The food service industry is vast behemoth on the global food scene. Yet not every story in this industry is a happy one, some in fact deal with people experiencing terrible behavior. These stories show people at their absolute worst. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I'm what is delicately called a ‘non-traditional’ student. Mostly because I'm interested in a lot of things, and so found it very difficult to settle on a major. Instead of going into debt to get a degree that wouldn't necessarily prepare me all that well for the work force and would probably put me on track for a career I'd end up dissatisfied in, I decided to run off and mess around for a few years, you know, for funsies.
Wound up in Hawaii, waiting tables to support myself in this endeavor, and mention to some customers my plans to get back to school so that I don't have to, you know, wait tables my whole dang life. (For the record: some people are really good at waiting tables and can make it a rewarding and lucrative profession -- and much respect to them-- but I am not one of them, hence my desire to not do it anymore.) The wife of the pair barely looked up from her drink while dismissing me with ‘You won't go back.’
I'm already enrolled for the fall semester, so that old lady can go eff herself."
"I used to work at Taco Bell. One of my first shifts, we had this guy slam the door open, turn around, glare at me, and shout ‘Señor coffee!’
So I'm understandably a bit confused but I try to stay polite; I smile and ask ‘I'm sorry, how can I help you sir?’.
The response: ‘What, don't any of you people speak English!?! Señor coffee!!’
Now by this point, I'd worked out my new 'friend' (who was still shouting 'Señor coffee!' repeatedly in the dining room) was attempting to order coffee. I was fairly certain Taco Bell doesn't serve coffee, but being fairly new and not a big coffee drinker I informed him that I would double check for him. He continues fuming at the register as I ask another employee.
I came back and tell the guy there is, in fact, no coffee available. He goes on a massive tirade ‘This is America, why don't any of you people speak English?! SEÑOR COFFEE! You're what's wrong with this country! Señor coffee! Just forget it!’ At which point he storms off. Over the whole exchange, he yelled ‘Señor coffee!’ at least 12 times.
The twist? Well, for one, I'm pretty pasty white. For another, THERE WAS A DUNKIN DONUTS ACROSS THE STREET (and no, he wasn't ordering food, just coffee).
And that, boys and girls, is the story of Señor Coffee, the equal opportunity racist."
"I was in a pub in London about two years back with a couple of friends when one of my friends shot her head up and stared at a group of about five women in their mind forties sitting across from us. I wasn't paying much heed until my friend whispered angrily, 'I'm actually going to hit her,' which got my attention and I tuned in to what one woman was saying quite loudly to her friends.
It went something like this,' Don't want those dirty gingers in my pub, don't want those dirty diseased reprobates in my pub. Disgusting things, they should all be destroyed... dirty rotten things.'
Being the only person with red hair in the pub I knew that she was referring to me, but I was too genuinely shocked to pull her on it and just ignored her. Both of my friends wanted to say something to her but I convinced them not to. Later I wish I had said something or done something even if I had gotten my teeth kicked in it would have got rid of the irritation that bubbles within me the minute anyone says anything derisive about people with red hair. I really think it would have been better for me to get that original anger out of my system. One and done kinda thing.
Sadly that wasn't to be the last time I was called names by a complete stranger because of the color of my hair. And to be honest it doesn't get any easier to ignore."
"I was working at Sonic in a very, very insular white town in central Arizona that may or may not have an outlet mall. I couldn't understand a word the guy was saying because he was in a 'below the belt compensation' diesel truck. After the second time I told him 'could you please repeat that, sir,' he said 'CAN'T YOU SPEAK ENGLISH? YO QUIERO TWO EL NUMERO UNO, NO TOMATO, WITH EL TATER TOTS AND ONE EL COKE AND ONE EL DIET COKE! JESUS CHRIST CAN'T YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?'
I told him to pull forward, and when he saw that I was not only white (not as white as he is, though) but totally unwilling to serve him, he got even madder, and everyone in the kitchen heard him screaming over his diesel at me through the window. Good thing it was slow at the time."
"I had someone try to pay their bill like that (fast Food drive-through, a place known for ginger-haired spokespeople)...they paid for a $60 order in Jesus dollars. I ended up chasing them in my car so my co-worker could get a picture of the plates. Turned the plate into law enforcement and got a tresspass order written up against him.
