“My mom used to run restaurants, while my stepfather used to be a chef in high-end restaurants. He is the kind of guy who expects to be treated better than he is currently being treated, regardless of whatever that treatment was. They were not fun to go out to eat with. My wife and I prided ourselves on being a ‘relief’ table when we go out to eat. Both of us were servers, and there was always the counterpoint to the difficult table, which was us. Barring horrible service or bad food, we are super easy customers, tip well, and try to have a good time with our server. Furthermore, we just treat people nicely. So you can imagine our disdain when my parents acted like they were royalty at a dinner service.
My wife and I went out to dinner with them. They were being particularly tough. My mom was acting like she was Gordon Ramsey analyzing the business, critiquing everything down to the number of bubbles in her seltzer.
She said, ‘It looks like it’s time to change the CO2 (Carbon dioxide)!’
My stepdad was getting more and more heated over stupid things, like the amount of ice in his drink and how the waitress didn’t top off his water fast enough. He was barely sipping on it. It came to a point when my stepfather ordered a steak medium-well, and it came back medium-well. For some reason, he changed his mind that he wanted it medium rare while it was cooking, and they didn’t read his mind, so he gave attitude, as did my mom. They jumped really quickly to demanding free stuff.
I’m an adult, and this may be the first time they realized this.
I interrupted them in front of the server and said something like, ‘Really? This is what you’re doing. That’s what you ordered!’
I turned to the server and said, ‘We do not need anything comped.’
I then pulled out my wallet and handed her my card and said, ‘This is for the bill. We’ll happily wrap up with what we have here. I’m very sorry for their behavior, you’re doing great.’
Then I uttered the line that stung them so deep they still bring it up years later.
I said, ‘I was taught to treat people nicely. A lesson that seems to be forgotten. Thank you.’
My parents turned red, then the server walked away, I looked down and cut my steak, and I didn’t say a word. They were so flabbergasted that the meal was virtually silent, except for me asking my step-father how his steak was a few minutes later. I signed the check, gave a big tip, and we walked out and said goodbyes. They’ve been nicer to servers each time that we’ve gone out since.”