because she looked tired. With a dead look on her face she said “I just started my shift, you’re my first table” I knew it was down hill from there. She was in no mood to deal with 8 high school students who she knew would just sit at her table for hours and not leave a very good tip – her opinion, not necessarily the truth. When it was time for our drink orders the same Smarmy friend ordered “Coffee and water… but separate” because he thinks he’s funny. When she brought our drinks she served him last. She put down a half full glass of water and then dumped the coffee from a coffee cup into it and walked away. We all laughed. When she delivered our food there was no drama, except that there was a “mysterious” bowl of peas that no one could account for. I told Smarmy friend that they came with his meal (he had ordered a dinner of some sort, not breakfast or a sandwich) and he refused to believe me. We asked the waitress and she informed him that I was correct, they were his peas “and you’re not leaving until you eat them all” she said. He didn’t want the peas and so he tried to dump them in a napkin but she but she totally busted him. That’s when she took a spoon off the table and began to try to force feed him the peas. I believe he ate one spoonful and she laughed and left us alone for the rest of the evening but we still tell the story of the “Psycho Denny’s Waitress” almost every time we get together.

  14. My funniest waiter story happened at my wedding. My husband’s cousin was one of the ushers at the wedding so was dressed in a tux. By the middle of the wedding he took the jacket off and only had a tie and vest on. The waiters were also dressed in white shirts and vests. We had a crapes station at the reception and after everyone had enough of crapes the waiter from there left but still left the ingredients around. My husband’s cousin works as a waiter himself at another catering so he knew how to make crapes so he decided to make some for himself and his date while no one else was there. My mother walked up to him thinking he was a waiter and asked him to make some crapes for her too. She was very surprised to find out that he was a guest at the wedding rather then a waiter (she has never seen him before the wedding). It’s been 8 years after the weeding but she still tells this story to everyone.

    My worst waiter experience was when we went out to eat at very nice restaurant with some distant family. The waiter (must have been her first day) came around to refill our water glasses. She picked up my glass and was pouring water in it behind my back. She has accidentally overfilled the glass and spilled about half pitcher of ice cold water down the back of my pants. Thank god it was in the summer and my pants dried relatively quickly but it was awful and the restaurant just apologized and did not reimburse us in any way. (Complementary desert would have been appropriate!)

  15. I was at a very fancy French bistro with my parents and sister. All the servers had French names like Jean-Luc and Pierre, and spoke with heavy accents. My mother rather loudly said “I wonder if their accents are real”. Then the servers who were previously communicating with each other in only English suddenly started speaking French to each other.

    Sacre bleu!

  16. Back in the day, I used to tend bar in Howard Beach, NY. It’s right by JFK and is filled to the gills with Italian-American people. The bar was a cute, outdoor spot, and the people who patronized it were awesome. We also served crabs, lobster, assorted seafood (we were a seafood/crab bar, really, that happened to serve beer). So one day, close to closing time, a guy came in, dressed in a Kangol hat and a sweatsuit, complete with wifebeater underneath (the top was unzipped halfway to reveal his gold chain). He swaggered into the place, pulled up a seat, and when I went over to take his drink order, he greeted me with “Hey. How you doin’.” Totally straight faced. I took his beer order and put my head down to hide my giggles. So I go back over to him, and he places a food order for something that we’d run out of. So I said “I’m so sorry, we’re out of that, is there something else I can get you?” and he responded – hand to God, I can’t make this stuff up – “Ay… oh… fuhgeddabout it…” looked real disappointed, then said, “I’ll just finish my beer, ahh” . He left me a generous tip despite having only drank one beer, but he also left me with this great story, so. (Everything he said was punctuated with a heavy Italian-American accent…)

  17. Kevin – if you’re my cousin, it wasn’t the (Daddy’s Girl) waitress’s fault she couldn’t understand your awful accent, the whole family agrees you should stick to English please. Hahahaha

  18. Back in 2000, when my now-wife and I were still dating, we had dinner at Mesa Grill in New York City. After dinner, I very uncharacteristically (for me) ordered a decaf coffee. This led the waiter to ask, “Don’t want to keep you up all night?” — to which my wife almost immediately responded, “No, that’s *my* job!”

    The waiter actually stopped in his tracks and appeared to ponder this response, momentarily confused (or at least it looked that way). Then I guess the light bulb went off — he turned to my wife and, with a massively goofy grin on his face, quite literally gave her a big double thumbs-up.

    Needless to say, we — and the tables around us — were quite amused.

  19. Back in 2000, when my now-wife and I were still dating, we had dinner at Mesa Grill in New York City. After dinner, I very uncharacteristically (for me) ordered a decaf coffee. This led the waiter to ask, “Don’t want to keep you up all night?” — to which my wife almost immediately responded, “No, that’s *my* job!”

    The waiter actually stopped in his tracks and appeared to ponder this response, momentarily confused (or at least it looked that way). Then I guess the light bulb went off — he turned to my wife and, with a massively goofy grin on his face, quite literally gave her a big double thumbs-up.

    Needless to say, we — and the tables around us — were quite amused.

  20. During college, my best friend and I spent more time at the local TGI Friday’s than I care to admit. (Be honest – It’s a bit of a Foodie “Walk-of-Shame Down Memory lane”!) Typically, we would get coffee, maybe some french fries and camp out in the afternoon for hours of studying. One evening, however, we decided to head there for Happy Hour with some girls from school. Everything was going fine, with many a sugary, frothy, icy schooner of booze being downed, but when our favorite waiter (Ted? Jeff? We were there enough that we knew at the time!) left for the end of his shift, we were stuck with a new waitress with a severely bad attitude, even for Dayton, Ohio. After putting up a preposterous delay (How long does it take to get a drink… at a bar??) and a number of snide remarks, my genius friend decided it was time to summons the manager. When he came over, and we explained our dissatisfaction with the treatment from the waitress (quite eloquently, or so it seemed at the time) he apologized profusely and offered some free hot fried, processed cheese, which we gladly accepted. This exchange, however, only seemed to further aggravate our poor server, and this time, the remarks were not snide, but blatant, and ANGRY. She refused to continue serving us (someone in the group had long since been funneling drinks directly from the bar, which I blame entirely for what transpired next!) and stormed off, ripping off her apron, and flipping us the bird through the window as she walked to her car. My friend, likely 3+ mudslides over the limit, again approached the manager, who, baffled by our repeated reproach, apologized again and asked kindly “What do you want me to do about this?” My friend, (who clearly should not have been responsible for the PR of our group) stood, pointed her index finger at him, and, (poking him in the chest for effect), said “I’ll TELL you what I want you to do! I want to go back into your LITTLE room and THINK about what you’re going to do!!!”

    Mortification is stronger than booze.

