Whether someone's worked in the food service industry or they've seen it happen in the wild, everyone has witnessed someone go off on waitstaff at some point. It's a type of behavior that happens far too often, yet is never acceptable. Nothing is more horrendous than trying to enjoy a meal with the family when out of nowhere, the parents start berating the waitstaff. Not only it extremely embarrassing, but it makes everyone feel so bad for the server who is only trying the best.
Read on to find out what made these Redditors' parents become THAT customer while dining out. Also, when going out to dinner, it's customary to generously tip the server. They deserve it. Content has been edited for clarity.
"Not my parents, but my sister-in-law's. Her step dad and mom took the family out to eat at a Red Lobster. They get there and it is super busy. So the step dad walks up to the host and says, 'Yes, we have a reservation.'
The problem is, Red Lobster (or at least that one) doesn't take reservations. The host explains this and says it is going to be 20 minute wait for seating. Her step dad FLIPPED out and started screaming that he had called three hours beforehand and made a reservation. The host politely told him this was not possible as they do not take reservations (again).
He continues to scream at the guy, and says he wants to talk to a manager. So the manager comes out and she tells him the same thing. They don't take reservations, so it's not possible that he had made one. He continues to cause a scene and people started leaving just to get away from this toxic guy. Finally, the manager says, 'Fine, we will put you ahead of everyone else that has been patiently waiting their turn.'
He says 'Thank you.' They get seated.
Once they get to the table and the waitress walks away, the step dad slyly winks and says to my brother and the rest of the family 'THAT is how you get things done. I wasn't going to wait 20 minutes.'
My brother refused to eat or order for fear of getting food that had been spit on."
"My mom used to run restaurants. My stepfather used to be a chef in high-end restaurants and is the kind of guy who expects to be treated better than he is currently being treated, regardless of whatever that treatment is. They are not fun to go out to eat with.
The 'most embarrassing experience' is actually their most embarrassing experience. One where I embarrassed them.
My wife and I pride ourselves on being a 'relief' table when we go out to eat. Both of us have been servers and there’s always the counterpoint to the difficult table. That’s us. Barring horrible service or bad food, we are super easy customers, tip well, and try to have a good time with our server. Furthermore, we just treat people nicely. So you can imagine our disdain when my parents act like they’re freaking royalty at a dinner service.
My wife and I went out to dinner with them. They were being particularly tough. My mom was acting like she was Gordon Ramsey analyzing the business, critiquing everything down to the amount of bubbles in her seltzer ('Looks like it’s time to change the CO2'). My step dad was getting more and more heated over stupid things like the amount of ice in his drink and how the waitress didn’t top off his water, that he was barely sipping on, fast enough.
It came to a head when my step father ordered a steak medium well. It came back medium well, and for some reason he changed his mind that he wanted it medium rare while it was cooking and they didn’t read his mind, so he gave attitude, as did my mom. They jumped really quickly to demanding free stuff.
I’m an adult and this may be the first time they realized this. I interrupted them in front of the server and said something like, 'Really? This is what you’re doing? That’s what you ordered...'
I turned to the server and said, 'We do not need anything comped.' I then pulled out my wallet and handed her my card and said, 'This is for the bill. We’ll happily wrap up with what we have here. I’m very sorry for their behavior. You’re doing great.' Then the line that stung them so deep they still bring it up years later: 'I was taught to treat people nicely, a lesson that seems to be forgotten. Thank you.'
They turned red. The server walked away. I looked down and cut my steak, and didn’t say a word. They were so flabbergasted that the meal was virtually silent except me asking my step father how his steak was a few minutes later. I signed the check, gave a big tip, and we walked out and said goodbyes.
They’ve been nicer to servers each time that we’ve gone out since."
"Not long ago, my mom asked to treat my wife and I to lunch at Outback Steakhouse. We get there and order. My mom orders iced tea with extra lemon. Tea shows up with one lemon. Usually no big deal, right? Just ask for more. Well, instead of doing, that my mom turns to the waiter and says, 'What? No extra lemon? You fail as a waiter. No brownie points for you.'
The dude sits there for a moment and then says rather flatly, 'I'll be right back with more lemon.'
I turn to my mom and am like, 'That's how you get your food spit in. You've just sent the message that this will be a crappy tipping table and he's going to totally focus elsewhere.'
