I was out to dinner with a group of friends recently at a lovely local Louisville restaurant, and when the server brought the check over, a friend at my table intercepted his delivery and said aloud, “oh, no, you can keep that!” expecting an uproar of laughter. All he got, however, was an awkward chuckle from the server, because most of us work or have worked in the service industry, and joking about the server keeping the check so that we may not have to pay it is tired and unfunny, at the very least. If I had a dollar for every time I had to fake-laugh at a guest’s feeble attempt at a joke at my expense, I’d be hella-rich and able to retire my bar stick. There’s a slew of comments that we barkeeps and servers hear daily that leave us screaming on the inside, whilst nodding and smiling on the outside. Not sure if these apply to you as a patron? Never fear, I’ve recapped a few token nightmares, so that you can keep them in mind from here on out. Because, y’all, don’t be that guy.
One of my favorites (and by favorite, I mean, “do you have a death wish?”) is the patron who simply cannot find anything on the menu to their liking or level of hunger, so they must ask if they can create their own menu item. “This pasta sounds good, but I’m really not that hungry. Can I get, like, a smaller portion? For less money? And, can I have a white wine butter sauce instead of pesto?” Oh, OK, got it. You want an entirely new dish then. And, let’s not forget the folks who must dredge you through their plethora of dietary restrictions. Here’s your gluten-free cauliflower steak, you trash person.
The bad dad jokes
Bad dad jokes are a special breed of service industry annoyance, because they really are not meant to inflict any harm, but they’re so common that they become exhausting (insert that awkward laugh here). For example, when a bartender or server comes to clear the empty plates, and the guest responds with, “we didn’t like it at all! Take it back!” While winking and nudging their friend, as if it’s the first time anyone has ever made that joke. C’mon, dude, I know you’re trying to be ironic, but for the love of God, just tell me it was great — and shut the fuck up.
Ignorance is bliss
I’ve worked at a brewpub for many years, with a myriad of beers varying in style and color on tap. I have absolutely no issue with educating a less-experienced beer drinker about these styles and offering samples to find the right pint to suit their palate. What really grinds my gears is when a patron pretends to know what they like, but they have zero clue. “I’ll have a pale ale,” they’ll say, “but I hate anything hoppy.” Or, when I ask what kind of beers they usually drink, so that I can pour them something I know they’ll enjoy, and they reply, “all of them.” Soaked in condescension, of course, because they don’t want anything IPA-like, or dark, or anything outside of a Michelob Ultra, really. Help me help you, people.
Last night, my cohorts and I worked a huge, private party for some upper-crust members of society (oh, joy). My friend, Sydney, and I were bartending side by side, bouncing around the bar providing each guest with prompt, exquisite service, and there were a few moments where things got quite busy. While guests clamored to the bar for their chance at some buzzy elixir, I noticed there were several instances where Sydney and I would be serving the same guest. She’d be setting down a pint in front of a gentleman, and I’d walk up behind her with the same libation for the same guy. Why on Earth would this be happening, you ask? Because with “the repeater,” he/she does not believe that our tiny lady brains can remember an order longer than a millisecond, so if another bartender stops to ask them what they’ll have, they repeat it instead of saying, “Oh, I’ve been helped already, thanks so much.” Contrary to popular belief, y’all, if I say, “OK,” or “sure” when you tell me your drink order, chances are, I’m going to turn around and actually make it! Shocker!
I know, I know — you’re probably thinking I’m too hard on the average Joe who walks into a bar and doesn’t know what may or may not offend an employee. But, perhaps, these words will resonate with just a few folks that have been “that guy” in the past. Don’t be that guy.