A week later, a crying little jaggoff appeared, called us all kinds of insults saying that ‘Heaven is repayment enough’ and demanded that we drop the charges. He got criminal tresspass, harassment and witness tampering (he tried to bribe us to shut up about it) added to his charges at that point. That made him shut up for once in his adult life.
My take: Heaven is divine, but cash is expected."
After about ten minutes, dude goes into the bathroom. A minute later, he comes booking out of there with a toddler in his arms. Goes out the door, tosses the kid in the back of a car, and tears out of the parking lot. I chase him out to see it all. I'm 15 or 16, freak out a bit and tell my manager to call the cops. He doesn't.
After a few minutes where my manager disappeared, he comes back to me and says, "I know why he ran."
He takes me into the bathroom, where apparently the kid - who had been left on his own - had managed to put feces everywhere except for the toilet. It was on the floor. It was on the walls with toilet paper dangling from it. He had somehow gotten it into the sink, which I wouldn't have thought he could reach. It was EVERYWHERE.
"God, fast food is the worst. There was some old dude who flipped out on me when we no longer had his favorite promotional item and accused us of false advertising. I made the mistake of challenging his accusation. When I went out into the (crowded) dining room to clean off the drink bars or something, he made a point of yelling at me in front of everyone there, saying something like, ‘You look like a junior school dropout.’ It took every ounce of strength not to say anything to him. Later, some regular customers told me that even his wife told him off for fussing about it so much.
On the other hand, I think I can attribute my thicker skin to having worked for so long in fast food. That isn't to say that a rude comment won't ever hit a nerve, but that I'm not so sensitive as I was as a kid."
"I was in a little Italian restaurant near my home with my newborn daughter and a large group of friends and family. A lady at a table nearby mentioned how darling the baby is, we exchange pleasantries, etc.
Maybe fifteen minutes later, the lady walks up to me and hands me a folded piece of paper and mumbles something and returns to her seat. I unfold it and it's a note scrawled in crayon which reads: ‘Your daughter is beautiful, don't allow her to grow up and be unhealthy and overweight like you, raising overweight children is a choice, choose her health’
I read it, handed my daughter to my friend and stood up and exited the building before losing my cool and freaking out. As a new, hormonal mom, I went outside and unleashed a hurricane of tears. My family and friends had since read the note a confronted the lady. As it turns out she was hammered out of her mind. The table next to hers said she had been making fun of me, giving me the finger, and making pig snorting noises at me, and we had been so wrapped up with the baby no one had noticed. Word quickly spread around the restaurant and the woman was confronted by several people before staggering out.
It was a bad day, but I was at least comforted knowing she was hammered and not just a terribly mean person."
"I'm currently working part-time as a waiter at a nearby restaurant (which is sorta upscale). During one of my shifts there was a wedding taking place followed by the reception.
On one of the tables there was a glass full of money (I would say, a hundred dollars, probably more). I had been clearing that table all day without incident but when I went to clear a few of the glasses this time, this scumbag hit my hand away and screamed at me saying, 'Don't you dare take that glass away, you might need to money but don't you dare.' I was actually going for the glass behind it, and his wife could tell what I was doing. I felt quite terrible afterwards. He thought that just because I'm a waiter that I had to be poor and need the money? I earn £7.20 an hour which is a lot for me considering I'm still in school and stuff and don't need to pay for anything.
I felt better though because his wife screamed at him back, she was lovely always smiling and saying thank you, which made me feel better."
"I worked in a vegan restaurant for a while, I was well liked, never stepped out of line per se. But we had a regular customer named Mike, he was equally liked and a personal friend of my manager. He was moving to California and it would be his last time dining in our establishment. We chatted for a while (It was slow, so we could) and I thought It'd be nice and give him a going away gift of 15% off his usual meal, which amounts to $2 off his usual meal. We said our goodbyes and he left.