    My friend had to write a letter of apology the next day to ensure our regular table would be welcoming, and that no one would spit in our watery coffee.

  21. I worked as a waiter / busboy at a restaurant throughout high school and college. Like many a young man I tried to impress woman in odd ways; hoping that my barrel chest or ability to eat a bucket of wings in a sitting would win their affection.

    Unfortunately the cooks at the restaurant knew this and decided to exploit it as frequently as possible. Upon our first shipment of Dave’s Insanity Hot Sauce the cooks set a trap. In the presence of a particular waitress they suggested I could not handle a drop of the new sauce’s heat. Being a bull headed 17 year old, eager to impress the waitress I suggested that they do their worst.

    The cooks took a large piece of french bread and spread the sappy mahogoney brown hell broth onto a piece of bread as if it were peanut butter. I was handed the bread and I pushed the entire piece into my mouth without a thought….

    After 20 – 30 seconds of false hope the reality of the situation decended upon me. Prior to that moment I had never contemplated what an inferno felt like. The cooks seeing the look on my face suggested that water was the best bet, I ran through the kitchen, beat red with my nose running in search of a sink. I knocked a dish washer into a full sink of escarole before arriving at the rear sink. I spent 15 minutes under that sink – each minute the heat increased.

    Finally a cook took pity on me and suggested milk would actually help. I ran again across the kitchen to the walk in. I grabbed a half gallon and squeezed it over my mouth with such force that the carton exploded and I was covered from head to toe in milk. The reality of the situation did not hit me until I looked over and the very waitress who I was trying to impressed was staring dumbfounded at my milk covered bust.

    I spent the rest of the evening serving tables with a running nose, a red face and hair crusted with residual milk.

    The lesson: never antagonize a line cook.

  22. In my early 20’s, I worked with a catering company as a server for large parties. One party of about 70, things went wrong. Food wasn’t ready so we were essentially told to get everyone drunk, which we did. Two hours into the dinner, still no food so we as the servers began to drink too. Finally, dinner and the moment of catering beauty. The servers would parade around the room with flaming Baked Alaskas. My best friend and I wore cheap thrift store polyester shirts. As she paraded in front of me, I noticed the flaming Baked Alaska had set her shirt on fire! No one else noticed, much to my further amusement. My friend ducked behind a screen, threw her baked Alaska on the ground and put herself out. Weirdly enough, although the polyester had been on fire, there were no scorch marks. Miracle fabric indeed. We both quit catering that night.

  23. I grew up in California and took dance classes as a kid. One year we performed Cinderella and we had a very sweet local dancer play Prince Charming. He was so nice to us girls and we were all sad when the show ended.

    Several years later, I was going to school in New York and sitting down for an after-show drink with friends at Café Un Deux Trois. Our waiter walked up and it was Prince Charming! We had one of those weird “how do I know you?” moments and then laughed at the funny coincidence and caught up. He gave us great service, showered us with free stuff and made us poor college students feel like royalty.

    I hope Prince Charming has stopped being a waiter and has made it on to Broadway.

  24. If you’ve seen the Guy Fieri T.G.I. Friday’s ads, read on.

    A few weeks ago, I grudgingly agreed to go along with my friends to T.G.I. Friday’s. We had little money, so we decided to go for the Right Portion Right Price menu, which offers smaller sized entrees for 6.99-8.99. The meal was fine, I mean, we were at T.G.I. Friday’s. Always anxious for fun and games however, near the end of the meal, my friend and I decided to do a little Guy Fieri impersonation. We saw the manager walking around checking on tables, and assuming he knew all the commercials set about our prank.

    We went to the bathroom, using water to slick back our hair and make it stand up. We borrowed a pair of sunglasses from our other friends and did our best to give off that laid-back, surfer dude, vibe. Soon the manager came over and asked how everything was. I responded, “Great, with your new right portion right price menu” then pointed at my friend who continued “have enough money to buy these ladies some dessert” we then slapped eachother five. The manager laughed a little bit and was about to go to the next table before I asked in a now serious voice “you know what we’re talking about right.” He responded “No I actually have no idea.” We offered no further description and promptly bowed our heads in disappointment. Hey! At least we got the courtesy laugh.

  25. If you’ve seen the Guy Fieri T.G.I. Friday’s ads, read on.

    A few weeks ago, I grudgingly agreed to go along with my friends to T.G.I. Friday’s. We had little money, so we decided to go for the Right Portion Right Price menu, which offers smaller sized entrees for 6.99-8.99. The meal was fine, I mean, we were at T.G.I. Friday’s. Always anxious for fun and games however, near the end of the meal, my friend and I decided to do a little Guy Fieri impersonation. We saw the manager walking around checking on tables, and assuming he knew all the commercials set about our prank.

    We went to the bathroom, using water to slick back our hair and make it stand up. We borrowed a pair of sunglasses from our other friends and did our best to give off that laid-back, surfer dude, vibe. Soon the manager came over and asked how everything was. I responded, “Great, with your new right portion right price menu” then pointed at my friend who continued “we have enough money to buy these ladies some dessert” pointing at the middle aged women dining behind us. We then slapped eachother five. The manager laughed a little bit and was about to go to the next table before I asked in a now serious voice “you know what we’re talking about right.” He responded “No I actually have no idea.” We offered no further description and promptly bowed our heads in disappointment. Hey! At least we got the courtesy laugh.

  26. My best waiter story was when my ex, my sister and I went to an hibachi restaurant while I was pregnant. We got seated with the only other people who were at the restaurant that early, an older couple, their mid-twenties son, and his 18 year old girlfriend. The mother spent the entire time quizzing the girlfriend on her studies and trying to make her look inferior, while she drinking her dinner and rattling the poor chef. Then she made some nasty comments about us. As we were leaving, the poor, harrassed waitress pulled us aside to tell us that she was very sorry for the woman’s behavior, and that she always had an excuse to drink her dinner, this time it was my ex’s fish allergies. The dinner had been comical to watch before, (especially since the girlfriend was oblivious,) but that news just took it over the top.

  27. For my 22nd birthday this year we went to a hibachi restaurant for dinner. This particular one happened to be one of the nicer places in Minneapolis, and as such, we were the youngest patrons in their completely full dining room by a good 20 years or so. After we ordered all of our food as our chef was getting started we were pouring wine and just chatting. He started to twirl his spatula on a fork and happened to look away for a second which was just enough time for the spatula to come loose and fly across the flat top at my roommate. It shattered his just filled wine glass and then hit him. He was really startled as he wasn’t paying attention at the time. Needless to say we all started laughing as the majority of the front desk and managers rushed over to apologize to us and replace the wine and pay for dry cleaning. All the chef said about it was, “Oops! Too much sake!”

