Creeped Out by Hand Shaking Server

September 29, 2012

in Server Stories

My family and I went to a popular restaurant that we go to several times a month, only this time we went to a different location than the one we normally go to. Our waiter, Aaron, approached us and introduced himself and then asked us if we had ever dined at this particular restaurant before. I kind of chuckled because I do not know a single person who hasn’t ever been to this place.

Then Aaron asked us if we wanted to hear about the drinks and was extremely pushy about them. My husband drinks nothing but water, and I always order a cherry Coke. Aaron seemed very let down that we were not interested in hearing about the drinks because they had gotten several new drinks on the menu. I could tell from his body language that he was upset that his up-sell had not worked, not with their chips and queso or with their drinks menu.

After we placed our orders Aaron then extended his hand out to me to shake. I was a little weirded out about this, but shook his hand, hoping that would appease him and make him go away faster. Then he extended his hand to my husband, who bluntly refused to shake his hand, telling him that he thought it was weird and that he didn’t want to shake hands. Aaron became very upset and defensive over this, and then desperately asked if he’d be allowed to high-five our daughter. She was too preoccupied with getting her straw out of its wrapper and was not interested.

There was a cash station a few feet in front of us, and I watched Aaron head over to it and begin a conversation with another server. It was pretty obvious he was talking about us to her. I was embarrassed and uncomfortable about the situation, but never in my life have I met a waiter who wanted to shake my hand. I thought it was unprofessional of him to complain about customers in front of them.

Aaron never returned to our table. The girl dropped off our plates and did not return to ask us how or food was, or if she could bring us anything else. She quickly dropped off a refill for me, and then asked if we wanted dessert when she was bringing our check. We politely declined. I just wanted to get the heck out of there!

Our waiter creeped us out so much that we have decided never to go back to that location. Additionally, this was one of the worst customer service experiences I’ve ever had. I sent in feedback to the restaurant in hopes they can spare any other families of having uncomfortable, weird encounters with this waiter.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

flossiesdoll September 29, 2012 at 3:40 pm

It's weird, but I hardly think it's enough to make you never go back

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Amanda November 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm

We have gone back to this restaurant since, but not to the same location.

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Rogue Wino September 29, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Corporate restaurants encourage this overly pushy, fake friendly behavior. They want servers to be best friends with their tables in spite of having waited on them only once. From my experience, severs in chain restaurants are rewarded for being this aggressive.
I would never shake hands with a customer unless they initiated the gesture, and would even then find it odd unless it was a good regular of mine.

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Hack September 30, 2012 at 9:40 am

Hi RW,
I know what you mean. The server should have introduced himself, told them what the drinks were, handed over the menus, and left.
by the way, I saw your post on the Bitchy Waiter.com

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FuckMyTable February 23, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Corporate restaurants push fake friendly behavior but we are told to NEVER touch a guest. And, as a server, I know how nasty my hands can get. Yes, I wash them every time I have the opportunity, but those trays are nasty. Every time I touch a glass to give a refill, or take a dirty plate from a table, I get little bits of nasty all over my hands. Oh, and if I accidentally spill a little soda then my hands become sticky. Yuck. I would NEVER offer my hand to a guest just because of how nasty they get, even with frequent hand-washing.

I did have a guest want to shake my hand one time. I shoved my hands in my apron pockets and explained that I wasn't comfortable doing that on account of how sticky my hands were due to the sodas I had just refilled at an adjacent table. His eyes widened as though he hadn't considered my cleanliness and nodded with a smile instead. Whew!

I can't blame the poster for being creeped out. And WTF is up with the server being offended? Was he new to serving and not privy to the whole "don't touch the guests" mantra?

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Serenity September 29, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Exactly, RW. I hated working in a corporate restaurant for this very reason. It was very forced behavior, and I always felt uncomfortable. On the rare occasion that I eat in a corporate place, I still feel that way…just reversed. I only work in privately owned places now, and I love being able to be myself, and upsell in my own subtle but effective style, and not creeping out/annoying my guests by having to pretend that I'm their new best buddy.

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Jody October 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm

I would definitely e-mail corporate management and list as many details as youi can. I've done that for a few out-of-state places and have gotten either a nice letter from management or a personal call from the local manager. I don't ask for anything, I just want to let them know why they might be losing business.

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Caveman October 6, 2012 at 8:34 am

Classic. He reminds me of that waiter in Office Space…the one that wore all that flair. He would probably be better off selling cars than cocktails.

