Thursday, August 13, 2009

When Servers Become Babysitters

There is a book entitled, Waiter Rant, Thanks for the Tip--Confessions of a Cynical Waiter. It is simply written by, The Waiter. I think it was in this book that I read that people are their most vulnerable when they are eating. 

This is what people don't know. While they are enjoying their lunch in a noisy and crowded restaurant they think that no one else is paying attention to them. They're wrong. Waiters witness everything. We notice the things you don't. We see how you treat your children and how you treat your spouse. We witness the expressions, the body language, and the mannerisms. I have seen mothers hit their child when they think no one is watching. I have seen mothers on their cell phones take away the table knife from the baby only to have it scream in response and hand the knife back so they can hear their phone conversation. I have seen countless fathers ignore their children until the mother arrives. I have seen arguments, verbal abuse, physical abuse, and emotional abuse. I have seen parents ignore their child's temper tantrums much to the dismay of the surrounding tables.

I think probably the worst is just the opposite. I have seen children abuse their parents. And I have seen parents just take it and succumb. I have seen four year olds demand, scream, hit, bite, spit, claw, and throw things at their parents to get what they want. I have heard pre-teens curse at mom and dad just to leave in the middle of the meal. I have seen parents hand every single object, knives included, to their screaming children just to get them to shut up. 

However, the funny thing is to us the people we serve lose all identity of themselves and simply become table numbers to us. 

As in, "You're table twenty-two is screaming so fucking loud. Can't you shut them up?" or "Dude, give table eleven some crackers or something, their crying is so obnoxious." It's as if the tables assume the identities of our own badly behaving children. 

Any good server who works in a chain restaurant will have an arsenal of emergency tools in their apron: pre-packaged crayons (in all colors so Junior doesn't have to steal his sister's and sister doesn't have to throw a butter knife at him to get it back), saltine crackers (to hold over screaming babies), pre-packaged colored straws (any server who has spent ten minutes running around to find Junior a green straw because his orange just wont make his milk taste the same as the green knows to just drop a handful of different color straws in the middle of the table instead of assuming one color will work just as well as the other), and plenty of pens as well as their trusty server book. 

I think the straws are the worst. Who knew different colored straws could create such upheaval at a table? Once a four year old demanded a blue straw, which we didn't have. Once he accepted that there was no blue straw, his mother asked me to find him a yellow straw. The child pitched a bitch fit, and the mother tried to sooth him by saying I would be able to find him a yellow straw. He cried until I spent ten minutes searching for the color yellow until I had to go into dry-stock and open a new box. Ten minutes of my life well spent.

Any parent who allows their child to demand a different colored straw should not be a parent. You suck. Point blank. Your child does not need a blue or yellow straw to cope. Green will be just fine. Or Orange. They all work the same. Stop teaching Junior to expect everything he wants in life. He's only going to be let down sooner than later. 

That goes the same for asking for more colored crayons. Learn to use what you have. Your server does not have time to hunt you down a red crayon. Your arsenal or blue, green, orange, yellow, brown, black, pink, and white will be fine. Better yet, teach Junior how to make the color red. There, you could actually induce a learning environment for him. 

I once had a table (table 95 to be exact--we always remember the numbers of our memorable tables) where the parents at the table allowed their precious eight year old to run me like a dog. Back and forth and back and forth for the most mundane objects that little Johnny could think of. Every time I arrived back to the table I swear he stopped me just to think of something else he could get me to do. Mom was too busy wiping the food of his fat little face and Dad was too busy on his cell phone to care. Little Johnny was an inch away from asking me for a power-scooter when I turned to check on another table. "Excuse me," I heard with a lot of emphasis. I turned to look at Johnny's mom, "Yes?" (I smiled. I do that a lot.) "My son needs something." I turned to little Johnny. "Um," he stuttered and stared at me, blank in the face, "Can I get some marinara?" I looked at his plate. He was eating apple sauce. What the hell did he need marinara for? "What is that for sweetie?" Mommy asks. "I just want it," he states. His mom looks at me expectedly. I smile and turn around back to my fiftieth trip to the kitchen to call for some marinara behind the line wanting desperately to throw it at Mom. Who allows their children to just boss around a complete stranger. Im not a servant. Im here to make your dining experience more efficient and enjoyable. Not to babysit little Johnny. I should have dumped the marinara into his applesauce.