  28. After my grandmother died in 1980, Grandpa Ward took himself out to eat every Friday night at their favorite diner. Some of the waitresses, who still wear the black cotton dresses with white aprons, have worked there 50+ years. My brother and I, who live in another state, visited one weekend in the late 90s at the same time with our kids.

    Now Grandpa was never known as a big tipper. His idea of a decent tip was leaving some silver colored coins to go with the copper colored ones. Never would he leave an actual bill. This particular weekend, seven of us ate at the diner and although it was a cheap place even by diner standards, I could not stomach the thought of Vera – a healthy, hard working waitress clearly in her later years – getting only 53 cents for her tip.

    At the door, my brother distracted Grandpa and I went back to the table to drop some bills. Vera – a sage woman – asked what I was doing. “We just wanted to give you a proper tip. You were so great to us tonight and I know Grandpa doesn’t really understand about tipping.” Vera, without missing a beat, responded with a wink, “Honey, your Grandpa tips me in other ways besides money.”

    Grandpa died in 2004 at age 95 but that story of Grandpa Ward – Ward the Love Lord – will live on in the family forever!

  29. On a visit to NYC as a young married couple (1972?), we treated ourselves to dinner at A La Fourchette. We ordered mussels, for possibly the first time. As we neared finishing, the waiter asked if we’d enjoyed dinner. We enthusiastically said, “Yes.” He asked if we’d like more. We nodded, and what must have been an entire order appeared a few minutes later. At no charge.

  30. I was waiting tables in Bangor, Maine and Stephen King came in and I tried to say how much I enjoyed portions of a very large novel he’d written and he took offense and ask the manager to fire me.

    Because it was “portions” I guess…

    I kept the job but the bext time Mr. King came in I gave the table to someone else!

  31. On my 21st birthday several years ago, my friends took me out to a casual restaurant for dinner and drinks. After overhearing it was my birthday, the waiter presented me with a nice dessert and a few balloons, one of which was shaped like a …gulp…penis complete with balls.

    I had no idea handing out sexual balloons was customary in a restaurant for one’s birthday. Oh, and he also made sure he had his picture taken with me holding it. :-)

  32. I love the numerous funny stories I have gained through interacting with waitstaff…because we are all simply…. people who make mistakes!

    Picking the best story is hard, but here it goes:

    I visited the Cheesecake Factory and ordered the Roasted Vegetable Pizza with goat cheese. However, I ordered it as a “Roasted Vegetable pizza with no cheese”. Needless to say, my somewhat confused waiter brought out a cheese covered pizza that I proceeded to eat (not that I dont like cheese, but try it w/o….it’s good to mix it up once in a while). After that, she showed up with 2 slices of cheesecake (none of which my friend or I had ordered)…when we told her she looked confused, left the desserts with us and walked away. We decided not to eat them because we did not want to be charged. When she came back to the table she took the cheesecakes and gave us our check. Of course, we still left the poor thing a tip…..HOWEVER (this is the best part)…as we were walking out (we left the tip on the table)…she came after us as we were walking away form our table and she informed us that we had left money sitting on the table.. “ummm….that’s your tip!” lol It was such an interesting night (not to mention the extremely busy atmosphere and plates and cups being dropped all around us)……It was great! ;)

  33. For my 15th birthday dinner my family took me out to Outback. Shortly after I had finished my meal I excused myself to the restroom. A moment or two later the waitress knocked on my stall and asked if I was okay and when I thought I would be out–this should have been my first clue something was up–I mean, that’s a little personal for a server/customer relationship, right? So, I finished my business and when I stepped out of the restroom door there was the entire wait staff with a small bowl of icecream with a candle sticking out of it. I began to walk back to the table with the group behind me singing their fabulous version of the birthday song. Looking back I should have turned around and conducted them or led them like a marching band or something. But, as the awkward teen that I was I turned beet red and walked with my head hung low, took my seat and shot mean looks at my family who had so thoughtfully arranged this birthday treat. I am forever more unable to use the restaurant restroom on my birthday.

  34. As a lifer, I’ve had my fair share of what I’d euphemistically call “interesting” experiences while serving but the best had to be when I was bartending at a wine bistro in the east end of Toronto.

    It was a slow night so I was serving as well as bartending. A table of three was having dinner, two guys and a lady.

    She was kind of drunk and being loud and obnoxious while they were trying to have a good time without indulging her too much.

    After their meal, I was pouring the last of their wine when she accused me of trying to get her drunk so that one of her friends would be able to take her home.

    Without giving it any thought, I glibly replied with a comment about how whichever one of them did would be “taking one for the team.”

    They definitely got it but she didn’t; good thing because I probably would’ve gotten fired for that slip!

  35. I walked into Pizza Hut one day for the first time. We sat down and ordered as we were waiting a waiter slipped and broke a plate, depositing someones dinner on the floor.

  36. This story happened to my best friend and I never quite new how she recovered from it. She was a struggling waitress in our hometown of Sarasota, FL which is the land of blue hairs and retirees. Melissa was going to school full time, working at a law firm, but still needed to waitress for money so she took a job at a restaurant called the “Lazy Lobster”. Her heart wasn’t in it.

    One evening, she had a rather large table of 6 older people who were rough on her from the moment they came in. They were demanding and called her a horrible waitress to her face. Eventually, she took their order hoping that once they got their orders they’d be gone quickly.

    She went about her night and kept noticing that no food had been bussed to the table. An HOUR had passed. As she went to check on the order she realized that she had never put the order in. Bad enough.

    But wait-there’s more. Turns out that she wrote down their order on the last page of her waitress pad and had thrown it away an hour ago.

    So yes, my humble friend had to go back to the table of a-holes an hour after they had been waiting for food and re-take their order…undoubtedly one of the worst waitress moments of all time…

  37. I used to work at a small hot dog fast food shop during high school. It was a local shop and we always used to try and play jokes on each other during work. There was a big thing of thinly sliced pickles that used to go on top of each of the hot dogs that the cooks used. One of the more original ones was that we used to try and see how many sliced pickles we could place upon the back upper shoulders of a waiter or waitress. One time we were able to put half a dozen on a guy waiter who thought a little too highly of himself before he went to take an order at a table that had just entered. Not only could we hardly contain our laughter but the table he waited on did as well after he walked away from them.

  38. My father and I went to a large TexMex chain once, and my father ordered taquitos. In the middle of the meal our waitress came over and asked how everything was. “Ok,” was my dad’s response. The waitress looked stricken as she scurried away from the table. Moments later the manager arrived, with the waitress looking nervous behind him. The manager apologized for the taquitos being only “ok” and over my father’s protestations the manager gave us complimentary dessert and a book of coupons for the restaurant. The whole time I was watching the waitress behind him looking ashamed of the mediocre taquitos — it reminded me of the Monty Python sketch where the whole restaurant staff goes nuts over a dirty fork.

