Your Server Does Not Want to Sing Happy Birthday To You.

"I need birthday singers."

“I need birthday singers.”

This post was pretty popular when it went up a few weeks ago because everyone who has waited tables has had to deal with the dreaded “I need birthday singers” moment. Since I am on vacation and acting like everyday is my birthday (in other words, eating cake and drinking cocktails at all possible times), it seemed only natural to post it again.

On my birthday, I like to do things that involve people who care about me. I surround myself with my husband and good friends like Marlene, Scott and Svedka. These are the people who I think don’t mind singing the Happy Birthday Song to me and then when it’s their birthday I return the favor. It’s what people do.

You know who does not want to sing the Happy Birthday Song to you? Your server, that’s who. A reader sent me a little story about what went down in her section a couple of weeks ago. I am not going to give his name because I don’t want to take the chance that the is violating a social media contract. Basically, the story is this: at his corporate restaurant, they banned singing happy birthday because of a lawsuit involving harassment. He didn’t give me the details but I assume it went something like, “Oh my God, these bitches cain’t sing at all and they are ruining my Awesome Blossom eatin’ time. Harassment!” Anyhoo, the servers at his restaurant are exempt from the hell that is known as “I need birthday singers.” A lady came into the restaurant with her little girl and asked that they sing for her birthday. The server said they can’t do it, but gave her a free dessert anyway. The lady talked to the manager who confirmed that it was not gonna happen. The lady then got all pissed off and stiffed the server on a $32 bill and left this note which I Photoshopped a little bit so you can’t see what restaurant it came from:

Crappy birthday!

Crappy birthday!

“We wanted to give a better tip but felt no accommodations were given or consideration for the child’s birthday. It was her choice to come here but no candle or any type of celebration was done. We are kinda disappointed…!”

You know what, Mom? Get the fuck over it. If it’s the restaurant’s policy to not sing the goddamn stupid ass happy fucking birthday song, then that’s how it goes. Eat your free piece of thawed out birthday cake and move on. And what kind of life are you living if your daughter’s idea of a great birthday is to go to some chain restaurant that’s in the parking lot of a mall? When I was a kid, I celebrated my birthday in my back yard with my friends. My mom and dad would buy a sheet cake from Albertson’s and make some Kool-Aid and then all the kids from the neighborhood would come over and we’d play on the swing set. At some point, we’d sit at a big table and I would let them all serenade me until I was given the cue to to rip open my presents. That’s what a kid’s birthday should be like. The server told me that you said her “big day was ruined.” Well, honey, if my birthday passed without a bunch people I don’t know begrudgingly singing Happy Birthday to me off-key, I’d call that a rip-roaring success. And you’re mad because they didn’t put a candle in the cake? They didn’t have any fucking candles. Do you want your server to pull one out of her ass? Or how about they just put a chopstick in it and light it on fire? Or a Bic lighter? Would that have made her “special day” any better? And then you’re not going to leave a tip? Why in the hell does the server have to pay the price for a corporate policy? If you’re unhappy with the policy at a restaurant, do what every other disappointed customer does these days: go to Yelp and write a review about it and then go to their Facebook page and complain until they send you a fucking coupon for a free Apple Chimicheesecake and 10% off your next visit.

And to the little girl, I say this: aim higher. The next time your mom wants to take you somewhere for your big day, choose someplace where she’s gonna have to dig a little deeper into her pockets. You’re worth more than $32 (and that was for two adults and two children, by the way.) When you are older and look back on this day of disappointment, you will realize that not having the servers sing to you was a blessing in disguise. When I worked at Houlihan’s in Times Square, we were all singers. Before and after work, all of us were auditioning for Broadway shows. We could sing, like really sing, but when someone asked us to sing to them for their birthday, we would choose five different keys and and turn the volume to “shut the hell up.” It was not pretty. It was just our way to make that special day as memorable as possible. Hopefully next year, your mom can take you to Chuck E. Cheese or better yet, she will pony up the cash for a sheet cake from Costco and you can be surrounded by people who actually care about you and will want to sing Happy Birthday to you.

Okay, I’m done. That just rubs me wrong when people stiff the server for something the server has nothing to do with. Just remember: no server ever ever ever wants to sing happy birthday to you. Ever.

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30 thoughts on “Your Server Does Not Want to Sing Happy Birthday To You.

  1. Naughtyjandra

    My to go answer when somebody tells me it’s my birthday what do I get? I politely reply oh wow happy birthday it’s my birthday too but I had to work they wouldn’t give me the day off :(, where I work we have a pretty cool way to get you for been a dumb human asking me to sing for you, when somebody tells you it’s my birthday what do I get for free I can seriously answer a whipped cream pie in your face, you don’t believe me fine, we actually do it we pretend like we care play a song, we kind of do the singing once we are done singing the plate where we put wipe cream and a straw on fire goes to your face. YOU CAN’T COMPLAIN, that’s our company’s policy, that’s actually how we get even with annoying people, it’s awesome……….. Or if your cool with me and don’t ask be for free stuff I’ll get the table shots of tequila and I can take shots with my table only if you don’t ask for free stuff!!!!!!!!

