Sunday, January 30, 2011

How To Get the Attention of Your Server

Yes, this a re-post from almost exactly a year ago because people still need to learn this shit. Share it. Spread it around. Tweet it. Do it all.

Wanna know how to get the attention of your server? There are a lot of ways to do it and I want to make sure that people know the right way as opposed to snapping your fingers across the room. Granted, some servers pay little or no attention when they're on the floor (guilty as charged) and maybe a snap is the only thing that will work. I find that a simple knowing look to your server is all it takes. A look that says, "Hey there, man. I know you're busy as hell and you have a crappy job and all, but if you get a chance could you please maybe pop by my table and refill my water? If you can't it's cool. I understand. Just thought I'd ask. Thanks anyway." That kind of look is all it would take for me to fill up their water. Sadly, most people don't have the muscle adaptivity to complete such a complex facial expression and instead belch out the words, "water" as they point to their empty glass repeatedly.

Another way that people will try to get their waiter's attention is by reaching out their hands to actually touch them. That is so not cool. I do not want to be touched by someone I don't know unless of course we are in a situation where that type of behavior is expected and appreciated. At a bar or spouse-swap party? Yes. At work? No. If I am at another table taking an order and I feel someone tapping me on the shoulder only to turn around to see the dickwad from table 102 standing there and asking for another piece of bread, I will not be happy. No touching.

Yelling my name is also unacceptable but very rarely happens to me because of one simple reason: I don't tell people my name. All that happens when you do that is they use your name over and over again. It gives customers a false sense of camaraderie and the misleading idea that I care and that I want them to use my name. I don't care. Or want them to use my name. And unless they are going to introduce themselves with a "Hi, my name is Bitty McBitchBitch and I will be dining in your section today," I will not be telling them my name.

Let us review. If you are in need of your server and want his attention, just give him a look. If you can't successfully interpret the look I wrote about before, then just try this instead. Look at your server. When he catches your eye, smile a bit, thrust your chin forward a bit and raise your eyebrows. Try that right now. And do it again. You see how easy it is? With this simple exercise, you will guarantee a full glass of water every time you need it. Congratulations.

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SkippyMom said...

I hated being touched too when I waitressed - and they always seemed to grab when I was carrying something. The urge to dump on them whatever I was carrying was strong.

And never snap. We're not dogs.

jdracecar said...

OMG!!! I have been a server in the worst places on earth. One of them was a college bar where when someone snapped at me I said, "I don't respond to snaps!" And didn't serve them the rest of the night. So freaking disrespectful! I also tried NOT to tell them my name so they couldn't yell it out. Touching me at all in any way was completely unacceptable! I was a rage filled bitchy waitress but that was because people are so f*cking rude and horrible!!

Kalei's Best Friend said...

I have always done what u suggested with an added " excuse me"... John Quiones did a What would u do segment on how customers treat the wait staff. Man was I appalled..If u haven't seen it, catch it on Hulu it aired this past Fri. night

The Bipolar Diva said...

got it! :)

Practical Parsimony said...

I don't snap my fingers. I do raise my hand, raise my eyebrows in a question,"can you help me"sort of look, maybe the look you suggest. Some waiters deliberately do not look! At that point, when they are arranging something at an empty table or scouting the place for some unknown reason, I raise the hand more, sort of waggle my hand, and hope he or she will not turn away too soon. I then will stop a waiter from another section, the busboy, anyone. THEN, I just go up with my glass and find anyone to fill it.

This does not happen often, but invariably it does happen when the place is almost empty. It's annoying. But, I am not sure why anyone would want to make a spectacle of herself by snapping, touching, or raising their voice. "Excuse me," is the most I will do as far as speaking to get attention. Sometimes, I want to stand and wave my arms, but I don't!

I am still in shock that anyone would think touching is appropriate or necessary!

The Girl From Back Then said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Girl From Back Then said...

Working in a pub/restaurant environment, I know all too well the chronic irritation you feel when customers try to catch your attention in the wrong way. It's actually amazing how rude they can be, yet somehow totally oblivious to the fact. I hate it when someone is waiting to be served, and they knock on the bar noisily. Demanding all focus on them. As if the person I am serving should be forgotten about in lieu of this ignoramous standing before me.

Everyone has to wait their turn, that's just how it goes. I don't like leaving people waiting but sometimes that's life, as I only have one pair of hands and therefore can only serve one person at a time. Another annoying thing is when they wave at me from across the room to get my attention, like they are trying to flag down a ride or stop themselves from falling backwards into deep water. And when they say 'can we get some service?' in that obnoxious serve-me-now-I-own-your-soul-cause-you-work-in-a-bar sort of way. As if to suggest I've just been stood on the spot all night doing absolutely bugger all.

