Melissa Locker
March 24, 2018
Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

The customer is always right, but that doesn’t mean that the customer doesn’t annoy the waiter with certain requests. According to a waiter who spoke to PureWow.com, there are a few questions that are guaranteed to aggravate the servers at dining spot. Since Southerners are proud of their good manners and would never knowingly aggravate a waiter (unless he really deserved it), it may be helpful to keep this list of no-nos in mind the next time you’re at a restaurant. 

First things first: Mind your manners. Servers are people too and deserving of hellos, smiles, and pleases and thank yous. They also deserve your full attention when they come to your table, so put down your cellphone while ordering. Finally, be mindful not to linger longer than necessary at your table. If the restaurant is busy and you have eaten dessert and paid your check, take your conversation elsewhere so someone else can sit at your table.

One irksome behavior the waiters mentioned was changing a dish to the point that it was unrecognizable. For example, don’t order the gumbo if you don’t eat rice and don’t like okra or shrimp. Instead find a nice sandwich or salad to eat instead of asking the waiter to deconstruct the dish. Not only does that put the waiter in the awkward position of telling the chef that the customer didn’t like the menu options, but now the kitchen staff must create an entirely new dish during the dinner or lunch rush. That said, if you have dietary restrictions let the waiter know before you order so they can help you find something on the menu that works for you.

While we all strive to have well-mannered children who will eat whatever is put in front of them with a smile, sometimes it’s simply not possible. If your child only eats certain foods, don’t surprise the waiter at the French restaurant with the request for plain noodles in butter. Instead, call in advance to see if the restaurant has a children’s menu or can accommodate picky eaters.

As you may have guessed from the last two examples, overall, ordering food that is not on the menu is guaranteed to irk your server. That also includes asking for an item that you heard was on a secret menu—without confirming that a secret menu actually exists—or asking if the waiter can have the chef whip up something that is no longer on the menu. You wouldn’t waltz into Chick-Fil-A and ask them to make a chicken salad sandwich when you know it’s no longer on the menu, now would you? (Well, maybe….)

WATCH: Should You Be Tipping In Cash Only?

While most of us are too polite to try this next one, another gripe among waiters is when customers show up at the restaurant claiming that they are friends with the owner and angling for special treatment from the wait staff. If you are friends with the owner and they are working, of course you should say hello. However, if your friend isn’t there, just be happy that you are supporting their business and don’t expect your server to dole out free treats. Similarly, as Today points out, don’t expect something free just because it’s your birthday. Not every restaurant gives a free slice of cake and not ever wait staff wants to serenade you with a round of “Happy Birthday.” If you’re looking for a place to celebrate a special occasion, call in advance and find out what’s possible.

A sense of humor is an important trait, but according to some waiters, practicing your stand-up routine while placing your food order just makes it harder for them to do their job. So, save the great joke about how you want your burger so rare that it’s still mooing until you’re on stage.

In short, restaurants are like everywhere else and follow the golden rule and treat people the way you would like to be treated—and don’t forget to tip.