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Server leaving a pitcher of water at your table without your asking...

I like to drink a lot of water, I admit that. But the last time I went to my favorite asian buffet restaurant the server walked over to me with a glass of water, and a full pitcher and just left both at the table… without asking me if I wanted it or not. I know I usually ask for 2 refills in my water, but that is normally because it is full to the top with ice, and I get one decent pull off the glass and its empty, not that I actually drank a full glass, it is more like 2 ounces of liquid! I was not happy, and actually felt embarrassed and slighted. I tip over 20% and feel I deserve to have my water glass refilled just like everyone else. If they don't want to come back every few minutes to do so then kindly put more water than ice into the glass and leave me to decide what is enough water to drink.
I left a .38¢ tip that day, because the only time I saw that server was once for the water, and when she removed my plate and dropped off my check. I normally tip $2.38 on a $7.62 check. (I normally just leave a $10 bill)

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  1. It sounds like the server remembered you from previous vists, she was simply trying to efficiently meet your needs. I think you should be flattered, not embarrassed. I can't understand your negative reaction and your small tip was not justified.

    1. I eat at a lot of asian restaurants and its a pretty typical custom for them to leave the water pitchers on the table. I am living in Japan right now, and more often then not they just leave the pitcher of water on the table prior to customers sitting, and when I arrive its already there. Sometimes they leave them at period strategically placed tables, and not every one, and if you don't have one but there is one at an empty table you just go take it and keep it at your table, or ask someone else if they are using theirs. Generally they will bring a glass for you full of water, and then eventually either give you a pitcher or as I said they are around. Its pretty common to refill your own water here, the service is incredible, they are nice, friendly, efficient, but usually water isn't part of the deal.

      I really wouldn't be bothered with it. Even if they remembered me and did that for me I'd feel happy and good that they remember me, and that they were letting me drink my water at my pace and control the amount myself. I don't really go to an asian restaurant for service like that, I wouldn't have even though about it to be honest.

      I certainly wouldn't have let it influence my tip or have been upset about it, I don't see much of a problem.

      1. Sounds like you are a regular at this place and the servers (or at least this one) remembers you. That is usually a good thing.

        I'd give the server the benefit of the doubt that he/she was *trying* to be helpful by making sure you always had plentiful liquids (rather than shirking his/her water-pouring responsibilities).

        You say this was the only time you saw the server on that occasion. Did you need anything else and were unable to get his/her attention? If not, no need.

        As with all of these types of threads it is always better to SPEAK UP if you're not happy. TELL the server not to leave a pitcher and to perform the water-pouring "properly". It is never right to *punish* the server with a miserly tip without any explanation of why you were unhappy.

        1. It seems like the server was trying to do you a favor, saving you from having to wait for more water. Next time you visit the restaurant, don't be surprised if you get no pitcher AND no refills.

          1. I must agree with cdawg on this. I'm thrilled when the server leaves a pitcher of water on the table -- indeed, this is the practice at Carole Peck's Good News Cafe, one of our favorite resto's and definitely upscale from from a buffet place.

            In terms of tips, the service at buffet places is different than at regular table service places. The servers will pick up your used plates whenever you revisit the buffet, and they keep watch over the food to be sure that items are kept fresh and stocked. Because they are also inexpensive, I usually tip normally.

            1. I'm always happy to get pitchers of water instead of having to wait for refills. Don't assume her motivations were anything other than trying to be helpful -- most people like to have the pitcher left behind, in my experience.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Jacquilynne

                I agree. I drink LOTS of water and always would prefer a pitcher if the restaurant can accommodate that. Some servers will leave a picther but also refill you glasses as they come by from your table's pitcher. I'd rather control my liquid intake.

                What bothers me is the opposite. Refilling when I don't want it like topping off my coffee. Some places don't ask and will give me caf instead of decaf or I have my perfect balance of cream and sift and then they dilute the whole thing. Please ask before you pour!

              2. Is this post for real? If so and this is the "worst" thing that happens to you in the course of a day you are a blessed person.

                My friends and I usually tip a little EXTRA when a waiter leaves a pitcher of water. Just goes to show you how some see the glass half empty and others half full. :)

                1 Reply
                1. It sounds like the server remembered that you enjoy a lot of water and was attempting to do something nice for you. Also, many restaurants and bars have started putting pitchers or carafes on tables instead of frequent refilling because it is less obtrusive for the diner.

                  A serious over reaction on your part.

                  1. I'm unsure what the OP's issue is here. Certainly I wish many more restaurants would just supply the jug of water as you sit down. I know I always appreciate it when they do.