  39. Picture it. New York City, the summer of 2003…

    I lived with three of my friends while attending college in Balitmore– we had apartment style dorms, with two bedrooms per apartment. In those days it was very vogue for roommate foursomes to declare themselves “just like the girls from Sex and the City.” But being going against the grain types, we four figured out that were actually… The Golden Girls! Albeit several decades younger.

    I was Sophia– short and sassy, with a penchant for long winded tall-tales beginning with “picture it.” Irene was Dorothy– a tall, cynical, good-hearted Italian from Brooklyn. Faith was Blanche, complete with the flair for the dramatic and insatiable ability to attract men. And then, lastly, there was Colleen, with a pile of blonde curls. Our dear sweet Colleen– brilliant, hard-working (she’s now a lawyer), but who would constantly say the most ding-bat things you could imagine. And of all of the ding-batty things she would say, the most ding-battiest were her tales, not of Saint Olaf, but of her days growing up in either Texas or the Poconos. Yes, our Rose would actually start stories, “Well, back in the Poconos…” And when she started a Poconos story, you knew your brain would start itching in approximately 30 seconds.

    So after school ended in 2003, we four departed Baltimore for our individual summer excursions. Colleen, our Rose, went to the big apple for some fancy internship, and at night she waited tables. (I know you were wondering where waiters came into this story!) She was a server at a fabulous little Italian restaurant, and one night, the unthinkable happened.

    Rue McClanahan, who played Blanche on Golden Girls, came into Colleen’s restaurant! And was seated at Col’s table! And of course, Colleen being Colleen, she immediately began rambling a deluge of words to the esteemed actress.

    “Oh my God! Blanche! Hi Blanche! How are you? Oh my God, I just love the Golden Girls, I just love you! I have to tell you, my three friends, we live in Baltimore? And we go to school there, we’re in college, and we all live together in the dorm! And the four of us, see, we’re just like the Golden Girls! We figured it out one night, we are just totally like the Golden Girls!!!”

    She eagerly smiled at Ms. McClanahan, waiting for her to say something. Ms. McClanahan paused, and fixed Colleen with a stare. And then she said, in that signature sultry, Southern-drawl:

    “Let me guess. You must be Rose.”

  40. well, at the moment I work part-time in an awfully famous pub in cambridge, england. the pub is basically a restaurant in disguise (we turn most of our profits on food), and we the bar staff swap between pulling pints and serving fish and chips platters so enormous that they invariably cause diners to gasp, giggle, and crack one of two jokes. (either “that’s not a fish, it’s a whale!” or “gee, i don’t think that’s big enough — steve, you want another?”, with no exceptions.)

    these quips are tiresome; our customers are as cheesy and difficult to please as the next place’s; and the plates are heavy enough to cause muscle spasms after a shift. of course all these qualities yield their share of half-amusing/half-embittered anecdotes. THIS anecdote is priceless, though. it happened two days ago:

    so as we’re in an ancient building (15th-century foundations!) with extremely dodgy electrical wiring, we tend not to manage thunderstorms very successfully. indeed, any flood lasting much past 10 minutes will cause a blackout in one of the pub’s main rooms, a ‘mess hall’-style eating room with long, blockish wooden tables. after thursday afternoon’s particularly savage rain storms, we were unable to get the power on again and decided just to suck it up and leave the room dark for the night.

    so we printed off several large signs: THE LIGHTS HAVE GONE OUT IN THIS ROOM!! AFTER SUNDOWN, IT WILL BE TOO DARK TO SEE. YOU ARE WELCOME TO DINE IN ANY OF THE PUB’S OTHER ROOMS. THANK YOU; WE APOLOGISE FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE. we tacked two signs on either side of the doorway leading to the affected dining room, and placed two more signs in the adjacent room apologising for the lack of space. we primed the waiters and bartenders with explanations. standard procedure; usually works just fine.

    around 8pm, a group of six friends (all native English speakers, one should note) entered the pub, walked straight into the rapidly darkening room, sat down, made themselves comfortable. i hurried over to tell them that the power was out and would not be on again that evening; wouldn’t they like to sit somewhere else? they said, politely enough, that they were happy where they were. they then went to the bar (as per pub procedure) and ordered their food and drinks. at 8.22PM — by which time in the [drab, overcast, miserable] evening the sun had finally set — i brought them their plates. the room was almost totally dark.

    still, when i set down their food, they thanked me and made no comments at all. i asked discretely, then again much less discretely, if everything was okay and if they were happy where they were. they nodded their contentedness — everything’s fine! they then tucked into their meals. another staffer and i checked back on the table, then peered in on them over the next half-hour. they were all eating their food — by the light of their cell phones. each one had a phone open in one hand, and a fork in the other. and they didn’t seem glum at all. indeed, they were commenting on the meal and laughing and chatting and genially ignoring the hovering, anxious staff.

    at five past 9 o’clock i went back in and began to clear. i’d cleared all their plates and was about to head to the kitchen when one of them called after me: ‘oh! and could you send a manager over? it’s SO dark in this pub – it was almost impossible to see!’

  41. Whenever I visit my parents in the suburbs, we eat brunch at the same place. The waiter we always get is a guy who went to high school with me and has worked there since graduation. Somehow, during the 2-3 minutes of chit-chat between ordering and paying the check, my Mom always manages to reveal the most embarrassing facts about me. The waiter listens politely but I can see in his eyes that he can’t wait to email the juicy details to everyone in his Facebook network of high school friends. As good as the chocolate chip pancakes are at this place, they’re not worth telling the cyber-world of high school gossipers about my upcoming colonoscopy!

  42. I am a restaurant manager, a couple come in, ask the soups of the day. I told them chicken gumbo and minestrone. The women replies ” Is there chicken noodle”?

    Another time I was working in an italian restaurant, couple came in … the man orders a full meal the women an antipasto salad.The gentleman leaves for a few minutes, I asked the woman do you want your salad now or wait. She says she wants it now. I go and get their salads when I bring them back to the table, the gentleman says what kind of waitress are you? She has her entire meal and I am just starting. I replied ” The kind of waitress that will tell you mcdonalds is right down the street”

  43. My story is probably more embarrassing than funny (at the time, anyway).

    When my husband and I were dating, 26 years ago, he was a poor skydiving instructor and had no money, so whenever we went out to eat, I paid. One night, we stopped at a chicken & rib place in a Southern Ontario town. Not fancy by NYC standards, I’m sure, but it was fine dining in that little town. After a very nice meal, I paid and left the appropriate tip.

