I am standing by a table, patiently waiting, while a woman mulls over the menu for the umpteenth time.
They’ve been sitting for forty-five minutes, drunken two rounds of martinis, and I’ve repeated the specials five times. The other guests, fidgeting with the utensils, made up their minds long ago. It’s all on her and she’s cracking under the pressure.
“The rack of lamb here is excellent.” I gently suggest.
“The portion is too big.” She replies.
“You can always take it home.”
“No.” she says flatly.
I can feel the eyes of my other customers burning holes in the back of my skull. I have other orders to take; drinks to fetch. This is taking way too long.
“Would you like more time to decide?” I ask. The woman’s husband groans. I hear a stomach rumble.
“No wait here.”
She pulls on her lower lip, sighs, and flips back to the start of the menu.
Tick tock. Tick tock. I hum the tune to Jeopardy.
“Do you know what I want?” she says, looking up hopelessly.
This is all passive aggressive behavior. She must be really pissed at me or her friends to make us wait this long. Maybe Dad didn’t give her a pony. I don’t give a fuck. It’s time for shock therapy.
“The psychic waiter is off today. He’ll be in tomorrow.” I say, putting some steel in my voice.
The husband looks at me in surprise. I wink.
He smiles and pulls the menu out of her hand.
“She is having the rack of lamb medium rare. Thank you.” he says decisively.
“Very good sir.” I say fleeing.
Mrs. Flip Flop has put me in the weeds. I run the rest of the night playing catch up. I dread when it comes time for dessert.
The moral of the story? Don’t take forever when ordering. This is not life and death stuff. It’s only fucking FOOD.
Look where it ends up in 24 hours.
This is one of the worst things to do to a server. It is a horrible feeling to stand there awkwardly for minutes while someone decides on a dish they should have picked when i first got there. all the other customers then have to wait and my tips are lowered only because you couldn’t make up your mind!
OMG, I am not here to wait on only YOU!! This is BY FAR the worst thing to do in a restaurant, even in McDonalds!
BTW, I just found your blog. I think I want to have your baby! LOL
After 25 years in the restaurant business I was nearing the end of my tenure, and tether.
I was bartending and waiting tables in the loune and a couple came in on a Saturday night to wait for a table in the dining room. They were in their 60s, dressed to the nines, he impeccably in suit and tie, she in a mink stole and diamonds. I took their drink order, went back behind the bar to make it, then returned. She immediately started screaming at me that she’d been waiting for thirty minutes (it had probably been four) and what a horrible restaurant this is, what lousy service, and didn’t we all know how very very special she is?
I lost it.
Twnety-five years in the business all pushed to the surface and I laid into her. I said the following:
“How dare you! You’re living in a state of grace and you don’t even know it. Half the world is going to bed hungry tonight or fearful of their lives from bombs from above or a coup or disease or pestilence, while you get to drink martinis in a lovely restaurant, while awaiting a lovely meal, surrounded by lovely people, and then you get to go home when its all over and sleep in a lovely bed. Yes, you are special, so very very special, so quit your whining and get down on your knees and give thanks that you have the opportunity to wait five minutes or thirty minutes or five hours without someone trying to kill you.”
She was agast, tongue-tied, speechless, although her husband gave me a slight knowing smile.
I left the restaurant business for good two later and haven’t returned (this was fifteen years ago). Since then I’ve been in the computer industry and, of course, that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.
Funny you should mention the Jeopardy music. I worked in a high volume touristy place and I actully used to hum the Jeopardy think music when one customer couldn’t decide (and I mean out loud so the whole table could hear) always got a laugh and I never had a complaint.
She was probably just passive aggressively stalling for some reason as you said, but as far as a real reason “the portion is too big” is such a stupid statement. Nothing beats taking home leftovers so the day after a nice dinner out you have another great meal just a few microwave buttons away.
As for the rest of it, like you said, it’s just damn food. If you’re at a nice restaurant it stands to reason pretty much everything on the menu is good (and if something isn’t it’s probably just because you don’t like one of the major ingredients). Just pick something and enjoy it. Personally I’m usually only torn between trying something new or repeating an old favorite, but if the waiter is standing there I will ask for more time or make up my mind within seconds (pick something at random if you have to).
if you dont know what you want, ask your server to come back. i dont think people realise that keeping you at the table for an extra 4 minutes can turn the next 3 hours of your work into chaos!
Omg I would never expect the people at my table to wait on me before ordering, if after they have placed their order I still don’t know what I want I’ll ask the waiter what he/she reccomends between whatever it is I can’t decide, if I still don’t know I get soup or salad and ask if the waiter minds coming back for my order once that is served
You know this is the pet peeve of every waiter including me. Can they not see my other tables starring knives into me? I mean it is obvious. Yes, this is passive aggressive and is being done on purpose. It’s not about the food, it’s about controlling your time as a show.
I love the ones who hear see another table flagging me and STILL sit there hemming and hawing. I am not talking about someone taking a minute to decide or letting me leave and come back. I mean the heels dug in, I am not ordering to spite you ten minute people who expect you to stand there with a service load of perhaps sixty people other than YOU. I’d rather they leave, tip be damned and be replaced by someone who doesn’t have inner child issues over ordering off a menu!
Funny tidbit if it hasn’t been mentioned…but when we went to China, the wait staff greeted us at the door and literally stood behind us while they wait for us to order. We tried telling them that we’ll look over the menu and let them know what we want. Their response?
“Oh it’s alright. We’ll wait for you to decide.”
They then proceeded to stand there…looking over our shoulder until we ordered. Very awkward. 😛
When one person is holding everybody up I like to look at the person at the table most pissed off and say, “Gee, I’d hate to see her buying a car!”