Waiting tables can be arduous work. It can also be rather rewarding, provided your customers tip decently (but that's another story we'll probably reserve for a different article).
One of the toughest parts about being a waiter: Customers who are so particular that taking their orders becomes an exercise in patience.
Today's burning question comes from Redditor Braumsisdabomb, who asked: "Waiters and waitresses of Reddit, what's the most convoluted order you've ever taken?"
Brace yourselves, people.
"Not necessarily a convoluted order..."
Not necessarily a convoluted order but I think this still fits here. I work at a from scratch Italian restaurant. Had a guy come in with his wife and sit at the bar on a busy Saturday night. He informed me he was following the "TB12 diet" from Tom Brady's new diet and exercise book and had very strict dietary restrictions because of this. He sent me back and forth to the kitchen no less than 7 times to verify with the chef that his dinner order would have no iodized salt,
sugar, olive oil, gluten, peppers, or tomatoes (he ended up with a plain piece of fish and some vegetables). We were getting slammed, but I still tried to keep my patience and accommodate the guy the best I could, even though doing so was putting me in the weeds. After dinner I ask if they would like anything else and don't you know this guy orders himself a bread pudding (VERY much filled with forbidden gluten and sugar) and eats the whole thing. He just goes "well, I mean, you have to allow yourself a treat now and then." I died a little more inside.
"I previously worked at a wing shop."
I previously worked at a wing shop. Guy calls and asks for 24 mild traditional wings. He then proceeds to ask for them to be fried twice (no big deal, that's pretty common). He also wants them covered in Mexican shredded cheese, put in the microwave for 30 seconds, drizzled with mayonnaise, and wants his side of fries placed on the wings rather than in a separate container. Finally, he requested to have pickle juice squeezed lightly across the top of everything. Obviously all the waiters, cooks, and waitresses thought this was disgusting...but we had never smelled something so amazing come from the kitchen in our lives. (Did not taste as pleasant as it smelled.)
"She once returned the drink..."
Coffee frappuccino, half&half instead of milk, coffee filled up to 2/5ths of the cup before blending, light ice, two shots espresso, shake ingredients then blend it three times, use half the bottle of caramel drizzle on the sides of the cup before pouring the drink in, extra extra whipped cream, then add more caramel drizzle to the top. This woman came in every day, watched you make her drink, and would force you to remake it over and over until she was satisfied.
She once returned the drink for not having enough caramel drizzle. As I was remaking it, the cap blew off of the drizzle bottle and nearly the entire contents oozed into the cup. It being frappuccino happy hour, I said "f*ck it" and gave it to her like that. She said it was the best she's ever tasted.
The entire store absolutely loathed frappuccinos.
"I'm still just blown away by this woman."
I serve food at a country club so I deal entirely with people that have more wealth than I'll probably ever had. A lot of these people are really nice and are actually friendly, however many are also very snobby, high maintenance, and just rude.
One night I had a table. It was two couples on a double date and both couple were less than friendly. One woman ordered a salmon (I can't remember the rest because this one woman was the bane of my existence).
I serve them entrees and let them eat for a while before I do the typical "how's everyone doing?" 9 times out of 10 everyone just says everything is fine and just want me to leave so they can eat. Not this lady. She calls me over and tells me she didn't think I gave her salmon. Looking at her plate I can see the fish is pink and is very very clearly salmon (I've served the salmon hundreds of times) she insists i Go ask the kitchen what fish it was. Of course it's salmon.
Which i return and tell her politely that it is indeed salmon. She gets angry and tells me how it doesn't taste like any salmon she ever had and that she had had salmon many times and that what I served her wasn't salmon. After getting more and more angry about not having salmon she looks me dead in the eyes and says "this tastes like turtle" I honestly didn't know how to react so I just asked if she was sure and she says "yes, I actually like it. But it isn't salmon"
I'm still just blown away by this woman. She got so angry with me about this "mix up". We don't serve turtle, I don't know anywhere that does. And she liked it? I don't understand these people's lives.
"Then he had the nerve to complain..."
A half rack of ribs, no sauce, well done, microwaved after taking it off the grill for 5 minutes, 8 sides of thousand island dressing to dip it in, broccoli, no butter, triple steamed, a sweet potato with 4 sides of sour cream, a water with no ice and then two cups of ice. Then 15 minutes later decided he wanted another half rack of ribs the same way. This was a year ago but I will never forget because he snapped at me a ton of times while I was talking to other customers. Then he had the nerve to complain to my manager because his rolls came late, but they had just been popped into the oven and were baking when he ordered them. F*ck that guy.
