Dealing With Karens: Food Workers Share Their Worst Customer Nightmares

Dealing With Karens: Food Workers Share Their Worst Customer Nightmares

As a frequent restaurant-goer, have you ever wondered what it might be like on the other side of the restaurant table? It's no surprise that servers have it hard - dealing with rude customers, random outbreaks, and sometimes, terrible managers. Having to balance all these struggles, it's important to remember our waiters and waitresses are human too! If you want to be a polite, respectful guest, here are stories shared by food workers around the world explaining what you SHOULDN'T do. Seriously. Don't be like these people.

1. Math Mishap at the Checkout: A Hilarious Customer Experience

I once had a customer who insisted that 2/4L and 1/2L weren't the same. We spent five minutes in a heated debate until his wife eventually stepped in and convinced him that he was mistaken.

icons8-team-r-enAOPw8Rs-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

2. Caught in the Middle: The Struggles of a Mexican-American in a Border Town Hotel

Just to provide a bit of background, I am an American of Mexican descent. I lived in a border town where we often had affluent, somewhat snobby Mexicans coming to the US to shop. At the time, I was working in a hotel restaurant and had to interact with these individuals quite frequently. Although I don't speak Spanish, most of them spoke English, so communication wasn't a major issue. 

On one occasion, a woman called with a question. When I informed her that I couldn't speak Spanish and was the only person available to assist her, she asked for my name. Upon hearing my Mexican surname, she told me I was a disgrace to all Mexicans. My response was simple, 'Well, good thing I'm American!' She promptly ended the call. I immediately informed my boss about the incident. This woman called the hotel's front desk and complained to the manager, wanting me fired. I was terrified, thinking I was about to lose my job. But the manager, tired of Mexican nationals trying to get employees fired when they didn't get their way, refused to comply. I am proud of my heritage and celebrate it. It's not my fault my parents didn't teach me Spanish.

jorge-aguilar-vZ9TqSm9ZsQ-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Jorge Aguilar on Unsplash

3. Beanie Baby Madness: A Tale from My First Job at McDonald's

My first job was at McDonald's during the height of the Beanie Baby Happy Meal toy craze. These toys were so immensely popular that we had lines out the door every day. One incident that stands out to me is when a woman screamed at me because she wanted a different Beanie Baby toy. To add to the drama, her husband, or perhaps her partner, chimed in. He pointed out that I was just a kid earning minimum wage, and yet, I was on the receiving end of this intense situation.

meghan-hessler-yxpJQ83DtOM-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Meghan Hessler on Unsplash

4. A Day in the Life: Serving Mark Zuckerberg and Dealing with 'Karens' in a Palo Alto Diner

I used to work in a restaurant in downtown Palo Alto a few years ago. One day, Mark Zuckerberg walked in with his wife, their baby, and who I assumed to be his father. They took a seat in a booth, and then, surprisingly, a large crowd followed them in and seated themselves. The entire time, all eyes were on Zuckerberg's table, with many sneaking in pictures. I remember bringing a sandwich to a customer who was texting someone, 'I'm sitting in the same restaurant as Mark Zuckerberg'. It was a strange experience, being surrounded by people who seemed to consider sharing a diner with someone famous as a defining moment of their lives. 

We didn't have many difficult customers, but a few do stand out. One such was a mother who exuded strong 'Karen' vibes. She sent back a plate of fries because they were seasoned with parsley. She said to me, 'You're pretty young, right? You don't have kids, so you wouldn't understand. He won't eat them because of the green stuff.' I simply smiled and nodded, but inside, I was rolling my eyes.

photo-1598998834333-c0b91bc9b2a3Image by nate_dumlao


5. When Dining Out Goes Wrong: A Waitress's Tale of Nightmare Customers

Oh boy. Story Time. I was working at the most popular Italian 'fine dining' chain in America. We opened at 11 but I was scheduled for 10:30 to do opening duties. Two middle-aged women were at the doors at 10:45, we let them in because it's not a big deal. However, what was a big deal is that they both ordered drinks and our bartender didn't get there until 11. I let them know and they seemed okay with it. This is where things started to fall apart. 

I dropped off waters while they waited for their drinks, 'That's great honey, but that's NOT what I wanted! HAHA!'. They smiled and it was clear she was just trying to make a bad joke. Again I told them that it was only 10:55 and the bartender was not in yet. They told me to make the drinks, but I couldn't because of corporate rules. I asked my manager to make the drinks. While he did that, I took their food orders. 

I don't remember what their mains were, but they got calamari as an appetizer. They started oversharing, like a LOT. Turns out they were out to lunch because one of them was at the hospital and just got a lot of blood drawn, they mentioned trashy men, bad drivers, and they were swearing a lot. 

Now it was around 11:05 and they had their calamari and their drinks. They complained, "UGH was that so HARD? FINALLY!"

Other guests, including young families, arrived and sat in my section. They ate half the calamari and then decided it was undercooked. It was golden and perfect. I asked the kitchen to drop new Calamari and cook it like a minute longer than is typical. Surprise, this ruins the calamari. They hated it and yelled, "I'm not eating this CRAP!"

I asked the manager to take it off their check. They were taking up a lot of my time and asking for a lot of little things. I went to take care of some other tables and they asked if I was okay and then asked if I could ask the women to stop swearing so much in front of their children. Next time they dropped an F bomb I told them that this is a family restaurant. 

"Blah blah blah free country, Oh I want another DRINK!" Fine, whatever. I put the order in. Their meals were up right at that second so I returned within a minute to drop their food off. That's when they started screaming, "WHERE IS MY SECOND DRINK?!?! HELLO!?" 

Now they were banging their half-empty glasses on the table. I offered grated Parmesan on their meals as one says, "Come on, what do you think?" Now they were yelling at me and I started to cry, while still trying to take care of my other tables (who were angels). I asked my manager to take over the rude folks and to let them know they were cut off from alcohol and he tore them a new one in the way only managers are allowed to. 

They got upset they couldn't order more drinks and asked for the check and left. They barely left enough cash to cover the bill but one came back and asked if she left enough of a tip. I said, 'No. You left me a 2% tip.' Because yeah I could get fired for saying that but like also, I'm so done. She gave me five more dollars and I never saw them again. Worst customers ever. Best manager ever.

christopher-alvarenga-aXX74o7v-aY-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Christopher Alvarenga on Unsplash

6. How I Stood Up to a Powerful Saudi Arabian at a Persian Restaurant

In the 90s, I worked as a host at a Persian Restaurant in Chicago. One night, a Saudi Arabian political bigwig, splendidly dressed in an expensive traditional outfit, walked in. He threw a fit because I had assigned a Persian woman to serve him. He refused to accept a female server. The restaurant was bustling, and so the owner asked me to wait on him. Being an Iraqi man, I was respected at that time, as most of us were bearing the brunt of the wars. What he didn’t know was that I belonged to a small Christian minority from the Middle East, a group that still speaks an ancient language. I served him with my crucifix chain exposed on my chest. He was furious but couldn’t say a word. The Muslim waiters were amused; we all shared a common disdain for Saudi Arabia for being oil-greedy sellouts. The powerful man was terrified of me. All his Middle Eastern power was nullified by a young Iraqi boy from Chicago. I stood my ground that night. Even after more than 20 years, I remember the incident vividly. He was a piece of work.

piotr-szulawski-DCmUhk54F6M-unsplash.jpgPhoto by piotr szulawski on Unsplash

7. Restaurant Drama: When Patience Pays Off

Okay, so a middle-aged couple takes a seat at a table in our restaurant. To accommodate more guests during lunchtime, we separate tables. A delightful elderly couple, who are regulars here, sit down next to the middle-aged couple. Suddenly, the middle-aged couple becomes irate, exclaiming, 'How dare you sit next to us while we're having our meal, move to another table.' 

I oversee that entire area of the restaurant and take orders (we always have three waiters outside and one inside, and I've been there long enough to be trusted with the inside part because they usually have better tips). Despite knowing that the middle-aged couple is in the wrong, I ask what's the issue. The elderly couple is dumbstruck over what just happened. The manager walks in and instructs me to continue taking orders as usual. 

