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Do you need a few more minutes? [moved from General Topics]

Has anyone else developed this pet peeve? You are dining out and the waitstaff appears ready to take you order, but you need a few more minutes...so they ask "Would you like a few more minutes to decide?" and you respond "Yes"....and then you enter the black hole of nonservice, which can drag out ten minutes...twenty...or even longer. Its as though you've thrown the service schedule off completely until sometimes you literally need to flag a server down - any server - to explain that you are NOW ready to place your order (in fact, you were ready 15 minutes ago).

This happenstance is so frequent that I cringe whenever someone in my dining party asks for "a few more minutes".

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  1. Happens all the time. I hate it too. Wonder why?? Maybe some waitstaff out there can tell us.

    1. The worst is when the server comes over approximately 15 seconds after you arrive and ask if you are ready to order. When you say no, you don't see the server for another 20 minutes.

      2 Replies
      1. re: queencru

        I've never had that happen, but on far too many occasions I've had them try to take drink orders before everyones sat down. Drives me nuts.

        1. re: James Cristinian

          That drives me insane! I like to get seated and take a minute to decide what I want to drink. I usually ask if they can come back after we've had a chance to look.

      2. I've never been a waitress, but I think they just get caught up with other patrons. I also think there's some kind of "time warp" mentality that goes on. I know if I'm hungry and ready to order it seems to take forever for the waitstaff to come back if I've asked for "a few more minutes". I'm sure it's the exact opposite if you are trying to wait on ten tables at once. It's for this reason that I peruse the menu online before I go to most restaurants :)

        2 Replies
        1. re: diablo

          EXACTLY! It's not that we stop paying attention it's just that in the "few more minutes" table 1 wants more water, table 2 wants another round of drinks, table 3 has cold mashed potatoes, and table 4 needs crayons for their impatient child. This all needs to be taken care of before going back to the "few more minutes" table because if tables 1,2,3 and 4 see you spending 5 minutes taking an order while they wait for whatever they wanted then they get mad. You kind of can't win with that scenario. Either way someone's waiting. It especially sucks when a table claims to be ready and then takes what feels like forever to change their minds three times while all of your other tables are waving at you and staring. Again, no win situation.

          1. re: Stillwater Girl

            Stillwater, you would love my fiance, he is obsessed with the "clean order"-succint orders, no questions, no changes. I guess his family had a tendency to dither a bit (a lot) while ordering. I'm pretty sure my ability to make a "clean order" is one of the top 3 things that attracted him to me. Not very romantic, maybe, but I'll take it!

        2. i also think sometimes they don't want to bother you again by asking, so they wait for you to signal your readiness

          18 Replies
          1. re: thew

            I agree, thew. They try to be super efficient, after all that's the hallmark of a good server, right? But sometimes they give you more time to decide then you needed. It's hard to gauge and no one wants to hover over their guests asking, "you ready yet?" "Are you ready now?" "How about now?" It's probably a little bit of this, it may be a busy hour and their may even be some inexperience involved. Either way, most often I don't think it's done intentionally.

            1. re: thew

              ...and my "signal" to them is laying the closed menu on the table.

              1. re: Cathy

                amen, cathy. The closed menu is a big help. sometimes guests will know what they want, but keep menus open and reviewing them. It's hard for the server to know you're ready if you appear to be still considering your choices, especially if he or she has already asked once if you're ready.

                1. re: Cathy

                  I'm glad you do this, and it should be a clear sign, but you would be surprised at the number of people who do NOT do this, nor have any idea that they should, if they want to signal that they're ready. If you waited for every table to close their menus, some people would never order.

                  Twenty minutes seems like a pretty outrageous lapse in time between checkups. It's hard to read some tables, though. I think it's never a bad idea to indicate "Yes, we need just a couple more minutes" if you are a quick menu reader, or "We'd like some time to look at the menu," if you like to thoroughly peruse the options.