                    1. Hm, embarrassed because other patrons might notice that I may drink more than one glass of water? Sorry, this is not computing. I'd be more embarrassed if I stiffed a server because I overreacted to a completely normal situation.

                      1 Reply
                      1. I think you owe the server the 2 bucks plus interest......

                        1 Reply
                        1. Hopefully you can over tip a bit on your next visit.

                          1. I don't think that having to pour my own water makes me less of a person.

                            1. I actually suggest to the waitperson that they may want to save themselves a few steps and leave a pitcher of water.

                              1. WOW, did I get responses I didn't think I would get. I thought the server was being lazy trying to embarrass me. I was a lone diner, and not one other table had a pitcher of water at it. I honestly thought this was a *Oh God now that woman who refills her water 3 times… just leave a pitcher to shut her up" deal. Seriously, it is a buffet, all you need to do to earn 30% is come by 2x and pour some water…. and she didn't even want to do that much but still wants a tip? See what I mean?

                                7 Replies
                                  1. re: fourunder

                                    Me neither.

                                    I'm with all of the others. She probably genuinely thought you'd appreciate not having to wait for her to refill your glass. Maybe they were short-staffed that day and she knew she would not have time to come around as often. Just a thought.

                                  2. re: gryphonskeeper

                                    No, me neither. I think you are completely misinterpreting this and your low tip was really not warranted. She was trying to be helpful and show she remembered you and wanted to provide better service for you. Dang.

                                    1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                      I think you're making a lot of assumptions that lean in a negative manner. I believe you should own the fact that it bothered you and you didn't speak up. There may have just been a simple misunderstanding that should NOT have been penalize by leaving a few coins.
                                      It's like saying "here's what I think of you... not much". Very passive aggressive.

                                      1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                        Or, "there is the woman who refills her water 3 times. Since I remember her and her preferences, I will cater to them".

                                        1. re: LeoLioness

                                          Or, "there is the woman who refills her water 3 times. Since I remember her and her preferences, I will cater to them".


                                          Exactly LeoLioness. Like I said earlier, it's seeing the glass half full as opposed to half empty. Literally!

                                        2. re: gryphonskeeper

                                          Seems a bit much to say that someone is "trying to embarrass me" by giving you water. Maybe if it was a pitcher of margaritas and you didn't want to appear like a drunk, but even then I'd be thankful.

                                          Servers remember good tippers and he/she probably wanted to do something nice for you, the 20%+ customer. I think that now you might have a reason to be embarrassed having stiffed someone who was being thoughtful.

                                        3. Next time bring a book. You spent too much time over-thinking this at lunch and wasted more time posting here. I can pretty reasonably guarantee that 99% of the population wouldn't give it a second thought, let alone feel "embarrassed" by the gesture.

                                          1. Good LORD! Really? Sorry, but I can't tell you the number of times I've been out and asked for a pitcher to be left, only to be refused (restaurant policy), and then have a heck of a time flagging ANYONE down to bring over more water.
                                            I'd be leaving a very very nice tip if I lucked out with a pitcher of water.
                                            And you have to admit, a 38 cent tip is pretty miserly, regardless of the service for any meal. I think maybe putting yourself in the shoes of the server might make you rethink this a bit? Perhaps the server recognized you and thought that you would be pleased with your own pitcher of water to partake of at your leisure. After all, it was a buffet--it wasn't like you weren't prepared to serve yourself?

                                            1. I drink a lot of tea when dining out and would have love to have an entire pitcher to myself!

                                              1. I'm actually a bit confused why the OP ever needs to ask for a water refill in the first place. Shouldn't the server be asking if the diner wants a refill when the server comes by to clear plates from each course and ask how is the meal?

                                                It appears the confusion about expectations began before this latest visit, or it's the type of place where they clear plates while you're filling the next one (when water could be easily topped off), or plate-clearing is done by the busboys.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: RelishPDX

                                                  Should...yes. But that does not always happen. I remember growing up in NJ diners where the coffee pot was pretty much an extension of the watiress' hand. But not any more. Sometimes I feel like lighting off fireworks just to get the waitstaff's attention.

                                                  1. re: RelishPDX

                                                    This obviously is not a very upscale restaurant...the meal cost $7.62! It sounds more like a neighborhood Asian restaurant which probably serves pretty good food (the op says it's her favorite). So...give them a break, what's so terrible about leaving a pitcher of water on the table? For an inexpensive buffet restaurant, this seems pretty reasonable.