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Siobhan October 8, 2012 at 11:52 pm

I can almost guarantee you Aaron transferred that table after your awkward exchange. His pushy suggestive selling might have been over-the-top,but he was most likely obligated to offer you those drink specials. I work at a well known steakhouse,and it is mandatory to say a certain schpeel. But even I have worked along side some over zealous servers.

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momo October 10, 2012 at 1:17 am

Well this was a stupid story. First of all, yeah Aaron was "weird," but I wouldn't be surprised if this dumb manager and corporate boss told him to act like that. I bet $100 Aaron already hated you before he even greeted you guys.

Second, you and your husband sound like pompous creeps.

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Amanda November 10, 2012 at 8:18 pm

I watched other servers interact with their tables; no one else tried to shake hands with their guests.

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Ex-waiter (99-'03) May 17, 2016 at 5:12 pm

Exactly! F'ing paranoid pompous *unts.. "Don't touch my golden hands you dirty peasant!".. If you ever pull out your heads from your asses, you might come to realization that waiters are humans too, and for one reason or another – yes, humans sometimes shake hands with each other.. No need to think you're something special (well you actually might be but in a negative way), Waiter wanted to shake your hands either cause his boss told him so, or in hope that if he acts friendly he'll get a bigger tip… So if you're looking for an asshole and a creep – look no further from your husband….

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Tony Lamparty October 16, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Since when are handshakes weird? It sounds like the waiter was just being friendly. He may have come off a little strange but maybe he was just a strange guy. Your husband is far stranger for simply refusing to shake his hand. Prick.

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Marie-Chantal September 11, 2016 at 11:52 pm

You are there to bring me my food and drink, not be my friend. Fami,iarity breeds contempt.

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Tori J October 22, 2012 at 2:54 am

I am a server at a very popular, corporate restaurant, and am willing to bet that this server finds shaking hands with and high-fiving customers just as awkward as you do.
While I can't say for sure that he is forced to do the things that infuriated your family so much, I would be willing to bet money on it. I know that the corporation I work for REQUIRES us to "script" certain drinks and menu items and try to push up-sells on people who aren't that interested.

Secret shoppers are sent in to make sure that we are doing all of the annoying things mentioned above. If a server waits on a shopper and does not do those things, they are fired.

Also, our bartenders (who are also in charge of the tables near the bar area) are required to shake hands. No joke, there is a question on all of their guest's surveys that asks whether or not a handshake was attempted. Yes, it is awkward for them. And yes, almost all of us employees think it's ridiculously unappealing and unsanitary for anyone to handle the food of customers all day and expect them to want to shake our hands … but we are ridiculously expendable and corporate dictates what we all must to do to keep our jobs.

Yes, the server could have handled the situation a bit better, but he does not deserve to be fired for it. Please, please do not call corporate and single out this one server. He will most likely be terminated for doing exactly what they required of him. Calling the actual location of the restaurant is a much better idea if you are going after that particular employee, because they will try to rectify the situation and can draw on past experience to decide whether the server should be out of a job.

I would, however, encourage you to call corporate and let them know that you feel the pushy and long-winded "scripting" their servers do is very off-putting and the hand-shaking was not effective in fostering camaraderie between you and your server. Let them know that the behaviors that they encourage/require from their servers made you uncomfortable- and that they have lost business because of it.

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Gregg October 23, 2012 at 11:01 pm

Thanks for providing an insider's perspective Tori!

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katy November 5, 2012 at 1:25 am

You are exactly right. And I really wish more people who dislike this behavior would complain to corporate (about the behavior, not the individual forced to adopt the behavior to keep his job.) This is exactly why I don't work in corporate restaurants.

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Amanda November 10, 2012 at 8:14 pm

As I mentioned before, this is a restaurant that we go to fairly often, and we have never had anyone push as hard with an up sell, try to shake our hands, or try to touch our child before. We have been loyal customers to this restaurant chain for years, so if this was required of the servers, than 99% of them are not doing their jobs.

His behavior was unprofessional. That's fine if he wanted to complain about us to another server or even his manager, but he should not have done it in a place where I could visibly see him. I was already feeling badly enough for him as it was; I've actually apologized to servers before on my way out if I feel they are mistreated by someone I'm dining out with.

I did contact corporate about the situation. I did not say anything about thinking that he should be fired, but suggested that they watch his interactions with other customers; we were not the only ones that were weirded out by him.

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Herk October 28, 2012 at 9:31 am

I know, right. I would have been creeped, but I would shake. And, I wouldn’t appreciate it to have the server try to sell me stuff, but I’d try to be sympathetic….