                  1. re: Olallieberry

                    It's true, very few people close the menu and place it on the table and as a server I find this very frustrating. Another one I also find annoying isd people who don't put their cutlery together on the plate to signal they've finished eating.
                    If a table of mine needs more time that's fine, but they also need to be aware that they've missed their "window" of my time.
                    Other tables sit down at the same time, and I try to get everyone in order. You may have to wait while I get another table's order, while I deliver drinks or food for the tables before you who have already ordered and sometimes it takes 10 minutes or so for this to happen. I'm one person, we don't have food runners or bussers. I try not to let people wait too long, but sometimes it's hard to get back quickly.

                    1. re: kiwiFRUIT

                      My mom is bad about keeping her menu open while she chats with others at the table even though we are ready to order. Her friends do this, too...then they wonder when someone is going to come by and take our order. I'm like, ok, everyone PLEASE close the menus and put them on the table! Lol!

                      1. re: kiwiFRUIT

                        How funny, I know that a closed menu is a signal, how COULD all dining patrons not know it? But they don't. Once, when out dining with friends, one in the party kept the menu open, while the rest of us talked. And kept it open. And kept it open.

                        Until I finally couldn't take it anymore and mentioned it. The closed menu brought the server over.

                        Twenty minutes is outrageous, though. Whether it's coming back to the table or as a wait between courses.

                        1. re: dolores

                          It really depends on the type of establishment, but I sometimes keep reading the menu once I have decided, especially at new (to me) places or restaurants with exciting or varied menus. I try to remember to close the menu to signal I am ready to order, then order and request to hold onto the menu but sometimes I forget.

                          Overall, I tend to just use eye contact more, assuming I am dining in the types of establishments in which the server tries to maintain some semblance of overview of his/her tables. Doesn't always work, particularly at some ethnic places.

                    2. re: Cathy

                      The closing the menu tip is becoming less relevant these days - most restaurants I eat in (fairly small, non-chain) don't have menus with covers.

                      1. re: Dan G

                        Then put the menu down on the table and look up.

                        Even I would know that is a signal to 'I want service'.

                        Servers DO get trained, do they not?

                        1. re: dolores

                          Servers do, but the public doesn't get any etiquette training anymore and more often than not, they just keep looking at the menu and talking about stuff that's on there long after being ready to order.

                          1. re: rockandroller1

                            I've found that if I do close the menu along with the other people at my table, it seems to have no effect. After a while I thought it must not be etiquette in the US anymore and gave up.

                            1. re: queencru

                              I think it helps to close the menus, stack them and let them protrude slightly over the edge of the table. We usually tell the waitperson ahead of time that that is our signal. Works every time.
                              Bob

                              1. re: SonyBob

                                That doesn't work because often people have a question about something on the menu that they need the menu at ready grasp. The problem is getting those people to feel comfortable to close their menus at least (some people need to keep things open to remember things - short term memory issues).

                            2. re: rockandroller1

                              Wow, rockandroller. Not if they're eating with me, they don't.

                        2. re: Cathy

                          When I was waiting tables, this was pretty much the universal sign that someone was ready to order. Especially after I gave them "a few more minutes". Whoever said that waiters get preoccupied with other things, hit the nail on the head, when I was new to waiting this would happen very easily to me, I got better, then I got out!

                        3. re: thew

                          I think this is exactly right, and as lynnlato below says as well. "ready now?...how about now?.. not yet?... okay, now? Better to wait until they know you're ready (menu closed) or risk being accused of rushing you. I also do not mind being asked shortly (but not immediately) after being sat if I'd like a drink while I look over the menu, because more often than not, I do want one. Sheesh, so many things to stress about -- asking too soon, too late, etc.

                          1. re: purple bot

                            I agree purple and no matter what the server does, someone is going to be unhappy. Dh is big, big, big into having wine/cocktail from the moment he sits down and immediately tells the waiter "As long as we have wine, we are happy" when we're seated. Other patrons would probably feel rushed.

                            OTOH, my brother is someone who takes a loooonnnggg time to decide what he wants and when we go out with him, I feel for the waiter (and us) as it is not uncommon for them to have to come back twice or more before he is ready. I'm decisive by nature and generally take a brief time to decide on anything (not just dining related) so it's rare for me not to be ready when the waiter arrives.

