Memorable Customers – The Bad Ones

Some of the very best stories involve some of the worst customers I have had to serve.  Strangely some of the same bad situations have re-haunted me in other restaurants.

A Worthless Penny

I distinctly remember this Filipino couple; two round chubby ladies.  Being first time customers, they were indecisive and wanted to try everything off the menu so I suggested a few dishes.  They must have been pleased with my recommendations since they polished off the sushi, noodles, and BBQ short ribs.

I was glad that they enjoyed their food, but I wasn’t looking forward to serving them again in the near future.  All throughout dinner service, the ladies were waving their hands like a distress signal for more tea, extra cutlery and extra napkins.  You name it, they flagged it.  If you didn’t come within 10 seconds, they would wave their arms and hands more frantically as if there was something terribly wrong with the food.

Making sure, they didn’t cause a scene I would swiftly meet their requests.  I wondered when this would stop.  Why couldn’t they just pause for a moment to think what they needed instead of asking every five minute intervals?  Of course that would be too easy.  I tried my best to keep my composure and not to show any signs of frustration.  Perhaps they felt it.  When they were ready to pay, they said they needed no change.  I opened the bill fold to find exactly four pennies.  I gave them back the pennies and said thanks, but keep the change and I walked away.

For the most part I have developed a tolerance for impatient customers who expect instance service.  But what agitates me most, is being treated like a dog and being continuously flagged for service.

Walkout

Sometimes when you expect something, it will be the very opposite.  On a busy Saturday night, a woman in her late 30’s came for dinner.  Although I had warned her of our portions and that perhaps she had ordered too much, she insisted that she wanted to keep her order.  Her appearance was neither thin nor heavy but she sure could eat.

She had easily finished $50 worth of food including a beer.  Considering our restaurant had an average check of $25, she ate double.  When it was time to pay for the bill, I handed her the check and left to run more food from the kitchen.

When I returned, I saw the woman leaving so I went to thank her and say good-bye.  She smiled and said everything including the tip was at the table.  Shortly after she left, I went about my duties to clear her table and collect the payment.  I opened the bill fold to find the check was not paid.  Damn! She was good.  She had scammed the restaurant and fooled me.  She did not appear to be any different than other regular paying customer and casually walked out.  I quickly ran out the door hoping to nab her, but I knew it, I was out of luck.  I was boiling inside and couldn’t believe what had just happened.

What a waste.  I took $50 of my hard earned tips for the night and paid the check.  Unfortunately, in our restaurant there was no forgiveness or breaks in situations like this. You lose, you pay.

No Kids Please

I love to play with cute chubby kids, but when it comes to the restaurant environment I can’t stand them. 2-5 year olds can truly be messy and without any parental control it can be a disaster.  I have encountered numerous of families and have come to the conclusion that few ever share any restaurant etiquette.  Giving into your child’s demands just isn’t right.  The more kids there are the more trouble it becomes.  The louder they are it’s a good chance the messier they are.  I just wish some of these parents could get a better hold of their kids.

Perhaps the messiest table I have ever served was a family of five.  The table was filled with plates, torn napkins, a pile of broken disposable chopsticks, a dozen or so straws all stuck together and mounds of wasted food and debris on the chairs and floor area.  The area was covered with pizza sauce, pasta and sticks of French fries.  If you thought that was bad, that was the least disgusting part of it.

All throughout the frustrating time of cleaning the area, a distinct odor was coming from the table.  Loosely folded underneath the pile of napkins was a soiled diaper.  Need I say more? Isn’t it common sense to bring the child to the washroom?  For goodness sake, people eat on this table!

I quickly disposed the diaper tied the garbage bag and threw it at the back.  I took our mighty sanitizer and sprayed the table and seats to ensure there were no traces of dirt or odor.  I wish I had a chance to confront the parents.  That kind of behavior just isn’t acceptable.  When are parents going to act like parents?

