Please Don’t Be a Sneaky Waiter

Don't be a sneaky waiter.

Don’t be a sneaky waiter.

This is the story of a sneaky waiter who used dishonest tactics to increase his check average. Please do not do what this waiter did.

Helmut and Inga were about to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. Looking to do something special, Inga researched Yelp and found a nearby French staurant that had great reviews. “Oh, I’ve heard about this place,” she told her husband. “It’s supposed to be really good. Want to go there on Saturday night, dear?”

“What’s Saturday night?” asked Helmut from behind his newspaper. “Isn’t that meatloaf night?”

Inga sighed and reminded him for the fifth time that week that Saturday was their 20th wedding anniversary.

“Oh yeah, yeah, yeah,” said Helmut. “I knew that. Sure that sounds great, hon, whatever you want. It’s your special day.”

“No, it’s our special day,” Inga corrected him.

“Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh.”

“So, would you like to go to dinner there on Saturday?”

Inga took the silence as a yes and made a reservation for 7:00 on Saturday.

Four days later, Inga and Helmut arrived at Place de Vosges Cafe. Inga had hoped for a corsage or maybe a card or at the very least for her husband to open the car door for her, but she settled for the fact that he wore a shirt that had a collar on it and a tie that matched. They were ushered to their table which was set with a clean crisp linen tablecloth and candles and had white roses in a crystal vase on the center of the table.

“Oh, it’s beautiful! Isn’t it beautiful, Helmut? I’m having such a wonderful time already and the night hasn’t even started. I love you so much, dear.”

“Kinda expensive, huh? Jeez, they sure are proud of their soup. It’s $15.”

The tuxedoed waiter stepped away from the table and Inga couldn’t tell if he had somewhere else to go, if he was judging them, or both.

“Helmut, dear. This is our 20th anniversary. I have been saving money for this night for two months and I don’t want us to even think about the prices. I love you and I want us to have a wonderful night. Please, have a good time tonight. For me?”

Helmut set down his menu and reached across the table to hold Inga’s hands. “Sweetheart, the steak is $52.”

Inga pulled her hands away just as the waiter returned.

“Bon soir monsieur et madam. Welcome to Place des Vosges Cafe. Have you had the pleasure of dining with us before?”

“It’s our first time here and it’s lovely, thank you.'” said Inga.

“Very well, madam. And are you here to celebrate a special occasion?”

Inga looked at her husband and waited for him to answer the question. Helmut was again looking at the menu, his eyes bulging out and the veins in his neck throbbing.

“It’s our 20th anniversary tonight,” said Inga beaming with pride.

“Ah, congratulations to you both! I will make sure then that we take extra good care of you this evening. Extra good care, I say.” He snapped his fingers and a man appeared who filled their glasses with Pelligrino. The waiter recited the specials and within minutes Inga had the glass of champagne she wanted while Helmut sipped a cold beer. Inga convinced him to drink it from the frosted glass that had been provided rather than from the bottle like he usually enjoyed his beer. He finally seemed to be enjoying himself and she didn’t even care that he had loosened his tie and unbuttoned his collar.

The couple enjoyed their dinner of Gratinée des Vosges (onion soup) and Frisée aux Lardons (frisee salad with bacon and blue cheese) with a poached egg and they shared the Côte de Boeuf for two (prime rib) and they each had another drink.

As the waiter removed the last plate, Helmut said to his wife, “I’m stuffed. I don’t think I have any room for dessert.”

Inga tried not to show her disappointment. “Are you sure? I bet it’s delicious here. Just one to share?”

“Naaa, let’s go home,” he said. “I’m full.”

Inga protested ever so slightly. “If it’s about the money, I don’t want us to think about that tonight. I know it’s expensive but it’ll be worth it. It’s our 20th anniversary.”

“It’s not about the money, I’m just full,” snapped Helmut.

At this time, Inga saw the waiter approaching their table holding a plate with a dessert and a lighted candle. He placed it in front of the couple. “Happy anniversary to you both,” he said. The plate was inscribed with those very words, written in chocolate. In the middle of the plate was a large serving of bread pudding with two two chocolate-covered strawberries.”

“How sweet,” sighed Inga. “Look dear, an anniversary dessert!” She blew out the candle and took the first bite. She then gave a bite to her husband who begrudgingly acknowledged that it was quite delicious. They cleaned their plate and ten minutes later the check was presented to them.

Inga reached over to pick it up, prepared for the total which would be more than they had ever spent on one meal. She scanned the bill and her eyes landed on one item that gave her pause. “Hmmm,” she said. “Oh, well, it’s okay.”

“What’s wrong?” Helmut wanted to know.

“Nothing, it’s fine. No big deal.”

“What is it?” he insisted.

“Well, they charged us for the dessert and I kind of thought they were just being nice for our anniversary. I’m just surprised, that’s all. It was only $14. Of course we’ll pay for it, it was delicious.”

Helmut sat up straight in his chair. ‘That’s not right, they made it sound like it was free. And how do they know we even wanted bread pudding anyway? Where’s that waiter?”

“Please, dear, it’s fine. I’ll just pay for it.”

