The Nicest Things Customers Have Ever Done for Their Servers
All too often, we hear about the horrible things that customers have said or done to their servers. After all, those are the stories that everyone wants to click and make go viral for all the Internet to see. But every once in a while, a customer might go out of their way to do something extraordinarily nice for their server. In this current world we are living in full of confusion, angst, and negativity, let’s take a minute to look at something positive in the restaurant industry.
One of my regulars was a woman in her 80s who was full of piss and vinegar. She was very specific about how much oil was to go into her sautéed haricot vert and she had no qualms about rearranging the dining room chairs until she found the exact one that she deemed the most comfortable. After a few years, I grew to care about this cantankerous old woman who never failed to find something to complain about. One Christmas, she showed up to the restaurant with a handful of envelopes; tips for all of us who worked there from servers to cooks to the dishwasher. One by one, she handed them out. We opened up the envelopes to discover we all had been given the exact same amount of money: $7.00 along with a handwritten thank you note. Seven dollars seemed like an odd amount and then we remembered she had asked us the week before how many people worked in the restaurant. That’s when we realized she had a specific amount of money she could afford to give out and she had divided that total by the number of employees. From that moment on, I knew this crotchety old woman had a heart of gold and it is one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me at the restaurant.
I’m not the only server who has experienced kindness from a customer. Sometimes, it does’t take a lot. One waitress tells a story of a customer who left her a note after witnessing two other customers treating her poorly. The note said, “Sarah, you had two very difficult tables that we saw/heard. I hope your evening gets better and know you were amazing! Thank you for such great service.”
Yes, it’s just a note scribbled on the back of a restaurant receipt, but it meant enough to Sarah to take a photo of it so she would always remember. Notes left by customers, no matter how simple, can mean a lot. Another waitress named Melissa feels the same way. “I waited on a college marching band (27 people) and they left me a good tip and a note that said they loved me and I was a great server. 20+ years ago and I still have it somewhere.” It’s unlikely that the person who wrote the note back in the 1900s even remembers doing it, but it meant enough to Melissa to save it all these years.
Money is always a nice thing to give to servers, but sometimes it can be even more special. Taylor was working at her restaurant one last shift before going on vacation to Jamaica. She happened to have a table of eight people that day who had just gotten back from Jamaica so she was asking them for recommendations of places to go and generally sharing in the excitement. “At the end of the meal they gave me an additional $100 to go on an adventure.” Very generous, but Caitlin’s story is even more kind. “During the shut down, some of my Friday night regulars decided to Venmo me every Friday night what they would have tipped me if they were coming in. This happened for three months.”
Some servers have had customer gift them with tickets to events. Waiter Andrew received tickets to to go see Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Another sever shares the story of a customer who gave her tickets to go see Earth, Wind & Fire. Susan says one of her regulars gave her all of his Disney points and sent her and her sons to Disney for a week. Waitress Jessica had a customer take her to a Panther game. “Suite seats, buying me unlimited drinks and picking me up and then taking me to dinner afterwards. They liked to sit at a certain table (in the restaurant) which I would always reserve for them. They have very particular orders and this is how they showed their appreciation.”
Other servers have been given gifts by their customers; a washer and dryer when there’s was on the fritz or a book that the customer finished reading and the server had asked about or even a winter coat. One server said they were given advice to quit the very job they were at because their boss was so toxic and another server was given a job on the spot after her customer saw her being berated by yet another horrible boss.
Most touching of all is Danielle’s experience. “My dad and I worked alongside each other at our restaurant until he died in 2014 of pancreatic cancer. A customer of mine made a king-sized quilt out of all his old flannel shirts. I will treasure it and her kindness forever.”
Yes, we servers bitch and complain a lot about our customers, but sometimes they can absolutely blow us away with their goodwill. The next time you go out to dinner, try to give a little kindness to the people who are serving your food.