                        4. I agree with what others have posted, e.g. "are you ready now? how about now?" and wanted to add that if yours was the ONLY table the server had, it would probably be really easy to wait just that exact amount of time til the last person has decided what they want, closed menus or no, and when people put their heads up and start looking around for the server.

                          But because the table wasn't ready when the server first approached, the server usually has a bunch of other things waiting that they have to attempt to get to. They can't just go over to the computer and hang out til you're ready. There is food to be run (for all tables, not just their own), tables who want to be cashed out (and say there are 6 separate checks, now the people are WAITING and WAITING for the server to come back as she is cashing out all 6 forms of payment and making change for everyone/getting CC slips together), meanwhile she walks by to deliver the 6 checks back and another table says, "My steak is overcooked, please send it back" so then you whisk it off to the kitchen for a refire. Before you know it, it's been 10 minutes and the new table is now angry and tapping their feet.

                          It's a tough balancing act and everyone isn't perfect at it 100% of the time. Try to be patient and observant/remember you're not the only table, and give the server a little gesture or catch their eye to when you next see him/her that you are ready and they will come back to you as quickly as humanely possible.

                          There are times when I literally only had 30 seconds free to take an order and when the table wasn't ready, I knew it would be bad because there are 18 tasks of immediate need waiting for me and I just think man, I hope I can get back here relatively soon. You do the best you can but everyone isn't perfect.

                          1. As a customer if jfood is in a hurry then he should have his order ready "in a hurry". And if it is a relaxing dinner then the pace can be different. Jfood normally looks at the menu as soon as he sits down, mainly for curiosity and he reads it 100%. Others are different.

                            It is rare that when the jfoods are out with friends that they are prepared at the first "Are you ready to order?" so they go through this dance often. And if the server disappears for other duties the conversation kisks in again. On the off-chance that there is an extended period, jfood merely asks the runner or the water person or another server if they could tell the jfood server that they were ready when he had a chance.

                            Have there been times when jfood felt that the "black hole" occured? sure. the reaction? let's continue the conversation. No biggie.

                            And jfood agrees with the "signal" of menus closed and down. At times jfood has even mentioned to one of the party who has the menu open and being hugged that the server will come over more quickly if the menu were in the closed/down position.

                            But the customer has to remember that the server is a shared resource and that sometimes you just have to wait in the queue.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: jfood

                              But the customer has to remember that the server is a shared resource and that sometimes you just have to wait in the queue.
                              ___
                              Very good point jfood. I believe very often people mistake being "the" customer for being "a"customer. I have also always found that being gracious to the waitstaff (and people in general) comes back tenfold.

                              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                Things do happen and if you get caught up for too long before returning, I try hard to make the rest of their visit extra special, service be very prompt and courteous and to be extra nice. That's usually sufficient to quell the anger of having to wait a few extra minutes.

                              2. re: jfood

                                Agreed completely. I'm one of those annoying people who always asks for another minute or two. I have noticed that the wait seems to be longer after that, but it never really bothered me. If I were in a hurry, I'd have ordered the first time.

                              3. Some diners make it very hard for the server. I've had more than a few co-workers/bosses who will repeatedly act like they are ready to order (menu pushed aside etc.) and then when the server arrives, pick up the menu and peruse it like they hadn't seen it before. This can go on three or four times. They seem to enjoy doing this while the server is standing there waiting. Sometimes they even act like the server is nagging them. ("Oh, sorry, sorry, sorry, I'm not being attentive.") As a server, this routine would make me want to leave them alone for a good long time.

                                I confess I often put the closed menu aside, then open it again to double check my order, but I make sure to say I'm doing that.

                                1. Most servers seem immune to signals like a pile of closed menus, laying your silverware across the plate, or pushing a glass to the edge of the booth to fill it. I seem to get the same service and speeds regardless. I've basically lost the habit of the silverware across the plate because servers usually try to take the plate before I reach that stage.