What's even more ridiculous is that the pub is quite close knit, and they all know my name, so there really is no excuse. I make the effort to remember and use their names, so I feel they should have the same courtesy. They have it easy, they only get to remember one name. I have to remember a whole room full at any one time.

At the end of the day, I'm just trying to earn a decent crust like you do when you go to work, buddy. Cut me some slack yeah?

Anonymous said...

I have recently discovered the grave mistake of telling customers your name. There is nothing more annoying then being yelled at across the room. These folks are like little needy brats that demand undying attention and this is just the clever way they get it. But tell me Bitchy Waiter, how do I avoid telling people my name when asked directly at a table?

The Bethinator said...

I would much rather have someone yell my name out to get my attention than most of the other ways people try to do it. A couple of times people have actually yelled at me while I was at another table, obviously taking their order. "Excuse me! Excuse me!!! Hello?!? HELLO?! Oh hey, can I get some napkins?" No, bitch. Learn some respect and THEN you can get your damn napkins.

Mary A. said...

snapping at anyone is just plain rude.

Maybe you should walk over with the check, hold it above eye level and snap at them. Then when they look up, you give them the check.

Anonymous said...

My dad taught me this trick for getting a waiter's attention over 20 years ago. It always amuses me to use it (only when necessary, and I try not to have it be necessary) in a crowded restaurant and see the other people frown when the waiter makes a beeline for me.

Hint: respect your waiter. (S)he doesn't like being treated like a slave any more would!

Xarata said...

I had one woman bring a cowbell into the restaurant and ask if she could use it to call me. I told her no, I simply cannot encourage that kind of behavior.

I've been grabbed, I've been snapped at, I've been whistled at and "hey lady!"d at. I've had small children yell my name across the room because they want another milkshake (and you can bet their parents are paying another $5 for that small 12oz milkshake too- milkshakes are a pain in the ass) and I've had people leave their table and come up to me at someone else's table to tell me they're ready to order (dude, this couple right here really doesn't care that you're ready to order-now sit your ass down and i'll be over in a minute).

I hate the people that are completely oblivious too. I print out checks after i put them in(printing them again if they change) and carry 4-5 of them in my pocket at any given time to save myself a trip when they're done. They ask for the check, and i immediately stand it up on the table- glancing at their table for the next 5 minutes waiting for it to either be moved or a credit card to appear sticking out of the top of it. I can't tell you how many times i've checked back on them every 5 minutes to have them ask on my 3rd tip "Um..can we get the check? i asked you for it 15 minutes ago..." "Sir, it's that book right there standing up in the middle of the table where you can't miss it- i gave it to you 15 minutes ago when you asked for it..." The stammering and blushing that ensues is kind of hilarious, but i'd rather not have to explain it to them in small words like a child.

Honestly, I'm that server that walks mach 10- you saw me go one direction a second ago and here I am at another table in the other direction and you have no idea how i got there, but the napkins you were about to ask me for magically appeared in the middle of the table and your drink is full. I usually take the section farthest away from the kitchen- i have to walk fast and you can hear the change jingle in my apron as I go. I did have an elderly gentleman i was waiting on one day silently watch me jingle past at warp speed every 30 seconds and stopped me and asked "do they appreciate you here? i've been watching you run back and forth all morning and it seems like you're the only one doing any work..." i smiled and told him that was the job, and there actually was another server on the other half of the room, but i appreciated the notice and i appreciated the nice tip.

Unknown said...

so glad i do the right thing - i actually just tried to reenact what i do to try to get a waiters attention, and the chin/eyebrow thing is my move .. whew!


Xarata said...

One of the girls that I worked with had a table that yelled "yo white girl!" across the room too.

Lucky they weren't my table...

Unknown said... i'm scanning your old posts. Thanks for the constant source of amusement.

Now for the comment, after my comment, about your comments......"My name is Bitty McBitchBitch" had me rolling (which of course, in internet speak, means i smiled and chuckled noticeably). I am going out to a local eatery in MA tonight with the family to celebrate my "GASP" 40th birthday. I fully intend to immediately address my server tonight with the following "Hello, My name is Matt and I will be dining in your station this evening. My specials are: Tipping at least 20%; Not touching you or snapping my fingers to get your attention; ensuring my entire party is ready to order at the same time; asking for any and all additional accoutrements to our meal at the same time; and finally trying desperatey to not be yet another fucktard assclown that would warrant a post at"

Thanks for the laughs BW. Keep em coming!