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What Would You Do?

We've all been in crazy situations, and I want to know how you handle entertaining fiascoes and bad restaurant behavior. I'll present a situation and you tell me what you would do. Here's today's scenario:

You've heard positive things about a neighborhood pizzeria; upon arrival, the small place is crowded with no empty seats. You approach the waitress/hostess and inquire about a table. She replies in a slow, stoned voice, "Maybe I can find you a table soon. Actually, I don't really know how long the wait is." She doesn't take your name and you feel invisible. Fifteen minutes pass and she randomly offers you and your friend a table to share with another couple. You oblige, even though it's sitting with strangers — you're hungry!

You order salad and pizza. When the salad arrives, it's overflowing and hard to eat. It's clearly being served in a plate that is too small for it. As you eat, more and more lettuce falls off the plate onto the dirty-looking table. You try and motion the waitress — multiple times — but she ignores you. What do you do?

To find out what I did — it happened to me! —


Instead of making a scene with a waitress who obviously had no desire to wait on me, I walked to the bar and stocked up on napkins. Next I placed a ring of napkins around my plate, so when lettuce did fall off, I could still eat it. Needless to say, I did not leave an extremely generous tip.

How would you handle the situation? What do you think of my reaction? Did I overreact?

Join The Conversation
Kelly2724863 Kelly2724863 5 years
Having worked in a coffee-house, a pizza place, and the fast-food industry for a little over a year, reading this brought back some fun, and funny, memories. One of the workers I had in the fast-food place, also worked at a local coffee shop and shared that one of her customers left her a tip, a reasonable one, but under an upside down glass of water.  Instead of lifting the glass and creating a small flood from 12 ounce water, she got a short, cardboard menu (laminated of course), slid the glass off of the table onto the menu, righted it, and took her tip out after pouring out the water through a strainer. I don't think you over-reacted at all!  Those who've commented that the server did not dish up the salad?  Right...they've never been servers--the waitress/server dishes the salad out of a cold-bin in the server prep area.   I've ordered a salad twice from a place I go to, and it's been filled differently both times, so there's no consistency anywhere.   Tipping 20%, people??  Are you guys real?!?!?  Tips in an expensive restaurant can be 20%, 25% if the service is outstanding--and less than 15% or 20% if it is sub-par!!!  You people tipping 20% in a coffeeshop are nuts, pure and simple--you've been going to union restaurants way too often!   As a rule of thumb, I tip 15% in places like Denny's, Ihop and Coco's--coffeeshops and diners.  I usually add enough to round my bill total up to the dollar, when charging.  If I use cash, I try to use enough to say, "Keep the change."  Otherwise I'll ask for change and leave an appropriate tip of a little over 15%.  If the service is poor, I'll leave 10%, very seldom less, but there have been times.  Also, I'll leave the normal 15% if I can plainly see that the waitress is saddled with an entire dining room and has one or more very large parties, this can cause the restaurant's service to suffer through no fault of the server's own doing.   Lastly, some advice for you people:  DON'T tip on the total--tip only on the sub-total--tipping on the total is basing part of your tip on the local sales tax.  Tipping is, traditionally, based on the actual price of the item purchased--not on any taxes.  Tipping on the total including tax, tips them on something not under their control, and---depending on your locale--sales taxes may account for up to 15% of the bill!
resamac resamac 8 years
Firstly I would have never sat with people I didn't know. I would have waited a bit more, or went somewhere else. But if I HAD gotten into that situation. I honestly would have kept attempting to eat it really carefully. If I did need the waitress for something and she continued to ignore me through the end of the meal. I would have paid what my bill was and left the salad on the table for her to clean up. That's what happens when you can't do your job. Just because you are busy is not an excuse. I understand how frantic it is when you're busy, but a good waitress can still do her job. She might have to multitask, and work a bit harder, but honestly when you do that the people eating can see you are making an effort. Most people would be understanding, and that's usually when they leave the best tips. :)
