Revenge of the Servers: Customers Who Got What Was Coming to Them

Illustration for article titled Revenge of the Servers: Customers Who Got What Was Coming to Them

Welcome back to Behind Closed Ovens, where we take a look at the best and strangest stories from inside the food industry. This week, we've got even more stories of servers' revenge against horrible customers and co-workers. As always, these are real stories from real readers.


Mike Rhaley:

"I was serving a party of seven, the staff of a local car dealership who were celebrating the retirement of one of their peers. It was a dreadfully quiet night, so they were my only table aside from a young couple on a first date.

My employer's had an automatic gratuity on tables of 8 or more, so the auto-sales revellers fell just shy. No worries though, or so I thought, because my rapport with them was superb, they were having a blast, and they absolutely loved the food. They had also managed to consume 1 bottle of Dom Perignon and 5 bottles of Chateau Margaux, so their bill was decidedly substantial. Even if they had only left me 10%, it would have still been a very good night for me, and I really needed it because I hadn't worked for the previous month due to a leg injury.

When it came time to pay the bill the General Manager of the dealership asked to speak to both me and my Manager. I was actually thrilled for this because based on how the night was going I was certain that the car guy was about to sing my praises to my boss. Well, he did lavish praise on both me personally and the restaurant, but his words of adoration were just the blow-softening preamble to the horrendous gist of his verbalization: he was philosophically opposed to tipping. He told me that I did an amazing job, but that it was my responsibility to eke out a life on my hourly wage — and as anyone who's ever worked in the restaurant industry knows, that means roughly $2.13/hour. Then he invited me to attend his church. This shit-storm of indignity reached its maximum at the end of my shift, when I ended up losing money on the night because I still had to tip-out on the sales for the car party that had left me $0.00.

It was as I was walking out the door with less money than I had upon arrival that the need for vengeance became self-evident. So I waited for a few months, until a time when I was confident that no one at the dealership would automatically recognize me. I sauntered in, then went through all the motions that you'd expect from someone with genuine interest in purchasing an automobile. I laid it on pretty thick, wanting them to believe that an easy sale was imminent.

When it came time to sit down and have the cost and financing chat I asked to speak to both the General Manager and the associate who had helped me. I was effusive in expressing gratitude towards both my super-spectacular sales agent and the awesome car that I was unbearably eager to buy. The General Manager and sales agent alike wore the self-satisfied grins of men being given handjobs by the invisible hand of the free-market itself — right up until I told them the following:

"Sweet! Thanks so much, guys! One last thing though...I couldn't be happier with my experience here today, and this car is just what I need, but I'm philosophically opposed to paying commission. You earn a base salary, and I see no reason why you can't get by on that. You understand, right?"

I then invited them to a non-existent talk by an imaginary evolutionary biologist before walking the fuck out.

Have you ever wondered what it sounds like when two capitalist-boners deflate in unison? Consider your curiosity satiated, because it sounds like angry Christians yelling while soft rock plays in the background."

Stacey Grenville:

"Several years ago, I worked as a bartender/waitress in a slightly upscale pub with a slightly upscale dining room/restaurant. One night, after the kitchen had closed (but the pub remained open) a wealthy-looking, very inebriated man in his fifties came in and demanded a steak dinner. The staff explained that the kitchen was sadly closed, and he would have to go elsewhere or settle for bar snacks. This was utterly unacceptable to him, and he began to get increasingly upset with staff insistence that we couldn't serve him food. I was never very good at being kind to a-holes, so I wandered off to find our most experienced and most customer service-oriented bartender to calm the dude down. All she had to offer was a slightly friendlier version of the same line we'd all had. Instead of admitting sad steak defeat and moving on with his life, he began grabbing bags of potato chips off a large display stand and throwing them at our prized bartender while belligerently shouting that someone needed to make him a steak.

The manager was called in, I believed to throw this douche out on his ridiculous ass. Infuriatingly, our manager instead apologized for OUR behavior, explaining to us that this giant manbaby was some sort of important local and instructing us to have the chefs reopen the kitchen to cook him a steak. I worked in service for years, and it's the only time I ever saw kitchen staff mess with someone's food for being a wank stain. Justice was literally served."

Linda Tenenbaum:

"I worked in a revolving restaurant in Vancouver for several years and loved it for the most part. The food was good and my co-workers were great. So were the owners, for that matter — they were from Hong Kong and weren't around much, but thankfully, they did all the hiring and firing, because if it were up to the asshole GM, not one woman would be working there. Only the hostess, and 'she would be really hot,' because that was her only job anyway, according to this douchenozzle.

He hated working with women. He told us that to our faces. He said fine dining was a 'man's job' and that women brought the tone down, that we should work at Denny's or IHOP. He used to make fun of our 'man hands' and tell us we were too fat or too slow. I was getting tired of his crap, and also a little tired of the job. It was time to move on, but not without doing the staff a little favor. I knew it was just a matter of time, and sure enough...

I was talking to the bartender about a drink order with waitstaff and customers all around us, and this dickwad walks up and slaps a roll of toilet paper on the bar and says 'Here. I brought you a tampon; the extra large size for your giant, stretched-out cootchie. You must be on the rag, cuz you're being such a bitch tonight.'

I just looked at him, then the staff nearby and said 'Did you hear that?' A few nodded and this Moron GM laughs it up. Hyuck hyuck, pretty funny, right? I went into the kitchen and between tables I wrote out a short note describing what he'd done and got the staff who witnessed this particular instance to sign it. Then I went to him after my shift, and said "If you are still working here next week, I am getting a lawyer and suing this restaurant for sexual harassment."

He claimed he was only joking, I had no sense of humor, I was just being a bitch, etc. Then he fired me on the spot, as if he had the authority to do so. I called the owners business number — this wasn't their only business — and left a message for them, detailing what a shitstorm was about to rain down upon them.

Unfortunately for Dickwad, my lawyer didn't think it was funny. Neither did the owners, when their lawyer suggested they settle out of court. I wasn't kidding when I said he had to go — the only reason I settled out of court was because they fired him. The other waitresses who had been harassed told me later that he was one subdued guy for the remaining two weeks of his employment while he waited to find out if the owners were going to keep him on. Ultimately, I heard that the restaurant got a really good GM to replace him."


Do you have a crazy restaurant story you'd like to see appear in Behind Closed Ovens? Please e-mail with "Behind Closed Ovens" in the subject line. Submissions are always welcome!

Image via Tashatuvango/Shutterstock.


No more avocados

This is off topic, but I'd love to hear opinions about what to do when you're dining out with a friend or a loved one who is being the customer we all hate?

I recently had dinner with a friend who was being high maintenance, had lots of special requests and ran our waiter ragged. As a former server and fan of this column, I was embarrassed — it was the kind of behavior from a customer that would have driven me or any of my co-workers at the restaurant nuts.

It was our first time dining out together — she's a friend who I normally associate with at bars and get-togethers — so I was shocked. I didn't say anything because she didn't do something way over the line, like snap her fingers or touch the waiter as he passed our table. I just made sure that she contributed to giving the waiter a fat tip when we left.

Would you say something to your friend, or just not invite them out to dinner again? It's tricky: People will get really defensive if you tell them they're being rude or embarrassing you. Sometimes, it's just not worth it (like in the case of grandparents, they're not gonna change).