When people are rude to waiters

21:42, May 31 2012

I'm just going to throw it out there. There's one thing I really can't stand: when people are rude to waiters.

If I had one dollar for all the times I've had to bite my tongue while a fellow diner berated some hapless waiter I'd have at least ten dollars.

And I would have hit the jackpot last weekend.

I was at a café in Sumner, happily typing away on my laptop and having a wine in the late afternoon sun, while at the table next to me sat two loud, large, middle-aged, American women.

I half listened as they ordered their meals in extreme detail - hold the anchovies, extra croutons, put the mayo in a little pot on the side.

A while later, the waitress placed the meals down in front of the women. One let out a loud gasp and clutched a hand to her ample bosom.

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I thought she must have just spotted a disembodied head in her meal.  

But no, a much, much worse affliction had befallen her.

Her chicken salad was cold.

The poor waitress, a girl who couldn't have been older than 17, was shaking in her boots as she tried to explain that the salad was actually supposed to be cold (it was a Caesar after all).

Seeing she was getting nowhere with logic, the waitress obediently took the meal back to the kitchen.

No sooner had she left, than the woman launched into a piercing tirade. She barraged anyone within hearing distance with her thoughts about how appalling the service was and how you would never see such behaviour in the US of A (extra twang on the A).

She was still going as the waitress returned with a warmed up salad.

"Sorry, the lettuce got a bit soggy when the chef warmed it up," she apologised and quickly retreated back to the relative safety of the kitchen.

I tensed as the woman inhaled deeply, colour rising to her cheeks.

"That. Is. Disgusting," the woman let out in a loud shriek to her friend.

She stood up, affronted, and barrelled into the kitchen with the salad.

A few words erupted from the closed kitchen door, most of which I can't repeat on this blog. So here's the highlights:  "Inedible", "Repulsive," followed by "We're sorry", "Free meal?", followed by "Never" and "Insulting".

The woman emerged a few minutes later with a smug, satisfied look on her face.

The American pair then left without having eaten anything (maybe it's the latest diet fad - you can order food and complain about it, but not eat it).

I felt like calling out to the kitchen "I'll eat the friggin' salad!" and giving the whole kitchen staff a hug.

Instead, I settled for eviling the women's backs as they stomped off down the street.

People just seem to treat wait staff as if they are complete morons put on this earth to serve their every whim.

Sure, they're paid to take your order and serve your food, hopefully with a smile. (It is a two-way street. I find it equally irritating when waiters or shop assistants act as if your presence in their establishment is a burden on their very existence).

But they're not paid to be abused by you because you failed to realise lettuce doesn't appreciate the microwave.

The bit that gets me the most is that it's not even the waiter that makes the food; they're just the intermediary between the kitchen and the diners.

I'm not saying everyone should put up with lousy food, but there is a polite way to complain about something.

And yelling at some teenager who's just working part-time to earn a little bit of cash isn't it.

Have you got any horror stories of waiters and dining? Do you find it offensive when people are rude to wait staff? Comment below, email Anna at anna.turner@press.co.nz or follow her on Twitter.

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