Don’t be the annoying customer! These restaurant employees share outrageous encounters with guests which made them consider quitting on the spot. Content has been edited for clarity.
“I Knew Serving The Couple Would Be A Wild Ride”
“I was a server and part-time shift manager for ten years from ages nineteen to twenty-nine, during which time I spent six years at a little casual Italian restaurant in Pleasant Hill, CA. I worked while in college and I have so many amazing stories from all those years.
The strangest story includes a couple who came to my restaurant often. The first time they came in, I was serving and was up at the front, ready to seat some tables in my section, as it was a slow Tuesday night.
The couple asked for a table for two, requesting a table that had a view directly into the kitchen. Our cooks prepared all dishes in front of the guests. I quickly led them to a two-top in my section which met their requirements, thankful I had a table on a dead night.
I went up to reintroduce myself with our complimentary focaccia bread and our yummy green dipping sauce, and the woman quickly stopped me from putting the food on the table.
She explained, ‘I have an extremely low immune system. I need to wash your hands before and after you approach our table. Can you do it? Also, can the cooks wear latex gloves while making my food?’
She then pulled out a hospital-size box of latex gloves, carefully stored in a big Ziploc bag, and set them on the table. I knew serving the couple would be a wild ride.
She then proceeded to bring out another huge Ziploc bag containing a plate, plastic silverware, and a plastic cup. She didn’t want to use any of the restaurant’s plates or utensils.
I was a bit perplexed and frankly shocked, but it was a dead night and they were my only table, so I had the time to accommodate the woman’s requests and kind of wanted to see if I could pass her ‘test’.
I told the couple, ‘I can do my best to make sure I wash my hands and the cooks wear gloves.’
They seemed grateful for my willingness to oblige to their requests.
The husband chimed in, ‘You can just put my food on whatever clean plate you can scrounge up from the back.’
His wife frowned at him in response. I continued to take their orders and scurried to send them off to the kitchen.
I went back to the kitchen and motioned the cooks over to me. I explained the woman’s situation, and the cooks simply shook their heads and called her crazy. I just shrugged them off and reminded them they had to wear gloves anyway. Their sheepish smiles made me laugh.
The night went on and I observed the woman as she watched the cooks carefully making her food. She even winked at them a couple of times!
When their food was ready, the cooks quickly plated the husband’s penne portobello. I arrived at their table to pick up her ‘home’ plate and carefully set it on the line, so they could plate her Ravioli Di Zucca.
I took both meals to the table and presented them to the couple. I was pretty proud of myself for passing the test!
The woman cleared her throat and said, ‘Um, you just left the table with my plate, went to a different part of the restaurant, and returned to my table without washing your hands.’
I was kicking myself but also recognized how ridiculous this entire situation was becoming.
I explained to her, ‘You are right. I am so sorry, we are doing the best we can.’
The husband replied, ‘You know, she’s right. Let’s just enjoy our dinner.’
The wife looked at him and grunted through a half-smile.
I came back with the check and asked if she wanted a clean bag for her dishes and silverware. Nope, she brought a bag to take her utensils home, too.
The husband asked, ‘What is your name again? I just wanted my wife and I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful service.’
I told them my name, and they thanked me again and slowly walked out of the restaurant. They left a fifty-buck tip on their bill. I ran after them to make sure there wasn’t a mistake with the tip amount. There wasn’t.
They in came about a month and a half later on a busier night and stood up at the front waiting for a table. I started hearing whining and complaining from my coworkers, so I ended up taking their table again.
I greeted the couple with familiarity as the others looked on, directing them to my section, right in front of the kitchen. The woman pulled out her Ziploc bag of gloves and her separate bag of utensils, a plate, and a plastic cup. I went and washed my hands and greeted them, continuing to serve them the same way I did before.
My fellow servers were shocked. The couple came in about every other month from then on and always asked for me. The other servers would try to take their table to earn the hefty tip, but the couple always requested me.