I thought that was the end of it, until the lunch rush starts. My boss proceeds to come out, pull me off the register, and goes off on me. 'Why did you give him a discount? Why are you so self-righteous? Why do you think you can do whatever you want here? You're the reason I have low profit margins.' That last one got me. I waited a day, stirring my rage. Though I wasn't planning to act on it, originally. I instead got my paycheck from my manager (the day after). And went into her office, I explain to her that, while I was sorry for giving a discount without permission, I think it was highly unfair and unprofessional of her to blame her quote 'Low profit margins' on a two dollar discount.
The shouting starts up again. 'Oh my God, you're so self-righteous, How dare you come into my office and tell me how to run my livelihood, you can't do whatever you want here!'
That was the final straw, I begin to go off, raising my voice and telling her to calm down, that a $2 discount was not the end of the world. And that I had just come in here to basically apologize to you for keeping a customer happy. I then told her that I talked to my manager (her life-long friend) and she agreed I did the right thing. She glosses over that and tries to say 'If you keep giving discounts, everyone else will and I will lose money and will end me' which I told her yes, that could happen but one, it was a single guy, and it happened once, and won't happen again because he's moving to Cali. And two, if they gave a discount it simply wasn't my problem because I can't control them. She responds with 'It will be when I deduct all those discounts from your pay.' I snapped, I shot up and declared 'LISTEN. I'm not trying to steal from you and scam you like you're making me out to be. If you think I'm so self-righteous I could walk out right now and really mess with you, but I won't because I don't want to make things miserable the other workers here. If you're so torn up over a $2 discount, here!' I yelled and chucked a $10 on her desk. 'That's for your low profit margins, you need it more than me.' I stormed out of the office, finished my shift and put in my two weeks."
"My friends and I were eating together (about a group of 8 of us) after church. We ate at a pretty busy coffee shop whose kindly waitress managed to keep a few tables for us. Our arrival filled up the entire place.
The whole place was full was quite some time. No one seemed to be leaving as everyone had just got their meal. Soon afterwards, another church crowd arrived (nearly 20 of them I think), but this time to a completely packed restaurant. They decided to wait it out and stood outside of the store.
This wasn't a normal restaurant. There was no door. One wall was simply just on of those foldable metal ‘walls’ which you spread out when you were closing for the day. My group was seated by the empty wall and we could see everyone passing by, just as they could see us. Obviously the second church group was standing pretty close by to us.
One of the second church group was obviously pregnant. The kindly waitress who served us previously graciously found a chair for her to sit down. The whole time while they were waiting, the husband of the pregnant lady was complaining to the waitress. ‘Why can't you find a table faster?’ or ‘Can't you see we have been waiting here for a long time already? You can't serve these people any faster is it?’. Eventually, the rest of his posse joined the complaining, including the pregnant lady, while the waitress simply tried her very best to appease them with the most patience I've ever seen from someone taking so much abuse.
The worse part came was when the pregnant lady started talking to me (I was seated almost outside and could hear everything). She said to me ‘You're a church group are you?’ I replied with a kind ‘Yes. We're from x church’ thinking that she wanted to start some friendly conversation.
‘You know, you should be eating faster. If you want to have fellowship (hang out), there are plenty of malls nearby which you can go to. Christians like you are so inconsiderate.’
I nearly flipped out then and there. We were halfway eating, clear that we haven't finished, and this lady is asking us to get the heck out just because she was pregnant. I told her that being pregnant didn't grant her all the privileges in the world and tried my best to tell her to be quiet and wait patiently. She got suddenly very mad and started talking very loudly, calling me an ‘uneducated punk’ and a ‘bloody hypocrite’. This obviously caused a commotion, but thankfully before I could reply in kind, they finally found a table that was big enough to fit them all.
The rest of my lunch was spent with plenty of glares from the other side of the room."
