Waiter Axioms

Anyone who wants a table a half hour before closing is an asshole.

If a customer never says “Please” or “thank you” during the course of the meal you’re getting 15% or less.

If a customer pays with the Discover Card – your tips probably gonna be bad.

If the customer says “You’re the best waiter I’ve ever had” – your tip is sure to be shit.

Women with fur coats seldom tip the coat check girl.

A person dining alone is the most likely to skip out on the bill.

Customers can’t tell the difference between Absolut and Grey Goose.

A customer who smells the cork is an amateur.

Serve Decaf – to everybody.

A customer who leaves the tip in cash was probably a waiter once.

The waiter who stays latest makes the most cash.

Pick new staff carefully. You can train a person to wait tables. You can’t untrain an asshole.

Never lose control of your station.

Ask for help.

If the waiters aren’t complaining then something’s wrong.

Coke head waiters work their entire shift. The Potheads always want to leave early. The Crackheads bolt as soon as they get their first cash tip.

Shift drinks are a mistake.

Never get on the bad side of the kitchen staff.

Never shortchange the bus people when you tip out.

A customer that never makes eye contact is a nutjob.

ID everyone who looks younger than you.

If a customer asks your name – it’s not because they want to be your friend.

Bitters and club soda are good for an upset stomach.

Visine does not give people the runs.

Wash your hands constantly.


Tea drinkers are a pain in the ass.

“Prix-Fixe” customers are a pain in the ass.

Hostesses are a royal pain in the ass. (Not to be confused with “reservation managers”)

If don’t have clean pants for work – iron your dirty ones with Febreze.

Hide a spare tie/shirt at work.

Never leave your wine opener lying around.

Remember – the customer will eventually leave.

33 thoughts on “Waiter Axioms”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I agree with almost everything you say, but I must take issue with “Serve everyone decaf.” I totally hate it when I’m falling asleep 20 minutes after leaving the restaurant ’cause the waiter didn’t think I’d notice, at least not until after I leave the tip.

  2. Jae says:

    I lasted less than two weeks as a waitress – lousy memory – but your rants ring true, and have helped me be a better customer. And I *do* always leave my tip in cash. In the spirit of learning more, I have some questions.

    If a customer asks your name – it’s not because they want to be your friend.

    Why is it, then?

    Shift drinks are a mistake.

    What are shift drinks?

    Open Table customers are a pain in the ass.

    What are “Open Table” customers?

    Keep ranting and I’ll keep reading faithfully.

  3. Waiter says:

    If they ask your name – it’s so they can nag you later when your busy.

    Open Table is an online reservation system for foodie geeks.

    A shift drink is a free alcoholic beverage given to the staff per shift. Waiters drink enough. Besides – why drink where you can’t really relax

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have to admit I’m surprised that at least one server doesn’t like OpenTable customers. I always figured it was in the server’s best interest to be warned about the bad seeds in advance. Conversely, you might know to provide especially good service if the customer has a good record.

  5. Miss Devylish says:

    Darling.. love what you say.. much better than my ramblings. I empathize, being a former restaurant ho, and still proudly tip well and try to be a good customer. I’m sure you have much more patience than I could ever muster and I wouldn’t keep reading if you didn’t write so engagingly..

  6. a cat of impossible colour says:

    We have to wear name-badges where I work, so you get the occasional over-jovial person who will peer at my chest a lot and say:

    ‘Ah, hello, um… ANDREA. I would like a (fill in order). Thanks, ANDREA.’

    Then when I bring it:

    ‘Ah, well done…er…ANDREA.’

    How pathetic are the efforts of the customer to be a Good People Person!

  7. Cate says:

    Pardon the ignorance, but does a waiter get less of a tip if it’s left on a credit card? Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m wondering if the percentage that the restaurant pays to the credit card company comes out of the tip portion too. If so, I didn’t realize, and will certainly make sure to always leave a tip in cash from now on.

  8. ramblin' girl says:

    I was a waitress for many years… those are so true!

    I have to comment on the ask the server’s name thing… an ex-bf used to do that ALL the time and be a TOTAL pain in the ass to whatever poor server actually provided that information. The first time it happened I should have know our relationship was doomed…

    now, my end of shift drink was always very welcomed… first because it signaled the end, and then we always went out for a few more, somewhere where we could relax.
    I didn’t mind being their “friend” when I brought their food, as along as they returned the friendliness in the tip!

  9. Mike Karr says:

    Visine does, in fact, do the job. As well, tobasco sauce dries colorlessly and odorlessly on a seat and will be reactivated with sweat… If you want to watch people squirm.