When I became shift manager, I had a server who I knew would make them happy, take over. He enjoyed the fifty buck tip up until they stopped coming in, about a year later. The wife became very sick and succumbed to her illness before passing away. The husband passed away a month later, I think from a broken heart, but who knows.
I still miss them.”
The No-Tip Terror
“I have served the most insufferable and entitled teenager in existence.
I worked at a sports bar in an affluent part of town. Although some people in the area were known to be stuck-up, most people in the bar were awesome and tipped the servers well.
However, we always had the son of a restauranteur who would come to the bar with his hungry friends in tow. He always had his father’s credit card so they would run up a huge bill.
He was known for his entitled attitude and running the servers ragged to please him. He and his friends would order multiple drinks and plates of food all night long. By the time the marathon meal was over, he would produce his dad’s credit card, sign the bill, and proceed to leave. He never tipped once! Not even a penny. He would just write the word, ‘No’, on the tip line. He didn’t even pay with his own money, so why he couldn’t tip his server was beyond comprehension.
I wasn’t aware of this when I first started working at the bar, but I was known for not taking attitude from anyone. One night, the boy and his friends sat in my section. Of course, I served him and his friends all smiles, all night. When it came time for the bill one of my colleagues told me what to expect.
After he signed and was getting up to leave, I grabbed the billfold and said, ‘Oh wait, you didn’t sign in the right place.’
He gave me a smirk and came back to look at the bill.
Turning the billfold so he could look, I suavely placed my middle finger on the tip line and said, ‘I don’t think your daddy would appreciate knowing his son short-changes the wait staff.’
He turned the color of a tomato, quickly grabbed the billfold, and threw a twenty inside of it.
His friends were laughing hysterically the entire walk to the car. Ever since then, he always sat in my section and he never stiffed me on the tip again.”
The Soup Scandal
“When I was a server at Olive Garden, there was a couple who would come in about every two or three weeks. They would only order water and a bowl of never-ending soup each, which added up to roughly six dollars for each person. The woman would pull out a giant Tupperware container from her purse and pour her bowl of soup in it when she thought the server didn’t have eyes on the table. So when the server made their rounds, they’d see the bowl was empty and per protocol, ask her if she wanted another soup. She would get bowl after bowl until her Tupperware was full. She’d get about six or seven bowls of soup every single time she came into the restaurant.
No one wanted to serve her because the process would run the server ragged. They’d have to bring the whole soup setup (plate, bowl, and spoon) to the dish pit, grab clean dishes, pray the particular soup hadn’t run out, pour the soup themselves, and bring it back out to the table. And this was constant the entire time she was in the restaurant because of how fast she ‘ate’ the soup.
Their total would be something like thirteen bucks and they’d tip fifteen percent on the dot, so roughly two bucks. Two bucks for thirty to forty-five minutes of being in the weeds.
She thought she was real smooth and no one knew. Everyone who worked in the restaurant knew, and every single one of us laughed at her foolishness. We just prayed she didn’t get seated in our section when we saw her walk through the door. Even our manager watched her do it one time, but he didn’t say anything. The managers at the location were anti-conflict to the max, to the point of losing money. They wouldn’t have dared confront her, even if she was stealing tons of soup every couple of weeks.
My solution when I had her? I made her wait. I wouldn’t go by her table but every eight to ten minutes. After being in a restaurant for a certain amount of time with no food in front of you, you eventually get bored, fed up, and ready to leave.”
“She Was Draining To Serve”
“It was the nineteen nineties. A woman in her sixties came into my restaurant nearly every week. She had short hair which was set in curls laying close to her head. She dressed, and spoke, with a stiff sort of formality. She was strict, even bordering on mean.
The wait staff didn’t hate her. I don’t think she ever got the cold shoulder. We were all extremely nice to her in hopes she wouldn’t be too demanding with us. She tipped adequately, but she was draining to serve.
After a solid year or so, she came in one night and I couldn’t bring myself to take her table. I had been working all night, pregnant, and exhausted. But it was my job, so I forced a smile onto my face and greeted her.
