“I worked at a Denny’s all throughout college, which is notorious for cheap breakfast and terrible service. I took great pride in my job and how I treated my customers. I really, truly loved waiting tables and making people’s lives a little more pleasant, at least while they were in my section. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. I had several ‘regulars’ that always sat in my section, but there were other servers that had their regulars as well. One of them was a really pleasant, jovial man and his horrible, nasty wife. She was the kind of woman who got off on being evil and making other people’s lives miserable. One particular day, I had to cover some tables in a different server’s section because a server called in sick. I was warned about this couple when they came in, but had never waited on them before, so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I was told that she had a habit of complaining endlessly about everything, demanding to speak to the manager, and berating the servers and cooks at every turn. The husband (who often came in by himself) was the opposite: friendly, good-natured, and well-liked. As soon as they were seated, before I could even get their drink orders, the husband got up from the booth and walked outside for a few minutes, leaving me alone with the wife. I put on my best cheerful face and greeted her. She refused to make eye contact with me and instead scowled and snarled, ‘You would think that, as much money as we spend here, you people would know what we like to drink! Why do we have to keep going through this? I want ICED TEA, NO LEMON!!’
She didn’t tell me what the husband wanted, and I didn’t ask. I was just so taken aback by the anger straight out of the gate that I just turned on my heels and walked away. I poured her an iced tea and brought it back to her. Before I could even set it down, she snapped, ‘I already know what I want to eat, and we’re in a HURRY!’ I took her order, still trying to be pleasant, and before I could walk away she snarled, ‘And the last time you people brought the food out, it was COLD!! I do NOT want cold food! And I want EXTRA CHEESE on my scrambled eggs!! and SALSA!!’ Her voice seemed to drip with more and more anger with every word she spat out. As I was ringing up the order, I thought of a thousand things I wanted to do, then I hit an idea. Instead of getting back at her, I was going to not only go out of my way to make her meal as perfect and delicious as possible, but I was going to embarrass her as well. I made sure everything was perfect: piping hot, lots and lots of cheese on the eggs, and fresh salsa warmed up to room temperature. By the time the meal was ready, the husband had returned to the table and was happily chatting with one of the servers. I mustered up my best scared face as I brought out the food to her. As I sat it down, I started to tear up, just a little, and expressed in gushing, flowery terms how sorry I was for how badly she was treated the last time she was here, and how hard I worked to make sure the food was absolutely 100% according to her specifications. I felt SO BAD for how she was treated the last time she was here, that I was going to pay for her meal out of my tips, and how I hoped that she would be willing to accept my apology on behalf of the whole restaurant for her miserable experience. I really laid it on as thickly and sweetly as I could.
Her husband, who was happy and smiling and cheerful just seconds ago, stared her down with a sick, horrid look, his face turning bright red. She was MORTIFIED, her face turning equally red. She hung her head and muttered a thank you. I asked her if everything was to her satisfaction this time, and if it wasn’t, I would rectify it immediately. She stared at her plate, pushed it around a bit, and muttered yeah. The husband is staring her down, clenching his jaw. He politely ordered his meal and as I was walking away, I heard him hiss at her, ‘What did you say to her? What did you DO?!’
She was silent and sulking for the rest of the meal, and he was polite but not overly chatty. When they were finished, she stormed out before he even left the table, head hung. He apologized profusely to me for how she had acted and left a generous tip on top of paying the tab. To the best of my recollection, she never acted horribly to any of us ever again.”