    Once out in the car, my husband (then boyfriend) suddenly reached into the pocket of his jumper and said, “oh, by the way, you left this on the table.” I was mortified! I explained that was the tip. He, being a simple country boy who didn’t eat in restaurants much, said, “oh… I thought a tip was like a quarter.”

    I probably should have gone back in and replaced the tip, but I was too embarrassed. We never ate there again though, as I couldn’t dare show my face. Our waitress had been really excellent that night! What she must have thought of us when she found no tip.

    ..c..

  44. Oh, I love Waiter rant (the blog) and have been itching to read the book!

    Last summer I was waiting tables at an upscalish bar. Most of our customers were regulars, and though many were high maintenance (and somewhat entitled) they were still very pleasant and good tippers.

    However, one night an unfamiliar looking woman walked in, I could tell by looking at her that she was going to be one of the hellish type customers. As soon as I walked up to her with menus she looked at me, gave me a once over and with a snarl said “You should know right now, nothing you can do will make me happy.” She was right, but I didn’t go out of my way for her because of that. When she left, she left me a tip of about 3%. Little did I realize though…

    Within an hour or so the night manager called all of the servers inside (it was a sunny evening, the patio was busy). We met in the back where he introduced us to a woman from the local alcohol control board. She asked to see all of our IDs and TAM cards (techniques of alcohol management, required to work as a sever in an establishment that serves alcohol in the sate of AK. You must also be 21 to have a TAM card and work as a server here.)

    When she gets to my spot in line she looks at me, looks at my ID and TAM card, sort of giggles to herself, and then moved on to the last server in line.

    Then our manager dismissed us. “Curious” I think to myself…it’s obvious that she had picked me out specifically somehow…and I’m now a bit afraid that I’ve served someone underage.

    Ten minutes later the manager calls just me back inside. Now I’m really afraid I’ve screwed up… We go to the back and he proceeds to tell me that the same crotchety woman had complained to him (as she left) about having underage employees. She apparently then called the alcohol control board and reported that she had just a had an underage waitress named Kim at the bar where I worked. That’s me. I was the only Kim there.

    So, they headed right out (kind of amazingly) to check on this allegation!

    I’m in my late 20’s (and even graying pretty substantially) but I’m only 5 feet tall with kind of a baby face. It’s pretty regular that people notice only those last two things and assume I’m somewhere btw/16-19. The cranky old woman did, and reported me!

  45. My husband and I went to an Italian

    restaurant for dinner. For a

    starter, I ordered

    the “Caprese salad”. The waitress

    looked very confused and asked me

    “the crazy salad???” It was then

    that I realized this server was not

    very familiar with the menu. I had

    to repeat it 2 more times and finally

    point at the menu for her to get it.

  46. I was eating at a hole in the wall restaurant back when the mad-cow disease hoopla was going on. I ordered a hamburger.

    Waiter: “Uh, yeah. I don’t know if that’s a wise choice”

  47. I’ve been a waitress for about seven years now, and so I have a whole catalog of stories to choose from. This one is the most recent:

    The other night was weirdo-dinner hour, I’m sure of it. Here’s a classic scene from the restaurant.

    Picture the old woman from the movie The Goonies. Add two bastard children, one who must’ve been sent straight from Hell because NOTHING would make him happy or make him stop crying. Then picture a very tan Rainman as the husband.

    Rainman: Do you guys have wraps?

    Me: Yes, we do. Pretty much anything can be made into a wrap… you could have a cheesesteak wrap, a chicken caesar salad wrap….

    Rainman: How about veal, can I get veal?

    Me: Of course. How would you like it prepared?

    Rainman: I don’t know, however you people do it!

    Me: I’m sorry sir, but if you don’t specify how you’d like it prepared, the kitchen won’t know what to make. Right now they’re going to give you a veal cutlet wrap, no sauce, no lettuce or tomatoes, no cheese….

    Rainman: I don’t want fried veal!

    Me: Alright, I can have them grill your veal, but you still haven’t answered my original question.

    Angry Old Woman: Just give him the scallopini sauce! It’s simple!

    Me: Ma’am, I’m sorry, but there’s no such thing as a “scallopini sauce.” That word defines the cut of the meat, not the style in which it’s prepared.

    AOW: I’ve gotten scallopini sauce before! Ask your boss! You don’t know what you’re talking about!!

    Me: I can ask my boss, I can send him over here, but he’s going to tell you the same thing I did — scallopini defines the cut of the meat.

    Rainman: Okay, okay.. I’ll just get the chicken cacciatore. But VERY LITTLE SAUCE, you got that???

    AOW: He can’t have a lot of sauce!

    Me: Yes, I’ll make sure the kitchen knows to have a light hand with the sauce, it’s no problem.

    Devil Child: PIZZA! I WANT PIZZA!!!

    Rainman: And make sure to cut that in half for him, okay?

    Two minutes later…

    Devil Child: This pizza is broken!! (Throws it to the ground)

    Rainman: Can you get us another slice, uncut this time??

    As I go to order their new slice, I notice the Angry Old Woman flagging down my boss. Of course, she’s asking about the veal. And of course, he tells her exactly the same thing I did – that there’s NO SUCH THING as a freaking scallopini sauce!!

    As I’m delivering the new slice the the child from Hell:

    AOW: No, no, we can’t take this! It has too much cheese on it! Get a new one for him, NOW!

    About five minutes later….

    As I’m bringing the AOW her meal (chicken salad over mixed greens), she sneers at the plate. “Does this have ONIONS in it?? I can’t have onions!! It didn’t say on the menu that there were ONIONS in here!!” Then the Devil Child starts to scream at me for extra marinara sauce.

    I believe that this family is the walking definition of the words “justifiable murder.”

    Just another day in the life of a waitress.

  48. I went to breakfast at the still great “Home Plate” in San Francisco about 18 years ago. Our waitress seemed very distracted and annoyed at being at work. My date and I both commented on it when she was out of earshot.

    Soon she disappeared all together before we received our food. This is not a big restaurant but rather one where you can see into the kitchen.

    At the same time many women waiting outside for a table kept coming in (presumably for the restroom) but were turning around and leaving immediately.

    I finally got up to use the restroom since our food hadn’t been delivered and it was locked…

    I looked down and the phone cord stretched all they way across the floor and under the locked bathroom door…

    Turns out she was locked in there crying and fighting with her boyfriend…

    Never did see her there again…

  49. My first waitressing job was at Olive Garden, a restaurant that employs every gimmick in the book – bottomless soup, unlimited breadsticks and salad and bloody Marys served in a 18″ tall glasses garnished with an entire salad on a skewer.

    I was delivering one of these bloody Marys to a table just after being trained. I breathed a sigh of relief after making it to the table with the precarious, tower of a mixed drink. I then promptly spilled the whole entire thing on a 3 year-old girl in a booster seat.

