Ah, the end of the closing shift at a restaurant. Those last lingering customers have finally departed, the floor is mopped, the tables re-set and a glass of wine-or three-consumed, and the night's tips and receipts are counted. After a particularly grueling night, there's nothing we weary wait-people like more than bitching about annoying customers. We wish we could tell them just how a good customer behaves. Luckily, I'm a writer. Listen and learn.
* When given the opportunity to seat yourself, don't pick the one messy table in the restaurant. I don't know what it is about half-empty water glasses and wadded up napkins, but people flock to them. It's maddening. Even if it seems like the best table, if it's not ready, don't go there. Set yourself apart from the crowd, pick a clean one and see how much faster you get beveraged.
* Demanding to be seated 10 minutes or less before closing isn't going to make you very popular, especially if there's nobody else in the place. Tell the closing staff that if they each give you a dollar, you'll order your food to go instead.
* I'd rather wax your back than bring you a fresh cup of coffee just because you let the first one get cold.
* If you can read the language of the menu, do so. It's not our job to read the whole thing to you. Recommendations, OK. But recite the whole thing? Not bloody likely.
* Talking on your cell phone while someone is trying to take your order is Just. Not. Right.
* If you are a late joiner-especially to a large party-try not to get all huffy when your server can't catch you up to the rest of your friends. You have entered into the rotation of service late and will be thusly accommodated. Sorry.
* Don't say you're allergic to something when you're not. We can smell the lies.
* If you insist on lingering at a table for an hour or more after you've been given the check, consider throwing your server a couple of extra dollars. Think of it as a property tax.
* Having a coupon or discount certificate doesn't make us hate you. Presenting it at after you've already been brought the check does.
* If for some reason you're a cheap tipper, don't insult your server by flirting with her or making her spend precious time indulging you in silly banter. If you're going to be a jerk at the end, you might as well act like one up front.