When the difficult couple requests the check, he instructs me to give the elderly couple a treat on the house, with the comment, 'For being so patient with the service.' The middle-aged couple immediately asks why they didn't receive one. I mention a noise complaint from other tables outside. We haven't seen that couple since.

format-arw-GrSfB6-OPoY-unsplash.jpgPhoto by FORMAT arw on Unsplash

8. When BBQ Nachos Cause a Stir: A Tale from Behind the Bar

I only had two tables at the beginning of a weekday shift. We were a bar/lounge, so slow weekdays were common. For some reason, the customers chose to sit near each other. One table ordered BBQ chicken nachos, and once they were ready, I served them. The second table saw the nachos, and after I had served the first table, the second table asked me what they had ordered because it looked amazing. I told her it was BBQ chicken nachos and listed the toppings for her. I told her it was available with BBQ chicken, plain, or steak. She said that she wanted exactly what the other table had, which was the BBQ chicken option. 

After I served her and she had eaten about half the nachos, I checked on her and she told me she didn't like BBQ sauce and wanted a refund. I apologized and told her we would take them off the check, and I took the half-eaten plate back to the kitchen. 

Shortly after, I checked on her again. She was irate and demanded a new order of BBQ chicken nachos for free. I explained that she would have to pay for a new order, especially if she was trying to order the same thing. I reminded her that there is BBQ sauce on the BBQ chicken nachos, which she had returned because she didn't like BBQ sauce. She started yelling at me, insisting that she was owed a new dish for free. 

She was the first and only customer I flat out told we would refuse to accept any further food orders from. She paid her drink tab and decided to stay for about another hour. We allowed indoor smoking and were one of the few places left in the city that did, so she chain smoked her clove cigarettes. The pleasant table nearby who had witnessed the entire event tipped me $40 and told her she was rude as they were leaving. So, in the end, I guess it worked out alright.

coffeefy-workafe-Y0zbn9lPCEU-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Coffeefy Workafe on Unsplash

9. Behind the Bar: Tales of the Unexpected

When I was bartending one night, I had two people come in that seemed slightly intoxicated but not to the extent that I couldn't serve them. I gave them a round or two and they were having fun, interacting well with customers. However, their behavior changed and they started crossing the line where I felt comfortable serving them. In retrospect, I probably gave them one more round than I should have, hoping they would cut themselves off. 

The time came to cut them off. I apologized and explained that I couldn't serve them anymore because they were being disruptive in a small bar and were clearly very drunk. One of the two started yelling at me for refusing to serve her. When other customers defended my decision, she threw a tantrum at them and then my manager.

People get drunk and say things they don't mean, and you learn to brush it off. What truly baffled me was that while this was happening, her friend had retreated to the bathroom and set fire to one of the wicker baskets we used as a trash can. They left before a customer informed one of our bar backs that our bathroom was on fire. I've broken up fights, dealt with vomiting customers, kicked out bigoted and intolerant people, and had numerous people fall asleep on the bar top. But arson took the cake. The crazy thing is, after all that, I've encountered way more good than bad. I truly miss being behind the bar during this quarantine and hopefully, I'll get to see you all soon.

ricardo-gomez-angel--98jVaVuGv0-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

10. An Unexpected Encounter at a New Hampshire Ski Resort Food Court

I was working at the food court of a ski resort in New Hampshire. An older gentleman approached me, asking how I came to the country and if I required a husband to maintain my stay. Choosing to ignore him didn't seem to deter his persistence; he continued to insist that I would make a wonderful wife and that he could assist me. Thankfully, our cashier, who was as protective as a grandmother, always ensured the customers didn't harass us. She stepped in, reprimanding him until he eventually left.

patrick-robert-doyle-QOuV-iMpL_w-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Patrick Robert Doyle on Unsplash


11. One Night in an Italian Restaurant: A Tale of a Demanding Customer

I once worked at a local Italian restaurant where one night, a couple walked in and seated themselves, demanding their menus right away. This was the first red flag. As I approached their table, the man informed me that he was from Italy and had already noticed that our carbonara wasn't made like 'REAL' carbonara, which according to him, should have four types of cheeses. He insisted I check with the kitchen to see if they could prepare it his way. Unfortunately, we couldn't. Yet, he still decided to order it, fully aware that he wouldn't like it. 

This is when I realized I would probably get a disappointing tip. I mean, who orders something they know they won't enjoy? I then served them their complimentary bread, which the man complained wasn't hot enough. Despite it being kept in a bread warmer, I had the chef put it in the pizza oven, but the man was still unsatisfied. I had to wait for the kitchen to prepare fresh bread, most of which he didn't eat. 

As expected, the man disliked the carbonara and berated me over it. He expressed his disappointment in our restaurant and how he would now have to drive back home to Miami unhappy. I comped his bill, apologized, and wished him a better rest of the night. His wife, who had remained silent the entire time, simply offered a sheepish smile. As you can guess, there was no tip. But his departure was reward enough for me.

photo-1676138937661-63d9fa279445Image by imagescosy

12. When 'Karen' Comes in Kid Size: A Tale of Tacos and Manners

This incident happened right before the shutdown. Three siblings - a teenage boy, a preteen girl and an elementary school girl - came in without their parents to eat tacos, just an hour before closing time. They ordered three tacos, but since our tacos come in pairs, I clarified that they actually wanted six tacos. The preteen girl responded with a bad attitude, not even looking up from her phone, 'We come here all the time and we get them as singles.' I apologized and explained that we only offer single tacos during happy hour, which is from 4 to 7pm.

Despite my explanation, she insisted that they got single tacos the last time they were here. I mentioned that I was new and suggested that it might have been an old policy. Unimpressed, she snidely asked if I was 'new since last week.' 

At this point, I was growing frustrated with arguing with a child and offered to bring my manager. The preteen girl nonchalantly responded, 'Whatever, but if I see on the receipt that they're singles, I'm going to have to kill you.' She said this with a smile on her face. Parents, if you send your children to a restaurant alone, please teach them manners. In a nutshell, I had an encounter with an 11-year-old 'Karen' who acted as if she knew more than me, the restaurant employee, and even threatened to kill me.

krisztian-tabori-ZQf4jzkpz1k-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Krisztian Tabori on Unsplash

13. The Night Larry Stood His Ground: A Bartender's Tale

One of the more memorable moments, not the worst, occurred at our restaurant with a regular customer named Larry. Larry would come in every night, watch baseball, drink Maker's Mark, and was an all-around great guy. One night, another gentleman came in and took a seat at my bar. He asked me to change the channel on the TV from the Nationals game to Fox News. When I refused, he became very irate with me. I simply responded, 'Larry is watching the game, so I can't change it.' Larry quickly backed me up, saying, 'Yeah, I'm watching something worth a damn!' Needless to say, Larry got a free Maker's Mark that night, and I didn't get a tip. But it was worth it.

qui-nguyen-cnTdKzMOBns-unsplash.jpgPhoto by QUI NGUYEN on Unsplash

14. Unforgettable Encounters: Tales from the Edge of Reality

Whether it was the time a drug addict threw hot coffee at me, or when another addict threatened to end my life, or when a naked woman suddenly walked in, presumably under the influence, the most interesting encounters always seemed to coincide with my shifts.

devin-avery-5iRgh_G0eRY-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Devin Avery on Unsplash

15. Unsettling Encounter: A Young Waitress's Story at a Snooty Golf Club

It's probably not as bad as other disturbing customer experiences people have had, but when I was 18 and working at a golf club restaurant, I often dealt with a lot of snooty, elderly people. This one time, an old guy came around the corner, away from the sight of the rest of his table and other customers. He gently took my hand in his, gave me a tip, complimented my appearance, and then kissed me on the cheek. Needless to say, I was extremely uncomfortable.

mohamed-nohassi-hhSedyEULtQ-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

16. My Trials and Tribulations as a Diner Waitress in a Small Massachusetts City

I once worked as a server in a 24-hour diner located in a small city in Massachusetts. Just around the corner from the diner was a prestigious school known as Williston Northampton School. The school was populated by wealthy students who, unfortunately, were largely unpleasant. The school offered a pre-paid card system known as 'button bucks' which was widely accepted by many businesses in the town, including our diner. However, the students often treated us with disdain, almost as if we were subhuman. They would snap their fingers at us, interrupt me while I was taking another customer's order, create massive messes, and even crack jokes at our expense. Worst of all, they wouldn't tip! 