    I think I also dumped their entrees on the floor, but I may be merging my most embarassing moments into one nice, neat, horrifying package.

  50. I used to work at a country club (Bill Gates’ country club, in fact) and though he was always polite with very well-behaved children, there were plenty of other rude people with rude children to make up for it.

    Normally, young children are shy when it comes to talking to servers and have to be coerced by their parents into looking at us when they order. Not this one little boy who, at five years old, was already feeling his fair share of country club-entitlement. After his family had finished ordering, he looked me straight in the eye and calmly stated “I want my salmon in thirty seconds” and then began counting down out loud from thirty! “Twenty-nine, twenty-eight, twenty-seven…” I was so shocked I just smiled and didn’t even feel offended, not even after his mother totally failed to reprimand him. I walked over to a nearby computer to put in the order and when I glanced back at the table, the kid noticed me looking at him and piped up, loud enough so I’d be sure to hear, “twenty-FIVE, twenty-FOUR, twenty-THREE!”

    Oh yeah, that’s the country club for ya!

  51. i was working as a chef for a church with volunteer waiters for our larger banquets. One day as we were preparing for lunch for 250, one of the waiters asked me where i wanted her to put the rolling rack filled with salad plates. I told her to put them in the same place we always put them, in the walk-in cooler…to which she replied, “I have only been working her since august”…it was april, she had been working there for 8MONTHS!!!

  52. Making Change!

    It was about 1983, my wife and another couple went to a restaurant named King Neptune’s in Ridgefield Ct on the recommendation of a co-worker. Had a reservation and still waited in line for about 30 minutes (couldn’t get to the bar). Finally sat down and ordered drinks, 1 was a Bloody Mary that literally tasted like turpentine. When the waitress finally came back, we sent it back and got a coke. Delivered the coke and disappeared, 15 minutes later she comes back to finally take our order, confusion reins. 20 minutes later while still waiting for the salad course, the ladies go to the restroom. Guess where the waitress is, yep smoking out the bathroom window, complaining about work to another patron. Later, 2 of the dinners arrive completely wrong, another one has shrimp that are so dried and overcooked, it is inedible. The last one is a tuna steak that is rubbery, and even the sharp knife will not cut. More waiting and still no waitress to even tell that the dinners are wrong and inedible. Now we have been at the table for going on 90 minutes and had virtually nothing to eat.

    Flag down another waitress and get our bill finally, the other guy in our party pulls out a penny, grabs the sharp knife that wouldn’t cut the Tuna, and begins sawing away, with real intent.

    We all look aghast at him, and ask what in the world he is doing, he says “Making change for the Tip”! True story!

  53. I worked as a waitress at a truck stop for a few years. During some of my first shifts I was always doing something that caused a mess.

    I was behind the counter dropping off a ticket and picking up an order for a 3 top. Usual truck stop fair including the “Flat Bed”, an 11 ounce chicken fried steak doused in gravy that came on its own plate. As I went to step out onto the floor I tripped, tray in hand, and went towards the ground. I tried to employ all my past softball experience by sliding with the tray ahead of me, to save the 4 large platters of food it held.

    I slid for a few feet before my shirt rode up enough to cause the skin on my stomach to catch and for me to come to a dead stop on the waxed floor. The “flat bed” went off the side of the plate and directly onto the shoe of the big trucker that ordered it. Everything else held tight with the exception of the toast which went flying when I first tripped.

    The entire restaurant broke out in laughter as I stood up and delivered the remaining plates to the table. The cook, watching from the window, asked me if I wanted another chicken fried steak smothered. I nodded yes while I cleaned the sausage gravy up.

    The tip on that table was one of the best I ever got along with a note complimenting me on my sliding form.

  54. I worked as a waitress at a truck stop for a few years. During some of my first shifts I was always doing something that caused a mess.

    I was behind the counter dropping off a ticket and picking up an order for a 3 top. Usual truck stop fair including the “Flat Bed”, an 11 ounce chicken fried steak doused in gravy that came on its own plate. As I went to step out onto the floor I tripped, tray in hand, and went towards the ground. I tried to employ all my past softball experience by sliding with the tray ahead of me, to save the 4 large platters of food it held.

    I slid for a few feet before my shirt rode up enough to cause the skin on my stomach to catch and for me to come to a dead stop on the waxed floor. The “flat bed” went off the side of the plate and directly onto the shoe of the big trucker that ordered it. Everything else held tight with the exception of the toast which went flying when I first tripped.

    The entire restaurant broke out in laughter as I stood up and delivered the remaining plates to the table. The cook, watching from the window, asked me if I wanted another chicken fried steak smothered. I nodded yes while I cleaned the sausage gravy up.

    The tip on that table was one of the best I ever got along with a note complimenting me on my sliding form.

  55. Years ago my good friend Eric and I were finishing our internships at an Incredibly Big Multinational company and decided to meet at a Mexican restaurant in a mall to celebrate. I arrived first and was seated, still dressed in my standard-issue corporate white collared shirt and tie. The attentive and clumsy waiter took my margarita order, returned with it promptly and dumped it onto my shoulder and down my front. Recovering my breath, and still on a natural “last day of work” high, I sat down with a few bar towels and accepted the manager’s offer of free drinks.

    Eric walked in as the replenished glass was being placed carefully in front of me, paused only briefly and said to the waiter, “I’ll have what he’s wearing.”

  56. My second submission but these two stories both came to mind.

    In New Delhi, India near Connaught Place there is a Mexican restaurant called Rodeo. The decor is a Western theme, with John Wayne movies playing on small screens in the corners near the ceiling, and they make some passable enchiladas.

    But the waiters, the poor waiters. They have to wear undersized brimmed hats with tassels and chin straps (like you might buy your kid in Frontierland to mollify him), plastic deputy badges and holsters. As they approach the table, they draw from the holsters with a practiced flourish a six-shooter-shaped menu and present it to the guests.

    And yes, the phrase “Cowboy Indians” was muttered several times during the meal, each time to choked-off laughter.

  57. I was waiting tables in an Italian restaurant, and had just finished a lunch shift. This was in a fairly small restaurant, so the only servers on the shift were me and my manager, Tom. While resetting my last couple of tables, Tom comes into the dining room and abruptly stops. He stands there for a couple of seconds before he calls me over to him. I walk over, and he quietly says “Um, you need to fix your skirt.” I reach back to discover that the zipper in the back of my skirt had fallen ALL the way down. Of course this wasn’t a skirt with a zipper on the side. No, it ran right up the back. I fixed it, but also ran to the bathroom to see what had been revealed. I had on tights, which prevented any sort of “draft”, and thus the reason I didn’t know my backside was hanging out. However, said tights sadly did not obscure the view of my thong underwear.

