Reasons it's OK to get mad at your server

After more than 15 years in the service industry, I generally tend to be on a server's side when I'm dining out. Nobody knows better than I do what it's like to hustle drinks and hot plates all day and night, and do it with a smile on your face. But sometimes, even I have to admit, there are servers who are just not on top of their game, or cut out for the job at all. While I can easily excuse messed up orders or waiting a bit too long for my food, there are a few server no-no's that I just can't tolerate — and neither should you.

Unnecessary attitude

We have likely all experienced this kind of server at one time or another. The one who seems totally over this restaurant, totally over this shift, and totally over you. You might be dealing with server burn out, or maybe you just remind them of an ex who stole their favorite pair of jeans. Maybe they unreasonably assessed you as soon as you sat down, and decided you look like a bad tipper. Whatever the reason, this server has decided that they're going to give you some major 'tude during your meal, and even your most charming banter isn't snapping them out of it.

Menu knowledge

It's a server's job to know the main ingredients of every item on the menu. If a question stumps them, they should excuse themselves to go and find out the answer. This can get particularly irritating if they're getting stumped on almost every query you ask them. Nowadays, it's essential that a server be able to identify which dishes contain common allergens as well. Maybe the server is new to the staff, but a good restaurant wouldn't let anyone on the floor until they know that menu backwards and forwards.

What about the specials?

So you've placed your order for a boring old burger and fries, and then you see a platter of chicken and waffles go by on a tray that you totally would have ordered if you had known it was on the menu. Surprise surprise, you would have known about it, had your server not neglected to mention the specials to you. Sure, they may have forgotten, but my best guess is that server was behind, and just trying to rush through the process of getting your order into the kitchen. Not a smart move on the server's part, since specials can really drive up the total of your check.

You need to ask for every little thing

My family are regulars at a Greek diner near our house here on the Jersey Shore. The place is always packed, and has a huge staff that all recognize us when we walk in the door. We frequently ask to sit in the section of one particular waitress. Is it because she's so nice? Well, sure, she's a nice lady, but the real reason we love her section is much more selfish. We like that she's a total pro when it comes to waiting tables. Extra napkins, water and coffee refills, condiments placed on our table according to what we ordered. Having to constantly scan a room to find your server, only to ask for basic items that they should have predicted is downright annoying.

That side dish cost how much?

I'm not talking about a $1 upcharge for sweet potato fries, though they should mention that too. I'm talking about a server offering a different side or sauce with your meal, and neglecting to mention that it was going to cost you an additional $8, or even more. This would also apply to refills on sodas. I once had three glasses of iced tea at a NYC restaurant, only to discover I was being charged $4 for each one. When it's clear the customer assumes something is included with the original price, failing to mention the upcharge is just rude.

Tricks with liquor charges

I completely appreciate the art of the upsell when it comes to liquor. What I don't appreciate is when a server just goes ahead and upsells you without asking. This happens when you ask for something generic, like a Bloody Mary, and then you see on your bill that you were charged for a mid or high shelf vodka like Stoli or Belvedere. This can change the price considerably, and will really rack up the bill if you have two or more drinks. Make no mistake, the server knows what they're doing here. Their hope is that you just won't notice after you've knocked a few back.

Lack of communication

In my many years of waiting tables, I became hyper-aware of how long the kitchen or bar was taking with my table's order. Every minute that went by was one more minute a table might start to get angry with me while they waited for their food. But the thing that made people settle and relax? Communication. Keeping customers informed of how soon they should expect their order to come out goes a long way in keeping folks happy. And if there's a problem, they'll be much more likely to understand. The worst kind of server is the kind that completely avoids a table to get out of delivering bad news.

You feel rushed

I understand how frustrating it can be for a server when a party seems to have set up camp in their section. And there are tactful ways to keep that party moving without treating them like they're on the clock. But the things I don't tolerate from a server? Abruptly interrupting a conversation, or insisting that appetizers and entrees must be ordered at the same time. They might tell you that it's the policy of the chef, but it's always clear to me what it really is — a way to make sure you aren't sitting at that table for longer than they'd like.

Battling for the waiter's attention

There's nothing more frustrating than feeling like you booked a third class ticket when dining in a restaurant. Even if a server is also waiting on a celebrity, or a beloved regular, every person in their section deserves the same level of attention. Getting ignored while the party at the table next to yours gets the royal treatment can definitely ruin an otherwise good dining experience.

The disappearing server

Probably my biggest pet peeve of the bunch. It's the server who mysteriously disintegrates into thin air at some point during your meal. We had this happen to us recently at our local pub. Our server took our order, and then we saw her put her coat on, and walk out the front door. Twenty minutes go by, and we have empty drinks, and no food. She returned eventually, and told us she was having a cigarette, and assumed the bartender would take care of us. If she had told us to ask the bartender if we needed something, we would have — but instead, she just left.

Be nice to my kids!

I get it, kids can, sometimes, be the absolute worst. And while I can't fault a server who stands up for themselves if a kid is being a real brat, I can bristle at the type of server who just obviously doesn't like kids, and doesn't feel like waiting on them. If my kid is being courteous to you, she deserves just as much attention and respect as the person ordering a thirty dollar entree. If you hate kids that much, maybe you shouldn't be working with the general public.