What servers and bartenders really think of their customers

What servers and bartenders really think of their customers

CultureJanuary 03, 2018 By Isabelle Kohn

Like it or not, your relationship with your server, host or bartender is one of the most emotionally intimate and precarious relationships you have.

Beneath the obvious exchange of goods and services for rent money, there lies a delicate balance of control that, when tipped in either direction, can lead to high emotions and career-ending Yelp reviews. As anyone who's ever paid to chew or sip something knows, the experience is wrought with social scripts and minute interpersonal exchanges that call into question the very nature of human decency. And, as anyone who's ever had to work in the restaurant world to avoid living in a wet box down by the river knows, customers don't always make decency easy.

It's dramatic, ain't it? This whole eating and drinking thing?

Given that service industry humanoids take on this weight with every customer interaction they have, we're dying to know what's going through their heads during service. Do they love us? Hate us? Appreciate our business? Want to see if we'll notice that they cried in our Appletinis?

To find out, we talked to a sauce-coated handful of our service industry friends to figure out what it is they actually think of us belching, no-tip, food and drink disposals.

"I like people in general, otherwise I wouldn't be in this industry. But, it also depends on my mood. After years of this, I've learned a lot about how people want to be perceived — you do a lot of silent human observing in this job (you have to watch people to see if you need to do something for them) and it's interesting to see the airs people put on for others. Looking at them objectively, it's massively obvious people feel uncomfortable being themselves." - Sharon, 29, bar manager
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"If customers approach the bar with their order ready, cash or card in hand, speak clearly and are polite, then they're gold. I love regulars, but they so quickly forget their manners after one free round." - Matty, 24, bartender
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"Meaty, writhing masses of flesh." - Sam, 30, bartender
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"You definitely get the occasional nut. And sometimes it seems that they all planned to come in on the same day, but for the most part, they're pretty nice guys." - Jolene, 31, barista
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"I'm constantly shocked at how disrespectful people are. I'm here, working my ass off, to provide a service to you ... a service you're too lazy or unskilled to do yourself: feed yourself. If I'm going to be helping you achieve the most basic of human functions (eating and drinking), be fucking nice." - Nicole, 27, server
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"Customers are like anyone else: some suck, some are great. But I find that you get what you put out. If I'm super nice and friendly, people generally are back. If they're not, I chalk it up to them having a shitty life, and then I just laugh and feel sorry for them." - Windsor, 25, server
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"The people that come into my restaurant are how I get paid, so I genuinely appreciate them for that. However, sometimes, FUCK THEM. The worst is when drunk, fratty dudes come in and try to impress each other by hitting on me. It's so demoralizing to be seen as an object who solely exists to bring you things or do things for you. I also get blamed a lot for things I have nothing to do with. Like if someone doesn't like what they're eating, they're automatically an asshole to me. Like, I didn't make this! And you ordered it! I don't know. It's such a weird mix of appreciation and legit fury." - Natalie, 28, server
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"I have no opinion one way or the other. I tune out my emotions when I'm working because it doesn't really benefit me to have an opinion of a person I'm probably never going to see again." - Greg, 30, barista
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"I honestly live in anticipation of the day my niceness pays off and one of them leaves me a $5,000 tip. I'll be on the news, I'll have $5,000 and I'll retire early somewhere with a beach and abundant toplessness. That's the only reason I do this." - Shane, 26, server
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"I love my customers! They're one of the reasons I work in this industry in the first place. I love seeing familiar faces returning, and I love wowing new people with the food and service we provide. I take it as an opportunity to brighten someone else's day. It's hard work, but it's the right work for me." - Alex, 27, maƮtre d'
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And in other news, Alex had sex last night, probably! Maybe!

Wow ... you know, that really wasn't that bad. We were expecting Team Customer to get railed — or, more accurately for the subject matter, skewered — but it seems tensions and inner thoughts were much more mild than anticipated. It was ... easy to swallow, if you will (sorry, we'll stop).

It seems restaurant industry people have definitely developed their own individual coping methods in a job where the work can be hard and unrewarding. Whereas some people put up a bigger wall than others though, all seem to recognize that the occasional nut-job customer or rude table of frat-dongs is just part of the job. But, guess what? That doesn't mean we should make it.

Without a doubt, customers could be kinder and more respectful to restaurant and bar employees (shit, even cater waiters deserve respect). Almost no one, except for Alex, clearly, got into restaurant work because they dreamed about doing it as a little kid — instead, most people are just there so they don't have to strip. It's hard, long, low-paying work, and the fact that they're willing to do it for you of all people is some miraculous, Mother Theresa-level shit. 

Yeah, servers and bartenders "like" people in the same way that most, non-sociopathic people "like" other people, but they don't like people so much that we should take advantage of their good graces. Instead, as customers, we should recognize the position they've put themselves into to make us happy, and treat them like we'd treat anyone else doing something nice for us: like tiny lil' kings. After all, we don't see you cooking an entire three-course meal for yourself, or making those spicy cucumber Bloody Marys you love so much at home, much less doing so for 80-100 people per night at minimum wage.

So, be nice to each other out there. And leave your servers the kind of tip you'd like to get if you were struggling enough to be a server.

See you all at Applebee's.