    Completely mortified, I hurriedly finished my books. I really had no idea how much of the lunch shift I had spent like that, and consequently how many of the customers I had mooned. I knew it would be one of those situations I would later look at and laugh, but at the time, I was really not seeing the humor in it at all. My manager knew that I was horrified, but just in case I didn’t want to completely crawl under a rock, he then says to me “well, the kitchen thanks you.”

  58. My husband and small son and I went to Denny’s for breakfast one Sunday morning. It was busy, with (what we were told would be) about a 15 minute wait to be seated. Our son was well behaved and we were in good spirits.

    After waiting 45 minutes, we were seated right next to the smoking section. This just didn’t work for us, and we asked to move to a table further away from the smokers, as our kid has pretty bad asthma and smoking really causes him to have acute attacks. We were very polite about it, and were willing to wait for a table to open.

    The young man who seated us asked us to “hang on” and he’d find a table for us. Five minutes or so later, he ushered us to the back of the non-smoking section to be seated.

    Then, he began a sob story about his grandmother, and how she had been rushed to the hospital earlier in the day and he was waiting on a call from his family at any moment to tell him how she was doing. He also claimed that if he needed to leave, someone else would cover his section and take care of his tables.

    We never saw him again inside the restaurant.

    No drinks, no Grand Slam, no Moons over My Hammy. Other customers were leaving from our section who didn’t receive any service. We waited for 20 minutes before my husband went to find a manager and tell him what had happened. While he was talking to him, I gathered up the baby and walked out to the car which was parked in the back of the building.

    Guess who was sitting on the pallets, smoking with the dishwashers? The best waiter ever. I’m sure he was sharing his grief over his ailing grandmother with the kitchen guys.

    I still can’t go Denny’s without cringing.

  59. Me: I’d like a grilled cheese sandwich with mozzerella and american cheese please.

    Waiter: So..do you want mozzerella and american? or american and mozzerella? (while flipping his hand like a sandwich right side up and up side down).

  60. THE VERY BEST STEAK EVER

    It was a busy Saturday night in a very posh dinner house on the beautiful Monterey Peninsula in central California. I was carrying out entrees to the very important party of twelve local city officials when I noticed that the Mayor’s steak was well done instead of the as ordered medium rare. If I were to send it back for a refire now it would turn the party into a total disaster, so I had to come up with something and fast. I knew it was overdone because our steaks were served cut on the bias and fanned over a Merlot sauce. I quickly ducked into the pantry, grabbed a butter knife and some paprika and artfully decorated the exposed cuts of meat with the paprika. Under the low lighting in the dining room it appeared to be cooked to perfection. Later that evening I overheard the Mayor remark to the chef as was visiting tableside: “Best steak I’ve ever had!”

  61. The summer after my junior year of college, my mom set up a summer waitress job for me at a local French restaurant. I had zero waitressing experience, but the restaurent owners were willing to take a chance on me.

    One of the components to being a waitress at this restaurant was tableside flambeing. It was a busy evening and I had to flambe a crepe dessert with a Grand Marnier sauce tableside. The restaurant owners’s little son, B (age 7), liked to follow me around. He especially enjoyed watching the flambeing because of the fire! Once I was ready to flambe, I told B to come along so he could witness my flambeing skills. To make a long story short, after adding the Grand Marnier to the crepe and while flambeing, I decided I needed a little more alcohol to the sauce… somehow dont ask me how, I got the Grande Marnier bottle too close to the fire and flames shot out of the Grande Marnier bottle!! It was like a welding torch. I look over and B’s eyes are like saucers. The clueless couple for whom the dessert was for started to clap. Meanwhile I am mortified. The flames settled after I burned an entire bottle of Grand Marnier. After the incident, I had to convince (aka bribe) B to NOT tell his parents about the “big flambe.”

    Another funny thing about this Frnech restaurant was this it is located in a rural part of the country. Many of the people who come to eat there are very unfamiliar with French food. So some of the pronunciations of items on our menu were hilarious…

    Patron: What flavors of kweech-eh do you have today?

    Me: We have broccoli QUICHE, ham and cheese QUICHE, and spinach QUICHE.

    Patron: Ok, I will have the broccoli kweech-eh.

    Another funny pronunciation…

    Patron: I would like a glass of mer-lot.

    One final story…

    I love it when the someone sticks up for the little man. That summer while I waitressed, I worked every available shift, which meant I worked doubles 6 days a week, we were closed on Sundays. The owners knew I needed the money to help finance my last year of college. And everyone knows that wait staff depend on tips. I was working lunch and waited on a demanding gentleman. In the end, I should have received around $4-5 for a reasonable 15-20% tip. He left me a quarter, 25 cents. I was clearing the table and one of the owners came over. I told her about my small tip. She took the quarter and went outside. From the front window I could see her talking to the gentleman who left the quarter tip. When she came back into the restaurant I asked her what happened. She said she told the gentleman that if he does not appreciate her waitresses and can not adequately tip for very good service, he can have his quarter back and please do not come to back to this restaurant ever again.

  62. I was pregnant with my first child, having lunch with my husband in a steakhouse, and enjoying a very nice salad. I spy a worm in my salad, flag down our waiter, and point it out to him.

    He laughs and says, “That’s nothing – you should see what we find in the meat!”

  63. @amber: Thanks for reminding me! One of my favorites was a regular group of electricians that came in for lunch a couple of times a week. They usually ordered burgers, reubens and the like. One day, out of the blue, one just glanced at his menu and said “Oh, you can just give me a Quickie.” We all burst out laughing at his “joke”; he, however, was red-faced because he honestly didn’t know the pronunciation was a little “off”, to say the least. He never lived that down…..

  64. A few years ago, some friends and I were eating at this great Italian restaurant, and our server was everywhere but at our table.

    Throughout the entire meal, we’d have to hunt him down to find him. He was in the kitchen, he was around the other tables, but he just didn’t come back after getting our order and giving us food.

    Then it came time for the bill. We’re just thinking about getting home, and he strolls over, all slow and relaxed-like. “Sorry I’ve been gone so much,” he says.

    We nod, telling him it’s no biggie.

    “When I was in college,” (this was the first clue we were in for a personal story and that it might be long) “I played football and got a knee injury. My physical therapist wrote me a vicadin perscription, and I got totally addicted.”

    {Insert huge awkwardness. Silence.}

    “So now I don’t have any more and my leg is hurting and I really need some drugs..”

    I don’t remember the rest. Just that, when he finally left, we DIED laughing. Poor guy. TMI.

  65. Just a few weeks ago I was at a business lunch in San Francisco. Our guests were from a foreign country (I won’t say which one) and had literally just gotten off the plane. At some point, one of them needed to get the waiter’s attention and, not realizing that waiters in America are treated with decency and respect just like everyone else, he gestured to the waiter and then snapped his fingers, motioning for the waiter to come to our table. That’s right, he SNAPPED his fingers. Just like you’d snap your fingers at a dog.

