Overheard in the Restaurant


Your waiter hears everything.

As we zoom by our tables in the height of a lunch or dinner rush, a good server always has his ears open in case there is a guest who needs something. It’s easy to impress a customer if you can bring them something that they haven’t even asked for yet. Say you hear out of your peripheral audio (that’s not even a real phrase, but you know what I mean…) someone say, “I could kinda use some more ketchup” and then one minute later you show up with some.

“Oh, my God, I was just about to ask you for that, how did you know?” they will exclaim.

“I’m good. I’m real good,” you can say back.

Keeping your ears open also means that it is impossible to not catch little snippets of conversations that our customers are having. It’s not that we want to hear every little thing that’s being discussed, we just can’t help it. Believe me, if I could turn off my hearing whenever I wanted to, I would turn it off the second I set foot onto the 7 train every morning so I don’t have to listen to that goddamn mariachi band and that old lady who plays La Cucaracha on her fucking recorder and asks for donations. But I can’t turn off my hearing so I hear every single things that slides out of the mouths of my customers.

I decided to start taking notes of the most random things that customers say. Most people don’t seem to be aware or simply do not care that I can pretty much hear everything that they are talking about. Over the course of two weeks, these are my favorite random snippets that I overheard at the restaurant:

  • A lady can be a bartender? I thought they could only be nurses. Okay, this was a kid and it was kinda cute, but what kind of life is he living that he thinks that women have only one occupational option?
  • I want a ship with a bowling alley and a microwave. I have no idea what they were talking about. Maybe a cruise ship they are considering taking a trip on or perhaps it’s someone really rich who is shopping around for a new yacht and they just happened to be slumming in my dump of a restaurant.
  • He wants me to pierce his balls. Who ever said romance is dead?
  • Or that you went for an STD test and they found something. I think they were trying to come up with an excuse to get out of work the next day, but it again makes me question who thinks that romance is not alive and well and living at Table 8.
  • One time he put his hands down my pants at karaoke. Actually, all of this sound romantic.
  • You know what I love? Smelling things. This too sounds romantic, if it’s in the right context, like say, while holding a single red rose surrounded by baby’s breath or right after you do the swab test to make sure someone is clean enough to go down on. (That’s for you, Scott.)
  • With the cow, it’s actually the casing I’m allergic to. Okay, the romance is officially dead.
  • I kinda miss the radio. You never got what you wanted but you never knew what you were gonna get. This is so deep, like it should be printed on a t-shirt and worn by a hipster in Williamsburg.
  • Is he like Asperger-sy? Three women sitting at the booth talking about the dates they have had from OK-Cupid. “Hi, I’m a Gemini. I like puppies, 80’s music and long walks on the beach. I’m kinda Asperger-sy though so there’s that.”
  • Do you guys play Bingo? I should have stuck around to hear the answer because if the answer was “yes” I need to know if they need a new best friend because I fucking love Bingo!
  • I have never heard another human being say they don’t like art. That makes me so sad. This, as opposed to all the animals of the world she has heard say they don’t like art.

I guess customers tend to forget that their servers have ears that we can’t turn off even though we wish we could. After I heard the woman talk about being allergic to cow casing, I wanted to stick a  butter knife down my ear canal to keep myself from hearing anymore about it but I knew it would make a big fucking mess and it would just be more crap for me to clean up so I didn’t.

What about you guys? What are some of the most random snippets of conversation you have ever heard while at one of your tables?


edit: Ah, it’s it’s casein, not casing. That makes sense now. Could not understand why she would be allergic to the casing of a cow. I had in my head she was allergic to some kind of stomach lining… That’s what I get for eavesdropping. Than you, Julie and Snoop Beaver.  -BW

36 thoughts on “Overheard in the Restaurant

  1. Eduard Laurel

    Dear Mr. Bitchy Waiter,

    I wonder if there is a sub-category to this subject, those that say or stoke purposefully the most outrageous behavior from disruptive moronic and aggressive patrons. It seems in this political climate it is discouraged, because you cannot upset the rich, because they are the ones with the money. It is most tedious to have to interact with the these people now in Manhattan, though it used to be fun to mock them, and be appreciated as performing a social obligation to my friends who work in this industry. To the young Wall Street Big Swinging Dicks I would ask, “Are you GAY??? Do you have a boyfriend? Can you get me LSD?” and it made my friends on the staff happy, relieving steam. A time past.

