Picture this: It’s several months into the global pandemic and the governor has decided to allow indoor dining again. You’re considered one of the ‘lucky ones’ because you got to keep your minimum wage job as a server in a restaurant, and although taking to-go orders only has been pretty chill, the mountain of bills that looms over you everyday has you really missing those tips. Strangely, customers don’t feel the need to tip if it’s take-out, but they’ll call you a hero as if you volunteer to be an ‘essential worker’ and don’t actually have rent to pay. Although you’ve got a lot of qualms about serving customers again, you feel like you don’t really have a choice. You reassure yourself that your customers will be respectful and follow social distancing rules. Maybe they’ll even leave a decent tip—you’re working in the middle of a health crisis, after all. You don’t have the benefit of working safely from home, and any decent person will understand the risk you’re taking, right? Oh how naive you are.
Your first customers arrive on the day of reopening and to your dismay, it’s a group of ten and they’re already drunk, masks hanging down under their noses. They immediately ignore the social distancing policy notices posted on every surface of the restaurant and start pushing tables together. They ignore your pleas to respect your coworkers and other patrons. Your manager doesn’t help you. You’re pissed off. After hours of rudeness and belligerence, finally the assh*le table asks for the bill. They spend another half hour drunkenly squabbling over the check before demanding that you split it ten ways. You somehow muster up the last bit of civility deep within you and smile through the rage. Finally, they leave. It’s the moment you’ve been dreading. Again, you try and reassure yourself—surely they tipped at least 15%. They ordered bottomless margaritas. They stayed for five hours. Surely they tipped…You pick up the pile of checks and examine the first one. Nothing. Then the next. Nope. Your stomach drops as you get to the last check and read the word ‘zero’ scrawled onto the tip line. Dejected and exhausted, you look at the clock. Five more hours of your shift to go. The next group walks in.
Whether this scenario feels familiar or not, it’s important for everyone to understand just how shitty it is to be a server sometimes, especially during a plague. Not only does treating service industry workers like literal garbage make their lives a living hell, it poisons the soul of the evil-doer. Treat workers with respect and don’t forget to tip—it’s not that damn hard. Alternatively, if being a jerk is the only thing you know how to do and you truly believe that treating people like dirt is a valid personality trait, you can simply stay at home. The restaurant industry doesn’t need mean customers in order to thrive. We’ve collected some frustrating experiences that servers shared on r/TalesFromYourServer. Hopefully these stories will either humble people who frequently dine out or give solace to those who hate their jobs.