How To Be A Good Diner

angry man

courtesy of West Chester Magazine

I was scrolling through various sites in one of the great mysteries of the world; that it, how a person can start out innocently looking at a single funny video on Youtube, and end up with bloodshot eyes 5,000 blogs, memes, and tumblrs later. Regardless, I found this blog, Break Room Stories, a sort of commiseration site for fellow bartenders, waiters, and waitresses. I had no clue there were so many humans out there that lost all the manners their Mamma taught them as soon as they can hold some money over someone else`s head. I mean, I knew I hate it when parents let their kids run wild through a restaurant; and I even like kids, I just tend to hate a lot of anti-parenting styles. But some things were over the top. Maybe we need to do a quick review on how to treat a person like a human? I`m feel no qualms over giving you some pointers. And even if you are a decent human being when dining, we may just discover ways to be a better customer together. Because we should always be looking for ways to improve ourselves and our character.

1. Treat Others Like They Have An iPhone That Will Record every Rude Thing You Do For Youtube`s Benefit

Your servers and fellow diners are both willing, and able, to record any nasty conversation you make or things you do. Along that line, just use common courtesy when you are a diner. The fact that you are paying people does not mean you have the right to treat anyone like a dog. If something is wrong with an entree, politely point it out in a calm voice and ask your server to fix it for you. If there is anything that is happening that you don`t like, ask nicely if it can be changed. No matter what happens, never curse someone. Say please and thank you.You know, those basic little rules of politeness. If there is a waiting period to get seated, sure you will be upset, but there is no need to vent your spleen on the helpless host or hostess.

Problem the most important tool here is peer pressure. Most people who are being rude don`t realize it, they always tend to think that`s how everyone acts. Probably because they learned that behavior from someone else that acted that way. Regardless, when you are dining with friends, or even near another table that is being terribly rude, the waiter or waitress only has the power to stand up for themselves if the manager acts like they deserve to be treated as human beings. If the manager isn`t doing anything, you should either look at the rude person/s like you can`t believe they are being such disgusting individuals (or rude, or…) or you can even say, sweet as sugar, “I feel so bad for you hunny. It`s obvious no one cared enough about you to teach you basic manners as a child, and there must not be many people that like you know. That would get better if you were a little nicer though.” The key to doing that without getting punched in the face, of course, is sizing the person up. If they look violent, don`t mess with them. If they look like they are just a jerky person, then you have to put lots of sugar in your voice, or use the “I`m very disapointed in you sonny” route. Sort of like when I`m working with the one and two year olds in my class. Because, you know, if someone is acting like a child, you have to treat them like one.

2. Try Not To Be A Burden To Your Server

Your server is there to serve you food, not to give you a few seconds where you can feel rich and powerful. I mean, of course it feels cool to have other people taking care of you, but you shouldn`t push it too far. Wait until everyone has decided on what they want to order before gesturing the server over, and if you are going to take some time, just tell them that instead of saying you are ready. Talk among your table mates as soon as you get your food, and decide if there`s anything you`ll ask the server right away. Then ask them. Just wait ten minutes before you ask for something else. If the restaurant is remarkably busy, and either a lot of people ordered the same drink or you know one person will be slamming five Dr.Peppers, ask if it is possible for you to get a pitcher and save your server a few refill trips. Have the habit of ripping those napkin rings, or chaining them, or something else weird? At least be sure you pile all that junk on an empty plate. Have some taste or dietary needs that require a few changes? Ask for a menu item that most closely resembles the final product you are going for, and try to limit yourself to three requests. And, please, don`t complain about the dish because the kitchen actually listened to your requests.

If you want to go the extra mile, you could even collect the menus for the server as each person finishes ordering, and stack all the empty plates on your table on the end where the server can reach them. It`s not an excuse to wimp out on the tip, it`s just an extra you can do that makes you a nice person.

