It’s commonly understood that it’s a restaurant server’s job to accurately report orders, accommodate their assigned tables, and explain the menu offerings as needed.
But what is a server supposed to do if the people at the table made conflicting requests, wondered the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor waitressfml00 felt conflicted after serving a couple at the restaurant where she works, because the husband wanted to drink beer, while the wife openly objected to his consumption of alcohol.
When the wife got management involved, the Original Poster (OP) was worried about how the situation could impact her job.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for refusing to return a tip AND telling a couple that I dont have time to play mediator?”
There was a big disagreement at one of the OP’s recently assigned tables.
“I’m a 22-year-old, female waitress at Texas Roadhouse. This is one of my two jobs to put myself through college. Most days are fine but other days are a living h**l.”
“Yesterday I was assigned a table that had a husband, wife, and what appeared to be a teenage daughter (maybe 17).”
“Everything was going smoothly at first and the wife ordered a margarita. The husband then tried ordering a beer.”
“The wife instantly lost her noodles and said, ‘Uh, no. He will not have a beer. He will have water.'”
“She then turned to him and said something along the lines of him not needing to drink because he was driving. He said no, the daughter could drive. It was childish.”
The couple put the OP right in the middle of their argument.
“Anyways, he kept telling me he wants a beer. She kept telling me no.”
“In this industry, situations like this are a lose/lose for waitresses. If I get him the beer, the wife won’t tip. If I don’t get him the beer, he won’t tip. D**ned if I do, d**ned if I don’t.”
“So while they were arguing AT me, I said, ‘Listen, I really don’t have time to play mediator here.'”
“They went silent. I went and got both of them their alcohol. The daughter gave me an apologetic look upon my return, presumably because her mother was acting bats**t crazy upon seeing me bring a beer in tow.”
The dinner couldn’t be over soon enough.
“Fast-forward to after their meals. The husband had had 2 beers by that point. The wife had stopped drinking and glared at me every time I returned.”
“The wife and daughter went to the car while the husband paid.”
“The husband dropped me a $40 tip on a $68 tab. I told him I couldn’t accept it. He insisted. Eventually, I pocketed it.”
But the evening didn’t end there.
“The wife came in an hour or so later demanding that I give her the $40 her husband gave me, stating that I was a terrible host and went against her, and I don’t deserve a tip.”
“She got my manager involved, who said, ‘She is not obligated to give you her tip. You left the restaurant and the tip has already been processed. Have a nice night.'”
“She was fuming, screaming at me about how much of an AH I was for supplying her husband alcohol after she said no.”
“Other guests started chiming in, saying that she was being ignorant and that I was doing my job, which is to provide guests with what they want.”
“They also said that it wasn’t MY fault that she was a controlling wife. She stormed out.”
“Given the fact that I was put on the spot like that, I feel insanely guilty.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some wondered if it would have been helpful to give the table more time to discuss.
“OP’s NTA but the right answer would have been to smile and say, ‘It sounds like you folks need ten more minutes to decide,’ and just leave and let them fight it out first.”
“The way I see it, in this case, professionalism is an excellent excuse to nope right out of that uncomfortable situation.” – MageVicky
“NTA for keeping the tip, but there were definitely better ways of handling it than saying, ‘I don’t have time to play mediator.’ …something like ‘I’ll give you more time to decide,’ and walking away would have been better, in my opinion.” – MKX_Projects
Others disagreed and said the OP was already professional enough in this situation.
“In most cases, yes, although it is backwards and unfair. But in this case, it was definitely a ‘d**ned if you do, d**ned if you don’t’ situation as OP said.”
“I feel like if she had given them a few more minutes to order and walked away, then every time she went back to the table the husband would have been ordering his beer and putting her in the same situation.” – coconut-greek-yogurt
“She wasn’t even really unprofessional. She firmly drew a boundary so that she could effectively do her job.”
“In fact, at a certain point, I’d argue it would be unprofessional not to clearly state the scope of your role as an attempt to remove yourself from the situation. They were being incredibly inappropriate.”
“Just because you’re being paid for your time doesn’t mean people can treat you however they’d like. I agree that attitude is important, and it’s on the professional to take the high road, but only to an extent. You’re not a punching bag.”
“Servers generally aren’t even paid a livable wage. This poor girl probably puts up with a h**l of a lot at the Texas Roadhouse.” – caramelizedapple
“People who haven’t worked in this industry don’t understand that this conflict was not just gonna suddenly disappear, and they would have continually tried to pull OP back into it anyway!”
“There was no winning here, honestly, and a server is more than allowed to set boundaries at work. You especially don’t get to put a server through this s**t and then come back in demanding the tip back?!” – faenyxrising
“Having worked in both food service and retail, I always tip at least 20%. Also worked as a hairstylist and if the cut/color is excellent I will tip a bit more than 20%.”
“Hair stylists can get treated horribly for things that aren’t their fault (like the client telling the stylist they haven’t used box dye before a service, and this can really affect the results of professional color. Or they do a great cut/color and only get tipped a dollar or two, or even no tip at all).”
“Pro tip: if you’re loyal to your stylist and tip well sometimes they will do freebies for you. My stylist is amazing and my last cut (way before the pandemic) was free! When I see her again this week I plan on tipping A LOT because she couldn’t work during the pandemic. A good hairstylist is hard to find, an awesome stylist is a unicorn.” – trickedouttransam
“It’s not her job to tell the husband what he can’t have. If he appeared not intoxicated and mentally competent and clearly of legal age in her jurisdiction she has no right or moral grounds in which to tell him he can’t have a beer.”
“To listen to the wife over him would have been the unprofessional thing to do.” – outline8668
“I mean, the alcohol thing is one grain of sand in a whole desert here. First off, the daughter’s reaction is telling, as is the public freakout.”
“Second, getting mad at the server for actually bringing the beer when her job requires her to serve customers what they order unless they are visibly intoxicated.”
“Third, returning to the restaurant to demand the waitress return a tip that she didn’t give her.”
“Any way you slice it, this woman did not handle this situation well at any available opportunity and it is pretty clear that she has control issues.”
“Her husband could be a raging alcoholic and all that would change is that the wife is slightly less of an a**hole and now the dad is one too.” – themightymcb
It was clear to the subReddit that this couple had some issues to work out. But whether or not they could sort it out in a few extra minutes at the table while looking at the menus, the OP had a job to do, which was to serve everyone at the table what they had asked for.
There’s no telling if there was a larger issue here, like alcoholism, but that wouldn’t really be the OP’s responsibility to know as a server. Rather, it was her job to know what everyone wanted at the table, and in this case, what some didn’t want others to have, and to provide their orders accordingly.
Most believed the wife had control issues, as some fellow guest patrons had indicated, or she may have been really committed to having an evening where she could drink without having to worry about driving safely home. Whatever the case, that still wasn’t the OP’s responsibility to know.