No matter how delicious a meal may be, nothing is less appetizing than dining with a guest who treats the restaurant server like a second-class citizen. Snapping down a bus person, demanding a new glass of water without a "please" or "thank you" or saying something so outrageously impolite you wish you could transport back home — these are all behaviors that, unfortunately, many seasoned waitstaff are used to.
But sitting across the table from the perpetrator is anything but comfortable. What's the best way to handle blatant impoliteness when you're dining out?
How a person treats waitstaff may be an indicator of how you treat other people in your life, etiquette expert Diane Gottsman, author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life, said.
"If your friend or family member is rude to the server, consider saying something proactive to your friend," Gottsman said in an email. Try: "John, I'm uncomfortable with the way you are treating our waiter."
Go from there, and hopefully your friend will see the error of their ways.
There's more you can do to better the situation — which you may find yourself in more often than you'd care to.
"Sadly this happens all the time," chef Gretchen Hanson said in an email. "The best way I have seen this handled [is] by the other diner excusing themselves to use the restroom and then pulling the server aside." This move can at least preserve the reputation of the innocent diner at the table (you). "It is always nice to know that [impoliteness] is recognized by other diners at the table," Hanson said. Especially if you want to go back to the same restaurant.
If your friend's disregard for the waitstaff is obvious, make sure you're the one who adds the tip to the bill. "Nothing is worse than having an unreasonable diner pay the bill and then stiff you for the whole party's tip," Hanson said. "Anything can be resolved by tipping your server well above the average."
Oh, and maybe make some new friends to go out with.