Be polite. Saying “Two,” and pointing to the desired table is not an appropriate response when I ask, “How are you doing this evening?” Put down the cellphone. You motion me over, waving one hand while the other holds the phone to your ear. “I’ll have Diet Coke, no ice,” you mouth. “What?” I ask loudly. I’m not going to make this easy for you.
“Diet Coke. No ice,” you yell back. “No, I wasn’t talking to you. I’m in a restaurant,” you tell the person on the other end of the line.
Know that you have secured the bottom spot on my list of priorities.
• Be patient. Here’s the thing: Things happen. We’re all human. We all make mistakes. Yes, even you. Going out to eat is a gamble. It shouldn’t be, but it is. You’re in luck, though. The odds are in your favor. The majority of the time you’ll have a wonderful, pleasant, delicious experience.
When you get the urge to hold your arms out, elbows to your sides, palms facing up, and raise your eyebrows at your waitress asking what was probably the first question one human ever put to another, “Where’s the food?” check yourself.
• The food is coming. Unless I forgot to put in your order (which is a rarer occurrence than most customers believe), the arrival time of your meal is utterly out of my control. I don’t cook the food; I serve it. I am a server.
Twenty minutes for an entree is not a long time. Period. If you ordered appetizers, generally the main course won’t come immediately after. When we’re busy, it could take maybe 10 minutes.
If you cannot go another second without sustenance, please, whatever you do, do not take it out on your waitress. If she’s is anything like me, she has done all she can to put the meal on the table in a timely fashion.
Don’t complain to me about how expensive things are. You do realize that no one forced you to vacation in the Hamptons, right? Also, it’s gauche.
• Read the menu. This might seem obvious but dear lord, I feel like we need to put signs all over the restaurant reminding people of this very important step.
When you say, “What salads do you have?” I will take a deep breath and mentally grit my teeth, but I will tell you.
When you order a cheeseburger and then blink in surprise when I ask you what kind of cheese you would like, my heart grows a little colder.
When your entree is brought to the table and you exclaim, “Oh, I didn’t know it came with broccoli. I hate broccoli. I want something else,” I would like nothing more than to dump the plate of food in your lap. Read the menu.
• Don’t seat yourself. You’re not even allowed to seat yourself at an Applebee’s, so why would you assume it’s encouraged here, in the Hamptons, home of all things chic and sophisticated? I can’t think of a single restaurant with waiter service east of the Shinnecock where I can walk in and find my own table.
Oh right, but the rules don’t apply to you because you have millions of dollars and a total lack of self-awareness. My mistake.
• Be aware of your surroundings. It’s difficult, I know. The world does not revolve around you or the movie that you have to get to by 7:15.
• Look around. Notice all these people? They’re going to see that movie too and, whoops! They got here before you. Now be quiet and wait your turn.
Ditto when you ask me why the food is taking so long. I’m sorry you’re under the impression that you’re dining in a completely empty restaurant where the only job of the kitchen is to cook your well-done steak in 10 minutes.
It must have taken years to cultivate such a refined attitude of entitlement along with the will it requires not to notice that it is 6:30 on a Saturday night and we are completely full.