Signs That Your Server Doesn't Like You

We've all been there. You're all decked out for a night on the town, seated at a great table at that restaurant you've been dying to try. Sounds like you're in for a good time, right? But despite you flashing your best smile, and using your regular charm to win over your waitress, she just isn't having it. Is she bad at her job? Suffering at the tail end of a series of double shifts? Maybe you've caught the restaurant on on "off" night?

These are all distinct possibilities. But, as this 15-plus year veteran of the restaurant industry can tell you, the truth, is, sometimes we just don't like you. Here's how you can tell.

We won't make you fresh decaf

This may come as a surprise to all of you decaf coffee drinkers, but the truth is, far more people drink the full-octane brew. So many, in fact, that getting a request for decaf can be seen as a trifle bit annoying by servers, only because there is a greater chance that the pot has been sitting a while, and I'm now going to have to make you a fresh batch — something I may not have the free time to do in the middle of a busy shift. If I like you, and genuinely care about your experience, I'm going to find the time to do it, and probably mention to you that I'm making you a nice, fresh pot. If I don't like you? You're getting the sludge.

We don't laugh at your bad jokes

Oh, really? You absolutely hated that plate of fettucine alfredo that you just practically licked clean? I have literally never heard that one before.

But you know what? If you're a nice person, and your group has had a nice rapport with me all night, then I am going to laugh. I might even tease you that you are using old material, if I think we are getting along that well, and I suspect you're that sort who appreciates a "feisty" waitress (yes, they exist.) So how do you know if I hate you? If you get the painfully fake laugh, or the blank stare, as I quickly try to get away from your table, that's a sure sign that I just don't like you.

We refuse to go ask the chef your questions

In some cases, we've been asked the same question thousands of times, and we're already 100 percent confident that we know the answer, like if you're asking for a certain substitution that we know the chef is going to refuse to do. Other times, we're just 100 percent over you, and saying no to you is a heck of a lot easier than running back to the kitchen before we get your order in. Some of us might not even try to cover up our distaste. "Sure, that salmon was caught this morning from a gluten-free river we keep in the back of the restaurant. And it's organic."

We don't refill your soft drink or water

Endless refills are already the bane of every server's existence, particularly if you're the kind of a customer who deliberately parches yourself before you go out to eat just so you can take advantage of the three gallons of Mountain Dew that you feel you have coming to you. But those refills are par for the course, and we get used to offering that refill when we see your cup is less than half full. Many times, we'll just bring you a new one before you even had a chance to request it.

But what if we don't like you? Expect to stay thirsty, my friend. Very, very thirsty.

We rush you

If we don't like you, we want you out of our station, like yesterday. No grand speeches here about taking all the time you need — I'm going to start firing off those specials to you when I'm ready — not the other way around. And you had better be ready to order your food as soon as those drinks hit the table. I'm also going to rush your food to your table as quickly as possible. You ordered an appetizer before your meal? I'll order your entrees so they come out five minutes later. Dessert? I already hate you for ordering it, so I'm likely going to drop it unceremoniously in the center of the table with a pile of spoons, along with the check.

We don't want to chat

I may be happily frolicking with the table full of regulars right next to you, but you seem to be getting majorly blown off when you attempt to talk to me about anything more than the fish of the day. Why would that be? First of all, I don't know you, so you can't really expect me to treat you the same way as the people I've been serving for years. If the cold shoulder I'm serving you with seems to be even worse than that, it may just be that you've already done something to majorly rub me the wrong way. Maybe you snapped at the hostess. Maybe I waited on you six months ago and remember what a lousy tipper you are. Maybe you remind me of my jerk of an ex-boyfriend. Whatever the reason, I don't like you, and no amount of witty repartee on your part is likely to get you past that.

We bring you your change, even if you said to keep it

Ahh... the international signal for "You are a cheapskate." Yes, I heard you say "That's all set," or "Keep the change," or whatever it was you said to communicate that my tip had already been included in the amount you gave me. So what do I do? I smile, say thanks, and quickly run to the nearest out of the way spot so I can count the amount you gave me, and calculate what kind of tip you left. If it's anything less than what I feel I earned, I'm going to bring you back your change anyway. It's a classic, passive-aggressive server move, and no, it was not a mistake on my part.

We mutter or roll our eyes at you

Maybe you were absent the day they taught basic social cues in grade school, but if you catch me muttering under my breath at you, particularly if you've just bragged to me how you are tight with the owner, or how you think this place has gone downhill lately but you're giving it another chance, there is a good possibility I just decided that I really don't like you. You can assume the same if I give you the subtle, or even not-so-subtle eye roll when you ask me to double check with the chef if you can substitute fried shrimp for your baked potato.

We neglect you

It could be that I seem to be ignoring your table because we're crazy busy, or it could be that I just don't like you. If you haven't been checked on since someone delivered your meals, your table is totally lacking the proper condiments, and your drinks have been sitting at near empty for a while, it could be that I am a terrible server — or that I think that you're a terrible customer. In my many years in the service industry, if a customer was being particularly rude or nasty to me, I would either rush them out the door, or pretty much ghost the table, leaving my support staff like bus people and food runners to get them what they need.

We visibly talk about you to other staff members

Do you see me over there in the corner, motioning to your table, and whispering into my co-workers' ears? It would sure seem like we're all having a laugh at your expense. Maybe you're just paranoid and should get back to your manicotti... or maybe I just don't like you. Hey, restaurant jobs are stressful and a bit soul-sucking. If we couldn't make fun of the worst of our clientele, what would get us through our shifts? The promise of the free end-of-shift drink we may get at the bar. Unfortunately, that policy has gone the way of the dodo as more restaurants become corporate-owned. But making fun of the customers that we can't stand? That will always be free.