Allytta Allytta 8 years
i would eat carefully :) i do this at home all the time, especially with mac and cheese and even though it's overflowing it never ends up on my table. i guess my hand just don't grow out of my rear.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I think I probably would've left once she told me that the only available table was with random people. I don't like eating with strangers and that's a really weird thing to ask someone at a restaurant. But if I were served a salad in a too-small bowl, I would have tried my hardest to be neat and if some spilled, then I guess the busboy would have a little extra work to do.
cfoley11 cfoley11 8 years
If I was your waitress I would have laughed at you for being a piggy eater to everyone in the kitchen, but to your face I would have been so nice and got you a bigger bowl which I would have called your slop trough, also in the privacy of the kitchen. Then when I saw that you left a lousy tip I would have told all the other servers to get q good look at you so next time they wouldn't waste their time on you, when there are other people with legitimate issues. (undercooked chicken, empty soda glasses getting food to the tables.) Were servers not servants, if you don't like the bowls or plates then go somewhere else, we don't pick them out of the Sisco catalog. If the place was packed then other people must have liked it.
j0j0y j0j0y 8 years
I've been a server also. Really, does there need to be that much of a rant about this? If you don't make your customers happy, you don't deserve the tip. If it's crowded and busy you're probably making good money anyway... but by no means are you entitled to 15-20% if you just take the order, set down plates and walk away. The waitress should have noticed there was a problem anyway if she even glanced at your table.
spacebear spacebear 8 years
oh! and how was the pizza?
spacebear spacebear 8 years
i think you reacted properly. you didn't cause a scene and took action to make your meal more enjoyable. I agree with pinkunicorn who wrote "...I'm getting SO tired of servers believing that other servers can do no wrong, no matter what the circumstance" If you choose to work for tips, you should be doing the best job you can to earn the most money you can - its called customer service for a reason. a 15-20% tip is not required when people eat out (yeah i know, unless you are in a big group)
OhMyDragonflys OhMyDragonflys 8 years
I think you underreacted! That is not acceptable in a resteraunt!
kitson1 kitson1 8 years
Come on people, if she was in a packed restaurant which was OBVIOUSLY busy, and so busy she was asked to sit with another couple, do you seriously think the waitress has time to juggle her ridiculous complaint that "her bowl was too small"? When you have twenty or more people coming at you in your section and they all want refills, to order, something is overcooked, or they need you to flag down a manager about the wait on the food, or they are waiting for the bartender to hurry it up with their drinks, or anything else of the sort, I think it is absolutely absurd to think that you aren't capable of eating a salad without stirring and tossing the hell out of it so much that you spill it like a child. I wait on people like you all the time, and let me tell you, I make 2.13 an hour, and yes it is perfectly legal-it's server minimum wage. Don't waste my poorly paid time in my busy restaurant only to tip poorly when I can't possibly tend to your every whim. Find somewhere that has the time to deal with your oh so special requests, and leave a decent tip. It's how we pay our rent, or in my case, my mortgage. We're not all just idiot stoners without the skills to do a "real" job.
marie-lee marie-lee 8 years
I don't think you overreacted. I wouldn't feel comfortable sitting at a dirty table or sitting with strangers. If I was in your situation I certainly wouldn't be in a hurry to eat at the same place again.
PinkUnicorn PinkUnicorn 8 years
Party, I think you reacted just right - no big scene, but providing consequence for bad service. As for the couple of commentors who think Party overreacted...I'm getting SO tired of servers believing that other servers can do no wrong, no matter what the circumstance. Just because you are a great server doesn't mean every single person is. This is CLEARLY a case of crap service and there is nothing wrong reflecting it in the gratuity. And no, I'm not some cheapy who undertips - 20% standard, 25%+ for great service. But I also see no problem in leaving less than 20% when I have truly awful service. If servers are so concerned about all the other employees that have to be tipped out, then perhaps there wouldn't be incidences like this where the server clearly did a horrible job. Stop defending crappy servers!!!!!