  2. Wut

    I love how she says, “We wanted to give a better tip…” That would imply that they left one to begin with.

    Anyway, recently at my job there was a small electrical fire in the dining room. Nothing ignited, thankfully, but the restaurant filled with smoke and had to be immediately evacuated in the middle of the dinner rush. A man actually complained in the parking lot to my manager that we had ruined his girlfriend’s birthday. Because it’s our fault the restaurant filled with smoke, apparently. I’m still facepalming.

  3. Jasmine

    Yeah maybe the lady was was having a bad day but to take out her disappointment on the server is just shitty, she got a free dessert and still wasn’t happy? Come on now !
    And to flip the script maybe that server she stiffed has a child too

  4. Me

    What guests don’t realize is yes you have to stop what your doing (which could possibly be bringing their hot food out) and then try and stop other servers from doing what they are doing just to sing happy birthday. Then the other guests are wondering where their drink is or where their food is. We are usually already running around trying to take care of our guests. When you have to stop and try to recruit singers that means we cannot do the other things we are supposed to be doing. I try and not work for establishments that sing happy birthday to guests. It’s not that I don’t want to make guests birthdays memorable and happy. It’s because I prefer doing my job and frankly stopping to sing hampers me from doing so.

  5. John

    Wow, servers seem to be pretty judgmental. When you work at a restaurant, guest satisfaction is a part of it. It’s part of being an adult. If you don’t like accommodating guests, it’s imports to find a different job. Then both parties will be happy. Do it well, or don’t do it all. As mentioned, you don’t know the mothers story. While I understand that it was the restaurants policy not to sing happy birthday, there is no need for any of you to attack the mother, who was legitimately disappointed. Perhaps this was the one year she could give her child the luxury of going out to dinner. We should never judge each other’s circumstances. Let’s all try to be kinder.

  6. Travis

    As a former server I have a message for the birthday boy/girl…..Screw you and your birthday we are complete strangers to you and to be quite honest nobody gives a shit. In fact you are really pathetic if you expect the staff of a busy restaurant to stop what they are doing to come to your table to entertain you. If your friends and family want to sing that is fine I will be happy to bring your free desert but don’t expect anything else.

  7. dawn m

    you ppl are the most self righteous ignorant ppl! you do not know that ladies circumstances or why that mothers nerves were edgey. Maybe that was the only birthday she could provide her baby, maybe she just lost everything or is homeless with no family or a backyard to have a party. judgemental ass you can be assured you will be judged at the same measure. This mom may now read this considering this ignorant rant of this ass low life waitress is on facebook and her child may read it also. Obviously there was a reason that mom was so broken but self righteous ass didnt care about that. Also the obvious low life waitresses rant and judgemental words was way worse than the small note a disappointed mother wrote. Judge yourself because its obvious from your words that you were not raised right, and have no room to judge some childs mother who you have no clue anything about.

    1. KeyLey

      OK, I’ll bite. Maybe the mom’s having a rough day….how is it the server’s fault that he is LITERALLY NOT ALLOWED to sing to possibly-hard-up-for-cash-lady’s kid? Why does he lose a tip because his employer has an actual rule that he is supposed to follow?

      And no, it’s not “obvious there was a reason the mom is so broken”….some people are just self righteous, want everything done for them their way, and don’t give a crap about anyone else, never thinking about the people who they are taking money from (maybe the waiter is homeless, or strapped for cash, and is trying to earn an honest living? hey man, if you can throw out ridiculous situations you can apply them the other way too!)

    2. suz

      Dawn that was just a poor excuse not to tip she could have inquired about a birthday song before she arrived! We don’t sing at our restaurant and people call and ask if we do all the time so I don’t think the waitress was wrong!

    3. Ms. Captain Obvious

      Trying to justify not tipping the server because she was following policy seems pretty judgmental to me. To go as far as saying that the server was responsible for ruining the kids birthday because she was not prepared for it with candles?!! Don’t know the mothers situation but her not planning ahead and taking enough initiative in HER child’s birthday to even call the restaurant and see if they could accommodate? Nice save mom! Now you child will never know that you forgot! Whheew

  8. Lindsey

    I worked at a Japanese steakhouse in college, and we were required to sing Happy Birthday in Japanese…while wearing polyester kimonos…and baseball caps. Horrifying.

  9. carrie anne


  10. CaitlinHh

    Or how’a’bout…”its my friends birthday today….do they get a free shot or dessert or something?” my reply..”No…but you can BUY them one” smiles….all while thinking….YOY CHEAP AZZ BASTAD!!!! AINT SHT FREE..IF YOU WANT EM TO HAVE FREE YOURE FREE TO MAKE IT FREE….FOR THEM..