                                  Of course, I can't afford truly fine dining, so we are talking cheaper places. Even so, someone must have trained them? Maybe these things aren't universal signals anymore in this country, at least at my price level.

                                  18 Replies
                                  1. re: saltwater

                                    That's what I'm thinking since I've had the same experience. I don't tend to go to more expensive places either and none of the signals seem to make a bit of difference.

                                    1. re: queencru

                                      your middle of the road places definitely don't train you on anything like silverware positioning meaning anything - I brought this up once and was told that the general dining public doesn't know/use these signals anymore so it's obsolete to teach.

                                      In chains, when you take the order is a matter of timing. For example, you HAVE to greet the customers within 30 seconds or you can get in trouble. If you have time, give them the full greeting and take drink/app order. If you are busy, you at least have to say hello and that you'll be right with them and then you must get back there, say, in 2 minutes or less, and if you can't you're supposed to send someone else over to take the drink order (so if you've ever had one person greet you and a different person take drink order, or one person take drinks and another who ends up being your actual server, it's because your server is completely in the weeds). So it's not a signal deal like "menus closed." In fact, they don't want you to close the menus, they want to come over to you while they're open and point out that we are featuring X, Y and Z and ask if you'd like to try any of A, B or C. It's formulaic and doesn't leave a lot to interpretation, probably because training has had to be dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. But it doesn't always work that way. Customer flow and business doesn't always equal 30 seconds or less or 2 minutes after the greet and there isn't always an extra person to ask for a favor, so sometimes guests are ready to order and sitting there waiting. It happens.

                                      1. re: rockandroller1

                                        Oh, yes, you are right about the open menus. It is like opening your menu calls them over to talk to you in chain places. I had no idea they were actually trained in this way. I figured it was because I tend to eat early, so they are never busy when I arrive.

                                        1. re: rockandroller1

                                          Was silverware positioning ever in common use in this country? I spend a lot of time in Europe and learned it there, where it's pretty much universal (and darned handy too!), but have despaired of it ever catching on in the US.

                                          1. re: BobB

                                            Yes, it was once proper etiquette and still is if you run in very high society.

                                            1. re: rockandroller1

                                              About the silverware placement; I thought that the proper way to do it was to put them in a sort of X pattern on the plate. Is that correct?

                                              1. re: danhole

                                                Not quite. While you're still eating, when you put them down rest them on opposite sides of the plate, fork tines down. When you've finished, place them side by side, fork tines up. The exact position varies somewhat by country but it's typically either at four o'clock or six o'clock.

                                                Works like a charm in Europe, and once in a while at a high end place (or one staffed by Europeans) here.

                                                1. re: danhole

                                                  I learned to place the knife and the fork parallel to each other and right next to each other. It has to look different from how the knife sits by its lonesome off to the side when you are doing the hand switch. (this is American, obviously). So I would usually have the ending twosome slightly toward the center of the plate from the lonely knife position, which tends to be at the very edge of the plate.

                                                  Who knows if I was taught correctly, though.

                                                  1. re: danhole

                                                    The X pattern is supposed to indicate "I am not done, please don't take my plate away" and is supposed to be helpful if, for example, you get up and go to the bathroom.

                                                    1. re: rockandroller1

                                                      Thanks everyone. Now I know. I did know that the tines went down, but wasn't sure about the "I'm finished" signal.

                                                2. re: BobB

                                                  There have been a lot of posts on this subject on other threads. It's certainly something that I was taught to do, by American parents, though growing up in Europe. Most of my friends do do this, fwiw.

                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                    What does one do if the server puts the nicely positioned silverware back on the table?

                                                    Or, is asked to remove and keep their nicely positioned silverware?

                                                    1. re: dolores

                                                      I think a number of people would request clean silverware if a server placed it on the table. Those tables are not always inspirationally clean.

                                                      If a server asked me to keep my silverware, I'd most likely take my napkin from my lap and place the silverware on it (I'm assuming they are removing the plate). I was raised to be compliant in situations like that.