    I hope it isn’t poor etiquette to post this so long and tedious comment.

    With all thanks and congratulations to your true and wonderful web page,

    Eduard Laurel

    1) At my neighborhood hang, a nice French wine bar, one empty summer afternoon there was a rich old fart spewing and shrieking the way they do to their servants, oblivious to the squirms of the his pretty young prostitute date. When this slob started ranting about his loose bowel flowers, it was Time To Go.

    2) One dead Sunday midnight there were two SNL executives gossiping about their work over crème brûlées and a Sauterne. In a lull in the music we overheard “It is hard finding a woman that tastes like a man.”

    3) One evening the manager was beside herself with all the people that required babysitting. She was first trapped by a regular who had just seen pictures of her boyfriend having sex with two transexuals, then there was the hot Swiss DJ boy who has very specific ideas about the music. She couldn’t take it when next walked in a middle-aged tourist couple, dressed as if by Laura Ashley on a bad hangover, dressed as if for some Connecticut country club of the mind. They were out to spend, to be shown a good time by the locals. The manager gave me an SOS with a glance, so I contributed, “Do you think the boy is gay? He says no, but he just so IS! Its been a tough night for my friends. She just found out she has been cheated on by her boyfriend with two transexuals. Does it make you bisexual when you have sex with a trannie?” It was good that the woman’s botox job was so accomplished, otherwise her face could have fallen off onto her magnificent pearls, exposing her perfect teeth. Queased, they didn’t finish their wine, and went off into The Big City, probably to go back to their hotel. The manager was so appreciative.

    4) There was a man a few Saturdays ago that approached me at the bar, late, dressed casually and with an unkempt beard. I had already heard he was a bad tipper after his dinner, and I was also feeling unwell. He asked “Why are you working so late? It’s a bar; you should be having a good time!” I usually make these people go away with “It’s a difficult letter to a friend whose son committed suicide.” He barreled through, “I’m a mathematician with a PhD, and I work in finance. I have an apartment across the street; I have apartments all over the world. I love this bistro, and have been coming here for years.” “Oh? I wanted to be a mathematician, but linear algebra defeated me. Can you read Stephen Hawking’s technical writing? How fluid is your numerical analysis? Did you have to proof differential equations in school?” He scoffed with “That’s not math, that’s SCIENCE! I manage a 5 billion dollar hedge fund with clients globally, and the secret of my success is I always guess right about companies that are about to fail.” Breezily, I asked, “Oh? Does that make the world a better place that you base your accomplishments on failure?” The man evaporated, poof! It made the bartender very happy.

    5) One dull night three ghastly Jersey suits came in and sat next to me, as I jotted my musings on a waiter pad. They immediately insulted the bartender, Luis, a tall imposing Portuguese man. The alpha tried to impress his friends, beginning his order with “VOO-lesss plie-SEAR la ham-BOOGRE avek ZHEE-sie frit-EZZZ.” Luis stopped him with “English. Order in English.” After they further insulted him they carried on, vying for telling the vilest violent homophobic jokes I’ve ever heard. Luis disappeared after they were served, and then they gradually quieted down. When they were silent, I looked up to see them studying me, fascinated. The alpha said, “Seems like you’re really concentrating. What are you writing?” “Thank you notes for blowjobs I have given.” Luis had appeared from nowhere, anticipating the theater, and in their stunned silence POURED me another glass of wine. “That’s a very considerate thing to do. You seem like a nice guy. In what johndra are you writing?” “Johndra?” “You know, short story, screen play?” “Sir, the ‘johndra’ is transexual.” Luis had their bill in his hand, and they paid quickly, and fled. Luis was so grateful.