3. Tip Your Waitor/Waitress

You think the tip is optional? It isn`t. Only the amount is optional, and even that isn`t totally true. In case you were unaware, the purpose of the tip is two fold: to ensure good service from the staff, and to convey your feelings about the server`s work. So, for one thing, if you give a 0% tip, the next time you come in you`ll be a blacklisted customer. You know what goes into a blacklisted customer`s meal? Spit. Licked items. Whatever they darn well feel like. Because you`ve proven that you aren`t a nice person to some very stressed out and hardworking people. Conveying your feelings about a server`s work doesn`t mean you give them 0% either. That just makes you look cheap. No, you can leave 5% and a little note if the service was absolutely beyond horribly. (My server forget I was at my table, and I finally asked what was going on forty minutes later and three tables that walked in and ate after I got in without being asked even for my drink order. Then he replaced my salad with a steak and my water with a beer when I was underage at the time. That`s bad service worthy of a 5% and complaint to the manager, and they didn`t even comp me on anything!)  If your service wasn`t at that level of terribleness, then your tip shouldn`t be that cheap. Period.

Not sure what the basic tipping rules are? 10% is average, 15% is good, 20% is beyond amazing or big group or holidays. Rounding your bill up a few cents is not a tip. A cute picture, or words of thanks, are not tips. Why is it so important that your tip be monetary? Well, did you know that servers aren`t actually paid minimum wage? Well, they have this thing called implied income. That means that they are only paid two stinking bucks an hour, and anything above that is pure tips. Minimum wage is $7 something, mind you. And that tip doesn`t even go directly to the server. It`s split up between the busboy, that extra guy that was holding plates and handing them out when your orders came in, the chef, everybody practically.

That`s why a tip isn`t really optional, it`s the amount that is changeable. Can`t afford to tip? Buy something cheaper. Can`t even afford that? Go to a grocery store and start looking at your budget. If you can`t tip, you can`t afford to go out to eat/drink, period.

Don`t live in a country where tipping is a common thing? You can still do it. Everyone will be impressed with your Metropolitan ways, and you`ll look cool. I guess if it`s a country where no one tips, then you can make it a smaller amount as their base pay will probably be higher than an American server`s, but I still think you should throw a few bucks into the equation. You might get preferential service the next time you come in!

4. Use Basic Courtesy Rules

When you order, say please. When your dish arrives, say thank you. It`s pretty simple, but many servers get so surprised when I do such a basic thing, as it is so rare in customers. Remember that your server is a human being with feelings, so don`t talk about their body parts or personality loudly or even quietly when you are in the restaurant. If you must, wait until you`ve left the building. When you are talking to your server, look them in the eyes like they exist, and wait to hear them finish whatever they are saying before you start to speak. If you have a question, look on the menu before you ask your server. If you need to get the attention of a server, don`t snap your fingers or clang a spoon on a glass. That`s terribly rude and degrading! Instead, you should make eye contact as your server is making their rounds to other diners, and follow that up with a hopeful or expectant expression. If you aren`t good with body language or that doesn`t work, you can then stand up and catch them if they are passing a maximum of two tables from where you are, or stay seated and call out with a suitable phrase if they are closer to you. Do not interrupt your server when they are actively engaged with another table. Do say something polite, such as ” Excuse me, could you please refill our drinks?”

Remember, these people are humans too. They deserve the same good manners you would use on any other human being. And you need to remind your friends, family, and children of that if they seem to have forgotten it.

5. Leave When You Are Done Eating and at Closing Time

Yes, it is understandable that you would like to leisurely chat while you are dining out. I mean, you go out to eat to have some fun, right? That means you spend about an hour casually chatting and eating, and then you leave. Maybe tack on another half hour if you get appetizers and dessert. You shouldn`t be camping out at a table for hours on end. Unless you plan on paying the amount of money the restaurant is losing each extra hour you are sitting there.

You Also Shouldn`t walk in to eat a few minutes before closing. When the wait staff are all staring at you, the room is empty of other diners, and the lights are all going off, you should leave. All of that is signs that you`ve gone far beyond closing time. So for you that means it`s time to ask for a doggie bag, apologize for staying so long, and get out of there. How would you feel if someone kept you at work for hours after you were supposed to be clocked out?

Any other ideas on how to act like a civilized human being in a restaurant?

I`m open to all sides. Tales of bad behavior, good behavior, customers, wait staff, and many more. I just love a good story, no matter what form it comes in!


4 thoughts on “How To Be A Good Diner

  1. This is great – and so much seems like it should be common sense, but we all do need these helpful reminders from time to time!! Hope you are having a great weekend!
    Much love,

    • Thanks for dropping by! Yeah, I think most manners are either common sense or otherwise basic, but it`s just so easy to forget good manners when you`re really hungry 🙂

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