                                                      1. re: dolores

                                                        Generally, less formal places do this. If it bothers you, just say, "Oh, could I get a new set of silverware?"

                                                        I mean seriously, there are more germs in any bathroom than there are on most table tops. It just doesn't bother most people and is done for economy in a lot of more downscale places. You would need 10X as much silverware in the restaurant if everyone got a full, new set with each course, and only fine dining places tend to stock that much, where they have (generally) fewer diners and slower paced meals. At Applebees, is it really that big of a deal?

                                                        1. re: rockandroller1

                                                          Me, germs? Not me, that was saltwater.

                                                          No, my expectation in a good to very good restaurant is that they won't ask me to keep my silverware. The tablecloth doesn't enter into it.

                                                          I don't frequent Applebee's or Olive Garden, but I would expect to be asked to keep my silverware in places like those.

                                                          But not in what I consider a very nice restaurant. I'll do it, but I'm not pleased.

                                                          Oh, and the crossing of swords or forks or whatever? Holy cow, no wonder I never learned that. I've never ever seen it done, and I don't think the places at which I dine would know what it meant if they saw it.

                                                          1. re: dolores

                                                            I don't actually cross them - but place them in an inverted V, so to speak, with the tines facing down. I think that is also what I do while I'm eating/chewing.

                                                          2. re: rockandroller1

                                                            come on, with the quality of flatware(I full on belly laugh at the thought of Applebees having SILVEWARE) at Chain places, you would think they have a wheelbarrow full of them back there. Seriously, sometimes I wonder if the forks are made of 2or3 layers of heavy duty Alum. foil!?

                                                            1. re: nkeane

                                                              Would but they did, nkeane. Every restaurant I have ever worked with was always short on teaspoons and the managers never want to order any due to costs.

                                              2. Just don't do what my grandfather does, the dreaded snapping of the fingers!

                                                *cringes*

                                                10 Replies
                                                1. re: MattInNJ

                                                  ohhh, that's the worst.

                                                  I used to pretend I didn't hear it. That's an appropriate signal to get the attention of your dog, not a human being.

                                                  1. re: nc213

                                                    Tell that to my dad. He snaps his fingers to get the attention of the waitstaff and his own family.

                                                    1. re: nc213

                                                      not as bad as whistling at the same time as snapping fingers and/or waving. guess who the *last* person at the bar to be served a drink is?

                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                        Just as bad, IMO, is being called "waitress" as if I don't have a name. I'll take "hey you" over "hey waitress" anyday. It just sounds disrespectful.

                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                          Lol. Snapping and waving are bad, but I especially love those who feel the need to yell "Excuse Me" or "Hey, girl" or some other variation from all the way across the restaurant. This kind of behaviour is a great way to get yourself a longer wait.

                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                            Umm... what's the problem with waving? Or an 'excuse me'? I don't wave my arm like I'm possessed or shout across the room:-P Even so...

                                                            Sometimes there is simply no other way to get someone's attention. If I see a restaurant is busy, I know that someone isn't going to check that "everything is ok" for another 20 minutes. Or if I see my server chatting it up with other servers or flirting with another table....So of course I'll try to get someone's attention if 1) I don't have utensils or 2) Condiments for something like a burger, or 3) there is something wrong with my order. Otherwise my food would be completely COLD by the time someone comes by. Then, my companions food will also get cold if they choose to wait...or I hold up the table for an extra 15-20 min because I couldn't start eating when the rest of the table did. This only is a problem at more casual places...

                                                            When servers play the passive aggressive games of "guess who gets served last" or whatever, they get a lower tip...which makes them think that "wavers are bad tippers"... I usually tip 20-25%, avoid making substitutions, try to be pleasant and polite...but sheesh...soupkitten and kiwiFRUIT's comments make me want to stay home....

                                                            1. re: QSheba

                                                              i think there's a good possibility that we're talking about very different situations, QSheba. i think that everyone in the subthread is responding to MattinNJ's post about snapping fingers at waitstaff-- or about the dehumanizing ways some folks "just try to get the attention" of servers (human beings). just in case, here's what i refer to: i am bartending at a busy nightclub. since i'm normally a very quick tender, there's usually no more than 3 folks waiting for a drink at a time, and normally there's a wait that is no longer than 5 mins max, and that's for large orders. most transactions take one minute or less.

                                                              however, it's the nature of the beast that the band may take a break, or the dj may play a less popular tune, and the floor clears up pretty well, and the bars get hit with many people wanting cocktails and beers simultaneously. now, since i'm standing *facing* everyone i can see who approaches first, second, third-- and i take them in corresponding order. when it gets truly slammed i'll go from one end of the bar to the other, and it's clear that everyone will get their turn in the order that they are standing. the vast majority of folks are great customers, they have their money out and their orders prepared, & they wait their turns patiently, as they can see that i'm moving quickly down the line and that everyone's getting their turn.

                                                              unfortunately not all folks are socialized equally, and occasionally there would be some fellow who pushes up to whichever end of the bar i'm *not* currently serving, whistles at me exactly as if he were calling a dog, snaps fingers, claps, yells loudly. this person ignores the fact that i'm serving customers who were waiting *before* he (yes, *always* he) arrived, he ignores the others waiting patiently, he *expects* that i'll drop what i am doing, skip everyone waiting and serve him, now, RIGHT NOW (and 9/10 times, if i look or walk toward him, that's the first time he turns to his companion(s) and asks what they'd like to drink--because in his mind, it's okay for everyone else to wait for him, not okay for him to wait for anyone else). besides the fact that the sense of entitlement is galling, the fact that there are people who think it's acceptable to whistle at & dehumanize people in serving positions as a way to jump the queue-- well that's what the end of work staff-only bitch session is all
                                                              about.

                                                              we may have to agree to disagree, but the customer is not always right, and holding a service job should not open a person to dehumanizing and demeaning treatment. serving this person before all of the nice customers who were in queue before him (many are regulars and know my name) would be imo wrong. much more wrong, also imo, is that he sees people in serving positions, or women, or *whatever,* on the same level as an animal you'd whistle at/for and expect instant & complete compliance/obedience/servitude. when you actually think about how these people's thought process must work, it's quite disturbing, & the reaction from the other customers at this person's boorish behavior is often open-mouthed bewilderment & shock. i generally would address this person right away, to let him know the behavior isn't acceptable and he'd have to wait his turn like everyone else. i'd often suggest he approach a different bar for faster service, especially if he toned down his approach to the bar staff. btw ignoring these folks tends to lead to them escalating their demeaning behavior, including more whistling and shouting, obscenities/derogatory comments/threats (again, loudly shouted), having items thrown at me and striking me, etc so i do address this type of customer quickly, and i *do* serve him-- absolutely dead***last*** after every other single customer and staff member, cocktail servers, etc. because it's important to not get "meta" in the context of slinging cocktails at a club, i'd usually attempt to keep the conversation with the boorish person very light and entertaining, at least for the waiting customers, who often got a nice chuckle, and good prompt service. however, despite the light tone of the exchange, what is happening is certainly not a joke and these behaviors will get an aside to security, who will keep a close eye on this particular patron for the rest of the evening, as a repeat/escalation is common with people who think they are the only important person in the world, and a cocktail or two can make it worse.

                                                              now in any vaguely normal situation, i think if a customer is having trouble getting a server's attention, that any way s/he can do this without being demeaning to the server is very acceptable. there are a variety of subtle and non subtle ways to catch the eye of your server without treating her/him literally as if s/he were a dog.

                                                              for anyone who believes that the tip is the only motivation that prompts service personnel to motion: at no time is a server who is facing down a customer who engages in dehumanizing behaviors concerned about her/his tip. s/he is worrying about 1) safety 2) defusing situation in a way that does not escalate it 3) her/his own state of mind ( i am a human being, i don't deserve to be treated this way, and despite this treatment i still have my own personal worth).

                                                              i'd say that assault (weapon), assault (thrown object), assault (sexual touching), assault (grab/hold), obscene yelling, whistling, offensive but non-obscene yelling, snapping fingers/clapping, shouting across restaurant-- in that order, for me-- are not acceptable treatment, and will certainly affect the service the customer receives--and can sometimes, relative to severity, lead to their ejection from the establishment. yes, absolutely-- it all happens, folks. i've never worked as a server, unless you count clearing buffet dishes (non-tip) as a teenager-- and i have very sharp eyesight. i've taken very good care of thousands and thousands of people in my hospitality career, but when you deal with the public every day, you're eventually going to run into a psycho, and you must pay attention to the early cues. when you are serving alcohol, you must also be aware of potential liability for the actions of a person who is poorly socialized. i do take it very very seriously, as most experienced hospitality staff do, it's not a joke!

                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                Wow, what an amazing post, soupkitten. Just goes to reinforce my very correct assertion that service is one of the hardest jobs on the planet.

                                                                >>before* he (yes, *always* he) arrived,

                                                                Why am I not surprised.

                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                  Soupkitten, yes, yes, yes and yes! Not only do you have an awesome chow handle, you are the queen of common sense. I bow at your feet.

                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                    I dont know about *always* he, but mostly....sure. I used to Bartend in a night club atmosphere and holy crap, the behavior out of some of the "ladies" was appalling! skip to the front of the line, bat their eyes and think Im going to respond(no ladies, just because Im a guy doesnt mean that works. I have a girlfriend, and she is prettier then you!), demanding free birthday drinks(my response was always " tell you what, I will buy your LAST drink of the night.....) and just all around sense of entitlement.

                                                                    While I agree that when it gets bad, it gets the worst in males, but the baseline level of holier-than-thou is higher in women. Just my experience.......

                                                          2. I am incredibly indecisive, unless I know the restaurant and have a favorite dish/dishes. My DH is an incredibly inattentive menu reader. Therefore we often have to have a little extra time. I have to make my choice, or at least narrow it down, and then I have to show him what the sides are, and remind him to ask for no parsley to be on the plate, etc. If I don't take that step with him, he will wait until the server comes for the order, and then ask "what are the sides? Does it have a pickle on the plate? Do you make the fajitas with bell peppers?" That burns me up, so not only do I have to figure out what I want, but I have to be able to make sure that his food will be served the way he will eat it (or he will sulk.) I make my choices and then close my menu, shove it towards the edge of the table, and wait. When the server arrives, I have to quickly make my choice so I open the menu and whatever I see, that I like, first is what I order! It is pretty painless for them because I don't hem and haw, I just point! If we are being ignored I will signal, (not by snapping or waving, LOL) discreetly, or grab someone else to let them know we are ready. Not a big deal.

                                                            1. Yup, even my DD will say, "Mom, if you tell the waiter to come back, you'll never see her again!" It ALWAYS happens!

                                                              1. The simple solution is to have a flag at the table. When you need a waitperson, you raise the flag.

                                                                Haven't seen this done though.

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: PeterL

                                                                  Clever idea, if a bit impersonal. The closest to it I've seen is the red side/green side cards they give you in churrascarias.

                                                                  1. re: PeterL

                                                                    There is a mexican buffet that employs that method. You get a flag when you sit down, and if you need a server, you raise the flag. I haven't been in over 20 years, so I guess it's for drink refills.

                                                                    1. re: PeterL

                                                                      Some izakaya (pubs) in Japan have keypads for customers to enter their orders. Typically you don't order food and drink all at once, so it makes a lot of sense. There's usually a number attached to your table that you take to the cashier and pay on your way out.

                                                                      1. re: PeterL

                                                                        Probably no one else will admit to having eaten there, but this is the tactic used at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurants. (I was in tourist land with non-hounds and had no choice, ok?) They have signs on the table that say "Run Forrest Run" and "Stop Forrest Stop" and the gimmick is that if the "Stop" sign is up, the next server who walks by -- whether it is your server or not -- has to stop and ask what you need. It worked like a charm when I wanted a refill on my soda. Within 20 seconds someone had stopped, and within a minute or so I had my drink. Not the best chow I ever had in my life, but I've got to hand it to the manager, it was undoubtedly good service.

                                                                        1. re: PeterL

                                                                          there is a small chain restaurant that started doing something very similar to this. instead each server has an electronic watch that is synchronized with this gizmo on the table that customers can push if they need their server to come by. very efficient since it really alerts servers very quickly. but only inefficient when the server is wearing the wrong watch for their section of tables.

                                                                        2. For me making eye contact usually works. I will admit though to avoiding crowds and going off days and less popular hours.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Alacrity59

                                                                            The reason so many servers introduce themselves at the beginning of the meal (HimynameisTiffanyandI'llbeyourservertonight) is that on the off chance you'll actually remember their names, you don't have to say "hey you" or "miss". Eye contact is the best way to get their attention, if they are PAYING attention to their tables.

                                                                            The closed menus? A good indicator that you're ready to order. However, if you keep me waiting too long with my closed menu, I will open it up again and start reading, because I am bored. My most frequent dining companion, Mr. Cheflambo, usually knows what he wants almost as soon as he sits down, never has any questions or modifications, and often tries to hurry ME up with my selections. He has been known to try to give his food order to the drink server. And if I have questions, or want something a certain way, I can hear him rolling his eyes. (Danhole, aren't you glad we aren't dining out as a foursome?)

                                                                            Re: the silverware keeping/positioning ... why would someone clearing an empty plate want you to keep your cutlery? As for sending a signal to your server by placing your silverware a certain way? Perhaps its just in the place I go (and I go to some pretty nice places) but leaving the knife and fork in the "still eating" positions seldom keeps the most persistent busboys from grabbing my plate along with the others (who are, inevitably, already finished, as I am a notoriously slow eater). I've found that few in the US really understand the "parallel at 5 o'clock" position signifies that you can now take my plate. Ever the teacher, however, I have been known to TELL them what the "all done" silverware means. Some get it, some roll their eyes (and therefore reduce their gratuity in direct proportion to their distdain...)

                                                                            1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                              I literally had to fight off a waiter at a mexican restaurant because he was constantly trying to take my plate. You know how they serve the cold food on one plate and the hot on a separate one? Well, I get to have all the guacamole since my DH won't eat it, so I had a pretty good mound of it, and like you cheflambo, I take my time. There was not a fork on the plate, or an indication that I was done, but he kept trying to take it. He almost got a fork in his hand! Oh, and Mr. cheflambo would hate eating with us! There are just a few places that we go to where I can actually go in and order without perusing the menu as if it were a novel. I love looking at menus.

                                                                          2. My little one and I go out to eat fairly often. Being hungry makes everyone cranky and he's still --ahem--working on how to control it. We deal with waiting for our food by taking a long, slow trip to the bathroom to wash our hands, but the wait to place our order can be deadly. My solution is to turn around the request for a drinks order before one even sits down.
                                                                            I try to find the menu online or,if it's not available there, I look at it while we're waiting for a table. As we're being seated, I ask the host/ess to send someone right over, as we already know what we want. They usually give a startled look--and send someone over. Even if there are specials I want to know about, giving clear notice that we are ready to proceed seems to help.
                                                                            As far as the waitstaff being busy...sometimes yes, sometimes we're nearly alone and there's still no one to take an order.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: saacnmama

                                                                              the guest who says they don't want to hear the specials and are ready to order are instantly my favorites because a) I don't have to go through my whole "schtick" and we can all get down to what we're there for - you eating and me serving you food and b) I know you're not a secret shopper. Instant luv.

                                                                              1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                My favorite way of hearing specials is a brief overview first: "We've got a beef dish and a pasta on special, and if you like pie, you'll want to save room". That lets me (a vegetarian) ask for details on what interests me without having to hear about wrapping bacon around more meat, or whatever.
                                                                                I can never understand, though, why some waitstaff wait to tell about the specials until we would otherwise be ready to order.
                                                                                Rockandroller, we've got to come visit your place!