I recall one group of boys who ordered about $70 worth of food, paid with a $100 bill, and left me with 13 cents as a tip. They placed the coins in a cup filled with water, napkins, ketchup, and half-chewed fries - a disgusting concoction they had created just to spite me. I refused to degrade myself further by picking through it, and in a fit of rage, I threw the glass in the trash. Even though it's been years, I still feel a surge of anger whenever I think about those Williston students. I have nothing but contempt for those 'Willys'!

dayanara-nacion-HuIJUp6gTDI-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Dayanara Nacion on Unsplash


17. The Fish and Chip Shop Saga: A Tale of One Unforgettable Customer

I work in a fish and chip shop, and there's a regular who comes in every Thursday or Friday. Once, he came in and I accidentally charged him slightly more than he bought. I eventually noticed the mistake, corrected it, and life moved on. Now, every time he comes in, whenever I ask him for payment, he makes a point of counting how much his order costs and how much change I gave him. He does this loudly under his breath. He doesn't just do it once, but repeatedly, even as I'm trying to wrap up his chips, and continues until he leaves. Interestingly, he doesn't do this when my coworker serves him. To be honest, I really dislike this customer.

andy-wang-Pf-bZQpCaMI-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Andy Wang on Unsplash

18. The Chicken Wing Chaos: A Grocery Store Tale

I worked at a grocery store that offered hot food to go and pre-prepared meals. I spent four years in that department and dealt with a wide array of customers, some of whom were rather eccentric. Our department had a glass-covered counter with heat pads and lights to keep the food warm. This setup allowed two people to be served at once, a feature that was useful during rush hours, but could sometimes lead to complications. 

On one particular evening, I was serving a lady who ordered a certain item along with the remaining chicken wings. Simultaneously, my co-worker began attending to the second customer in line who had overheard the first lady's order. She too wanted chicken wings. My coworker informed her that she would have to wait for about 5 to 10 minutes for the next batch to be ready. This didn't sit well with her. She claimed that she had ordered first, which wasn't true, and insisted that her children at home were hungry. She demanded that the other customer wait instead. 

After packing the wings for my customer, as I was handing them over, the disgruntled lady complained loudly, accusing us of not leaving any wings for her. She then pushed the first lady into the counter in an attempt to grab the wings. The impact was so intense that the glass case rattled and the baby, who the first lady had in a carriage, started crying. Realizing what she had done, the second lady quickly paid for her items and left. 

The lady I was serving, still in shock, didn't know how to react. We suggested that she should call the police as she had been assaulted. She agreed and went outside to take note of the other woman's license plate number. The situation escalated when the second lady nearly ran her over in the parking lot. The police arrived soon after and collected everyone's statements. The lady who was shoved decided to drop the charges after both women had a thorough discussion. It was indeed a crazy day! I'm from Canada, so our laws are a bit different than America's, but I don't know enough about the intricacies to comment further.

brittani-burns-pEu_jnyi2c4-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Brittani Burns on Unsplash

19. A Nuggets Nightmare: How a McDonald's Customer's Tantrum Led to His Downfall

I once worked as a manager at McDonald's, and I'm typically pretty lenient when it comes to mistakes and refunds. If a customer claims we messed up, I'll replace the order without even asking for a receipt. I figure we make as many mistakes as people lie about them. 

Towards the end of one shift, a man stormed in, yelling and cursing at me. He clapped his hands at me, demanding his children's meal. After enduring a barrage of profanity, I'd had enough. I told him I'd refund the nuggets and the food he'd spat all over me and the counter. He insisted he just wanted his nuggets. When he finally said please, I handed over the nuggets and wished him a nice day in my most sarcastic tone. He then threatened to assault me. Eventually, the police were called by a regular customer. The man was arrested for public intoxication, DUI, and child endangerment. This man had ruined his life over some nuggets, which I would have gladly given him, along with five free meal cards, if he hadn't been so rude.

photo-1485056616736-b0840bdf4732Image by spenserh

20. Subway Chronicles: I Make Sandwiches, Not Miracles

I once had a job at Subway where I encountered a particularly rude couple. They stood out from the rest due to their unreasonable demands. They ordered two 6-inch meatball marinara sandwiches with double meat and extra sauce. Despite their complex order, they had the audacity to complain about the messiness of their sandwiches and even asked for my manager's contact information. All I could think was, "I make sandwiches, not miracles."

mathias-reding-Do2VqMLr2yA-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Mathias Reding on Unsplash

21. The Garlic-Free Soup Saga: A Cook's Tale of Unusual Customer Requests

As a cook, I didn't interact with the customers directly, but I could empathize with the server who relayed the customers' demands to me. One day, a woman walked in with her young daughter and inquired about our soup of the day. When told it was tomato garlic, she asked if we could serve her a bowl without the garlic, as she had a date later. This request was not outrageous, but it revealed a clear misunderstanding of how food preparation works in a restaurant kitchen.

ella-olsson-fxJTl_gDh28-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Ella Olsson on Unsplash

22. When the Love for Pepperoni Turns Sour: A Real-life Tale from a Posh Pizza Place

I once worked at an upscale 'artisan' pizza place located in a pleasant neighborhood. During my tenure, I vividly remember an incident where a customer ruthlessly berated one of our waitresses to the point of tears. His harsh words were of the variety, 'you're an idiot', 'how hard could your pathetic job be' and so on. His grievance was regarding the insufficient number of pepperoni slices on his pizza. Adding to the shock of the entire scene was the fact that he carried out this disgraceful act in the presence of his wife and two children.

photo-1513104890138-7c749659a591Image by iavnt


23. Teenage Encounter: A Shocking Proposition and a Heated Argument

Once, an older man approached me, asking if I would be his sugar baby. I was only 17 at the time. He proceeded to tell me about his belief in the superiority of the Aryan race. Being Latina, this led us into a heated argument. After the incident, I received a write up and was made to hide from him in the kitchen.

georgina-vigliecca-dr1U6IZldVE-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Georgina Vigliecca on Unsplash

24. The Pancake Crime: An Unusual Encounter at IHOP

During my time working at IHOP, I witnessed something quite strange. There was a customer, who was not at all horrible, but his choice of pancake toppings was truly questionable. His choices ranged from Tabasco and Cholula, to salt, pepper, and a curious addition of what he referred to as Heinz 47 sauce. In my opinion, it seemed like a crime against pancakes.

fa-barboza-ZgRTuPsmFQg-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Fa Barboza on Unsplash

25. My Tearful Encounter with a Difficult Café Customer: A Barista’s Tale

I have a few tales to share, but the incident with a lady at the café was the one that infuriated me to the point of tears. At the café where I worked, I was in charge of preparing the beverages while my coworker manned the cash register. One day, amidst a rush of customers, my coworker overlooked the specific details of an order. All I knew was that the order was for a small black tea. I prepared the order and announced it. The lady, however, rudely instructed that her tea be served in two cups. I complied, dividing the tea into two cups and placing them on the counter. She then claimed that she had requested extra hot water in both cups and scolded me for not listening to her instructions. Essentially, she demanded two teas for the price of one. 

