7 Annoying Things Customers Do at Restaurants That Servers Really Hate

source: praetorianphoto/iStock

I’ve never been a server in my life, but not gonna lie, I always wanted to try it! I know for many, it’s the first job ever, and it must really be tough. Every day, you’re communicating with various customers. And by various, I mean an assortment of characters ranging from the overly polite to those who think a scowl is a tip. As a server, you’re on the frontline, dealing with all of it. Plus, there’s this unwritten rule floating around that customers are always right, which, let’s be honest, isn’t always the case. I may have never donned the apron myself, but as a customer (and let’s face it, aren’t we all?), I’ve seen what these folks go through, and trust me, it’s no cakewalk! I truly believe that being a server prepares you for life in a way few other jobs can. It’s like a crash course in human behavior—some good, some bad, and some downright baffling. 

source: Pexels

A friend of mine has been in the trenches, serving tables a time or two, and while he admits most days were okay, there were certain behaviors that could really grind their gears. So, let me tell you about the 7 things you do at restaurants that servers absolutely despise.

1. Campers Without the Tents

Ever noticed how some people treat restaurant tables like campgrounds, minus the tents and the campfire? They linger long after the meal is done, chatting away as if they’re waiting for the stars to come out. My server friends tell me these table campers are a real thorn in their side, especially during busy shifts when every seat is worth its weight in gold. Trust me, servers love a good chat as much as the next person, but when the restaurant is bustling, it’s time to pack up the camp and let others enjoy the experience.

source: serts/iStock

2. The Indecisive Orderers

“I’ll take the… oh, wait, maybe… actually, what’s good here?” Sound familiar? We’ve all been there, but dilly-dallying over the menu can be a real test of patience for servers. It’s even worse when the order finally comes through, only to be changed at the last minute. My buddy once had a table that changed their order five times. Five! By the end, he wasn’t sure if he was serving dinner or playing musical chairs with the menu.

3. The Phantom Tippers

This one’s a classic. Imagine providing top-notch service, bending over backward to ensure everything’s just right, and then—poof!—the tip vanishes into thin air. Not cool, folks. Servers rely on tips as a significant part of their income. Skimping on a well-deserved tip is like saying, “Thanks for all the hard work, but I don’t value it.” Let’s ensure we show our appreciation in a way that counts.

source: JulPo/iStock

4. The Split-the-Bill-After-Ordering Squad

Ah, the ol’ “Can you split the bill seven ways, and oh, Dave only had a salad, but he also had three beers, and I think Sarah had some of my fries” scenario. Splitting the bill is fine and dandy if you plan ahead. Springing it on your server after a complex order with all the casualness of asking for extra napkins? That’s a recipe for a headache.

5. The Modifier Mayhem

Gluten-free bun, no tomatoes, extra cheese, but vegan, on the side, lightly toasted, with a dash of ‘I’m sorry, what?’—customizing your order is totally okay, within reason. But turning your meal into a custom-built car with features even the chef didn’t know existed? That’s when servers start wondering if they’re waiting tables or playing a culinary version of Tetris.

source: MNStudio/iStock

6. The Mobile Phone Zombies

Picture this: A server approaches a table, ready to take the order, only to find everyone glued to their screens, oblivious to the world. Trying to get their attention feels like attempting to contact the living from the spirit realm. We get it, smartphones are addictive, but let’s not forget the humans ready to serve us in the real world.

7. The Last-Minute Crowd

And finally, the group that strolls in five minutes before closing time, expecting a full dining experience. Servers have homes, families, and Netflix episodes to catch up on too! Walking in at the last minute not only extends their long day but also delays the whole closing process. A little consideration goes a long way.

source: milorad kravic/iStock

While I may never have been a server myself, it’s clear that a little empathy and understanding from our side can make their day a lot easier—and our dining experience a lot smoother. Next time you’re out enjoying a meal, spare a thought for the person serving it. A bit of kindness and courtesy might just make their day, and who knows, it could even make your meal taste that little bit better.