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Seven hundred things restaurant customers should never do: servers react to Bruce Buschel’s rules for wait staff

Servers are people too, say servers

Well, it was bound to happen. The waiter-baiting, quip-slinging, hair-pulling, soup-spitting fight presently underway over Bruce Buschel’s New York Times blog entry “100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do” has spawned numerous knock-off lists aimed at restaurant patrons. The most remarkable thing about the servers’ renditions is that they straddle a line between painfully obvious rules of decorum and mortifying behaviour that we didn’t even know existed. Our full examination, after the jump.

Take Patrick Maguire’s 64-point contribution on the blog I’m Your Server Not Your Servant, which includes “Rule 48: Sending an entrée back after you’ve eaten half of it is one of the oldest tricks in the book” (well, duh) and “Rule 9: Don’t make a reservation for six and show up with a total of four and say, ‘We just wanted lots of room’” (do people actually do this?). Maguire does come off as slightly more with-the-times than Buschel because he considers such things as cellphones and the Internet: “Rule 55: Don’t even jokingly threaten your server with a bad on-line review to curry favour.”

Laura Riley over at The Mouth of Tampa Bay may be less ambitious with her 10-point “Rebuttal: Things Customers Should Never Do,” but she makes up for it with bitterness: “Rule 7: If you want another glass of wine (or the chocolate cake), don’t say, ‘Oh, I shouldn’t’ and drift off, leaving the server to play the role of little-red-devil-on-the-one-shoulder or angel-on-the-other. Wear your big-girl pants and make the decision yourself.”

Over at the Cooking Junkies forum, a thread called “100 Things Restaurant Diners Should Always (Never?) Do” chastises patrons’ paranoia—“Rule 3: Don’t make a mess just because you can. We once went to dinner with someone who insisted on trashing the bread and rolls because ‘I want to make sure they don’t serve them again to another table. It’s the law’”—while a St. Louis Today commenter named Darth Waiter goes after aging women: “Rule 79: Leave Granny at home if she is senile. Don’t embarrass your family and Granny.”

The common threads through all these reactionary lists are that no server seems to like customers who try to upstage the sommelier or who claim to know the owner. Also slammed are bad tippers, those who try to invent menu items, shrill cries from bachelorette parties, people having sex in the washrooms, high-fiving boys on a night out and parents who can’t control their children.

• “100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do” sparks vitriol, praise [Toronto Life] • Sixty-Four Suggestions for Restaurant Customers [I’m Your Server not Your Servant] • Rebuttal: Things Customers Should Never Do [The Mouth of Tampa Bay] • One Hundred Things Restaurant Diners Should Always (Never?) Do [Cooking Junkies] • One Hundred Things Restaurant Customers Should Never Do (Part 1) [St. Louis Today] • One Hundred Things Customers Should Never Do [Portland Food Coma] • One Hundred Things Restaurant Customers Should Never Do [Michael Ferrell] • One Hundred Things Restaurant Patrons Should Never Do [Yelp]