Despite her audacity, I didn't have time to debate, so I added hot water to both cups and returned them to the counter. As she picked up her order, she spilled some on her hand and shrieked, accusing me of causing the spill. She even threatened to sue and ensure that I lost my job. I was so infuriated that I burst into tears. It seemed like my reaction made her feel somewhat remorseful because, after finishing her tea, she returned to assure me that her hand was fine and she wouldn't be pursuing legal action. As if that was supposed to console me! She was an incredibly difficult customer who I had the misfortune of dealing with on a few occasions. Her brother, who often accompanied her, would usually apologize on her behalf.

photo-1523920290228-4f321a939b4cImage by hudsoncrafted

26. My Worst Customer Experience

I once owned a bar and restaurant, and during that period, I had my share of best and worst experiences. The worst customer I encountered was actually an assistant chef from my own kitchen. After closing up for the day, he got drunk and even tried to pick a fight with me. He went as far as taking a swing at me, which led to a serious discussion about his behavior. I gave him another chance, under the condition that he would no longer drink on the premises. A few weeks later, I caught him drinking at the bar. The other cooks, aware of his restrictions, quickly hid him in the kitchen when they saw me approaching. I found him passed out, standing up, leaning against a prep table with his pants down and urine all around him. I immediately fired him, and as a consequence, the other cooks had to clean and disinfect the entire kitchen. 

pylyp-sukhenko-y-XZf_TNRms-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Pylyp Sukhenko on Unsplash

27. When Mojitos and Misunderstandings Collide: A Tale of an American Picker

There were plenty of interesting encounters, but one that particularly stands out involved one of the guys from American Pickers. He had been a frequent visitor to our establishment and seemed quite cool. One day, he asked me for our specialty drink with basil in it. However, we didn't actually have a drink with basil. We did serve a version of a mojito with mint in it, and I assumed that's what he was referring to, but I wanted to be sure. So, I asked him: 'Do you mean our mojito with mint?' He responded quite forcefully, slamming his hands down on the table and staring me dead in the eye, insisting that the drink he wanted had basil in it. He claimed he had it the previous week and it was on the special menu. So, I went and made the mojito with mint, without any basil, and brought it out to him. He took a sip and said 'perfect'. I couldn't help but be frustrated with this junk dealer.

sam-hojati-pb7oJwtNVU4-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Sam Hojati on Unsplash

28. Café Chronicles: A Barista's Triumph Over a Rude Customer

One individual would frequently visit the café with his two unruly dogs that would jump on everything and bark at people. Regardless of whether there was a queue, he'd simply raise his hand and shout, 'coffee!', bypassing the line and waiting for his order at the pick-up area where he would pay in cash. One day, after he brazenly cut a particularly long line, I refused to serve him his coffee. He reacted by shouting and threatening to get me fired. However, in the end, he was forced to join the queue and order his coffee from me. Although nobody applauded openly, I felt like the people in line were silently cheering me on in their hearts.

photo-1525088553748-01d6e210e00bImage by miloezger

29. A Slice of Life: The Night our Town's Fire Chief Cancelled a $160 Pizza Order

It's a take-out pizza place, but this one is special. Picture this, it's the day before a huge event in my town, a spectacle that draws in a multitude of visitors from around the globe. As you can imagine, a pizza delivery place is going to be swamped. As the clock ticks past 8 PM on the said day, a call comes in. The order? A whopping $160 worth of food for delivery, including ten large pizzas and a bunch of wings. The standard delivery time for any order is an hour, but this was no ordinary order. An experienced coworker estimated it would take us an hour and a half, given the amount of chicken and the limitation of baking only four large pizzas at a time. Plus, we had a slew of other orders to manage. 

After informing the customer about the estimated delivery time, he insisted on having it by nine. I re-emphasized that delivering such a large order within an hour, especially on a night as busy as this, was unfeasible. He wasn't happy with the waiting time. I proposed a solution - if he could pick up the order, we might be able to have it ready in 45 minutes, but even that was a stretch. His response? 'Fine, I don't want it.' So there you have it. Someone cancelled a $160 order because we were too busy to deliver it in under an hour on the eve of a major event in our town. The cherry on top? The caller was our town's fire chief.


30. The Subway Spinach Showdown: A Cowboy's Craving

During my stint at Subway, we encountered a situation one night where we were on the brink of running out of spinach. A man, flamboyantly dressed as a cowboy, sauntered in and ordered a foot-long sandwich. When we got to the spinach part of his order, he confidently declared, 'I want a lot of spinach.' We usually just put pinches on, but he was used to me providing extra portions when my manager wasn't around - a habit I enjoyed indulging in.

However, that day was different. 'You're going to give me more than that,' he demanded, oblivious to our dwindling spinach reserves. His insistence led to an unfortunate confrontation. He demanded more spinach, claiming he was a regular, and he usually got as much as he wanted. I tried to reason with him, explaining that we needed to save some for other customers too. He retorted, complaining about the increasing prices. I replied with honesty, stating that I was just a cashier with no control over pricing. This did not sit well with him, and he demanded my manager's number. After he left, I received a voicemail from him, to which I replied with a simple text: 'Y E E H A W.' In short, he asked for too much spinach and probably 'yeed his last haw' at this Subway.

photo-1619368562181-1e4b3dc70570Image by blunkorama

31. From Curry House to Combat Zone: My Unexpected Lessons in Resilience

I used to work in an Indian restaurant in Southern England. This period of my life felt like a Special Forces training in enduring racism and physical harm. My father, who worked alongside me, even had his front teeth knocked out by a drunken customer. One incident that has stayed with me was when I saw a woman being punched unconscious outside. The cause? She had the audacity to get into someone else's taxi. And here you were, thinking your shift at Olive Garden was bad...

pille-r-priske-BgvvOFEcHjg-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Pille R. Priske on Unsplash

32. From Sushi Sets to Unjust Sack: A Waiter's Tale of Bitter Customers and Indifferent HR

Once, I had a family of four come into the sushi restaurant where I work. Naturally, we offer an open sushi set, and each person gets charged for it. The dad started joking around, trying hard to convince me to only charge him for two sets instead of four. I apologized and explained that I couldn't do that. He got mad and said bitterly, 'Some respectful staff this company has. I want to speak to the manager.' I informed him that there was no manager at this branch. He laughed, seemingly not believing me, and then threatened, 'I'm going to ruin your life for this.' Two days later, I received a call from HR. They told me that a man had complained I yelled at him, was disrespectful towards him and his family, and was neither helpful nor welcoming. I defended myself and explained what really happened. The HR representative simply responded, 'I really don't know who I should believe' and hung up. Two days after that, I was fired.

louis-hansel-wXkGvQJWI-Y-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

33. Wild Night: When the Mayor's Party Turned My Bar into a Madhouse

The mayor of my small town had a private party at my bar and restaurant. It was a gathering of mostly middle-aged people, with many of the women being local teachers. Drunken antics ensued, with people stumbling about, spilling drinks, and breaking glasses. Some even tried to hug me. Then there was this one guy - a fat, sweaty, middle-aged man who was particularly egregious. He went behind my bar and broke at least three glasses, refusing to pay for the damage. When I kicked him out and refused to serve him because of his excessive intoxication, he brazenly pulled out a bag of cocaine and snorted it off the bar, looking at me with a smug, victorious expression. In desperation, I called my boss, hoping he would come and resolve the situation. Unfortunately, my boss was a spoiled individual, playing entrepreneur with his father's money. He was thrilled that the mayor wanted to party at his establishment and joined in on the debauchery. It was only when the guests started damaging the furniture that he finally decided to end the party. He helped me clean up the mess afterward, but I decided to quit the next day.

photo-1530103862676-de8c9debad1dImage by adigold1

34. A Stinky Situation: The Most Unforgettable Customers at Pizza Hut

A few years ago, I found myself working at Pizza Hut. One day, a couple walked in looking quite disheveled. Their faces were marred with severe acne and scars, which was unusual given their age. I ended up serving their table, and I was immediately hit with an overwhelming stench. It was as if they hadn't showered in years. The smell was so pungent, it lingered even two feet away from their table. It was an indescribable odor, yet I had to maintain my composure and act as if nothing was amiss. To make matters worse, they were incredibly rude, incessantly demanding and generally unpleasant. They, predictably, didn't leave a tip and even had the audacity to ask for discounts when paying for their food.

saumya-rastogi-kLYVj5Nu51U-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Saumya Rastogi on Unsplash

35. When Dining Out Goes Wrong: A Tale of Allergies and Miscommunication

A customer once ordered the crab-crusted salmon. After patiently waiting for about 30 minutes, I served the dish, only for the customer to inform me that they were allergic to crab. Apparently, they had not bothered to read the meal's description before ordering. This incident left both my manager and the chef quite frustrated, especially since the customer then refused to pay for the meal.

chandler-cruttenden-lm0NmFbypcc-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Chandler Cruttenden on Unsplash