"Worked at a fancy country club."Giphy
Worked at a fancy country club. Some 14-year old kid always threw a fit about his food being seasoned so the parents let him order what he wanted. 12 oz filet mignon, no seasoning, no butter, no oil, cooked well done, served on a plate with two dinner rolls, also with no butter. The chefs were pissed at this kid for complaining about everything they made so they were happy to make his food the way he wanted. The kid ordered it every week they came in from then on. Yes, he still got charged for the salad, vegetables, and starch option that would have came with the meal. Also an older woman would come in on Sunday mornings and order burnt toast, heavily buttered, and one strip of bacon with a cup of burnt coffee. She had been coming there for years and we'd put on a pot of coffee before we opened so it would be old by 10am when she showed up. People are weird.
"We called it the Corey special..."
We called it the Corey special, because this guy would come in every week and get the same exact thing. Large yumm and greens vegan sub avocado, add cabbage and carrots 1/2 sauce sub nori, add tempeh, no chips sub crispy noodles, on a plate, half rice sub greens. He was a super nice guy though, so nobody really minded that he had the order from hell.
"One customer, two orders."
One customer, two orders.
The first would be paid by card - a cheese and ham toastie with a cup of tea. The ham had to be taken out of the toastie and put in a separate bag, and the toastie had to be cut into quarters and delivered to their table (we don't do that).
The second part was paid by cash and was a Tandoori Chicken Baguette cut in half, delivered in two separate bags and a long black with milk and water on the side - again, we don't do that.
Greggs is a tiresome job and customers like that only make it worse.
"We had this chicken ragout thing..."
We had this chicken ragout thing that was pretty good and spicy; well one day an older woman comes in and order it without the corn, tomato, onion, garlic, any other vegetables, no sauce, and chicken on the side with butter.
She got buttery rice and chicken. Like $13 bucks despite the fact I told her she could order a side of both of the same portion for like 8 bucks total. But by god she was dead set on that "ragout"
"Not a waiter but a cook..."
Not a waiter but a cook, just had this one a couple nights ago in the middle of the biggest rush of 2019 thus far. Guy comes in and orders 2 chicken breasts boiled from raw (we sell our chicken grilled or fried), six scrambled eggs but not made with our pre scrambled egg mix, but freshly hand scrambled eggs BUT of the 6 eggs he wanted all 6 whites but only two yolks, and three pancakes made with 33% buttermilk batter and 66% multigrain batter.... manager wouldnt let us refuse the check and then complained that it took more than our required 10 minute cook time to boil the chicken
"Twelve German guys..."
Twelve German guys spread out between 3 tables. Perfectly pleasant, though language a bit of a barrier. They all ordered gammon-and-chips, cod-and-chips, burger-and-chips, etc. And a low-alcohol lager each. (It was a roadside restaurant.) So far so good. Then for the next hour or so, they would call me over and order another lager here, another there, a third for this chap. Like, I think it had something like 0.4% alcohol, and they were trying to make it up to the level of a normal pint.
Then having eaten their meals they wanted the same again. Only this time one guy wanted the cod, and the other wanted the chips on a separate plate. Ditto the gammon. Then deserts. And about half of them had a second desert.
Then they wanted to pay separately. Not split the bill 12 ways. They wanted to pay for exactly what each of them had had.
I left the manager with them at the till. Luckily, she spoke German.
"We have this lady come in..."Giphy
We have this lady come in EVERY Tuesday and she sits at the bar. Wait, not sit. She stands the entire time. She wants an almost raw salmon slathered in this Cherry Chipotle glaze that we have with extra every thing that the bowl comes with (quinoa, mushrooms, seasoned tomatoes, among other veggies), an extra bowl of the glaze that has to be heated up, and sriracha. We don't offer sriracha as a condiment but we keep large bottles of it on the prep line to use as a mix for sauces. The bartenders just started keeping the sriracha behind the bar just for her lol. I dubbed her "Salmon Lady."
"Two women come in..."
Two women come in and both order mint mochas. I make them in the standard paper coffee cups with plastic lids. The woman then tell me they want them in mugs instead. The drinks have whipped cream and chocolate on top so I couldn't just pour them into the cups without ruining them, so I remake the drinks and bring them out. One woman is happy, while the other is not. She says it isn't minty enough. I take it back and put more mint in it. She's still not satisfied. I add more mint. Now it's too minty. I remake it for the third time and add the standard amount of mint. She's happy, despite the fact that she had wanted more mint originally?? The good thing was she was very kind and apologetic about it all, and tipped me well.
In High School, I waited tables at a local place. It was your typical small town restaurant, with burgers and steaks and pork chops kind of place. Anyway- this dude came in and ordered a burger, with lettuce, tomato, raw onion, and extra pickles. Cool so far. Now- hold the burger. Just the bun and toppings, please.