She argues, 'Well, it should have inspired him to work harder to impress us!'
From his end, his odds of making money are now higher at some other table. It's just how people work. Well, she goes to the bathroom and cries. She comes back and makes some super complicated order. I texted my wife who was sitting right next to me and say, 'This dude is going to butcher that order on purpose.'
The food comes out. Ours is correct and perfect. Hers is ALL messed up. It's basically a totally wrong order. She asks for it to be fixed, a bit more subdued this time. It comes out technically correct, but obviously carelessly prepared/cooked. I chuckle inside.
Here's the insane part: after all of this she turns to us and says, 'I was right about that waiter! He sucks at his job!'
No, dude. Your behavior made him not give a crap about you. After being a total jerk and paying the price, she walked away feeling validated and haughty. I slipped in a nice tip with a 'Sorry for my mom' note."
"I was at dinner with my girlfriend, my mother, and my mother's boyfriend (who I'll call my step-father for brevity, because they're married now). It was the first time my girlfriend was going to meet my mom and her boyfriend. It was also the night of one of my first recitals at music school, so I was a little tense already.
We go to an Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side, and are having a fine time. Toward the end of the meal, with most of our plates completely clean, the waitress comes around to refill waters. Some water spills on my step father's plate, which has about one or two bites of food left on it.
The waitress apologizes, but my step father doesn't acknowledge the apology. Instead, he sits there stone-faced as if he's waiting for more. Nothing happens but dead air for a few seconds, when he does the most obnoxious thing I've ever seen.
'..and?' he replies.
The waitress is confused. 'Aaaaand, I'm really sorry?'
He doesn't let up. '...and?'
'Aaaaaand I'll get that out of the way for you?'
Holy crap, dude. Me and my girlfriend are just SQUIRMING in our seats.
'Aaaand would you like a complimentary dessert?'
Satisfied, he graciously accepts.
Dude, this is New York City, not the freaking Olive Garden. Get over yourself. That was so mortifying, I still think of him this way to this day."
"My dad is kind of has a drinking problem. And he's rich.
We were out at an extremely nice restaurant in our small town, a very foodie and chic place that had only been open for a couple of years and had since become my favorite restaurant. I was sitting at a table with my siblings and cousins (all of us college-age), while my dad was sitting with my aunt and uncle and mom at a table nearby. By the time we get our food, the parents are still sitting there chugging their red blends with no food.
My dad starts getting upset. I hear him call the waitress over. She brings them some bread and leaves them alone. We finish our meals and our parents are still sitting there without food and several empty bottles of vino. My mom is essentially fall asleep at this point. My father, furious, starts banging his fists on the table, shaking all of the silverware. The waitress goes into the kitchen to find the chef, but she is apparently taking too long. My dad storms into the kitchen. I hear him SCREAMING at the top of his lungs like a freaking toddler. The chef calmly, politely walks him back to his table. He sits him down and, in the calmest voice possible, says, 'Eff you, sir. Now, get out of my restaurant.'
We have not been back since.
Being curt is one thing, but running into the kitchen and screaming like a toddler is another."
"One time, my grandad got a sausage roll at a football match during half time. When he got back to his seat, he found it was overdone. The pastry was quite burned. The man was irate. He didn't take it back straight away as the second half was about to start, but he spent much of the second half angrily lamenting his savory snack letdown. So he takes it home, calls the customer service number on the back (I assume he had a few choice words for the poor soul on the other end but I wasn't present for this), and keeps the remainder of the sausage roll in the freezer for the next couple of weeks.
Skip ahead to the next match day, my grandad tells me we're heading out early so he can have his sausage roll replaced. The customer service line told him to go to Kiosk 3 at the front of the ground next to the ticket office. When we arrive, however, the shutters are down at the food place. The old man looks around growling and turning red in the face, stamps right over to window number 3 of the ticket office and slams his frozen burned sausage roll down like a freaking flaky gauntlet.
At this point, I'm trying to convince him the ticket office was a completely different department to the catering concession, but my grandad was having none of it. The lady working the ticket window continually attempted in vein to convince him the same. She told him they sell match tickets not hot snacks, but this just got him angrier and angrier. Across comes a colleague behind the glass, now there's just two people to rage at. Then a head steward comes to attempt to diffuse the situation and my grandad begins to wave the burnt sausage roll in this man's face. I was actually surprised he didn't whack him with it. I was mortified by the whole affair, wishing I'd have stayed back at the house until nearer kick off.