36. Navigating the Thin Line: Dealing with Unwanted Advances in the Service Industry

There's an elderly ex-military man, around 80, who frequently compliments me on my beauty. However, it's not in the endearing grandfatherly manner that several customers do, which I find sweet. His remarks feel predatory and slimy. He even insinuated that his virility is still intact, despite his age. He seems to believe his advanced years grant him the liberty to behave inappropriately. Right before the quarantine began, he had the audacity to wave his hand in my face while I was quietly clearing a table. I realize how absurd this might sound. As a waitress for several years, I've learned to handle crude pick-up lines and the occasional person trying to touch me inappropriately. Such individuals can usually be shut down swiftly with a stern word or be kicked out. However, it's not easy to expel someone for actions that this man craftily keeps on the border of innocent. He's well aware of this and skillfully walks the line where his actions could still be defended as innocent.

vanna-phon-8EulptCju_Y-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Vanna Phon on Unsplash

37. The Sunday Chronicles: Sweet Old Ladies, Stingy Tips, and The Late-Night Church Crew

The not-so-unusual crime here was committed by a group of elderly ladies who, every Sunday after church, would drop by our restaurant. These four ladies had a ritual of sorts - they would order the same meal every time, an iced tea and a half grilled Asian salad, all topped off with a senior discount. Their total always came to $4.19, paid with four dollar bills and two dimes. And the tip? A meager four cents. What made this sting even more was their sweet disposition towards everyone, and the fact that they would occupy a table for hours on a bustling Sunday morning or afternoon. For a server who could only attend to three or four tables, this meant a significant dent in the day's income. 

akira-hojo-_86u_Y0oAaM-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Akira Hojo on Unsplash

38. Tales from a Rural Pizza Delivery: When Cheese and Peppers Become a Matter of Life and Death

In a small rural town, there's a pizza, ice cream, and sandwich shop. I used to work there as a delivery driver. Among our customers, there was one man who ordered perhaps once a week. His house was located a solid half an hour outside the town, and none of us could figure out why the owner ever agreed to deliver to him, considering the distance. We speculated that the owner might have been coerced into it. 

The customer was notorious for the tantrums he'd throw if you didn't bring him cheese and peppers for his pizza - it was absolute madness. There was even an incident where a delivery driver found the customer waiting on his porch, polishing a shotgun. The first thing the customer did was loosely point the gun towards the driver and ask, 'Did you bring my cheese and peppers?' We were all convinced that he would have shot our colleague if the response had been negative. Unfortunately, the driver didn't have as much cheese and peppers as the customer would have liked, which led to him calling the restaurant and raising a ruckus. From that point on, whenever we delivered to this customer - because the owner didn't cut him off - we were instructed to carry with us a bucket of cheese and peppers. And when I say bucket, I mean the size of those bulk ice cream tubs you buy at the supermarket. We all kept one in our trucks. But we had to start taking an extra just for this one customer. It makes me wonder if the guy was even in it for the pizza.

photo-1528137871618-79d2761e3fd5Image by runningvita

39. A Night to Remember: My First Job at a College Burger Joint

Back in college, I worked my first job as a front-of-house staff member at a locally owned burger place on campus. My main job was to call out order numbers to customers and hand off their food - easy enough. However, one night, we were absolutely slammed with to-go orders at closing time. I was the only person out at the front, and there were two cooks behind me working on the food. A man ordered two burgers. With the business of the restaurant, it wasn't possible for me to keep track of what number went with what customer. I called out a number, and a customer took the order and left. Unfortunately, the wrong customer had taken this man's order. He proceeded to yell profanities at me, calling me an idiot, and demanding his food to be free. He even demanded free fries, all in front of other customers. I started crying, and it held up everyone else's food in the process. The manager had to intervene, telling the man to leave and then remaking his food. It was a giant mess.

joao-romano-C1GS2aKDSVg-unsplash.jpgPhoto by João Romano on Unsplash

40. Late-Night Restaurant Tales: Misunderstandings, Myths, and Mayhem

I was working as a bus boy, and it was nearing closing time. Around 9:30 PM (we closed at 10 PM), a table about 20 feet away from where I was started trying to say to me, 'that's a free meal.' I paused my vacuuming because I didn't understand what they were asking me. Apparently, they were under the impression that if someone was vacuuming before closing, they would get a free meal. Eventually, the owner approached me and asked me how far away I was vacuuming. I told her the same thing. She just replied, 'yeah, they're idiots,' and instructed me to wait a little longer. They ended up leaving past 10:30 PM, without leaving a tip, and they didn't get their free meal. 

lukas-ter-poorten-paAJDCYNq-0-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Lukas ter Poorten on Unsplash

41. Mother's Day Madness: A Tale of Tacos, Onions, and Misunderstandings

I used to work as a waiter at a breakfast place a while back. Mother's Day was always the most challenging day to work in restaurants, a sentiment I'm sure many others can agree with. This particular Mother's Day was going quite well until the end of the brunch rush when I was assigned to a party of eight. Everyone was in a good mood. The mother, the guest of honor, ordered our breakfast tacos with no onions. She emphasized 'no onions' multiple times. Drinks were served without any issue and everyone seemed content. When the food arrived, I asked how everything looked. The mother pushed her plate away and loudly and aggressively said 'I said NO ONIONS'. I looked down at the tacos, only to confirm that there were, in fact, no onions. 

I informed her that I had placed her order without onions and that there were no onions present. She then pointed to the green bell peppers on the tacos, asking 'Well, what are these then?!' When I clarified that those were green bell peppers, she rolled her eyes and declared 'SAME THING!' The table fell silent as no one knew how to react to her obvious mistake. My mind was spinning. Although I wanted to correct her, I decided to maintain my professionalism. I apologized for the confusion, assured her we would fix the issue, and took her plate back to the kitchen. My chef found the whole situation quite amusing. Unfortunately, the tip left much to be desired. Happy Mother's Day!


42. When Sundance Hits a Ski Town: The Trials and Tribulations of Catering to Film Industry Elites

I used to work in Park City, Utah, a chill ski town that hosts the Sundance Film Festival. This event attracts a bunch of high-maintenance, persnickety individuals from the film industry. The audacity these people have when customizing their orders is mind-boggling, making me believe that every line cook in every Los Angeles restaurant deserves a million-dollar salary. Here are some memorable orders: a latte with half almond milk and half cream, mixed together, extra hot, with a small squirt of honey at the bottom. A black bean burger wrapped in a spinach tortilla, with the tomatoes chopped, not sliced. A breakfast burrito, but vegan. (We had vegan options on the menu, but the burrito wasn't one of them.) On a side note, it seems nobody from LA eats gluten, so I ended up with a bunch of free croissants. So, it wasn't a total loss.

photo-1449824913935-59a10b8d2000Image by andreacau

43. My Nightmare Shift: An Unforgettable Encounter at Perkins

During my first week as a waitress at Perkins, I had an encounter with two elderly ladies that escalated into an unforgettable experience. The ladies arrived two hours before the end of my night shift and ordered turkey specials, which included soup, the main meal, and dessert. I served them and checked on them periodically, noticing that one of them was eating slower than the other. I cleared the finished plate and checked back a few minutes later, asking the slower eater if she was still working on her meal. This question, due to my failure to notice her fork mid-air because of the table's centerpiece, was met with a harsh response. Taken aback, I apologized and tried to lighten the situation with nervous laughter. 

As closing time drew near, I asked for their dessert orders so that the kitchen staff could prepare before cleaning up. The same lady snapped at me, accusing me of rushing them and providing poor service. I apologized and explained my reasoning, but she dismissed me. Meanwhile, her companion remained silent, only uttering a soft reprimand to her friend after I'd walked away. As I vented my frustrations to my fellow waitresses, I noticed my boss approaching their table. 