                                                  2. I personally love it when a server leaves me with a pitcher or carafe of water. I drink a lot of water.

                                                    1. I agree with the other posters; I am happy to be given a pitcher in a casual restaurant. I think the server was trying to be thoughtful. I too tend to drink a lot of water,and given the service level generally reasonable in a casual restaurant I end up drinking my husband's water as the staff hasn't yet refilled. This doesn't usually happen in higher end spots with fewer tables per waiter.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                        Funny, I find the opposite-- I think I get more refills and free refills on soft drinks at casual places. Far worse in my book is pouring my bottled water or wine with each and every sip I take.

                                                      2. This reminds of of an episode of Sex in the City. Miranda was in a Chinese food delivery mode and ordered the same thing every time she called. "A number 9 and a number 12" or something like that. The woman at the restaurant would recognize her voice, laugh and spout out Miranda's order before she could.
                                                        Miranda thought the woman was laughing at her for being such a loser, ordering in food for just her. She was so po'd that she marched down to the restaurant ready to bite the woman's head off, and she saw he answering the phone, and laughing while spouting out the customer's order.
                                                        Miranda realized how foolish she was. The woman wasn't laughing at her or judging her. She was just being upbeat and helpful.
                                                        Sometimes no good deed goes unpunished.
                                                        For $.38.

                                                        1. Ummmm........... don't really want to be ganging up on you here , but I agree with those who say this is common in some restaurants, especially if they know you like a lot of water. In a Chinese restaurant I don't see it as any different from when they they leave the teapot at your table. I think you need to lighten up and re-think this.

                                                          At an upscale restaurant........ not so much.

                                                          1. At sit-down BBQ restaurants, it is not uncommon for the server to bring by extra napkins, because the last thing a customer wants to do when they are 'sauced-up' and sticky is to wave sauce-laden hands in the air to motion the server over with more napkins. I appreciate the foresight on the server's part, for the potential conundrum - and I never stop to think "well, she must think I'm a pig-in-slop' if I need more napkins while eating 'cue. And I don't think I've ever surveyed the dining landscape to compare my own soiled napkin output with that of other diners. In your OP, you state " leave me to decide what is enough water to drink ". I would think that providing you with an entire pitcher is the ultimate opportunity for you to 'control' your water intake. Not only can you control how much you are drinking, but you can control precisely _when_ you need the refill. If you are eating something spicy at that asian buffet or something that is a bit dry going down, you don't have to flag down the server and be at the mercy of their busy comings-and-goings - with the pitcher resting harmlessly on the table, you can alleviate your thrist immediately. You have ultimate control. lastly, perhaps the reason a number of other tables had no pitchers on their tables, was due to multiple diners at thse tables all vying for plate space. As a solo diner, your table was otherwise unencumbered by the glasses, silverware and plates of others. Right?

                                                            1. wow. I'm really sad for you if you took this as an insult by the waitstaff. They were trying to accommodate you, based on experience.

                                                              Being a water drinker in no way says "look at me, what a pig I am!". It says- I'm a healthy person with a need to drink water. WATER, not a pitcher of booze or pig fat.

                                                              I'm a water drinker, and I hate having to sometimes wait for a busy waitperson to bring me another glass/refill. Dropping a pitcher is a gift, not a punishment.

                                                              1. Gryphonskeeper, I know from your other postings that you are a reasonable and kind person, so this one threw me off a bit. I tend to drink a lot of water when I eat, for a lot of different reasons. At one or two restaurants they know me, and they sometimes leave a pitcher of water for me. I've never felt it was so that they didn't have to keep an eye on my consumption. I'm sure it would be fine if I sipped consistently through a meal, but occasionally I do take one or two big gulps, and as you so rightly pointed out - if the glass has a lot of ice in it, you can go from full-to-the-brim to empty very quickly. If the server knows they are going to be busy with other tables, they may also want to be sure you get your water when you want it, not when they finally get a minute after taking an order from that table of 10 who can't seem to make up their mind.

                                                                But if it bothers you. then next time you are there tell the server that one of the things you like about dining out is having someone fill your water glass. If they know you well enough to know you like water, they also know you are a good tipper, and they like to keep good tippers happy - and keep them coming back. But no, I've never felt slighted - although if I were eating at ChezLavishe instead of TheCornerDiner I would have different expectations.

                                                                ps: I really want to know where you get a decent meal for $7.62, i can't go to drive-thru for that price.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                  " If they know you well enough to know you like water, they also know you are a good tipper "...
                                                                  Who chose to leave a 38 cent tip on her last visit...