“No, it’s not fine. It’s sneaky. I wanna talk to our waiter.”

“Helmut, please, just let it go. I’ll pay for it, it’s only $14. Don’t make a scene.”

“I’m not going to make a scene, I’m just going to let him know that I think if we are going to be paying for dessert than we should have gotten to choose what it was and I didn’t even want dessert in the first place.”

Inga reached out across the table and placed her hand on her husband’s. “Please? Can we just go? I don’t want tthe night to end like this.”

“Fine. But I didn’t want dessert anyway.”

Their drive home was quiet, both of them thinking about how shifty the waiter had been. It had put a damper on their evening and Inga couldn’t understand why her husband was so upset. When they got home, Helmut got out of the car quickly and went into the house leaving Inga to walk in alone. As she stepped inside, the only light on was the one in the kitchen. She followed the light and heard Helmut getting something out of the refrigerator. “Helmut? You can’t tell me you’re still hungry.” She stepped into the kitchen to see Helmut standing in front of her holding a box. “What’s that?” she asked.

“This is why I didn’t want dessert. Remember our first anniversary when we still lived in Brooklyn and we were so broke? All we could afford to do that day was spend $5 so we went to that little tiny bakery on Court Street and each picked out one dessert and then we shared them.” He opened the box revealing a lobster tail and a cannoli. “I went to that same bakery today and got those same desserts because I remember thinking that night that as long as I have half a cannoli and half of a lobster tail and I get to share them with you, I will be the happiest man in the world. I love you very much, Inga. Happy anniversary.” He kissed her and then said, “Are you too full for another dessert?”

Inga wiped the tears from her eyes and looked at her husband. She reached over to him and untied his tie and pulled it from his neck. “I love you so very much. You’re the sweetest man in the world.”

“No, I’m just the happiest one. Want a bite?”

They sat at the kitchen table taking turns eating the pastries having completely forgotten about the sneaky waiter who had tricked them into buying a dessert that didn’t even want.


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25 thoughts on “Please Don’t Be a Sneaky Waiter

  1. sally

    It’s this type of shyster behavior that stops people like me from dining out more often. There are only so many times a person can be made to feel like a chump before they just stop going to “nice” places.
    It’s not the whole reason, but it does help explain the popularity of chains. People like to know the rules. They like to think there is a standard of behavior or some sort of policy.

    For one example, it’s corporate and a little sterile; but I’ve never felt bamboozled at Ruth’s Chris. If I’m hungover or extra tired or something, but in the mood for some vittles of high quality, AND don’t feel like *possibly* having a battle of wits with someone; I’ll head for an upscale chain every time.

  2. Nick

    Anyone stupid enough to believe this story is even remotely real, deserves to pay for not only their dessert, but dessert for everybody they come into contact with for the rest of their lives.

    1. Jason

      Who took a shit in your punch bowl? What difference does it make if the story is real or not? The point is the same.

  3. Michael Motes

    I think it was very fucked up of the waiter to do that. I have been in the business for many many years and just started serving again because I love it so much. I would not do this. Money is not that important to me, i will starve before i would do this. SHAME SHAME SHAME ON THE WAITER.

  4. kim groothand

    our owners often spring for stuff for customer, very often actually, and i cannot imagine a server would do this. so much sucks as peeps save up all year for one special night out, xoxo

  5. Elliott

    Hang on to that man dearie, a prince like him doesn’t come along very often 😀
    And write a few withering online reviews of that restaurant. The waiter was slimy.

  6. Johnson

    Who cares. The dude just should have come out with the surprise. Or at least said I have something special waiting at home. Although what the waiter did was kind of fucked up. But whatever, it’s their anniversary, I would have just let it slide like they did. If it were any other night, I probably would have said something, but since I’m not a cheapskate and if I’m eating at a fancier place, $14 extra isn’t something I’d be so hesitant to pay. If they charged me for an extra entree or something then I probably would have said something

  7. DH

    The waiter was sneaky, but the couple is to blame. They should have said something, they willing paid the amount. If they didn’t want a conversation they could have left less tip. Sweet ending, but their own fault for overpaying.

    1. Scott

      See, now that’s bull. I mean, I get your point, but people don’t want to have to have a 15 minute discussion with the manager on their special night out. Sneaky waiter is sneaky and I hope they shaved the money off the tip.

  8. Marsha

    Moral of the story: NEVER, I mean NEVER bring the customer something they did not order and charge them for it.

      1. kim groothand

        just checking out this site again and it reminds me of working at dimillos on the water in Portland maine, the best job and customers ever!

  9. Elizabeth Dowdy

    Dammit Bitchy – You are not allowed to get all sentimental and mushy like that. Me = pwned.

  10. Megan

    Way to make me cry at work, Bitchy! Beautiful story. You’re a great writer! And fuck that sneaky waiter!

  11. annon

    Happened to us. Celebrating my husbands birthday and they brought us a cute little mini cake with candle. I had not ordered it, they did not ask if we wanted it, and it was on our bill. I was very disappointed and disgusted with them.

  12. Anon

    I love you Bitchy but this was not my favorite. A little anticlimactic. It’s weird an annoying the waiter would do that but the biggest deal


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