A half-hour later, the kitchen was closed, the restaurant was nearly empty, but the ladies were still deep in conversation. When they finally finished, they ordered desserts that required kitchen preparation and coffee. I explained that the kitchen staff had left and the coffee machine had been cleaned. However, the demanding lady insisted that my boss reopen the kitchen. Reluctantly, he complied, and we made a new batch of coffee and prepared their desserts. I stayed an hour and a half late, recleaning the kitchen by myself while my ride waited. To add insult to injury, my boss scolded me for not taking their dessert order earlier, ignoring my attempts to explain. When the ladies finally left, they left a measly $8 tip on a $75 bill, making it the worst day ever.

janesca-WzFvp2J8Lzg-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Janesca on Unsplash

44. Fast Food Frenzy: Unbelievable Tales from Behind the Counter

My high school days working in fast food gave me some unforgettable experiences. First, there was a man who ordered a double cheeseburger with extra cheese. He expected one additional slice, but got two extra. Two minutes later, he returned, red-faced and furious, berating the cashier and demanding to speak with the person who prepared his sandwich. He couldn't believe we thought giving him two extra slices of cheese was some kind of joke. 

Then there was the customer who ordered four fish sandwiches at the drive-thru. We only had two pieces of fish left that were about to expire. My manager decided to cook fresh ones for him instead of serving the old ones. The customer was asked to wait for a few minutes, but he got impatient and stormed into the lobby. He was irate that we were serving other customers while making him wait. When my manager explained the situation, instead of being grateful for the fresh food, he threatened her with physical violence. She had to ask him to leave and threatened to call the police. He stormed out, breaking the door latch, and drove off without his order. 

Lastly, there was a regular who came in every Sunday morning. She ordered the same meal: a side salad, super size fries, and a happy meal for her grandchild. One day, the fries and the salad were put in the same bag and the fries fell over. This was a massive issue for her. She demanded new fries and a new salad in separate bags. She refused to leave until we made a fresh batch of fries.

ashley-green-UbTUTDRqj-o-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Ashley Green on Unsplash

45. The Trials and Tribulations of a Waitress

Once, a man blatantly stared at my chest while I was explaining the menu specials. Afterwards, he had the audacity to ask me about those very specials. His girlfriend, obviously displeased, refrained from speaking to me for the rest of their meal. Despite his inappropriate behavior, he only left a 10% tip.

sasha-stories-XVTTK3wcYME-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Sasha • Stories on Unsplash

46. Adventures of a Multitasking Restaurant Employee

I used to work in a small Japanese restaurant where I handled various roles such as cashier, waiter, bus boy, and delivery driver. The owner would typically step in if there was a delivery to be made. On one particular day, we had a family visit us. The parents ordered sushi rolls for themselves and chicken hibachis for their children. The hibachi came with a side of rice, and to my surprise, the kids started throwing rice at each other. The parents did absolutely nothing to stop them, not even a simple, 'Cut that out.' After they left, the area around their table was in complete disarray. To make matters worse, the floor was carpeted, which made cleaning the scattered rice a huge pain. This mess was on a whole different level than usual. To top it all off, they didn't even bother to apologize for the mess.

baiq-daling-vuZJ1VRHNF4-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Baiq Daling on Unsplash

47. When Prejudice Meets Multilingual Skills

Once, a racially prejudiced woman approached my co-worker from Guatemala with a nonsensical question about the menu, similar to asking 'Which steaks are vegan?' She repeated her question several times, each time increasing her volume until she was shouting. She then turned to me, as I'm Caucasian and we worked in an open kitchen. 'Excuse me, sir,' she yelled, repeating her illogical question. She was not pleased when I provided her with the same response, because her question inherently made no sense. She had wrongly assumed that my co-worker couldn't understand her because of her accent. However, the reality is that my co-worker, despite having an accent, is multilingual and speaks Spanish, English, and Arabic. That's 200% more languages than the rude woman could speak.

steven-cleghorn-psomVjxL29Y-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Steven Cleghorn on Unsplash

48. The Tale of the Dine-and-Dash: A Restaurant Manager's Revenge

In my five years of managing a restaurant, there were a few instances that truly left a sour taste. One such occasion that stands out involved customers leaving without paying, claiming 'the waitress didn't come to pick up my money.' Let me be clear - this is not just a poor excuse, but a downright despicable move. All it takes is a simple conversation to get a waitress's attention! 

I distinctly remember a family of four who left our busy restaurant one evening without settling their bill. It took us around ten minutes to realize the bill hadn't been paid. Upon checking the security cameras, I saw the father take the bill, place the money inside, sit there for just 3-4 minutes, look around, then take the money back before leaving with his entire family! Fortunately, our owner was understanding and advised me to ban this individual and his family from our establishment. Imagine my surprise when this very person returned a few months later with a group of friends on another busy evening. The satisfaction of watching his embarrassment unfold as I recalled the incident to him in front of his friends and other customers was unmatched, especially when his wife started to get upset.

photo-1514933651103-005eec06c04bImage by impatrickt

49. Tales of Quirky Customers and Closing Time Drama

Where should I begin? I spent a few years working in a cafe, and while there were some unpleasant one-off incidents, the most challenging patrons were regular customers with peculiar demands. There was this one customer who always ordered the most popular item on our menu, but with a long list of modifications. She even specified the type of fruit to be included with the side dish and how high the turkey should be stacked on her sandwich. Despite always opting for take-out, she would, about half of the time, call the restaurant from home claiming there was an error with her order, and demand a refund. 

However, the customer who bothered me the most was a woman who would arrive about an hour before closing time and would linger past our operating hours. She continuously requested minor things and seemed to enjoy bothering the staff. In most sit-down restaurants, customers can generally stay as long as they want, provided the doors aren't locked yet. But in our small cafe, I would insist everyone leave when it was time to close. 

This particular customer, however, just wouldn't budge. On one occasion, she was on a call when it was time for her to leave. I ended up raising my voice, announcing that it was time for her to exit the cafe. While it was relatively common for customers to linger (most would leave promptly when asked), there was this one woman who kept insisting she had 'one more thing' to finish on her computer. 'One more thing' turned into several 'more things'. She was seated near an open window, and since we didn't have air conditioning in the cafe, I decided to close the window. She gave me a displeased look, but finally left the cafe. 

The first customer I described was my coworker's worst nightmare, and he always asked me to handle her. While she was indeed quite annoying, I didn't mind as much. However, those who refused to leave at closing time were the ones who truly frustrated me.

photo-1533749047139-189de3cf06d3Image by jontyson

50. Bakery Chaos: The Trials of Customer Service

I spent two years working at a bakery, during which I encountered some of the most obnoxious and disrespectful customers imaginable. Despite having a lifetime of experience in the food service industry and living in Toronto until just three years ago, I'd never faced such a sense of entitlement before. 

One memorable incident occurred when a staff member abruptly quit via text message just five minutes before her shift was due to start, and half an hour before the bakery's 8am opening time on a Saturday. We were in a tight spot trying to find a replacement, leaving me on my own until another front-of-house staff member could arrive an hour later. I had a kitchen staff member assisting me, but their skills were limited to fetching items and bagging them, as they hadn't been trained in handling cash or making coffee. As a result, I found myself dashing around, serving customers, brewing coffees, managing the cash register, all while under visible stress. One particularly difficult male customer became visibly frustrated with the wait, eventually throwing a tantrum, hurling his bagged muffin at my head and storming out. The anger I felt was intense, and I was sorely tempted to chase him down. It's moments like these that make customer service a truly challenging field.

yeh-xintong-go3DT3PpIw4-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Yeh Xintong on Unsplash

51. Tourist Tales: The Arrogance of Big City Visitors

I used to work in a rich beach town in New Jersey for a while, where New York tourists were considered the worst. They always acted as if they were doing everyone a favor just by being there. This wasn't a town that relied heavily on tourism at all. In fact, these arrogant tourists likely brought the average income down and definitely reduced the average tips. What was more irritating was the ones who snapped their fingers to get attention. I would have preferred a 'hey, you!' over finger snapping any day.

photo-1506953823976-52e1fdc0149aImage by mvdheuvel

52. When Karma Strikes: The Tale of a Workplace Bully

I didn't witness this firsthand, but I heard about my dad's former coworker being absolutely horrible to a waitress. He had only started working in my dad's department, which was IT, a few months prior, and my dad instantly took a dislike to him. This guy accompanied my dad on a business trip to Australia a couple of years ago, during which they went to a nice restaurant one evening. At this restaurant, the coworker rudely told the waitress that the food was terrible, and then he started personally insulting the waitress to the point where she cried. He even refused to tip her. 

