As an artist and struggling New York actor/writer I of course have waited on many a table. I've served the rich the poor, old and young, the fashionable, the plain, the kind and the evil. (There is far more evil eating out... just FYI) And it always made me wonder about strangers and their stories. In particular the stories behind the people who left me with a sense of sorrow. I've seen people stood up, celebrate the passings of loved ones from 9/11 and even a proposal gone awry. (Never ask for someone's hand in marriage with the ring on an Olive Garden breadstick!) Seeing people at their most vulnerable is definitely something you remember.

Redditor u/nGear wanted to know about the times they felt a tug at the heart for a few customers by asking them to divulge.... Waiters, what's the saddest "I'm waiting for someone" you have experienced?

Shame on you young man....

Embarrassed Hide GIF by florGiphy

I was a server for 5 years and the most heartbreaking experience I had was an older woman, probably in her 60's was waiting for her grandson to come meet her for lunch. When I greeted her at the table she was very excited as I assumed she didn't see him much.

As time went by no one showed up so she decided to order. Towards the end of her meal no had shown up so it being a slow shift, me and my gf (we worked together at the same restaurant which is where we met), decided to just talk with her for a little bit and give her some company. We both felt so sad for this sweet old lady but we could tell that simple act of kindness made her day. Shame on that grandson.


Happy Birthday Sir. 

I was actually a hostess at the time and I was asked to take the table for a server. An old man came in asking for a table of 6 and he asked for 6 waters. I set up his table and I put his order in. He said it was his birthday. He was there for about an hour or 2 and nobody showed up. It was really sad. He ended up tipping me like $30 and he said "Sorry for the trouble." I still think about that guy. I hope he's doing okay. :(


You dodged a bullet....

Once at my shift I saw a really shy guy, you could see that he is on a budget, but omg, he was so trying so hard and looked so exited about upcoming date! He brought one rose, and asked what he can purchase on 10 euros to make this evening beautiful. My heart melted so much that I offered him for free two glasses of wine and a dessert (I was a manager).

We put on a table some candles, and so he was sitting there and with the big smile waiting for his date to come. But she never came. He waited like 2 hours, nervously checking on his phone. When he left, he gave this rose to me and thanked for kindness towards him. He was so broke. So was my heart about this situation. :(


After Goodbye....

disney love GIFGiphy

Place I used to work at had a man come in every night for a week, wait for a few hours, order food and drinks, then leave with no one showing up.

Later learned he was just trying to cope with his wife's death, believing that she'd arrive to greet him at the restaurant were they had their first date.


The Barista....

Not the waitstaff, but the "Wait-er."

I had set an OKCupid date at this nice coffee shop in Brooklyn. I get there, and I know the barista from college. I'm the only person in the shop at the time, so we talk a little, awkwardly. Gradually other customers arrive, so she attends to them and I attend to my phone.

It gets to the point where my date is 20 minutes late and hasn't been responding to my messages asking about an ETA. I'm sweating. Profusely. I'm so embarrassed that I'm probably being stood up in front of someone who I had several classes with years prior and knows most of my friends. I feel so humiliated.

Then my date walks in.

Stands there for a moment.


Barista: "Was that her?"

Me: "Yup."

Barista: "What an a-hole."

That comment made things slightly better.


An Extra Plate....

A six-year-old boy came every day with his older brother at lunchtime and for almost a month they ordered three plates of food and always left one. When I attended to them, the boy told his older brother to ask his mother for lunch because she was already arriving, but their mother never came.

The boy's older brother asked me to give the food to someone who needed it when they left and he told me that his mother had died and that he did not know how to explain to his little brother that his mother was not coming back, but that this cafeteria It was the last place where she had taken her little brother to eat and that is why the boy believed that she would return for the dinner.


4 in a row....

A woman came in 4 nights in a row just in case she got the day wrong. She'd sit at the bar wearing the same flowery dress every night and would hopefully look at the door every single time it opened. Left in tears the first two nights when we closed, the third and fourth nights she just stared vacantly at the door until we had to make sure she left.

I never saw her again, I don't think any other staff did either but we all felt really bad for her. She got a couple free drinks and apps, we didn't even care if it was a scam cause she seemed so broken about it.


Why so Public?

bugs bunny cooking GIF by Looney TunesGiphy

Was working an evening shift and a relatively younger guy came in and waited for his date. She showed up and not even 10 minutes later he got up and left and she sat there crying.

Patrons that are there to breakup are also hard to witness.


No doggy bag?

Not a waiter, but was out with my girlfriend and we were seated next to a date.

Guy was clearly trying to engage with the girl, but the girl kept looking at her phone disinterested. Guy initiated all the conversations, only to be met with 1 word answers.

He ordered a lot of food (it's a dessert place, so a lot of small meals) and then the girl suddenly took her bag and left? He banged the table after about paying, and just left with the food untouched.

Everyone in the vicinity, including the waiters were visibly shocked. I felt so bad for the guy.



Simon Pegg Wink GIF by Working TitleGiphy

Not a waiter, but this happened to me.

I went speed dating, turned up to the venue to find it very quiet. Barely anyone was there.

The event was on the second floor, so I got a pint for the time being and sat down and waited for people to turn up.

I tried to go up to the second floor only to find that it had been closed off. Noticing my confusion the bar man asked if I was there for speed dating, I said yes, he told me it was cancelled. I didn't get an email about this, nothing.

So I sat there, dressed up and alone. I finished my pint and went home.