    I just about died.

    I tried to express apology in my facial expression to the waiter, who was equally horrified. I prayed he would not spit in our food.

    As luck would have it, the waiter had a sense of humor: At the end of the meal, he appeared at the head of our table, snapped his fingers and said, “I’m ready for your credit card!” Our guest was slightly bewildered, but we all laughed.

  66. I was a waiter for years at a ‘family restuarant’ chain. It put me through university and helped pay off the post-university debts.

    Two things stand out – both involving young children in high chairs.

    I went up to take the order at my table. Standing next to the child in the high chair I did my usual ‘sweet’ talk. In the middle of it the kid reached over and grabbed my crotch so hard I thought I would pass out. Mom and Dad looked at me in complete shock, baby giggled, I turned green and wished I was dead, my colleagues observing my agony laughed so hard they had to race to the bathroom.

    Happy result – parents were sp embarassed that they left me a 100 % tip. The bruising was worth it to some extent.

    Second baby in high chair was wailing at a high pitch. Everyone in the restaurant was looking at this family with the wailing child ruining their evening out.

    When I went to take their order they couldn’t hear me over the child’s screams. Finally in disgust I looked at the mom and dad and said ‘wouldn’t she be happier locked up in the trunk of your car or something?’

    Needless to say they were not amused (apparently you have no humor if your child wails non-stop) however the folks sitting at the table next to them heard and passed em $ 20 when I next walked by!

  67. Well, very short story. This was about 4 years ago when I moved to states from Turkey. I went to the Subway and ordered a sandwich (doesn’t really matter which one). Then we had this conversation:

    Sandwich Lady (with a heavy accent): White or wheat?

    Me (with no idea what she just said): Umm…What?

    S.L. : White or wheat?

    Me (again, no idea what she just said, and getting red): Ummm.. Excuse me? What did you say?

    S.L. (Getting pretty angry and impatient) : White or wheat?

    Me (so embarrassed for another try): Umm.. Yes?!?

    S.L. (finally with a more tangible accent) : White bread?

    Me (finally figuring out the whole conversation): oh yeah.

  68. HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLVES

    I worked for Buckhead Life Restaurant Group in Atlanta for several years after college while trying to figure out what to do with my Journalism degree. The Buckhead Ritz called one weekday winter night while I was having a post-shift glass of wine with my friend and manager. This jaded New York girl came running back after picking up the house phone to our corner table in the bar to inform me that the Ritz concierge was sending Duran Duran over to us.

    Now we used to get random celebrities at the restaurant, but we’re talking about Duran Duran! Sara and I were excited. We immediately decided that I needed to go back on the floor so that I could give a firsthand account of the ensuing evening, and we promptly cut the other server in the section that the concierge had requested for the band.

    Before they arrived, I phoned my boyfriend (an even bigger fan), who was on a business trip in Florida, and shared the news with him. He didn’t believe me, reasoning that I worked with so many creative types and we were probably bored and pulling his leg. So fine, don’t believe me. I’m about to wait on Simon Le Bon. For real!

    And they finally arrive and were complete rock stars, living up to their venerable reputation. Sunglasses at night. Entourage in tow. An entire bottle of tequila ordered to compliment their margaritas and rounds of appetizers, which went more or less untouched by everybody at the table. Despite the hoopla, the guys were seriously nice, acknowledging all the other guest/fans to the point of Nick Rhodes standing on a banquette to sign autographs for a two-top on the upper level of the restaurant.

    Upon leaving, Simon handed me an overly generous cash tip and said everything was fab. I did my best to act cool as if I waited on eighties icons of my youth on a nightly basis. Their group went outside to wait on the limo to come round from the valet. I immediately grabbed the house phone in the foyer to call my boyfriend back and relate the events of the evening. Once again, my beloved accused me of fibbing to him for giggles.

    Right then, Simon re-entered the restaurant, saying it was too cold to wait outside. Violating every Buckhead Life celebrity-encounter-rule preached to staff time and again, I was inspired to call upon Simon to verify his having indeed been my guest that evening. He was slightly drunk and definitely game. “My boyfriend’s name is Ryan, he’s a fan, and doesn’t believe you were here tonight,” I whispered to Simon while covering the mouthpiece. He grabbed the phone and said, “Ah-lo Ryan, it’s Simon Le Bon.”

    Requiring further proof, Ryan decided to test Simon, asking him if he could recall a certain “wardrobe malfunction” occurring onstage the last time DD played Atlanta. Simon scratched his chin and then boisterously responded, “Bloody yeah, I high-kicked during Rio and split me fuckin’ pants!” There was a group of Buckhead doyennes standing nearby, obviously and completely scandalized. I, meanwhile, along with our staff and the rest of our guests in the bar, was howling with laughter.

    I went home with $250 cash extra in my pocket and a fun “war” story to tell to all my friends and now the Internets too.

WEEKEND CONTEST: Win Dinner for 2 at The James Beard House THIS THURSDAY

Hello readers! I have an exciting opportunity for you (especially those who live in New York or close to New York or have a private airplane that can fly them to New York): The Winery Association of Nova Scotia is offering dinner for two at the James Beard House this Thursday, August 7th, where five chefs from Nova Scotia will prepare a meal of local Nova Scotian foods paired with Nova Scotian wines (more info here). To win these tickets, you must do one of the following:

(1) Prepare a recipe featuring smoked salmon (ideally, Nova Scotian salmon), take a picture of yourself holding the finished plate (so we know you made it and didn’t download the picture from Google images) and post it on to Flickr;

OR

(2) Take a piece of smoked salmon (ideally, Nova Scotian salmon) and lay it on the face of a sleeping loved one, take a picture (they must still be sleeping–not acting!), and post it on to Flickr.

E-mail the link to your Flickr picture to me at amateurgourmet@gmail.com by SUNDAY NIGHT and I’ll post all the entries on Monday morning. The person who gets the most votes in the comments wins the tickets. Good luck!

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4 comments

  1. *gasp* No! HAHAHAHAHAHA You had me on the floor crying from laughing so hard at work. AHhh… I didn’t know you could cook with smoked salmon. And I only have two days to do so?! Sigh. Must I be in the pic? Boo… well, here we go!

  2. I would guess some sort of breakfast dish with eggs, smoked salmon, sour cream and dill would be fantastic – actually i’ve made a sort of frittata along those lines before that was incredible.

    But alas, I live on the west coast and don’t have a private jet…

  3. Someone twisted my arm to vote for Stephanie [X} but I truly believe the best presentation was the “feline fixin’s” Thank Liz for my “hash vote.”