And some fries, but please chill them a little before serving. Not cold, but please get them just slightly warmer than room temperature.
Uh...alright, I guess.
And a steak. NY strip, cooked medium well, with no salt or butter. Put the steak on its own plate, please.
Sure thing, but I think they'll charge you for the burger and the steak. Cool? Cool.
So I put in the order, taking time to pass along the specifics to the cook. She looked at me like I was bullshitting her, but did it.
And sure enough, when the order came up, the dude put the steak on the bun. Complete with lettuce, tomato, extra pickles, AND room temperature fries. He put the chilled fries on the goddamned sandwich he made.
He ate every last bite, washed down with an iced beer. Not beer in a chilled cup, but bud light poured over ice.
He was a great tipper, but it was bizarre. He became a semi-regular after that, always with the same order.
"My time to shine."
My time to shine. I worked at a country club as a bartender, and had been there for years, so they would have me go "on the floor" to train new staff. I was training this girl that was all of eighteen, bright eyed and bushy tailed, her first serving job. She was shadowing me when a group of middle aged women that were known to be persnickety sat down. I walk over to them, greet Mrs. Murphy and company by name and warmly attempt to take a drink order. Per protocol I go clockwise around the table taking their "unsweetened ice teas, TWO lemons" and "diet cola, make SURE it's diet I'm fasting", all the while the last of their party keeps talking over them saying "bird on a plate, bird on a plate, bird on a plate". I genuinely was trying to show my trainee how we were strictly instructed to introduce service, and this woman was repeating her deluded mantra over all of her friends drink requests. When I arrive at her she just says "I want a BIRD. On a PLATE. BIRD ON A PLATE" - like I'm the dumbass. When I inform her we have turkey, duck, chicken, and other poultry that day she screamed "BIRD. ON A PLATE". I smiled, turned on my heel, and rang in a chicken sandwich, no bread, lettuce or tomato, and no side. I promptly called over my manager and gave my two weeks. F*ck you, Mrs. Ward.
"I had an old dude..."
I had an old dude that would come in about once a week who would order the following:
4 double cheeseburgers with extra toppings
3 4-egg omelets with 6 pieces of sausage each inside
4 grilled chicken breasts 'for his bird dogs' (they were poodles)
4 orders of fries
A bowl of chili with extra onions
20-30 pieces of bacon just in a container
We think he and his wife eat all this crap throughout the week so they didn't have to cook. He said he'd had 4 heart attacks and didn't give a shit anymore. They were both relatively thin somehow. Must store all that fat in their arteries.
"It was more an order that took a while..."
It was more an order that took a while to understand, and ended up making my self since it didn't take that long and to make sure it was made correctly.
So we had this salad called a Cobb Salad that had cooked chicken, bacon, and ham on it. It also had cheeses, chopped boiled eggs and green onions.
The customer wanted the meats on the side, but wanted the meat fats to be on the salad. The way she tried to explain it was hard to understand, but what I was able to come up with was to toss the lettuce with the meat and then pick the meat out and chop it on the side. Then put the rest of the stuff on top of the tossed salad.
She was satisfied with the food, got an ok tip from that table.
"There's a lady..."
There's a lady that always comes into the Japanese restaurant I work at and orders a chicken bento box, no chicken, only carrots and onions for the vegetables, carrots steamed, onions grilled, spicy steamed rice instead of fried rice, dumplings replaced with soup, California roll replaced with a salad with two small cups of dressing on the side and a bowl of lemons with her water no ice.
Also this man that orders a steak and chicken lunch, but instead of chicken he wants extra steak. All the servers have tried to explain that we have just a steak lunch.
"When I was a waitress..."
When I was a waitress at Olive Garden, a family of four gave me the menus and said, "surprise me" and literally wouldn't tell me what they wanted. They wanted me to choose for them.
I gave them the four most expensive entrees on the menu.
"And she was a slow talker..."
When I worked in Sainsbury's cafe (I know, hardly the most complicated place) we had a lady who came in regularly for breakfast with her 3 grandkids who'd simply list the items she wanted on each plate and, whenever she was told that we couldn't do that and she'd have to choose from the set breakfasts, she'd simply repeat the entire list louder. And she was a slow talker so it'd take her probably 90 seconds to read the whole list. Eventually we caved and just ended up doing it because it didn't look too great having someone stood at the till almost shouting "two sausages, two bits of bacon..." etc over and over again, but she stopped coming in after the main shop barred her daughter for shoplifting. That was the greatest news I ever got while I worked there.
The other annoying thing about her was somehow I was the only one working there (out of 20+ people) who was able to make her lattes the way she liked (steamed to nearly 200C because she was a fucking heathen) so whenever she came in she was insistent that I serve her, so I couldn't even avoid her by being in the kitchen.