Clean Freak

As a sandwich station supervisor I have had the privilege to meet some interesting people.  Many of them were regulars who worked in the mall so you quickly became familiar with their preferences; mayo on the side, sliced or whole, toasted or plain and so on.  There were definitely a few customers that struck me as either strange or annoying.

Every second day a particular woman would come to our restaurant and order a salad and sandwich.  It would be the same order each time with the exact same routine.  No matter how many people there was in line, everyone in my station knew that if we didn’t wash everything just for her, she would make a scene.  That meant, soaping down the cutting boards, knives, butter knife and countertops.

Normally, requests such as this would be related to allergies, but in her case she was simply a “clean freak.”  Everything had to pass to her standards before you could complete her order.  Each item was questioned for freshness.  When did you get the tomatoes? What time did you make the tuna salad?  Is the bread fresh?  The list goes on.  Even her sandwich was made a certain way.  Slice tomatoes with cucumber would be packaged in one container.  Green leaf lettuce topped with tuna salad in another container and the multi-grain bread had to be sliced and buttered then tightly saran wrapped.  The order never changed from the first day I met her to the very last day I left the restaurant.  It was a relief to leave and pass it on to someone else.

The Bagel Lady

I am sure everyone has had a bagel at one point in their life.  You very well know that if you don’t use a bagel cutter, then your bagels are slightly lopsided or uneven.  Again this story occurred while working as a sandwich station supervisor.  We all referred her as the B**tch Witch. Her hair was long and black, her face was exposed of wrinkles, and she had sharp accented eyebrows with an expression of a grumpy wicked witch.  She was scary as well as annoying.

Her breakfast order was plain and simple; toasted poppy seed bagel with butter.  She would stare you down making sure you cleanly ran your bread knife through the middle.  Any slight deviation from the centre, her voice snapped demanding another bagel.  How long did she think this was going to last?  Fortunately, the rejected bagels were used for our ready to go bagel sandwiches.  Until one day, she rejected two bagels and demanded a third one to be cut.  I had refused and informed her that she would be charged for the rest of the bagels.  She complained to the general manager but failed to get what she wanted.

Time for a Prayer

This story involved a mid-30 year old man who came to our restaurant requesting to use the washroom.  Normally we restricted the washroom for customers only, but on this day, we allowed it.  About 10 minutes later he came out of the washroom dripping of water.  Puddles of water formed all throughout the restaurant.  He quickly exited the restaurant and walked to the centre part of the shopping mall which just happened to be in front of our restaurant. Facing towards the sun, he dropped to his knees and motioned his arms and hands to begin praying.  Thinking this was odd, I wasn’t alone.  Shoppers stopped and stared.  Shortly after, mall security had arrived to inform the man that it was an inappropriate place to pray.  A sudden thought crossed my mind as to why the man was dripping of water.  I quickly went to the men’s washroom and found it completely flooded with water.

Oh my! As a ritual, the man must have cleansed himself.  The floor, countertop and mirror were covered with inches of water.  My day was going well until I had to clean the washroom. Is it fair to say you would expect a person would respect another individual’s surroundings as you would do the same and respect his views on culture and religion? I guess there are some that just don’t care.

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3 Responses to “Memorable Customers – The Bad Ones”

  1. Jerry Hung Says:

    Ouch, I feel for youbut I hope those are the extreme and rare casesI still wish that you have encountered more pleasant and good customers than the bad ones, and remain passinate about the restaurant business/service :)

  2. Mister E Says:

    I once had a middle aged woman come in with a young girl, likely a grandaughter and she declined to order anything at all on my first visit to the table, not even a drink. I told them to take their time and I’d be back in a few moments and then I approached the table next to them who had also just sat down. I was halfway through my “Hi, I’m Mister E and I’ll be your server today..” speech when the woman from the first table turned around and started pulling on my shirt and insisting that she was, at that particular moment, ready to order. She was a fun one.

  3. Ismail Says:

    Hi,

    It seems that you’re constantly finding stories about morale in your restaurant :)
    Keep it up, for sure I’ll be coming back for more.

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