                                                                  1. re: silence9

                                                                    Apparently out of character and maybe the OP was having a bad day. I'd hope to have the same server next time to make up for a petty decision made in a moment of misunderstanding.

                                                                2. Gryphonskeeper, I know you as a longtime poster who has always been even-keeled.

                                                                  Perhaps there was some sort of undertone you picked up on which may have been unrelated to your exchange. You have always struck me as very empathetic - sometime those with that trait are quite good at sensing moods/emotions of others.

                                                                  I do tend to think the server remembered you usually get a few refills and was either short handed or thought it might be a touch you would appreciate.

                                                                  Either way, if it is a place you enjoy don't let this one service keep you from returning!

                                                                  1. Personally, I drink a ton of water with my meal, and I'd be more than happy if the server just brought me a pitcher in the first place - a lot of times you can't get them to give you a refill without jumping up and down and making a fuss, so I'm thirsty! It's not a personal insult.

                                                                    1. I agree that it's annoying that the first pull of a full glass of ice water usually empties it, but I'd be impressed that the server realized that I drink enough water to have a pitcher left on the table, and increase the tip accordingly. I think that you're not only overreacting (are you feeling ok, gryphonskeeper?), but wonder if there's more subtext going on that you're not telling us. You're normally much more...uh...reasoned, I guess.

                                                                      (I also am pretty sure you left 38 cents, not 38/100 of a cent....)

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: ricepad

                                                                        My husband would be thrilled to death to have a pitcher of water left on our table. He drinks water like a camel that hasn't seen an oasis in a year and a half! Nowadays it seems like pulling teeth just to get water in a restaurant. Remember when you used to be just sitting down at your table and they were already pouring you ice water? Ahhh, those were the days. I also vote for automatic extra napkins. I am such a messy eater...

                                                                        I agree with most here, I don't think it was meant as an insult, and I wouldn't worry about it if I were you. Just enjoy your lunch.

                                                                      2. OK GUYS. I went back yesterday and apologized for the crummy tip, and thanked the server for leaving the pitcher. I gave her an extra large tip and to save face I just said I was short that day and didn't mean to slight her. She smiled and said Thank you, and left it at that. As some posters mentioned I had been having a bad day (Bad week actually) and should have taken it at face value, it was a nice gesture. I felt like an ass after reading all these posts, and I thank everyone for their frankness. You guys are all great!

                                                                        20 Replies
                                                                        1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                          No worries. I have had my bad days too and it's nice to have a touchstone here.

                                                                          1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                            Wow, good on you, sorry to hear about your bad week but it takes a lot of character to be able to go back to the same place and rectify things like that, wish more people could do that

                                                                            1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                              Everyone has bad days. Owning up to bad behavior takes some character though, especially in a situation like this--good on you.

                                                                              1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                                Good for you! Thanks for the follow up (and chin up).

                                                                                1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                                  gryphonskeeper, you are A-1 tops! I love that you went back and took care of this. I know you from other posts to be a very kind person. Here is a great example of putting what's right before your pride. When I grow up I want to be just like you. :)

                                                                                    1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                                      Nice save.....it's rare when I see someone here on Chowhound can see they were mistaken and accept another's take and point of view that may be different than their own.

                                                                                      I applaud you for that....and you have earned even more respect from moi.

                                                                                      1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                                        xoxoxoxoxo It takes guts to do what you just did. I'm in total admiration.

                                                                                        1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                                          Don't beat yourself up about it. You took the steps to rectify the situation!

                                                                                          I hope things on the personal front turn around soon.

                                                                                          1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                                            "She smiled and said Thank you, and left it at that."

                                                                                            But probably told her coworkers and family about it. You may have even made her day. I know it would have back when I was waiting tables. Good for you gryphonskeeper.

                                                                                            1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                              Yep - I'll bet that's what she did. I'm glad gryphonskeeper went back. We all have our moments where we just aren't ourselves for whatever-reason.

                                                                                                  1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                                                    Wonderful of you to own up to your mistake and apologise to the server. Not many people would do that. Good on you!

                                                                                                      1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                                                        Good for you. It is great when someone just owns up to something and makes it right. It would certainly make the world a nicer place.

                                                                                                        1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                                                          I love drinking water and iced tea and am happy when left with a pitcher. I also know what it is like to have a bad day and take something innocent and worst and kind at best the wrong way. I admire you for seeing that you overreacted and attempting to make it better. May I be so reasonable the next time I do that.

                                                                                                        2. really glad to hear that you didn't have to give up your favorite asian buffet, and be your usual gracious self at the same time.