To my surprise, she smiled back. Throughout her whole meal, she was pleasant and warm. It was like a switch had been flipped, and she had become a completely different person.
Another server whispered to me, ‘She was just here a couple of days ago. She was just as happy the last time, too.’
She soon became one of our most beloved customers. When one of our servers found out she was a dean for a small private school, he let it slip we had nicknamed her, ‘The Governess’. She loved it!
One night, she came into the restaurant and stated, ‘I want to book a large party for an early dinner. It’s my retirement party!’
One of our cooks suggested we get a custom sign made that said, ‘Governess Parking Only’. Several of us chipped in to have it made.
When the party came, her husband laughed hysterically at the parking sign and asked if he could take it with them. Every employee of the restaurant was there to wish her well. A few of our former servers even stopped in to give her a hug.
Shortly after her retirement party, she was gone from our lives. She relocated to a warmer state after retirement. I never knew what caused her shift in personality, but I’m so glad we could get to know her as well as we did.”
Cheese Stick Catastrophe
“I was working as a waiter at a Red Lobster restaurant in Texas. One night, I had a table of four, two adults and two kids. The dad seemed to not even want to be there, but the mom was very polite. It seemed she was delighted to finally eat out at a restaurant that wasn’t some greasy spoon diner. The two kids were polite as could be, a toddler and a boy who was maybe five years old.
They ordered fried cheese sticks as an appetizer. I had delivered them a few minutes earlier and when I came out from the kitchen again, I spotted trouble. The five-year-old boy was struggling, mouth open, eyes bulging, leaning over the table. I ran over to see what was wrong, and he was turning purple and thrashing about. Finally, I realized the boy was choking. I ran up and grabbed him, stuck my fingers in his mouth, and pulled a half-chewed cheese stick out of his throat. He immediately started breathing and coughing raggedly, but he was at least breathing.
His mom was frantic but was thanking me profusely. The kid regained his composure and the rest of the meal went fine.
The dad never even put down his fork during the whole event and just pointed to the regurgitated cheese stick on the table and told me, ‘Clean it up.’
He left me a two buck tip on a seventy buck tab.”
“Everyone Was In Complete Shock”
“There was a woman who came in the restaurant I worked at every Monday. She always called ahead and asked for a side garden salad, a cup of soup, water, and bread, to be ready before her arrival. The soup and salad were unlimited, and the woman always made sure to have a couple of bowls of each.
She only left one buck each time for a tip, but it didn’t bother me as much as the other servers. As long as you followed her directions precisely, you wouldn’t have to communicate with her much.
I served her for about seven months, and it was highly known amongst the server crew she always left a small tip. The other servers avoided taking her table at all costs.
One night, I complimented her on her business-like demeanor and asked, ‘Are you a real estate agent by chance? You are always on your phone and dressed so nicely!’
She blushed and kept it at, ‘No.’
She left me five bucks after I complimented her! I spread the news to the other servers, and everyone was in complete shock.”
“The Man Was Banned From Our Restaurant Forever”
“When I worked at a restaurant, there was a middle-aged barfly who would always come in. He would get loaded at a local watering hole, then carry on with the same behavior at our quaint suburban family restaurant. He would stay parked at the bar until he decided he’d had enough. You could measure ‘enough drinks’ in gallons.
By then, patrons with young children would eat quickly and quietly, kept conversations to a low hum, nervously signaled for their check, paid quickly, and left with a glance over their shoulder to ensure they hadn’t disturbed the man.
The servers would be on their toes all night. The teenage hostesses, fourteen and seventeen years old, would typically be the focus of the man’s affections. He would whisper lewd comments and stare at them.
One day, he signaled an underage hostess on her way inside to join him at a table on the patio. I talked to our manager after my shift, and the man was banned from our restaurant forever.”
The Terrible Teachers
“I once had a table of retired English teachers, all of whom I had when I was in high school. I didn’t recognize them immediately, but they recognized me. I was one of the smartest kids in the school, but I was more interested in running off with my girlfriend.
