Teens Get Chilly Treatment

February 5, 2012

in Server Stories

It was a Sunday afternoon a few years ago and my teenaged sister and my teenaged self were dining out with a huge group of friends at a pretty popular sit down restaurant. This was after a weekend teen camp and my sister and I had pitched in for gas and such for the trip which left us with $5 to split. We saw that the only thing we could really afford on the menu for our lunch was fries and we’d still have a bit left for the tip, so we agreed to get it and waited for the waitress to come around. 

We had been seated at a booth next to our friend’s long table, and after the waitress took everyone else’s orders she came over to us and charmingly introduced herself and asked what we’d like to order. When we said, “We’ll split a basket of fries,” her whole demeanor changed, she became very frigid and brusque, scribbled it down, and immediately left.

Everyone got their items, and about 5 minutes later she plunked down a basket of cold fries for us as if it was an afterthought. She never asked us if we wanted refills on our empty water cups and we never had time to ask her because of her extremely brisk and rude manner. Our friend’s table was a very busy one, but our booth almost t-boned the table and to get from one end to another (which she did a lot since our friends had bottomless drinks and fries!) she had to go directly past us. She was flirting about with the male members of our party and charming the girls, refilling cups in an eye blink and swooping in at the slightest gesture from someone. The difference between her amazing attentive treatment of them and her cold condescending treatment of us was astounding. Even though she went past us several times she wouldn’t even glance at us and ignored our attempts to gain her attention.

We never got refills for our water or fries and ended up accepting our friend’s offers to share their drinks (even they had noticed that by that point we were drink and foodless!). Everyone finally finished eating and our waitress began to hand around the bills. We waited expectantly for our bill, however she continued to sweep past us, practically giving us goosebumps from her absolutely frigid attitude. My sister and I were very confused about her attitude, but we finally managed to flag her down as she bulled past us after picking up a few bills. We asked her for our bill and she coldly replied, “Your fries are free since your friends ordered bottomless fries” and whipped off again.

My sister and I were surprised; we had no idea the fries would be free but I guess that’s why she was so rude to us. Perhaps she thought we came in just to mooch fries and assumed we were some sort of scum even though we were clean, well dressed and spoke well. We were disgusted by her inability to treat even a non-paying customer with respect, but we still left our entire $5 on the table for her hoping it might make her regret her actions and be kinder in the future. Whether or not that was good for her character I have no idea, but her service sure put me off that restaurant for good.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

DMT February 5, 2012 at 4:48 pm

As a fellow server I'm not one for landing people in the shit, but seriously she deserves to be named and shamed in letter to her head office. The way she behaved was unacceptable; given her overall attitude towards you and the fact that she indirectly called you moochers, the way she ignored you and gave you cold food was a deliberate effort on her part.

Her actions speak for themselves, so just tell it like it is, don't embellish the story it's a dick thing to do, but besides that, it's not necessary.


Penny Lane February 5, 2012 at 8:27 pm

I don't think it's a good idea to tip well for poor service. Doing so only rewards bad behavior.


Bottleau September 3, 2013 at 4:12 pm



theblonde February 5, 2012 at 8:33 pm

I have this problem as well sometimes. I'm younger, and sometimes I'll go out with my girlfriends for a light snack and some drinks and get treated rudely because of appearances.
As a server myself, I try to be a dream customer. It's a catch-22 because I want to tip well, and had planned on it, and part of me wants to prove a point – but I can't stand by endorsing poor service.


local reader February 6, 2012 at 4:53 pm

I agree with others, this server deserves to be "outed" to management. It's not too late; make notes on as many details as you can remember (the server's name would be ideal) but especially the date and time. Write a polite letter to management detailing your treatment — if this is a chain, send it to corporate HQ customer service with a copy to the store manager. Don't say you'll never eat there again, even if it's true (they hear that a lot) but do say you expected better service from this restaurant.


The Jaded Waiter February 12, 2012 at 3:09 pm

I have a slightly different take on your experience for whatever it's worth. For starters, you absolutely did not deserve to be treated that way and it's a shame that that happened. I remember something similar happening to me when I was a teenager and I didn't appreciate it either. While I DO NOT AGREE with the way the waitress behaved you seem like the kind of person who would entertain the notion of looking into more of the angles on this.

