"[My peeve is] when a guest orders a supersweet drink like a strawberry daiquiri and then demands to have another shot in it because she can't taste the alcohol. If she wanted to taste alcohol, she should have ordered a martini. The bartender's remedy to this is to drip some liquor down the straw so the next sip the person takes will blast her with the taste of booze." This server's grievance, posted on www.stainedapron.com, is one of hundreds of tongue-lashings by exasperated restaurant workers. It seems American diners treat waitstaff contemptuously, create unnecessary work for servers and exhibit deplorable manners.
The "Menu Manglings" section of the site is a collection of egregious mispronunciations and bungled locutions. A waiter from Dayton admits committing such a blunder in response to a question about calamari. "Squid," he replied unblinkingly. "We serve the rings and the testicles." One elderly woman ordered "chicken quesa-dildoes" -- perhaps she should hook up with the man who wanted his salad dressed with "shrimp vaginette."
The incensed waitrons bellyache about everyone: miserly tippers, no-neck children, corpulent chowhounds, imperious "Nordstrom's cosmetics counter" wenches. We've translated the harangues into a Top 10 list of rules for diners:
10. Don't insult your server by suggesting he or she must have a "real" job elsewhere.
9. Don't camp out at your table after you've finished eating, especially if the restaurant is busy.
8. Clean up after your children and teach them how to behave properly at the table.
7. Don't expect the kitchen to accommodate your every food preference, allergy and special diet; however, simple substitutions can usually be made.
6. Use your server's name if she has given it, rather than calling her "hon," "Miss," "Sweetheart" or "Ma'am."
5. Don't wave frantically or snap your fingers to catch a server's attention.
4. Address your server politely; say "please" and "thank you," not "Get us ..."
3. Pool your table's requests instead of making your server trot back and forth.
2. Don't penalize your server because you thought the food was lousy, the kitchen was slow or the prices were steep.
1. Don't dine out if you don't have enough money to leave a decent tip (15 percent minimum for acceptable service, more for above-average service).
What have we missed? E-mail your own peeves, menu manglings and customer-from-hell anecdotes to STLrestaurants@aol.com.