My dad immediately thought, 'This guy is a complete jerk.' A few weeks later, this same guy tried to get my dad fired to usurp his position as head of IT. My dad was already considering leaving the company, but this incident made him leave even faster. Luckily, my dad is well-regarded in his industry, and he's the type of person who can resign from a job on a Friday afternoon and start a new one on Monday morning. So, he resigned and quickly found work elsewhere. 

Unfortunately, the jerk did get my dad's job, but many people in the IT department left to join the company where my dad had found work. As a result, the guy who had taken my dad's job ironically got fired a year later because no one wanted to work for him. Please note, my dad was not aware that tipping is not customary in Australia. He always tips wherever he goes, just to clear that up.

photo-1512128998072-0cb86c8dfcd8Image by thandyung

53. When Cilantro Turned Bitter: A Tale of Unruly Customers 

Back in high school, I worked at a Vietnamese restaurant and had a particularly memorable encounter with a Vietnamese family. From the moment they walked in, I got a snobby vibe from them, especially after I admitted that I couldn't speak Vietnamese. They ordered regular pho but specified they wanted no cilantro. I made sure to ring in the order as 'no cilantro'. However, the dish came out with cilantro in it. 

When I relayed the family's request to the kitchen, they said they couldn't do anything about it. I then informed my manager, who suggested I check with the family if they were okay with it. The family agreed to accept the dish, painstakingly removed the cilantro themselves, and proceeded to finish their meal. However, at the end, they complained to the owner about the mix-up with their order, managed to get their meal for free, and even had the cost of their meal deducted from my pay. The owner reprimanded me and said I should've taken out the cilantro myself. 

It was a classic case of both poor management and difficult customers. Looking back, I'm not upset because they didn't want cilantro. What really irks me is how they exploited the situation, refused to pay for a meal they had entirely consumed, and cost me my hard-earned money. It's been a few years now, but the incident still lingers in my memory.

lindsay-moe-WZzrQX5k2Ug-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Lindsay Moe on Unsplash

54. Chicken Chaos: A Fast Food Fiasco

A lady from the real estate agency next door ordered a chicken box and then drove an hour to her next showing. It was in the middle of summer, and the food likely sat right in front of her AC unit in the passenger seat. As it turns out, food gets cold when left in the cold - who knew? Upon the shocking discovery that food doesn't stay warm, she called us to yell at my boss, accusing us of trying to kill her. 

As it was summer, my boss, being somewhat of a pushover, agreed to give her a new free meal when she returned. When she came back for her free food, things didn't improve. One of our chefs came to collect her cold food. In front of the window, he opened the box and took out the uneaten biscuit. He threw the rest away and kept the bread, presumably to eat it, but it didn't go down well. She started screaming about us 'recycling' food, claiming she was good friends with the health inspector and threatening to take us to court. 

The drama brought my boss out of his office. After reprimanding the chef, he tried to smooth things over. I don't remember much as we were extremely busy, but with my boss handling the Drive-Thru, I shifted to another task. She wouldn't move forward, causing the line to pile up. My boss was getting annoyed. Their conversation had ceased. Her hot, fresh meal was ready, and he went to hand deliver it and tell her to leave the line. I'm not entirely sure what happened next, as I was halfway across the store trying to make drinks. All I remember is a surprised gasp from our food runner, and looking up to see a box of steaming hot chicken flying through the window and scattering across the front of the house. My boss had barely stepped back in time. We could only stare as the crazy lady sped out of the parking lot, and he snapped at the first person still making eye contact to clean it up.

shardar-tarikul-islam-VN8XVqc7ZSE-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Shardar Tarikul Islam on Unsplash

55. The Worst Customers Revealed

Fast food near a high school often attracts some of the worst customers, primarily the moms. There was one who visited weekly, always finding some complaint about wrong orders or any trivial issue she could conjure up, just to get free food for her entire family. Then there were the loser douches who found it amusing to harass the employees. Yet, the absolute worst customer was the owner of the franchise himself. He would walk in, 'test' the employees, and then fire someone over an issue so minor that it was most likely fabricated.

khalid-boutchich-N-HvSJ9M3-k-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Khalid Boutchich on Unsplash

56. Lunch Rush Drama: A Tale of Wings, Chips and a One-Penny Tip

A man and his wife entered during a particularly busy lunch rush. Right from the start, he was ill-mannered, interrupting me and showing no interest in listening to what I had to say. This is not uncommon in my line of work. The man was insistent on having both chips and salsa and a plate of roasted wings as appetizers. He persistently requested that both be served before they ordered their main course. Despite the fact that chips and salsa take a minute to prepare and wings about 12, I rang them in together, honoring his ordering preference. 

In retrospect, I should have confirmed this with him. Not even three minutes later, the man was flagging down my coworker from across the restaurant, claiming they had been waiting for thirty minutes and his appetizer was taking too long. He insisted he wanted it served before his wings. 

Overwhelmed with a party table, my coworker quickly fetched the chips and wings, which were miraculously ready, and served them. After taking one bite of a wing, he flung the plate like a frisbee across the table towards her, complaining about the cold temperature. I rushed over to assess the situation, only to be met with his complaints about the subpar food and service. I struggle when confronted by aggressive men, so I retreated to the kitchen and my manager took over. Thankfully, he supported me, insisting the man pay for his wings and chips before leaving. After his departure, I began cleaning the table where I discovered the single penny he had left as a tip - a tip my coworker promptly discarded. Later, my general manager called to inquire why a man had referred to me as 'professionally challenged' on Yelp.

siora-photography-kY6HbkiauSc-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Siora Photography on Unsplash

57. A Bartender's Tale: The Night We Ran Out of Glasses

I used to work as a bartender at a unique hybrid of a restaurant, bar, and movie theater. On evenings with big movie releases, the bar would get incredibly busy. One such night, we completely ran out of glassware, as people were allowed to take their drinks into the theater with them. The only glassware I had at the time were regular pint glasses, which we typically used for water or as a last resort for beer. A man and his wife or girlfriend were fortunate enough to find a seat at the bar. He ordered a Jack Daniels neat. Given our shortage, I served it in a pint glass and explained our situation, assuming he would understand given the visible chaos. Instead, he expressed his dissatisfaction with a smug grin. I apologized once again and humorously mentioned that we unfortunately weren't manufacturing glasses in the back. The couple reacted as if I had personally insulted them. I deferred to my manager who reiterated my explanation about our lack of glassware and offered them a complimentary drink. They seemed pleased with this solution. Looking back, I would have felt bad if there was something else I could have done for them, but there wasn't, so I have little sympathy for that man.

louis-hansel-vI7pDreQLl4-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

58. Beer-Faced: Standing Up to Bar Bullies!

This man tossed a beer into my face when I defended myself, requesting him to cease pounding his fist on the bar and shouting 'YO!' to grab my attention.

wil-stewart-UErWoQEoMrc-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Wil Stewart on Unsplash

59. When a Difficult Customer Apologizes: A Drive-Thru Drama

I once had a customer who was a germaphobe with severe OCD. On one occasion, he came through the drive thru, and my coworker, not wanting to deal with him, let me take his order. After washing my hands thoroughly, I approached the drive thru window. I processed the order displayed on my screen and he reluctantly handed over his card. I then gave him the coffee that corresponded with the order I had just cashed out. Suddenly, he began to yell, claiming the order was incorrect. 

It turned out that the person who initially took his order had forgotten to input it correctly, a regrettable but occasional mistake. Rather than simply stating the error and requesting a refund, the man chose to berate my coworker at the window for 20 minutes, calling her stupid, unprofessional, and unfit for her supervisory role. He insisted on getting the contact number of our franchise owner, though the number we provided was apparently incorrect, causing him to yell even more. 