"I don't work in a restaurant, but I'm a baker at a bakery. We're right down the street from several churches, so we always get church rushes on Sundays. And you're right, it is full of some of the rudest people. They come up into the bakery demanding to be treated better than everyone else. One time, a man came in after church, and there was a longgg line of people. Now, my fiancee and I both work as bakers, so we do cupcakes, bake things, etc. We don't work anything up front, it's not part of our job. We don't ring up things on the register or make drinks, it's not what we're trained to do, we're busy with things of our own. Well this man sees my fiancee (part of our kitchen is visible to customers) and is like ‘YOU KNOW IT'D BE REALLY NICE IF YOU COULD STOP MESSING AROUND BACK THERE AND COME HELP!’ Yes, doing his JOB is totally just messing around. The baristas are very efficient at getting people in and out in a timely manner. But my fiancee decides to help the man. He only wanted a couple breakfast pastries, so my fiancee boxes them up for him and says ‘alright, everything's in the box, but you're still going to have to wait in line for the baristas to ring you up.’ The man got all huffy and stormed away, as if he expected to not have to wait to pay after all the other people who where there BEFORE HIM paid."
"Just about every shift for 3 years of bartending someone decided to be rude and of course that was directed at me. But one of the most notable was a group of 4 guys, mid 20s. They have drinks and dinner at the bar top. Decent enough guys, not friendly, but not rude. They split their check into two and I give them the two tabs. They get into an odd discussion of who's paying and I go serve someone else. I come back over as one puts down the cash, I close out that tab. Then turn at get a card for the other tab. It's then that I realize I closed out the wrong tab. Dangit. So I opened the other so my manager could come fix it, and noticed the balance was $0.05 different. Meh, they are friends, it's a nickel. So I use the card to close the other tab and give it back to them to sign. Explaining the mistake and how it's only a nickel off. They flip out on me. Ok, ok, I'll get my manager to fix the issue, no problem. Except he's not around. So I get berated for about 5 min until he shows back up. I try to keep serving others as the bar is now packed. Each time I step away from their bar area they get louder so everyone can hear. Once the manager arrives (he's normally a stickler about small mistakes), he actually sides with me ‘Really, scumbags.’
On a good note, one of my regulars held up a quarter and offered to pay their difference plus extra for their troubles.
On another occasion I got to turn the tables. Not exactly the purpose of this thread, but a little positivity could be good? I'm always amazed at people who would walk in and be rude before even ordering a drink. How do you think your night is going to go... So a 40 something guy comes in mid conversation with his friend. ‘Like this guy, you should have gone to college right?’ Mind you I have a degree and worked at the bar on weekends after 40+ hours at an ad agency. I simply worked there because I liked my coworkers and the regulars. The money I made literally got put into a safe and I'd dip into it when I went out with friends. So I have this thought...I wonder if he's stupid enough not to carry his ID. ‘Can I see your ID.’ ‘You've got to be @#[email protected]#$ kidding me, I'm 36.’ (I doubt that, but ok...I'd say 46). ‘Yea, we are kind of strict, we card anyone we don't know.’ ‘I don't carry it, I haven't been carded in 10 years.’
‘Sorry, can't serve you.’
‘Get your stupid effing manager over here!’
The manager was within ear shot, comes over and gives me a nasty look (same manager). ‘What's going on?’ I tell him that I asked for ID and he doesn't have any, so I can't serve him. ‘He's obviously old enough.’ Saying that loud enough that the customer heard. I turned so the customer couldn't see my lips and whispered ‘He's an jagoff.’ And then turned back to say loudly ‘Doesn't matter, no ID, I'm not allowed by our insurance company to serve him.’ Manager grinned and said ‘ Absolutely right, glad you were listening during training.' "
"I was a waitress in college at a family restaurant. If you've ever waited tables, you're probably familiar with the church crowd rush. For those not familiar, the church crowd rush is the busiest time of the week, full of some of the rudest people and worst tippers. On this particular day, I was working a double and was nearing the end of my shift when my last table was sat. These people ordered waters, lots of lemons, and extra sugar packets (to make their own lemonade), requested tons of free bread with extra butter and constantly had me running around for extra something. Anyways, they ordered their meals and extra sides, so I rang them up as meals with three sides to saved them about $2 per meal. When the check came, I explained this to the matriarch of the table. She didn't understand it and demanded I take off the ‘extra charges’ and ring it up as they ordered it. She told me that if I couldn't even get a receipt right I probably couldn't do much else right and would never amount to anything, which is why I was a server to begin with. I walked away, rang up the receipt the way she wanted it (which was an extra $8), dropped it off and said, ‘Here you go, I rang it in the 'right' way rather than the smart way.’ I refused to change it back."