Like it or not, waiters and waitresses wield tremendous power over your life, from determining your seating position on a hot date to making you wait extra-long for a check on a terrible Tinder date. They also know secrets. Lots of secrets. About your food. About your style. About your libido. And unless you've spent time serving food and drinks to the unknowing, you'll never be in on the wealth of knowledge floating around the restaurant... until now. We consulted servers from across the nation to spill their dirty secrets about your favorite restaurants.
Next time you're lambasting your waiter about your order, remember that they know more than you think.
Editor's note: The anecdotes below are are direct quotes taken from servers throughout the United States and representing a wide range of restaurants. They don't reflect the opinions of Thrillist or the author... although we only just learned what a ramekin is.
Your order wasn't screwed up because of a clerical error
"We've all been drinking. Period."
It's very, very obvious that you're on a first date
"Ordering for that girl with the shifty eyes, who keeps looking at her phone, was your first misstep, but rest assured you've given most of the staff a giggle."
Your wandering eye is not subtle
"We know you’re looking over the menu at our racks, and we will exploit your perviness by flirting for tips."
If you don't like your drink, you might be a hero
"Sorry you mistook a Manhattan for a Cosmo, but don't be surprised if your order is messed up again after you send it back… mainly because we just quaffed the drink you rejected, and we’re still thirsty.”
Your service animal is a big, furry lie
"We know your service animal is just a pet. You're not fooling anyone. We're just paid to be nice and are hoping you'll tip more if it poops on the floor."
You can totally score with the bartender
"If you've been giving him eyes, he's probably already asked us about you."
Complaining won't cause someone to spit in your food
"Nobody does that. They just make fun of you. And maybe burn your steak a little."
Your server knows whether you're going to get laid
"Your date isn't wearing underwear. That's why we keep dropping stuff on the floor."
Your problems are just a waiting game
"The manager doesn't really care about your problem. She's just waiting to see how little she has to comp you."
A ramekin is not some mythical beast of yore
"No matter how many episodes of Chopped you've watched, you have no idea what a ramekin is. Hint: that order of ranch you forgot to ask for until after your order came out is sitting in it."
Rudeness and cultural differences are very different things
"Europeans can come off as very rude sometimes, but they’re just used to grabbing servers by the belt when they need a Splenda."
Your frugality is not appreciated
"If you've ever ordered just a water with lemon, you have been hated by at least one person."
Your clever cheap-skating is not clever
"No, you can’t substitute a T-bone for your fries."
You are feeding the staff
"There's a reason we keep asking if you're done after each bite. We're starving. For your leftovers."
Asking what the server likes, or for the bartender to go wild is an invitation for sarcasm
"Hope you enjoy bread and butter. Or a glass full of bar swill."
Looking shady might get you special treatment
"People who look like drug dealers tend to tip the best, and we will go out of our way to make you happy because of it."
After-hours are a bed of sin
"The faint smell of nicotine on your linen napkin? Those little gray flecks stuck to your table? Yep. We smoke inside after hours."
Your forgetfulness does not transfer to your server
"Certain people in that group will think that not remembering eating the surf 'n turf is a perfectly acceptable excuse to not pay for it. That's why we write everything down."
If you're a friend, you're still paying for drinks
"Our friends, or friends of our friends, honestly think they’re getting all those free drinks because we like them. This is obviously not true. Please drop me a $20 for risking my job. Also, pay for your drinks."
Your birthday is irrelevant
"No, we do not sing for birthdays. If you ask us to, we hate you. There is Rainforest Cafe for that, and we don't work there."
Your fancy tea is Earl Grey
"Ordering hot tea will piss off every server in the world, especially when they're busy. Nobody remembers all the stupid teas that are stocked. When your server asks what you prefer, it translates as 'fu*k you, Govnuh'. You're getting Earl Grey or English Breakfast or whatever we grab first."
Hookers hate ice
"Ladies of the night will never order a drink that has ice in it. Melted ice reveals a time frame for which they've been in waiting."
Money can't buy you love or a seat
"Just because you paid a host to be seated sooner doesn't mean it will happen. They were just happy to pocket some cash."
Restaurant work is based on partying… at least at first
"The main reason most people start working in restaurants is so they can stay out late and party every single night. It’s also the main reason they keep working in them. And why they're extremely hungover and hoping it's slow tonight."
Your flirting with a server is severely misguided
"Writing your number on a receipt is the worst move ever. There are 57 tables. We don’t even pick up our own checks half the time. Oh, you’re the tall blonde guy? Congrats. You were sitting down the whole time, and everyone in this place has a hat on."
Your allergies will be considered, then probably ignored if they're suspect
"If you're gluten-free (and say that rather than 'gluten-intolerant'), or a vegan, and roll into a steakhouse or someplace similar thinking you’re in the clear... you’re definitely eating something with chicken stock or gluten. Or both. Sorry. And don't fool yourself into believing you're doing your body a favor with that gluten-free, vegan scramble: it still has about 1,870 empty calories in it."
Thrillist national food/drink senior editor Andy Kryza has worked as a waiter, line cook, barista, restaurant manager, wedding bartender, and caterer... and he knows your secrets. Follow him to burnt quiche via @apkryza.