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Oh, No… It’s The Pre-Emptive Mercy Tip

, , , , , , , , | Right | March 25, 2023

I have just sat a family down at their table and handed them their menus. They are parents, an adult daughter, and a teenage son. I am about to come by to take their drink orders when the adult daughter approaches me. She stuffs a twenty-dollar bill into my hand.

Daughter: “Here, take this. This is to say sorry for whatever is about to come. Wait a minute and then come back to the table.”

Confused, I oblige and check in on another table quickly before going back to theirs.

Me: “Are you guys ready for your drink orders?”

Mother: “We are not ‘you guys’. We are not your buddies, so don’t refer to us that way. And yes, I will have an Arnold Palmer.”

Me: “Certainly, ma’am.”

I take everyone else’s orders without issue and bring them out to them.

Me: “Hi! Are you… ready to order your meal?”

Mother: “The last time I was here, I ordered the chicken parmesan, and it was a complete disappointment.”

She lets the sentence hang in the air without any follow-up.

Me: “I… I am sorry to hear that. So, will you be ordering something else?”

Mother: “Are you stupid? I want that again, but I better not be disappointed this time!”

Me: “What was it about the meal last time that you found disappointing, ma’am?”

Mother: “Just… all of it.”

Me: “It’s just… it’s likely to be prepared the same way as it was before unless you wanted to make any changes?”

Mother: “Why are you still talking?”

Daughter: “Oh, my God, Mom! What the h*** are you doing?!”

Mother: “What? I’m just letting them know not to disappoint me.”

Daughter: “Mom, we all know that no matter what they do, you will be ‘disappointed’ and will find something to complain about, and you’ll ask for the manager and try to get some kind of discount. It happens every time with you.”

Mother: “It’s not my fault that their service is lacking.”

Daughter: “We could go and have tea with the freaking Queen in Buckingham Palace, and you’d find something about their service to complain about, Mom! It’s embarrassing. Stop it.” *To me* “Sorry about that. Bring her the chicken parmesan, as normal. She’ll find something to hate about it, but that’s on her, not you.”

Everyone else gives me their orders, looking slightly embarrassed and apprehensive of the mother, and things go smoothly for a while. I bring out their food and top up their waters, and I am especially attentive to the table, checking in and keeping on top of their needs so as not to give the mother any ammo.

When they appear to have finished their meals, mother included, I come back over.

Me: “Did you guys want to see the dessert menu?”

Before I realized I said it, Mom’s eyes go wide.

Mother: “That’s it! You called us ‘you guys’ again! I want to speak to the manager!”

Me: “Apologies, ma’am. It’s just a force of habit. I didn’t mean anything by it.”

Mother: *Almost screeching* “Managerrrrrr!”

I’m about to turn and get the manager when the adult daughter speaks up again.

Daughter: “And say what, Mom? You’re offended because the waitress was friendly? Your life is so coddled and privileged that someone calling us ‘you guys’ is enough to set you off? Can you even hear yourself right now?”

Mother: “I’m only—”

Daughter: “—only being a b****! You’re never going to change! This is the last time any of us eat out with you, and you only have yourself to blame.” *To me* “Thanks so much for your amazing service. We’ll just take the check, please? No need to fetch your manager.”

I bring them the check without argument. The mother is seething but remaining silent. While they discuss the situation and who pays for what, I give the manager an update on everything that happened.

Manager: “You did good. Nothing is ever going to satisfy people like that, so don’t waste energy trying.”

They pay and start heading out of the door. My manager goes up to them as they’re exiting and shouts out with a beaming smile.

Manager: “Take care, you guys!

The mother was about to go on a rampage, but her husband dragged her out silently, in a move that looked like it had been practiced.

The family has since been back to eat on several occasions. I’ve never seen the mother ever again.

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