Which reminds me: I once had a woman leave in the middle of the meal to do some shopping, leaving me with her six and eight year old. "I just need to pop out for a second to return something. You can watch them for me, can't you?" She asked me. I started at her, a drink tray in my arm. "They're just eating, they should be fine." She gets up and walks away from the table and leaves the restaurant. Did this woman seriously just leave me to babysit her children while I was in the middle of my job in a public place? The eight year old stares at me and immediately begins to eat the six year old's food who proceeds to scream. I can't believe this woman just abandoned her children in a public place. What happens if one just gets up and walks out? Im not responsible for this shit. Im a waitress, not their babysitter. What the hell is this shit? I keep thinking to myself. At this point I have three other tables waiting for drinks and food. I turn away from the abandoned and screaming children (table forty-two to be exact) and proceed to watch my other tables. I continue to treat table forty-two as if their mother did not just abandon them and I get refills and box up the left overs. Mom finally returns, thanks me for watching them, pays their bill and leaves. I breathe a sigh of relief that the two kids did not just up and run out on the Restaurant thereby saving me from a lawsuit (because the Restaurant certainly isn't covering my ass anytime soon).

Once again. I hate serving your children.


  1. You know what I hate? The giant mess the kids make that you have to clean up afterwards. As if these parents have no shame in the fact half their kid's food is on the floor along with dirty napkins strewn everywhere. When my boy makes a mess at a restaurant, I take the 5 seconds to bend over and clean it up myself. The thing is, he's very clean. He makes about 1/10th the mess a child twice his age would normally make.

  2. And this is why I work(ed) in the car business :P

  3. I would've called the cops on the woman who walked out on her kids. That shit's not okay.

  4. Parents are the worst. I can't really blame the kids as this is the way they are raised. They don't know any better. Is there a server anywhere that doesn't cringe when seated a table with children?

    I'll add you to my blog as well.

  5. It's the same working retail. You see absolute the worst in people.

  6. I really really really hate serving kids. Want to exchange links?

  7. Zowie, I would totally just say, I don't have time to find another straw, I have other tables. I don't care if they don't tip, it was probably only $4 anyway. At my place, the managers are just as pissed about all of the kids, so they wouldn't care if I talked back to a parent.

  8. I have spent a couple hours tonight reading some blogs, and I have a simple question:
    What the f*ck is wrong with all you blogger/servers? Is there a single one of you that is not bitter, angry, and miserable?

    As a personal rule, I NEVER tip less than 20% and I always used to pick up any shit my kids drop (which they do, because they're KIDS). But no longer bring my kids into restaurants like yours because:
    1. The food generally sucks
    2. The service generally sucks worse than the food

    Do you see how that works? I didn't like the situation, so I changed it. Why don't you follow my example? You can:
    1. Quit your shitty job,
    2. Kill yourself

    Best of luck to you, and Happy New Year!

  9. servers remember the bad days. I have done it for about 10 years now, and the good outweighs the bad. However, there are some truly rude assholes out there who seem to think they can treat us like shit. Would you rather have a server blow up while at work, or go home and vent on a blog? If you don't like it, don't read it

  10. You put this together brilliantly! I have no idea where waitrons such as yourself come from - is it because the customer is "always" right? Your infinite patience is most admirable! And I thought balancing plates was a challenge!

  11. You made no mention of the people that will allow you to wait while their child tries to decide between chocolate and strawberry milkshakes or if they prefer a hamburger to a cheeseburger. It's a combo meal from the kids' corner, not grad school.

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  13. This is great! Please write more. My sister found this via google because we've been noticing this freakish upsurge in fecundity lately, and these people expect the world to put up with them taking their screaming kids any and everywhere (including bars and live shows). Kids shouldn't be taken out in public -- except to places like chuck e. cheese, gymboree, the playground at the park -- until they learn to keep quiet and sit still.

  14. I hate mothers who thinks every body cares and love their children. it's not true i hate all of them every single one of them!!!!
    i use to work in a coffee shop in some posh area where women stay at home and they are all awful, give me this, give me that my kids put his muffin all other the floor then stamped on it to make sure it's hard to clean. Some parents are despicable and should be shot for letting their children in such a way. I can't imagine what it will be like in 20 years. poorly educated children become parents one day then what kind of society we'll live in

  15. alainburgess77 I hope that you never have children! I bet someone thought the same thing about you when you was a child! & What the hell does Poorly educated children got to do with anything? Usually they have more sense then someone whose had a excellent education does!

  16. I'm a server too. BTW Red is a primary color, you cant mix other colors to obtain it.