Dropping $1500 for Nothing....

Ugh this one was tough; I worked at a pretty fancy steakhouse in town, and we had a private dining room that could set up to 32 at a single, long table. To book the room we charged a $1500 deposit, which we then used to cover part of the bill (it was a deposit, not a room charge). Anyways, this girl books it for 26 people, puts the deposit on her card. She shows up with her sister, and then after about 20 minutes, 2 of their 'friends' show up and sit at the opposite end of this giant table from the birthday girl and her sister.

Nobody else came. They waited an hour, the birthday girl was sobbing, the other two just awkwardly left. It was awful. I'm grateful to my manager, who in a moment of compassion refunded the whole deposit back onto the poor girls card. I felt terrible for her.


Just say NO.

sad adventure time GIFGiphy

Got sat a "party of 15 to 20" for a woman's bridal shower.

Her mom decorated the table and chairs and the whole corner for the party, everyone in the restaurant could see there was going to be a party there on a busy Friday night. 4 people showed of the possible 20, that includes the future bride and mom. I didn't even care about the money I was missing out on (four tables of my section gone on a busy weekend shift) I just felt so bad for her.


Why Bother Lady?

Not a waiter, but worked at a coffee shop for several years and made friends with tons of regulars. One of the regulars, we'll call him J, was working on his PHD in Art History or something to that effect at the university near us. He came in one day, got his usual tea and asked if I could charge him for a latte, but make it later, no big deal.

I was bussing tables and asked who the latte was for and very excitedly expressed that he was meeting a lady and it was "kind of a date". He was an awkward kind of guy, but very interesting and incredibly friendly. One hour passes, no show, two, no show, finally three, he's looking despondent and starts collecting his things and leaves.

She showed up 20 minutes later asking about J. Apparently they got their times completely mixed up. He comes in the next day and I mention that she came in looking for him and he looked so excited. I found out a week or so later from him that she basically blew him off a second time. He was so crestfallen, it broke my heart.


Still With Me...

Ahhh, I haven't bartended in a million years, but the saddest one was a guy in his 30s. He had a 2 top, asked for a bottle of top shelf champagne, candles lit, all that. Told me they were celebrating. No one showed. Guy looked morose, but had an appetizer, poured a glass of champagne for the person who wasn't there, then asked for the bill.

I felt bad he obviously got stood up, so I brought him a desert in the house. He smiled, and told me it was his anniversary. My face must've showed my sadness for him, so he clarified- his wife died of cancer a few month ago. It may have been the saddest thing I've seen.


Bye Ma....

Not exactly a waiter, but I was working at a bar a few years back and there often was this girl (in her early twenties maybe) who sometimes used to meet her mother at the bar (maybe about every 2 or 3 months).

The thing is, more often than not the mother either came extremely late (1 or 2 hours at least) to didn't came at all. When she came, there often was a huge tension between the two. It was obvious that they had some unresolved issues.

Watching the girl wait for hours even if it was clear that the mother wouldn't come on that day always broke my heart. As a barkeeper and since she was a regular, I tried my best to engage a conversation with her to distract her a little, but there's only so much you can do.

Fun fact: Years after I stopped working at that bar, I met her at a random party and we had a great evening/night together. She told me that she 'broke up' with her mother tho.


So it's a No?

Sorry Dog GIF by swerkGiphy

Guy was dressed really nice. Says his date should be there soon and goes ahead and is seated.

He orders a drink and 30 minutes pass by... then and hour, and another drink later. He started fidgeting with something and I noticed it was a ring. After an hour and a half he asked for his check and muttered something about "There goes two years wasted and down the drain." He tipped 2x his bill.

Poor guy.


into crack town....

This gentleman in his mid forties came to my restaurant frequently and would not order his drink until "his wife got there." He would wait for a few minutes, then pull out a framed picture of a woman, set it on the table, and proceed to order his food and drink. He would talk to the framed picture and have dinner with "her" about once a week.

I noticed him doing this often and told my coworker I thought it was cute he was having dinner with his late wife and she replied,"Oh, no that's not his wife. He found that picture at good will and has been a relationship with it ever since. He told me that a long time ago." What did I expect from working right off the freeway in crack town. Very true story, no lie.


14 is an unlucky #...

We had a 21st birthday party booked for 20, the family showed up early with a few friends. They had a few drinks and let the staff know some of the party were running late. Half an hour in, when the late people were supposed to arrive, two friends left.

An hour went by and the birthday group ordered.

Got their starters, told the service staff some more people were coming. About two hours in the mother said just bring the mains out.

It was so sad, I felt so bad for them. Being stood up by fourteen people, and the two friend who did show up didn't even eat.


"Honey, it is going to be okay." 

A few years ago, I took myself to a movie and dinner. It was the weekend before Valentine's day. At the time I had a warehouse gig and that day my step counter was at 7.9 km. Being exhausted, I just sort of plopped down. Ordered quietly, sipped a beer, and derped around on my phone.

I must have looked like I was on the verge of tears (in reality I'd been rear ended at a red light the week before and just hurt all over.) Server comped my cheesecake, smiled politely, and quietly remarked "Honey, it is going to be okay." Until that point I wasn't sad to be alone- but after that I was fighting tears all the way home.


She Gone

Angel's GlowGiphy

I had a regular who would always come in with his wife. One day he sat in my section and I noticed his wife wasn't with him. I asked "where's your wife today" he replied "she's in heaven waiting for me". Immediately I died inside 😭😭😭😭🥺


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