Orthogonal Thought | Random musings from the creator of Cooking For Engineers and Lead Architect of Fanpop




Being ignored

Posted 11 September, 2007 at 11:42pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Dining, Rant)

One thing that I really hate is when I'm left alone WAY too long at a restaurant. When a waiter doesn't come by for a while after we've been seated, it's really frustrating. This evening, I kept trying to catch the eye of the waitress that was serving all the tables around us, but she was VERY adept at not looking in our direction. Finally, our waiter arrived (it wasn't the waitress that was serving all the other tables in our vicinity) took our orders and disappeared. Apparently, we were in the boondocks of this guy's waiting area and stuck in the middle of a different waitress's realm. They we realized that we were starting to get really cold (near an air conditioning vent). We kept looking around for our waiter but he didn't come back. Then a server (not our waiter) arrived with our food and we asked if it was possible to move. She said she'd find our waiter and disappeared. By the time the waiter returned, we had practically finished eating. Unfortunately, I didn't immediately ask for a to-go box so we once again had to wait and wait. I eventually stood up and walked around to look for our waiter. After returning to our booth, I stood there long enough for a passing waitress to ask if I needed anything. I asked for our check and she went off in search of our waiter. He returned shortly with our bill. I feel that restaurants, even casual ones, should do a better job with dividing up tables so they are accessible to their wait staff.

8 comments to Being ignored

Sarah, September 12th, 2007 at 5:40 am:

  • I know the feeling. We once visited an Earls in Banff National Park. They seated us on the patio, which was nice…. Until we realized that our waitress didn't know we were out there. And even once she knew about us, her visits out to the patio were few and far between.What should have been a 45 min stop for food on our trip stretched out into a 2-hr ordeal.

    Disappointing to say the least.

Ryan O., September 12th, 2007 at 8:14 am:

  • I'm far to honest to ever follow through on this, but sometimes I think that there ought to be a time limit, say 15 minutes, after which if you have finished your meal and not yet received your check you are free to leave.

    I don't mind waiting for my order to be taken or waiting for food to be delivered, but when I'm done eating and am ready to leave I just feel like I'm being held hostage.

Alan, September 12th, 2007 at 11:04 am:

  • If I'm ready to leave and the waiter hasn't brought the check in a decent length of time, I'm not shy about getting up and heading for the till, and if there isn't one, for the receptionist. I usually get the check right away that way. I agree about feeling held hostage.

    Given that most restaurants want to turn the table, it's odd that they leave you sitting there after you are ready to leave.

Debra, September 12th, 2007 at 1:26 pm:

  • This happened to me at a casual dining restaurant and I did walk out without paying. I waited about 15 minutes after we finished eating to tell the waiter (who had been awful throughout the meal) that I wanted the check and when he didn't return in 20 minutes, we left. In this sort of situation, I would normally go do what Alan suggested, but this time was so outrageous, I just left.

    Of course, the opposite of this is being given the bum's rush to leave a restaurant after you have finished your meal (because they have people waiting to be seated). Not my problem. But I do try to be considerate and move on as soon as possible.

Michael Chu, September 12th, 2007 at 3:13 pm:

  • I've not yet done any walking out, but I really think I should learn to be more proactive in hunting down the wait staff. I've gotten a little better at voicing concerns about food not being prepared as I expected, but even so, most of the time I just eat what's placed in front of me even if I don't like it. I also tend not to complain that they've been slow or whatever. I also can't bring myself to cut their tips too much since they don't exactly have cushy jobs and often it's not their fault but the restaurant's for not hiring enough staff or planning their tables poorly.

Debra, September 13th, 2007 at 11:46 am:

  • The one time I returned something because it tasted awful, the waitress made a stink about it. She said I should've asked for a taste before ordering the food. It was quite embarrasing. This was a long time ago when I was much younger and less confident; if this happened now, I'd be sure the manager or even the owner knew about such behavior.

    I once had a waiter chase me down and criticize me for the amount of the tip — in front of my dining companions. Now, he was right that I had miscalculated the amount of the tip, but there was a better way to handle it.

    We could go on and on, I'm sure, with horror stories about restaurants. I once found the cellophane from a pack of cigarettes in my salad. I had a boss who found a band-aid in her food. Ugh.

Michael Chu, September 13th, 2007 at 5:28 pm:

  • Oh, the bandage in the food is totally gross. I once found a part of a bandage in soft serve in the college dorms and it was 7 years before I had soft serve again.

Anonymous, October 1st, 2007 at 2:47 pm:

  • Based on my experience in the restaurant business, tables are generally divided up in a "logical" fashion where they tend to be grouped together. But you also have to take into account certain tables (booths or those by the window) that tend to be sat more frequenty. Occasionally waiters switch tables depending upon the situation - (i.e. someone has a large party and can't take another table, but it would be worse to make a patron wait).

    It's a stressful job. Waitstaff is paid less than minimum wage which means they depend mostly on tips. However, that doesn't justify long wait time or rude service.

    Eating in a restaurant is also a contract. If you eat the food, you're basically obligated to pay.