  10. aaron says:

    I agree with most of his rants. I don’t know about the online reservation. open- table where I work meanse no asses are in them yet. I actually found there is very little difference in cash tips v. credit card tips except for with cash people may have $35 bill and leave 2 $20’s because they don’t have enough to leave a good tip. I realize 3.5o is 10 percent and 15 would be about 5 but I average about 18% – 20% ( on smooth-running tables).

    the name badge thing is annoying especially for the women servers where I work. they’ll have a guy look at her chest and say hi…jane. tips alot of it is not in the service but in the relationship you can build. if anyone would like to learn some tips about that, let me know and I’ll be happy to share

  11. Axem96 says:

    Being a long time service industry type…I agree with everything to certain degrees. People are either 1. ignorant or 2. stupid or 3. A little bit of both. I just don’t know how people, when the go out to eat, can act in such a disrespectful fashion. Do they go out to be upset? I tell you what, stay home, set 100 bucks on fire and spare me the treatment. Appologies to everyone who has hooked me up but the worthless patrons are in the vast majority. How can you snap you fingers, complain, act like a moron and not tip? The good news is, we can smell you coming…when you get lousy service or when I spend more time with the polite folks just know why. Oh…and yes…we do talk about you before, during and after the dining experience. Rock on.

  12. Kathleen says:

    Are tea drinkers a PITA just because you have to bring them the little pot of hot water? Or is it something more inherent, like they ask for little things constantly? I ask because I don’t do caffeine and don’t like coffee, so ask for herbal tea, but only when it’s winter and I’m bloody freezing to death. I certainly hope that otherwise I’m not a PITA.

  13. mikokit says:

    In California, a tip payed for with a credit card is counted as income and must have taxes paid on it, a tip payed in cash can be undeclared as long as your total amount of cash tips doesn’t equal …some large amount. >_<; Sorry, I forgot. I think it’s $2000.

  14. arkanabar says:

    Tea is a PITA b/c of all the fiddly bits that go with it, and the way that most tea drinkers adore their time-consuming rituals. Present them with the giant tea box, which they will examine for seven minutes you need to give to other tables. Heat the cup. Heat the pot. Don’t forget the saucer, spoon, bag, lemon, milk, or six different means of sweetening it. Bring another double-heated pot of hot water. Or two, or three, or more.

    The worst is when they bring their own bag. It may save the server from having to wait ten minutes for them to select their preferred variety, but they expect to not pay for it.

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  16. Pope Lizbet says:

    I know you’re the waiter, and I’m a random person commenting on a really old entry, but.

    When I don’t make eye contact with you, it’s not because I’m a nutjob, it’s because I have a lot of difficulty with anxiety, and eye contact is one of those things that I have trouble with if I’m already feeling a little sprung – if the restaurant is loud or I feel crowded or I had a bad day for some reason unrelated to the restaurant at all. It’s the same reason why I will often tell my dining companion what I want to eat if I’m feeling anxious, and let them order for me. That is, I think, easier for the server than to have me stammer my way through my order and look past them or down the entire time, creating the impression that I am being rude or supercilious. I could be wrong; maybe my servers still think that, or think my dining companions are controlling assholes doing that “and the lady will have” stuff.

    But I tip well, in cash when I can thanks to 80% of my friends having been servers at some time or another, and that’s the real crux of it, isn’t it? 😀

  17. iheartbeer says:

    The one about “A customer who leaves the tip in cash was probably a waiter once.” is so true! I have trained my boyfriend to always tip cash too. It took a while for him to get it but now he knows!

    For those that don’t know – A tip on a credit card all has to be claimed for taxes. Cash does not.

  18. jen says:

    Every restaurant where I’ve worked, severs were responsible for tip adjusting the credit cards at the end of the night. You just punch in info for each credit card slip, change the total to what the customer wrote in, and add it all up and get your cash. Don’t know if its always done that way, but I’ve never left a waiting shift without all my tips. No percentages were taken from the credit card company.

  19. Chris says:

    “Anyone who wants a table a half hour before closing is an asshole.”

    As a cook this one drives me up the wall. I’ve had people walk in the door with a 6 top literally 2 minutes before we closed.

    Not as bad for the front of the house because most of them can split once their tables are cleared. The kitchen, however, has to stand around and wonder what the hell they did to make God angry.

    I didn’t get home until well after midnight. We close at 10. Good times.

    “Never get on the bad side of the kitchen staff.”

    Whats that (server name here)? Your table wants some pain in the ass special order? Well ain’t that just too fucking bad.

    If you’re liked by the kitchen you’re more likely to get that special order. If we’re in the shits and a customer gets bitchy about the wait we might push your table and save you the headache.

    Keep it in mind.

  20. Chris says:

    One more:


    Thank you.

  21. Laciga says:

    You’re an asshole to serve decaf to someone who requests otherwise. As are you an ass and a thief when you give someone the cheaper vodka when they PAY for the more expensive one. You’re going to hell.