    1. carrie anne

      i bartend, my fav is when people ask me when they get a free birthday shot, my answers no obviously, im not gonna risk my job for some stranger… but then when they do order a drink, i ID them, and its not even their birthday, LOL MAN I LOVE CALLING PEOPLE OUT ON THAT SHIT

    2. Sydney

      I got a double shot of tequila for my birthday at a Mexican restaurant. They even sang happy birthday. I wasn’t expecting anything… I actually didn’t expect a Mexican restaurant to sing happy birthday, I didn’t know they did that.

  11. melissa in houston

    This is one of my faves. I posted a long text last time so i will spare everyone of bitchy’s army. We all share the pain. So in hind sight, i guess this is the kind of stuiff that brings us 2gether

  12. Jessica

    Worst part about birthdays… They’re TRENDY.

    Once it’s one persons birthday, it’s EVERYONE’s birthday. Once one person hears the dreadful song w/ cookie and candle in handle, everyone tries to get in on the free dessert.

    You know what? I wanna see all your damn ID’s because I don’t believe any of you jerks.

  13. Kimberly

    OH MY GOSH!!! This is great. Thanks for the inside to the signing. I always hated it, it was more to embarrass the person we were with then the servers. I would NEVER not tip because they wouldn’t sing! That is just crazy! This woman was wrong to do that! I wish I knew where the server was from so I could go there and tip them more to cover what that stupid lady did!

  14. Chris

    Even worse than the singing is when the guest comes in with a cocky sense of entitlement, “It’s my birthday, what do I get?”
    I was going to comp you a birthday dessert but now I want to tell you to get the hell out. Just order a dessert, casually mention it’s your birthday, and hope for the best. If you don’t get that piece of $5 cake for free, oh well.

  15. ShezAnEnigma

    I used to get everyone up in the restaurant, as many servers and employees and almost every single customer (we were designed in a circle and we had about 22 booths or so but there was the server station and front counter in the middle so it allowed for a bit of privacy to guests)- I was only turned down maybe three times – then I would cart everyone over to the table and we would all sing happy birthday.

  16. Keegs

    I hate, hate, HATE birthdays. I remember once at a restaurant I used to work at, I was slammed at around five pm on a Saturday night. Eight top, six top, two four tops and a fourteen top slammed. Being the only person working a double meant I got all the parties that came in during shift change and we had to make our own salads, which we all know that when one middle aged lady orders a salad, they ALL order a salad. So I had five of the fucking things, all different, I’ve got three trays in the window that need run and someone else needs birthday singers. Like hell that was going to happen so I told her no. Then my manager at the time comes walking into the kitchen and tells me that I NEED TO STOP MAKING THE SALADS AND SING. Excuse me? I need to wait to get my table’s food out so someone can hear an off-key version of row, row, row your boat with the words changed? But me being the perfect fucking angel I am explained the situation with the salads and the trays that needed to go (keep in mind I’m still putting oranges and cranberries on some lady’s Biker Chik salad), and she said tough shit, I have to sing. So I dropped everything, walked out of the kitchen, and led the stupid fucking birthday.

  17. Jimmy

    Without even reading this post, I know I’ve read it before, but I’d just like to point out that the “Happy Briday” cake gets me every time!

  18. Nicole

    it wasn’t even the singing part I hated the most, it was running around trying to beg other busy servers (or servers pretending to be busy) to come sing with me, so I didnt have to stand there like a jackass and do it alone.
    there was one time I worked in a small place by myself and started to sing, and everyone at the table just sat there and looked at me. I actually stopped to say “You’re making me do this by msyelf?” I mean wtf? its your family, not mine. I could care less if their birthday is fucking happy or not. You know how awkward it is to be the ONLY person singing that asinine song?

  19. Thomas

    “Happy, happy birthday from Applebee’s to you….
    We wish was our birthday, so we could party too!”
    Fuckin’ hate singing at tables.

    1. Erica

      You people are obviously not understanding what a tip is. A tip is a gratitude for the service you provide. If your caring and go about and beyond hey 80% of the time your tip will as well. DUHHHH!! Simple recognition of her birthday would have been enough. To not even care, then why would she. Kudos to you lady. I would have done the same, coming from a server/bartender of 12yrs, having pennies tipped and thrown at me. If you think you gonna pay your bills by doing the bare minimum go work at McDonald’s

      1. Scott

        With 12 years serving, I am shocked that you don’t understand what a tip is. A tip is the balance of a maybe reasonable wage that the restaurant is too cheap or greedy to pay you. Don’t leave a 20% tip, well okay then. Don’t stiff your server unless what happens is egregious, which this clearly was not. This was restaurant policy. Don’t stiff your server. And yes, I ‘ve been there and done that.


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