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Gillian October 30, 2012 at 2:57 pm

I waited tables briefly as s 2nd job. I am a paralegal and wanted extra cash for Christmas gifts. People LESS EDUCATED than me acted like pompous Asses to the point I quit and said F this. Trust me. That poor server did NOT want to shake your hand. He was following restaurant protocol in order to keep his job! He probably would have preferred to lick a toilet than shake your hand. STAY HOME!! Restaurants hate your kind!!” And so for I.

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Amanda November 10, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Both my husband and I are educated. I am always polite to anyone that does any sort of service for me, and if I am the one paying the bill, I always tip 20% as the minimum. I said thank you to our server, and smiled at him for the things that he did do before turning our table over to the other server.

Since you do not know what restaurant it was that I am talking about, you have no way of knowing whether or not it is restaurant protocol for him to shake hands with his tables. As I mentioned before, we go to this restaurant a lot–and no other server has ever tried to shake our hands before.

Also, if he would prefer to lick a toilet than shake his tables' hands, then perhaps this isn't the right job for him.

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FuckMyTable February 23, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Gillian, way to pass judgement on someone you know nothing about. If the OP was Springs1 I would understand, but come on. I was a server for SIX YEARS and I hated a lot of guests, but didn't walk up to a table already hating them. If that's how you feel about your job, maybe you should look into a different industry. I have never heard of restaurant protocol demanding that servers shake the guests' hands, EVER. In fact, the Golden Rule is "Don't touch the guests!" just like teachers aren't supposed to touch the students. It's a liability issue. You're a fucking idiot.

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Marie-Chantal September 11, 2016 at 11:58 pm

Judging from your grammar, it would seem that you are better suited as a server than a "paralegal".

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Rachel November 1, 2012 at 9:01 am

The OP must truly be scarred from this “horrifying ” incident because its posted on multiple sites. Aaron probably wanted to shake your hands as much as he wanted to wait on your table.

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Amanda November 10, 2012 at 8:05 pm

This was my post, and I did not post submit my story to anywhere but here. That does not make me happy to hear that the story is circulating on other sites!!

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sexygal March 15, 2014 at 9:42 am

That's the chance one takes when one submits a story ANYWHERE on the internet!!! That's WHY I personally TRY TO BE CAREFUL abt what I "post!!" I re-read it, most definitely, AFORE I ever send it !!!! Another thing : I ALWAYS ask myself would I WANT this to get out because once it's "posted" it is GONE !!!!

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Maggie February 22, 2013 at 8:43 pm

he wanted to shake your hand not make out with you. sounds like he was just trying to be friendly. and refusing to shake someone's hand regardless of the situation is a definite slight and quite rude. definitely not worth calling corporate over.

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FuckMyTable February 23, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Have you ever waited tables? Do you know how nasty our hands get even with frequent washing? No, you do not want to shake hands with your server. And it's weird for them to ask. The rule for waiting tables is Don't Touch the Guests. I worked for mom and pop places, regional chains, and national chains – this rule was always the same. If a kid wanted to jump up and hug me or give me a high five, cool, but only if it was guest initiated.

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Erin May 13, 2013 at 10:23 pm

The server might have had Aspergers syndrome.
I know that it's not really smart to diagnose over the internet, but signs that someone has Aspergers is that they have very poor social interaction and are very hypersensitive.
Which is probably why he got offended over something small like not being able to list all the drinks.

Sad.

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Jennifer Fogarty May 15, 2013 at 12:22 am

I was a waitress for a decade and I never shook hands with anyone I didn't actually already know or was a regular and those tended to greet me with a hug of various degrees! Due to location and the owner, many of our patrons were gay and once they get to know a person, they can be flamboyant, (in a good way) It was at a café the had great breakfasts and lunches! On Saturdays we had the same group of 10-25 people and we got to know them well. They even brought pictures of their vacations to share with us. Anyway, I would never have dreamed of trying to force a patron to shake my hand!! As a patron I'd be grossed out because I know how many things that the server has touched!

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Steph June 27, 2013 at 6:15 am

I’ve worked in restaurants where this behaviour has been pushed on me, where you have greedy owners who want you to upsell for THEIR profit by any means necessary, regardless of whether or not you are comfortable with it.

So don’t always take it out on the server… we get paid a minimum wage far below the poverty line ane rely exclusively on tips to make ends meet. It’s easy to blame everything on the server but in some states where you make less than $3.00 an hour… it hurts.

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Estelle August 1, 2016 at 7:11 pm

If you feel uncomfortable,others do as well. The place is taking the wrong approach.

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