Dear Waiter:

Your latest “Ask the Waiter” item about the lingering diners makes sense. However, on more than a few occasions I’ve found it almost impossible to get a check from my server. I’d think he/she’d be anxious for me and my wife to leave so a new party can be seated. What’s the best way, short of being rude, to get a server to bring you the check so you can pay and leave?

Thank you,

Dear John:

The best way to let a server know you want the check is to verbally ask for it. A good waiter will not bring the check until he or she is asked. (But if you’re one of those lingering diners we talked about yesterday and I need the table, I’ll just drop the check.)

Another way to signal that you’re ready for the check is to put your wallet or credit card on the table. A female diner, however, should not put her purse on the table. A server will just think she’s scrounging through it for mints, a cell phone, or a tissue. But if all the ladies present place their purses on the table, then even the most brain dead server will take that as a signal the table wants their check.

You could also just wave the waiter over or do the squiggly sign the check pantomime thing. (Even though it’s acceptable that little move irks the hell out of me.) If that fails ask another server or a manager for the bill. If all else fails just try walking out the door. It’s amazing how fast the waiter will pay attention to you then. Setting small fires on the table works wonders too.

Waiters can be slow bringing the check to the table for several reasons.

1. They’re so busy juggling things in their head (appetizers, specials, cocktail orders, wine selections, food prep times, looking for the last ice bucket) that they forgot all about you. This is the usual reason.

2. Waiter is tired and doesn’t want any more tables. By making you stay longer he or she is forcing the hostess to seat late arriving tables in another server’s section. I do this all the time.

3. Waiter is so busy chattering away on their cell phone that they forgot they were working in a restaurant.

4. Waiter is involved in sexual congress in the linen closet.

5. Waiter is smoking a cigarette in the alley. (Usually after the sexual congress thing.)

6. The waiter is eating dinner. (Usually standing up or sitting on a milk crate)

7. The waiter has had their consciousness altered through alcohol or drugs and has forgotten all about the space time continuum thing.

8. Waiter fell asleep.

9. The waiter is in the manager’s office getting yelled at. (Usually because of #4, #7, and #8)
Please send your restaurant questions to [email protected]

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