    Otherwise, the rest was funny.

  22. Tom says:

    Never quote in absolutes — always!

    I travel to my clients, usually traveling to the same city every week for months. Long hours and heavy workloads leave us few choices in certain situations. To your points:

    I’m sometimes leaving my client’s offices after 9PM and the restaurants in the area close at 10 (some at 9). If I come in 30 minutes before you close, I don’t need 4+ courses — just something quick that I can finish before you close (or within a few minutes after). Don’t suggest McDonalds, as this is my situation most nights of the week and you can’t live on McDonalds.

    I use Discover all of the time, and my standard tip for reasonable service is 20%. Be flexible to my situation and I’ll do better.

    90% of the time, I dine alone. I want a break from work, from talking, and usually want to do some reading (like my brand new copy of Waiter Rant!). I’ve never skipped out on a bill — all of my meals are reimbursed and my client can afford it while my waiter can’t/shouldn’t.

    My company requires use of the company credit card for the full meal expense, including tip. I can’t tip in cash, if I want to be reimbursed for it.

    I’ll often make eye contact, but I take off my glasses when I’m reading. If I don’t make eye contact, it’s probably because I can’t see that far when I’m not wearing my glasses. You’re the pleasant blob in front of me that’s describing the specials, and I may not be able to see your eyes.

    I’m a Diet Coke drinker. If you fill my glass with ice, leaving me 4 oz. to drink, you’ll be back to my table about 20 times with a refill. And yes, I can put away 80 oz of soda in a meal. Give me a pitcher and I’ll handle my refills.

    Finally, if I like your restaurant, I may come back on a weekly basis. If I like your service, I’ll ask for your name so that I can ask for you each time I return.

    Thanks for the great blog and am enjoying the book.

  23. RedLobsterWaiter says:

    I agree with what Tom wrote, that yes, you’ll be back to the table a dozen times for people who drink a lot. I usually just ask my guests if they want less ice or a pitcher (which the managers actually don’t allow). We also understand that you have to leave the tip on the credit card…which is fine, since none of us are tax-evaders.

    To your point about coming in 30 minutes before we close…that’s fine, if you leave within 15 minutes after we close. If you are just there to eat, great! If you are there to chat, come an hour early!!!

    Love the Rant and will buy the book.

  24. Melanie says:

    I’m reading your book and working my way through your blog (boy, that sounds a little dirty, doesn’t it?) from the beginning. I was a former waiter (hopefully me saying that doesn’t bug you like it does if I were sitting at one of your tables) and so much of what you write hits home with me! I was laughing when I read your comment about the Discover card.

  25. Long Retired says:

    Also try bitters with ginger ale – got me through many hangover shifts.

  26. holls says:

    I usually like to ask waiters/waitresses his/her name bc i feel like it’s just the polite thing to do, especially if s/he is handing my food. I usually just use the name to say “please or thank you, John/Jane.”

  27. Sam says:

    Here’s one:
    Any customer who comes in 10 min. before your closed and says “We know you’re about to close, we’ll make it easy for you.” is going to sit at that table for at least another hour, and at the end want desert as well.

  28. PunyHobbit says:

    All of these are 100% right!!!

    The people who ask for your name generally can’t remember it or hear you clearly anyway. I tell people my name when they ask and 9 times out of 10 they call me something else!! Haha I just let them, it’s easier that way!

    Next time they come in and ask for “Wendy” or some other version of my name, I just laugh and am happy I don’t have to wait on their cheap behinds again!!!!

  29. WaitressSaint says:

    AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!! Truer words were never spoken, you go Waiter! <3

  30. WaitressSaint says:

    Oh, and don’t forget * If you forget to restock it during the opening of the store, you will inevitably need it during the height of the rush* It true, and you KNOW it!

  31. Jayson says:

    I read your book – you were writing about me! – We are “brothers from a different mother”!

    You wrote the book everyone in the business wants to write.

    If you are ever looking for someone to help with book #2 let me know.

    I dont know you but feel like I do know you and would enjoy telling tales. I know your best stuff did not make the book! Mine will never be writen either 🙂

    thank you for your book!

  32. Kelli says:

    i still, years later, always leave a cash tip when i am out to eat. great blog, i’m having fun going through it since i discovered it.

  33. Paul says:

    Oh God, please don’t serve me decaf. I only order coffee when I’m reaching the end of my supply in my bloodstream (I’m an addict as hard up as your cokeheads in your stories)

    I tip at twenty percent and when I’m writhing in pain with a headache a few hours later because someone stiffed me on caffiene… well… let’s just say I don’t go back and tip well again because I wasn’t actually taken care of.

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