Clearly the waitress stereotyped / pre-judged you and your friend. This is something that most servers continually have to stop themselves from doing although when it does happen it's not usually at the level that your waitress took it to. The honest truth is that when you wait tables long enough and have dealt with thousands of people you start seeing patterns repeat themselves and it's very easy to convince yourself that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it must be one. I am not defending this in any way but I can assure you it's a reality. My opinion is that you and your friend were 'punished' for every other table similar to yours that that waitress has dealt with who ran her ragged, didn't tip, or likely both. From her experience, it was only after you left that she probably realized that you were an exception. That DOES NOT make what she did right but it does affix a human side to things. It's not that she doesn't know better… it's that she doesn't 'believe' better. If that makes sense.

I'm going to go against the grain of what others have said and say that in this case I think you did the right thing by leaving her the tip. For other situations of crappy service I might not say that but with this one I would. With any luck it made the point that it should have.. which was : You treated us like crap, you know you did because you did it to us on purpose, and we STILL gave you something. If she is self-reflecting at all then hopefully your tip made her feel bad and that will be a wake up call for her to be the bigger person next time around. It was a situation similar to yours that changed the way I waited tables and treated people many years ago. When it comes to breaking stereotypes something has to give and at least one side has to start things by making an effort. That day it was you. As a customer should that responsibility be yours? Heck no.. but with a good heart you did it anyway.

You are well within your right to do what the others have suggested and write a letter 'outing' her to management. If you follow the channels they've outlined and keep it factual and unemotional, just as everyone has suggested, you will -definitely- get hers and the management's attention. It may or may not cost the waitress her job but what I guarantee you will happen is that she'll probably resent teenagers even more and just go 'underground' with a more subversive bad attitude. You're completely justified in handling this however you'd like… but do remember that your generosity might have already made an impact far greater than a complaint ever could. We're all people after all. Cheers and best to you!


Jeremy June 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Hear hear. Causing someone to feel remorse for their actions is probably the best punishment anyway as it offers and indeed motivates the person to do better next time.


memeee February 14, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Where can I go to get bottomless fries?


behindthescore March 6, 2012 at 12:40 am

Red Robin


Jack March 21, 2012 at 12:08 pm

It seems this really made a mark on you, and may have scarred you for life. It's an absolute horror to be ignored by a server in a busy restaurant when all you want is water.

Toughen up pal!


jim April 8, 2012 at 2:32 pm

don't go out to eat if you don't have money.


Brittney August 31, 2012 at 2:53 am

They had money they just didn't have that much money, they where buying fries to share because they were coming back from a trip so they stopped and they even left enough of the money for a tip. so Jim and Jack both of you both need to stop acting like Pricks.


Tori J October 24, 2012 at 10:52 pm

It makes me so crazy to hear about servers acting like this! I can never, in a million years imagine treating a table this way- good for you two for being classy and taking the high road.


Katniss February 8, 2013 at 2:39 pm

I was a server for 6 months. No I wasn’t in it for the long term, but I treated kids and teenagers with respect cause you might serve 5 tables of kids and get one real tip and the other have steaks, etc and you’d get literally 5 cents. It was the older people who knew better that I blamed more. It is a parents job to teach tipping. I was the type that would flirt with the regular older men (coffee drinkers). My regulars became family and serving them was a pleasure. Even the one that didn’t chit chat. The point is serving is a paycheck, and yes, you do wanna do that after a night of rowdy non tipping kids, but there is no excuse for such service. I don’t think many people at all take pride in their work. I’m sorry hunny, wish I had been there. You’re a good kid for thinking of her as a human and ahead of many adults.


Lily July 9, 2015 at 7:02 pm

I'm sorry you felt slighted and maybe she should have been nicer to you, but the way I see it (and most likely how she saw it) is that you were not a customer. Sure YOU thought you had to pay for the fries, but she didn't know you thought that. Someone who goes to a restaurant and doesn't buy anything is not a customer.

At the restaurant I work at everyone gets unlimited chip and salsa, and I get groups of teens in the summer where one or two kids are eating but the rest just eat the free chips and water. The chips are for paying customers, and it is assumed that people understand this, but I would never and could never say no to someone who asks for more chips but has yet to order anything. I will get you water and chips if you are nice and pleasant, but if you are acting entitled to complimentary items and not actually buying anything, you better believe that paying customers take ultimate precedence. I will get to your free refills when I have the time and not a minute sooner.


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