Eventually, after an hour or so, the shutters come up on the food concession. The fella at the counter goes, 'You must be Mr. [last name],' and calmly resolves the situation, dispatching a freshly baked sausage roll with the steady hands of a surgeon. My grandad is satisfied with the result of his hour of insolent rage. As we're walking away, he turns to me and says, 'That's how you get these things sorted.'"
"My dad took us through a Jack in the Box drive thru before going to my younger brother's soccer tournament an hour away. We were eating in the car while he was driving. He opened his breakfast sandwich after we pulled onto the freeway to see that it hadn't been grilled at all and immediately went into a frenzy. He drove to a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT Jack in the Box that he spotted off a freeway exit (because driving back to the original one would have made us late, I guess), pulled up to the front, and stormed inside with his ungrilled sandwich.
My brother and I could hear him yelling at this kitchen staff (who had nothing to do with this specific sandwich) from where we were in the car, and walked out of there with a free breakfast. Then he called the original Jack in the Box that messed up his order to yell at them to say that we would be back on our way home from the tournament for a free lunch. I had never seen my father this angry before and I remember crying the entire ride there because he had scared me so badly.
AND we were still freaking late."
"My father is an absolute prick.
When I was 13, it was his year to have to handle my birthday since my parents were divorced. All I wanted to do was go to a pizza parlor with my best friend. We get there and my dad invited his girlfriend. I barely knew her and it was clear to anyone with eyes that the two had been fighting.
We order our pizza and fries and I'm trying to enjoy myself, but my dad is acting like a complete jerk. He is yelling at the poor teenage server over completely invented problems and keeps asking for the manager. Finally, we are ready to leave and I hope the torture is over, when the manager says, 'We hope you'll come back and see us again!' Or whatever other generic restaurant farewell he may have used. My dad, full voice, shouts 'That's not freaking likely!'
We take my friend home and my dad starts driving me back to my mom's house. I sat in the back seat and cried and cried. He saw this in the rearview mirror, and yelled at me for being upset.
When we got to my mother's house, I think I was out of that car before it fully stopped rolling. My dad jumped out too and followed me to the front door. I started to tearfully tell my mother what happened while my dad tried to shout over me, saying it was none of her business.
The man who would become my step dad, but then was just my mom's boyfriend, stepped in then. He's about six and a half feet tall and pretty muscular by nature. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, 'You say what you need to say, honey.' For the first time in my life, I told off my monster of a biological father. I didn't know this until later, but my step dad stood behind me the whole time, staring daggers at my dad, just daring him to interrupt me. It was my birthday, I explained, and he humiliated me and ruined everything. I was only 13 and I was so heartbroken, and I just let him have it.
I think that was the moment when my biological father stopped being my Dad, and my step dad started.
I think telling off employees and demanding to speak to the manager are hugely indicative behaviors. My father was so much worse than just that, but screaming at people who could not defend themselves was one of his favorite pastimes. Seriously, forget people who do this."
"When I was in ninth grade, my parents invited my grandparents to attend one of my concert band performances. They were told the concert was at 7 and our family was going to eat beforehand because it was a school night and they didn't want to deal with dinner afterward. My grandparents showed up to the concert, without having eaten, and then insisted that we all go out to eat after. My parents reluctantly said we'd go with them and get dessert or something quick.
By the time I had cleaned and put away my instrument and said bye to my friends, we were leaving the school auditorium at about 8:45. My grandfather insisted we go eat at the Dixie Cafe near my school, which closed at 9. We got there at 8:50. The hostess was clearly surprised and dismayed to see us walk in and tried to gently suggest that we didn't want to eat there as they were about to close and the kitchen was all but shut down. My grandfather persisted and they seated us and took our orders. We were the only people in the restaurant.
