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‘Snappy Sam’ one type of tough customer

October 16, 2011
By ANITA HANABURGH , For The Leader Herald

You hear it all the time. I hear it all the time. Customers complaining about their dining experience. The food was too hot. The food was too cold. The waitress was too slow. The waiter was too fast. The salad bar was too far away. The plates were too small. Customers complaining the wait staff didn't read their every want, guess their every need or read their minds.

Oh busboy, sometimes it just doesn't seem fair. A few months ago, I listed my pet peeves in regard to restaurant service. I wasn't being fair, then - all this talk about what the well meaning, underpaid, hard-working employees did wrong. I decided to investigate and see if I could turn the tables, so to speak. I began by talking to the other side, keeping notes and surfing the Internet.

Seems the server side could come up with a complaint or two about some not so wonderful, kind or generous customers.

To begin, I must add the caveat that most people I spoke with do love their job as restaurants servers. Their complaints address a select few customers that "just don't get it" and are probably not so sweet to the others in their lives. For those customers I have added a term that suits them or their slipups.

Oh busboy, the following is a list of customers that most restaurant servers would rather not meet.

1.) "Cheap Pete" - The number one complaint among wait staff is the customer who either does not tip or tips only a small bit. He probably doesn't know that the wait staff receives a server salary, which is less than minimum wage. They depend upon tips to pay their rent, purchase their groceries, buy their cars and obtain their children's clothes. He probably doesn't realize the tip money is shared with the busboy and the bartender. To Pete I say, if you can't tip, you shouldn't eat out. Period.

2.) "Queen Quiana" - I don't know what it is about arriving at a restaurant that puts some people on a self-declared pompous pedestal. I know exactly this type of customer. I had an aunt who would get all puffy and proud as soon as she entered anywhere there was a server. She would immediately talk to the wait staff as if they were her personal "subjects." Customers who talk down to the wait staff rated first in the most annoying category.

3.) "Phoning Fred" - Mr. Important, he can't even put down the phone long enough to place his order. He opens the menu and points to the desired item then nods with a grunt to the waitress. Maybe she should "text" him his dinner.

4.) "Snappy Sam" - This dude wants attention and wants it fast. He snaps his fingers for service. Maybe he needs a belly-dancing partner.

5.) "Stealing Sue" - It is not your pen. It's the restaurant's sugar packet. The flowers cost money. Both receipts are not yours.

6.) "Forward Frank" - "Are you on the menu?" is a rude disrespectful remark. Maybe you should join Hugh Hefner at his dining establishment.

7.) "Inebriated Ethyl" - With a couple of drinks, you're a charming customer; with five, you're a frustrating character. Dealing with sober customers is hard enough.

8.) "Blaming Betty" - Because the server is the person the customer sees and talk with, they get the blame for everything. Betty blames the server for the lumpy potatoes, the salty soup, the condition of the parking lot and the bad manners of the neighboring table.

9.) "Unaware Anna" - My dear customer, it is your child crawling under the table of that elderly couple by the window. It is your kid throwing the food on the floor and opening all the sugar packets. Maybe you should open your eyes.

10.) "Forgetful Fran" - "Oh no dear, I didn't order this. I know I ordered the Veal Oscar."

The waiter recalls to himself, "Oh, I know you thought about it at first, but when your friend said she was having the Lobster Thermidor, you changed to the lobster. Remember you said, 'Oh Ellen, you always know just what to order I'll have the same.'" Maybe you should listen when I repeat the order.




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