I made jokingly remarked, ‘I didn’t really attend school much, my sister was the memorable student’
One of the teachers replied, ‘So that’s why you’re working in a restaurant.’
Just because I worked in a restaurant didn’t mean I wasn’t diligent in school, I didn’t belong, and lived on the bottom rung of society.
I didn’t really acknowledge the teacher’s comment in my head, and it only really sank in after I walked away to make their drinks. During their meal, they pointed out bruised lettuce in their salads, commented about not liking the music, and complained their wines were corked (pretty difficult to do with screw tops). At the end of their meal they each got separate checks and paid with cash. The manager was out with her son and took the keys to the register with her. The group of teachers were the first customers of the day, so I couldn’t give them exact change. They camped at their table for another two hours on what was becoming a busy lunch shift, and they told the manager their complaints when she got back to the restaurant. Being a server you have little recourse when the manager didn’t actually see anything, so I ended up being fired.
A couple of years on they remain the worst customers I’ve ever dealt with. Unfortunately, the restaurant flopped a few months later, too.”
“I Wish I Would Have Quit On The Spot”
“I served as a waitress many years ago at an authentic Greek restaurant. Most of the time, I worked lunch and dinner service. The restaurant only had about twenty tables, so we were usually pretty full most days.
I still remember the first time this woman came in. I didn’t judge her or have any preconceived notions based on her initial attitude.
She asked me, ‘Can you put two tables together? We need enough room for five people. Me, my sister, and her three children.’
I still don’t think about the day this woman was in the restaurant if I can avoid it. Anyone who has waited tables or worked in the service industry knows how truly deplorable, cruel, and degrading people can be.
I was humiliated and scolded like a dog by this woman. I was told my appearance had caused them to feel so sick, and they needed to talk to my manager to have me fired. People stared at me, and I felt awkward and uncomfortable. Everyone in the restaurant just listened to the woman point out every insecurity I had. Nobody said a word, they just ate their meals.
The owner called me back to the office and said, ‘I talked to the woman. I told her if she cannot respect you, she can’t return to the restaurant.’
I thought I had seen the last of the woman, but she returned. She, her sister, and the terrible children. They let the kids run wild, and they would splatter and throw food everywhere. She rolled her eyes at me, made a smug face, and still had the nerve to talk to me like I was nothing. By the time they would leave, I would have to completely pull the tables out to vacuum and wipe everything down. I think I saw her at the restaurant four times in total.
Looking back on the situation, I wish I would have quit on the spot. I never imagined the woman would continue to come back to the restaurant. You need to have a thick skin when you work so closely with people. To this day, I believe the woman lingers around from place to place causing as much pain and chaos as possible.
I am confident about myself, but reliving her words still makes me feel terrible.”
“Only A Quarter Was Left For A Tip”
“I previously worked at a restaurant which had an all-you-can-eat special. There was one customer in particular who would come in exactly at opening time and purchase the special. They occupied six tables as a single diner and would leave at about nine in the evening when we closed. They stayed all day and took advantage of the all-you-can-eat dining. Usually, only a quarter was left for a tip. The servers had to stay on their toes all day for this person. They complained their food and coffee were cold after sitting on their table for multiple hours. Yet, it was the server’s fault, and they wanted their meal for free over such complaints. Despite the customer’s criticism, they came back to the restaurant consistently for over fifteen years.
The customer was in their fifties, lonely, and must have chased off whatever friends and family they had left.”
Closing Time Couple
“There was a couple who would come into my restaurant often, and they were the nicest people you would ever meet. Despite this, nobody wanted to serve them. They always came in fifteen minutes before closing and ordered their food slightly different than what was offered on the menu. The servers and cooks had to halt their closing duties and haul everything back out to serve this couple. It may not seem like a big deal to the average person, but servers do a lot behind the scenes. Then, after sitting and having coffee and dessert for an hour after closing, they left less than a ten percent tip every visit.”