When the food came out, my grandfather took one look at the steak he had ordered and declared it overcooked without even cutting into it and demanded they send it back and make another one. At this point, it was like 9:30 on a school night. I was wiped out and just wanted to go home, but then I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me because of the way my granddad was acting. When the steak came back out, he started eating and it seemed like we were going to get out until he took a bite of his baked potato and immediately stood up and shouted at the waitress to come over. She came back to the table and asked if there was a problem, and instead of explaining, my grandfather looked her in the eye and said, 'Stick your finger in that potato..'
She looked taken aback and tried to say no, health codes dictated that she couldn't just stick her bare finger in somebody's food. But he got increasingly belligerent and wouldn't let it drop, so she did it. As soon as she stuck her finger in the potato, he finally made clear his gripe: the baked potato was cold. The poor waitress, almost in tears at this point, asked if he'd like her to get him another baked potato. He said no, every part of the meal had been unacceptable and he was not paying for any of it.
At this point, my parents tried to speak up and say that their food and my food was fine and they were happy to pay, but he just talked over them. Eventually the manager was summoned and our whole table's meal was comped. We finished eating in silence. On the car ride home, my mom chewed my dad out for how his father acted and I vowed to never go to a restaurant with my grandfather again.
As a side note, my dad is really nice to servers and is always a generous tipper, I assume because of how his dad acted. My dad's sister, on the other hand, inherited my grandfather's entitled bullying attitude and has embarrassed our whole family on multiple occasions doing the same crap. My grandfather passed more than 10 years ago, but my aunt is still driving service staff to insanity, and that's totally his fault. I loved him a lot, but goodness he could be a total jerk when it suited him."
"I grew up in a smaller town right on the cusp of its big growth boom. We knew our town had finally made it when we got an Olive Garden. We used to eat there 2-3 times a month. My mom and I would always split an entree and my dad would get his own. We knew the rule if you’re splitting an entree and you get more than one of the family style bowls of salad, then you’ll get charged an extra $4 for the extra person. Which is fair because two entrees come with two unlimited salads.
Well, one day my dad decided he wanted more salad. Only he wanted the additional salad. The waitress said if she refills the bowl, that we will be charged the extra $4. Well, lo and behold, my parents threw the biggest tantrum because only HE wanted the additional salad. They demanded to speak to a manager and the manager explained the rule (which we knew), but offered to comp the extra salad just to get my parents to stop yelling....and they did.
When our bill came, the manager comped my dad's entree and the additional salad fee. Well, my mom got up and interrupted the manager while he was talking to other guests and threw the check in his face and asked, 'What’s this?!?!'
She was furious that he comped my dad's meal. He ate the meal, therefore we would like to pay for it. She wouldn’t stop raising her voice until she was allowed to pay for the meal (but not the salad). The manager was confused, but obliged...when they brought the change the manager slipped a few free appetizer coupons. My mom ripped them up and threw them on the ground as she left.
Safe to say I didn’t eat out with them for at least a month and I still refuse to go to Olive Garden with them."
"My mother-in-law is truly a 'Karen.' Going out to eat with her is always a nightmare. Her orders have 14 special requests, but she's not at all kind about it. She is defensive from the get-go, like you're an idiot who's already messed the order up. 'No dressing. Not on the side. Nothing. Completely dry. Do you understand? I will send it back!'
The one I will never forget, though, was dinner at Joe's Crab Shack. In case you've never been, it's one of those places where, every so often, they play a song that the entire staff is required to drop everything and do a little synchronized dance to it. It's quick, everyone gets a little kick out of it, it's part of the fun. Now, my mother-in-law Karen knew this. It's not like she'd never been there. But apparently she was not willing to wait two extra minutes for her dry salad, so she started going off as soon as the dancing starts. She got a manager, who clearly knows Karen well and offers a quick apology (for doing their job), a discount, and her freaking drying salad. But Karen was not completely satisfied. She told us that even though dinner for our party of 8 is on her, she was not tipping the waitress one penny. She proceeded to complain.....loudly...the rest of the meal and antagonize our waitress over the pettiest things.
I have worked too many years in customer service and, ya know, I'm a decent human being. I made sure to get my bill separate so I could tip for the entire table. I wrote a quick note on the receipt, something along the lines of 'Way to stay positive even when the customer's a jerk.' I was a little afraid of the wrath of Karen. It was one of my first interactions with her too, but when the waitress came and hugged me, Karen and I locked eyes. She knew. I didn't care.
Don't be a hag, Karen."