wdeanne wdeanne 8 years
Well I disagree with Weffie and Agychan - the salad should not have been served. If the plate/bowl is too small to hold the salad and you eat it(and yes, I know exactly what you are talking about) the SERVER should have told the kitchen to fix it. It doesn't matter how busy they are, that doesn't negate good service. You can see a problem like that and a good server would have known the difference. BTW - sometimes sharing a table can be fun; we've done it on more than one occasion when our favorite neighborhood joints are crowded; you meet new people and usually it is a good time had by all. And even when it is crowded our servers have never treated us like you described - so I say thumbs up to the smaller tip.
fuzzles fuzzles 8 years
I would have yelled "Chinese Fire Drill!" and ran a few laps around the table with my new dining companions. But that's just me. ;)
agychan agychan 8 years
Opisnowpro, Of course I think the waitress should cometo you,... it all depends on what she meant by "motioning" her... if she did something to catch her attention liek RAISE A HAND or call her over with a simpel "excuse me" then that's purely the waitress's fault. Also in the story, the resturant was really busy.... so if she just expected her to come over, then sorry, i don't think thats reasonable. Again, it all depends on how she "motioned" the waitress over. A lot of people said they wouldn't have sat down.. I totally agree, i dont think i wouldve sat down either and wouldve went some place else (unless this place was known for their pizzas or something). I also would not have shared a table with others... It happens a lot in chinese resturnats when they are busy....I think it's so awkward. However, we're dealing with what happened and how she went about dealing with the situation.
naritai naritai 8 years
Count me in with everyone who said they wouldn't sit down at all. If a restaurant doesn't care about my business, I'll be damned if I'm going to give it to them. Seriously, did you -have- to eat there, on -that- day?
bbkfk8 bbkfk8 8 years
I wouldn't have been comfortable sitting at a table with strangers.
care0531 care0531 8 years
I never eat in a dirty place- unless I am eating at a bar and I am so drunk I wouldn't know any better.
opisnowpro opisnowpro 8 years
agychan; the waitress has to come to you, not you to the waitress......
agychan agychan 8 years
I can't say that i agree with most of you... you definitely over reacted. Learn how to eat a salad properly without having it spill over... I mean c'mon, how could u have possibly eaten that salad to make it spill over THAT much? I agree with Weffie....that server definitely shouldnt' have ben burned with that tip. it wasn't her fault.. and you "motioning" her is RUDE (I've been a server before).. Servers are humans too and shouldnt' be treated liek that. If you want to be heard, then say it and tell them like a human being. They're not mind readers. If having "too much" salad was a problem, you shouldve got up and asked for an empty larger bowl then.
starangel82 starangel82 8 years
I wouldn't have sat down in the first place. You didn't overreact. If anything, you underracted. I would not have been so nice. I would have asked to see a manager.
SillyGirl SillyGirl 8 years
I think the best thing to do is just take your bad experience to yelp and give em a 1 star and comment on the poor service. If that was an "off-day" then your review will get lost amongst praises, it it was a typical day, then many reviewers are likely to mention the poor service.
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 8 years
why did you sit at a table with random people anyways? San Fran has TONS of restaurants...
weffie weffie 8 years
(Because "motioning" can be missed by even an attentive server in a packed place, within reason of course)
weffie weffie 8 years
As a server, I think that was pretty rude of you. Your waitress probably didn't plate the salad (and likely still had to tip out the person who did, regardless of how little you tipped her) and you didn't even give her a chance to correct the situation! If somebody was unhappy with a serving dish in my restaurant I'd gladly exchange it for a bigger one, but they'd have to let me know... I don't go around asking all my tables if they'd like bigger plates, but if a customer finds a problem I do whatever I can to fix it. You should have given that girl the opportunity, she may have surprised you and earned a better tip.
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