After enduring 20 minutes of this tirade, he finally left. My supervisor, the target of his insults, retreated to the back room in tears. I felt terrible for her, she's truly a kind soul. Less than a month later, the man called our store to apologize, saying his therapist advised him to do so. Our manager ensured my coworker would never have to deal with him again, but allowed him to return to our store as long as he behaved appropriately. During this call, which lasted a cumulative three hours, he both apologized and blamed us for making him late for an appointment that day. In a surprising turn of events, he ended the call by asking if we were hiring.

jonathan-cooper-_HGI5wq4Zok-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Jonathan Cooper on Unsplash

60. Bar Tales: How A Rude Customer's iPhone Ended Up In My Hands

A few years ago, I was bartending in a restaurant where a private party was being held. One of the guests asked me to plug in his iPhone so he could listen to a song. This was no big deal for me, so I did it and he even tipped me $20. However, he left his phone behind the bar and proceeded to get quite drunk. As he was leaving, I kindly reminded him, 'Sir, don't forget about your phone!' Instead of thanking me, he threw a beer on me, rudely telling me to leave him alone and to get a real job. Well, guess who ended up with a nice new iPhone?

bagus-hernawan-a6jxk37ilpo-unsplash-1.jpgPhoto by Bagus Hernawan on Unsplash

61. The Day a Customer 'Fired' Themselves at Domino's

I once worked at Domino's where I had an unusual encounter. A customer threw a handful of pennies at me while laughing. The 30 odd cents he threw were apparently my tip. He was furious when I simply turned around and walked away without picking any of them up. His exact words were, "Oh, my money not good enough for you? Fine, I'll never order Domino's again!" I've never had a customer 'fire' themselves like that before. It was quite an unexpected experience.

vishu-joo-MvtY-vo1lwk-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Vishu Joo on Unsplash

62. Vlogger's Clickbait Thumbnail Leads to Controversy

My friend is employed at a restaurant. One day, a vlogger was filming a video there and since this was permitted in the establishment, nobody interfered. She wanted one of those 'Gone Sexual' clickbait thumbnails, so she requested my friend to pose with his face in her bosom while she doused herself with ketchup. My friend, who is in a committed relationship, declined her request, but another staff member agreed to participate. After the thumbnail was shot, she returned the next day alleging sexual assault. I am not privy to the details of what transpired afterward, but it certainly did not bode well for the dishonest individual.

aqviews-mfWsMDdN-Ro-unsplash.jpgPhoto by AQVIEWS on Unsplash

63. The Tale of the Dine-and-Dash Priest: A Waiter's Worst Customer

During my college years, I worked as a waiter and the worst experience I had was serving a Catholic priest who was trying to solicit donations from another man. Throughout the meal, the priest was extremely condescending and demanding. After they finished eating, I left the check at the table. However, he not only stiffed me on the tip, but also on the entire bill. He even stole the leather check holder. I reported this incident to my manager. A couple of weeks later, the same priest came back, this time with about 20 members of his congregation. My manager confronted him about his previous dine-and-dash in front of his entire party. They all ended up leaving to dine elsewhere. That was the best manager I've ever had.

jomarc-nicolai-cala-CBCs07yV7j8-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Jomarc Nicolai Cala on Unsplash

64. When Customer Dissatisfaction Crosses the Line: A Shocking Tale

There was this one guy who absolutely despised his order. He was so dissatisfied, he beckoned me over, told me to extend my hand, and proceeded to spit out the entirety of what was in his mouth into my palm. He then demanded a refund and a different dish. I must confess, at the moment, I was too startled to respond appropriately to what he had done. I dislike confrontations, so I retreated to the restroom and washed my hands for what seemed like an eternity. My coworker, who had witnessed the whole ordeal, informed my boss. The boss promptly ejected the man from the premises and he was permanently barred from returning. 

petr-sevcovic-e5Q5vWO55uU-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Petr Sevcovic on Unsplash

65. The Struggles of a Multitasking Cook in a Family Restaurant

I work in a location that is popular with local families and youth sports teams. Every Sunday, a large group of individuals always make an appearance, and they are quite the challenge. The parents indulge in drinks and pay little attention to their preteens who freely roam around playing games throughout the entire restaurant, causing disturbances for others. They've attempted to walk in with a party of 45 during the end-of-year sports party season when we are completely booked, and express frustration when there isn't enough space for them. Moreover, they extensively modify every order and leave no tip. At least once a month, the entire group comes in, and some individual families visit on a weekly basis.  For clarification, I'm not a server. I'm a cook who also takes orders, pours beer, delivers food, clears tables, and washes dishes. But primarily, I cook.

debra-brewster-AvGIpReokFM-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Debra Brewster on Unsplash

66. The Espresso Debacle: A Barista's Tale of a Wedding Reception Gone Wrong

After a wedding reception at our facility, we began the cleaning process, which included our espresso machine. The party had ended almost half an hour ago and people were slowly trickling out. The cleaning process for the espresso machine typically takes 12 minutes. As we were in the midst of this, the father of the bride asked me for an espresso. I assured him that I could accommodate his request, as our policy is always to try to satisfy our guests' needs. However, I informed him that the machine was currently being cleaned and it would be about 10 more minutes before his espresso would be ready. This prompted him to rant about how much he had paid for the wedding. He then stormed off to our banquets manager and falsely claimed that I had refused to make the espresso for him. The manager, who is not the most pleasant individual, began berating me in front of the father of the bride. I showed them both that the espresso machine was just finishing its cleaning cycle and it was impossible to have made the espresso any sooner. Despite this, I was still suspended for two weeks.

photo-1610889556528-9a770e32642fImage by adigold1

67. A Sober Apology: The Tale of a Drunken Bar Intruder

Our bar was hosting a private party when a drunken man stumbled in, attempting to order a drink. His attire and regular visits made it clear that he wasn't a part of the exclusive event. I informed him that I couldn't serve him a drink, which caused him to lose his temper. He fired off a string of expletives, challenging me to a fight. As he stormed out, he loudly suggested that we should put up signs indicating our closure for the private event, completely ignoring the signs we already had posted on the door. The next day, he returned, sober and apologetic for his previous behavior.

aleksandr-popov-2gnbomgkyeo-unsplash-1.jpgPhoto by Aleksandr Popov on Unsplash

68. The $800 Chug: A Tale of Vintage Booze and A Drunk Patron's Misadventure

I was once employed at a bar known for its collection of rare and vintage spirits. One evening, a rather inebriated patron decided to show off to his friends by chugging from a bottle of amaro dating back to the early 60s. However, as his lips had made contact with the bottle, he was obliged to purchase the entire thing, leaving him with an unexpected bill of around $800.

adam-jaime-dmkmrNptMpw-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Adam Jaime on Unsplash

69. The Man, The Myth, The 'Finger Swirl'

As a barista, I encountered a variety of customers and their unique orders. One regular was particularly memorable due to his complex drink order. The climax of his order was always the same - he'd ask for a 'finger swirl' in his drink. When met with a confused look, he would smugly retort, 'Well, how else am I going to taste you?' Without a doubt, he was the most challenging customer.

photo-1496318447583-f524534e9ce1Image by kaizennguyen

70. When a Disgruntled Customer Becomes Your College Professor

A peculiar incident occurred last year in May. A customer ordered one of our daily specials and wasn't satisfied with it. Instead of expressing her discontent to me directly, giving me a chance to offer an alternative, she decided to complain about me to my manager. This incident was already unexpected, but what came next was even more surprising. In August of the same year, it turned out this customer was one of my college professors for the semester, teaching a management course no less. On the first day, she recognized me, but I decided to act as if I didn't know her. It's important to mention that her complaint to my manager wasn't made in my presence. I had left to work an event in a different building, and she chose to leave a sticky note for me after speaking with my boss. However, I didn't bother to read what the sticky note said.

tra-nguyen-TVSRWmnW8Us-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Tra Nguyen on Unsplash

71. Dinner Drama: When Patience Runs Out in a Popular Restaurant

I worked in a popular restaurant for a while. Normally, we had quite a long wait during dinner service, usually around 30-40 minutes. Our hosts always informed customers about this. On one occasion, a lady got fed up with the wait after just 10 minutes. She stormed into the restaurant, stood next to a table of four people and literally asked them, 'Are you guys done? We've been waiting for a long time now and would like to have the table if you guys are just chatting...'. I was completely mind blown by how some people can disregard others and behave like this in public.

priscilla-du-preez-W3SEyZODn8U-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash