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Jun 21, 2010 03:04 PM

Snapping your fingers at your waiter...

I bring this up because several times now I've read on different waiter blogs that the worst sin a customer can committ is to snap their fingers at their waiter.

But I've never ever seen anyone snap their fingers at their waiter, nor can I picture myself doing it. It's just so...lame. Plus restaurants are noisy places. The waiter would never be able to hear the sound of my fingers snapping.

Has anyone on these boards done this or seen someone do it? Is it just an urban legend?

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  1. I think it's more of a visual thing; like you get the waiter's attention, then snap the fingers. Kind of unnecessary; once you've gotten the waiter's attention across the room, a simple, subtle raised hand or even lift of the face does all you need to do.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DGresh

      I prefer the face lift. In certain restaurants my dad used to raise his hand. Snapping is completely rude though I have seen it.

    2. i've seen people do it and it pisses me off - it's obnoxious and condescending. you can usually get a server's attention with a subtle (or not so subtle) wave of the hand, nod of the head, or moderately-voiced "excuse me" the very worst, if i'm getting nowhere because the place is slammed or the server is MIA, i'll actually get up and try to track him or her down, or ask someone else for assistance...but i'd NEVER snap my fingers at them.

      33 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        Not a snapping of fingers, but - get this - my uncle actually WHISTLED for Wolfgang Puck(!) at the original Spago in the mid-eighties!!!! My aunt (his wife) and my sister and I nearly died.

          1. re: bluemoon4515

            Um, yeah, he actually did. This was in the early days, when he (and all of us) were much younger, and he only had the one restaurant. (He has always been very nice to us, by the way.)

            1. re: aurora50

              I bet Wolfgang tells his friends the story about the guy who whistled for him.

              I like your uncle.

          2. re: aurora50

            When I was in grad school, a bunch of us went out for fancy-time at the Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan. Each table had a little bell, with which you were supposed to summon your waiter. Classy! One of my companions decided instead to stand up on her chair and yell "yoo hoo!" She was not drunk, and I am not exaggerating. It was more than 20 years ago, and I'm still afraid to go back.

            1. re: small h

              That "Yoo Hoo" is a "Call of the Wild". Your female friend was clearly hitting on the waiter.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                That, I could almost excuse. But she wasn't. She was simply trying to get another round. In the most embarrassing way possible, short of flashing someone.

                1. re: small h

                  At least you could laugh about the flashing later!

                  1. re: small h

                    There is nothing embarrassing about flashing. Nothing.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      True that, Ck. May get attention at the time, but Oh Jeez even if the flasher isn't embarrassed later on, it's enough to keep you from seeking a public office if you were at that table. Hopefully, anyway.

                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    I would have thought she was ordering a chocolate beverage..

                  3. re: small h

                    in a strange way, I want to party with your friend.
                    no better way to get yourself another round.
                    what a riot this chick she's gotta a lot of stories in her war chest..

                    1. re: Beach Chick

                      I waited tables and managed a place several years ago and we had a bartender who was known the city over for flashing her bar customers. She had worked at the restaurant since it opened and was like a daughter to the owner so she could do no wrong, not to mention she was a laugh riot. New customers, old customers, it didn't matter and oddly she never offended anyone. Folks would ask her for the time and she would respond by grabbing her huge boobs and saying "Do these look like a f'ing watch?!!" That line always generated a roar of laughter led by her. Ha!

                      1. re: lynnlato

                        I think she's cut from the same goofball cloth as small h friend..
                        We need more people like that in the world!
                        Where is this place husband would like to know!

                        1. re: Beach Chick

                          Charlotte NC, Beach Chick, and I agree. :)

                          Chemicalkinetics - LMAO!

                        2. re: lynnlato

                          I don't know. I think it is pretty funny the first couples of time, but I think I would get annoyed when I really want to know the time.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            i bartended at a place that was famously cash only (huge sign on the door)-- folks would sometimes come in (paying cash cover charge), order a big round and then wave their little card thingy at me. i'd take the visa, "swipe" it thru my cleavage, cock my head and quip: "DE-clined!!!" and the regulars would laugh.

                            starting with a laugh was good, because the business was actually awkward and potentially embarrassing-- invariably nobody in the party had cash and one or several of them would need to exit the nightclub, arranging for re-entry with the security staff. . . get cash, come back, square up with me. . . but hopefully the schtick was memorable enough that *nobody* would forget we were cash-only, maybe the story would be repeated for laughs and other folks would know to bring cash, & not debit cards. . .

                            1. re: soupkitten

                              soupkitten, I'm shocked... and impressed! Ha!

                              1. re: soupkitten

                                Love that story, soupkitten! Nice visual, too. ;-)

                          2. re: small h

                            I gotta tell you, the people at the Algonquin would've welcomed you back with open arms even if she'd disrobed whilst screaming "yoo-hoo."

                            Top-level establishments like this endure the pecadilloes of their (typically well-heeled) customers very forgivingly.

                            1. re: shaogo

                              Oh, no doubt. I'm sure that Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley behaved even more inappropriately at one time or another.

                            2. re: small h

                              My MIL has used the wave+Yoo Hoo call for the server. I always leave an extra generous tip in those instances.

                              1. re: debbiel

                                Is your mother-in-law 45ish, and did she get her MFA at Columbia around 1989? Might be the same person. If so, tell her I said hey! I'd love to have been able to leave a great tip on the night in question, but I was even poorer then than I am now.

                                1. re: aurora50

                                  That was my first thought, when I read the OP . . . whistling. I had a customer whistle for my attention, while I was speaking to another customer. I was in a paid position that forced me to carefully control my reaction to that type of behavior, but it is different when it interferes with another patron's experience. That is a walk that demands much more care.

                                  1. re: onceadaylily

                                    Working in the bar, if someone whistles at me I calmly tell them that whistling calls dogs, not people. Then I go wait on a couple other people before I go back and help them.

                                    1. re: corneygirl

                                      that's what i always did-- ask the person if they thought i was a dog, to be called by whistle. then i informed them that everyone was served in turn, and that their turn was last.

                                  2. re: aurora50

                                    I hope your uncle also grilled him on those pizza abominations he devised!

                                    1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                      Ha! No, we just got our picture with him.

                                  3. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    I agree, goodhealth. It is rude and condescending! I worked as a server for 25 years and if someone snapped there fingers, I would make sure I did one more task before I went to see what they were

                                    1. I have been known to fan my face with the bill. I don't even need to look for the waiter/waitress. Very suttle and get's their attention. If that doesn't work hold the bill and the cash/credit card and rest your elbow on the table while you continue conversation. So far, it has worked for me. I would NEVER snap my fingers or shout for someone. That's just rude and obnoxious!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: boyzoma

                                        I do that, if the bill placed 'just so' over the edge of the table doesn't work. I just pick up the holder, , pointing it toward the room, with my elbow on the table, and continue my conversation. It rarely fails.

                                      2. Did you know there's an iPhone app for that? The snapping the fingers part ..

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          You are way too funny! But I love it! ;-)

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            or you could use the "flashlight" app with an SOS signal. ;-).

                                          2. Of course snapping your fingers to get a waiter's attention is rude in our society, but sometimes it's just about impossible to catch someone's eye/ear. Many years ago I was at a steakhouse (I'll keep it anonymous, but let's just say it rhymed with Gortons), my "medium rare" steak was nearly raw. I tried to catch the eye of everyone who went by, ultimately had to stand up in the restaurant raising my hand until someone came over (this was after 5-7 minutes of trying to get someone's attention, while the rest of my party was refusing to eat until we all had edible food). I like the "little bell on table" suggestion mentioned below. Maybe a buzzer embedded in the table or just calling the Maitre D' on your phone would work better?