    6) One night Luis worked the floor, and the intimate place was full. A trophy wife came up to bar, and asked to speak with the owner. Erik the Parisian bartender said “He is not here; he might come in tomorrow morning at eight.” “Then I must speak to the manager.” “I am the manager.” There was no shouting, but everything stopped and the people stared. “In all the years I’ve been eating in the best restaurants, I have never had a worst ruder waiter than this one.” “Madame, try the owner tomorrow morning.” “You don’t understand. You don’t know who I am. I know Obama.” From the bar someone snapped “Obama’s an asshole,” and everyone tittered. The woman was livid; she had LOST! Her poor elderly husband stood cowering at the door, and before they left he handed Luis a 50 bill. We chewed on that one for days.

    7) Then there was the banshee that came roaring in with her mouse friend one calm midnight and presumed to sit next to me. “I want a bottle of wine, but only your BEST wine. I only drink the BEST. Get me a Malbec.” The poor bartender explained that it was a French wine bar, and she said “I know, I have been coming here for years. I meant something LIKE a Malbec. Where is Robert? He always knew what to get me. I don’t CARE how much it costs.” (They got a Petrus.) With dread I had to accept my evening was ruined when she lit into me. “What are you doing? Where do you live? I live on CPW and 73rd.” “Oh, The Langham, or the building north of 73rd?” “The one on the LEFT! The one by Patsy’s Pizza.” “Oh, but is almost to Columbus.” She tried to teach me the geography of Manhattan’s grid system, with right and left, and in a flash I saw the light and collected my computer, fleeing to the furthest table, so upset that I forgot MY WINE! She railed and whined for Robert, and when I calmed down I went to her. “Robert {Dominican/American, blackest of black} no longer works here, and was fired in the worst way. He was homeless for a while, and I had him live in my apartment for a month, but had to get rid of him; he had some bad habits. As we know, he has a huge dick. He wouldn’t let me suck it, but I could suck and torture his balls. He once came in after work at 5 in the morning, stopping by McDonald’s on the way. I had to send him to the shower because his balls smelled of McNuggets.” She swooned, “I MUST find Robert. Give me his number!” “We think he might be in jail, maybe for not paying his child-support; the marshals came asking for him a few months ago. You could ask the bouncer/drug dealers at the bar around the corner.” She stopped screaming. The poor Serbian bartender decided he hated New York, and moved to Miami.

    8) There was a Viennese party planner, a neo-Nazi, whose biggest gig was organizing the yearly Viennese Opera Ball at the Waldorf, a regular that was despised for coming in at least weekly, between 3 and 3:45, and ordering one or two of the cheapest bottles of red, and at least three courses, sometimes keeping the place open till dawn, of course tipping a couple of singles. One night he was there with the head of Deutsche Bank Amerika with his wife, proper and dignified Germans I had met socially before. I took a chance, and whispered three horrible, unrepeatable Jewish jokes into fascist’s ear, and he fell of his stool laughing. Herr Professor Doktor insisted he share what was so funny, and my friend did, in German. They turned white, then beet red. Words were hissed, then they left soon after, the Nazi never to be seen again. I was thanked.

    9) There was a nattily dressed older man I followed into the bar, and there was only one other couple there, a large and angry South American businessman with his high-end prostitute. The gent announced “Drinks for all!” He had come from a fund-raiser at the Met Museum for refugee children, an international tax lawyer. He ordered the ‘Peanut-Green-kio.’ A hapless young man entered next, saying he was visiting from somewhere, but had lost everything in a bender, his wallet and his phone charger. “Young man, look, I brought my portable one. Have a drink on me!” He ordered a tequila shot, and I told the gent “It’s French wine with a few beers.” The young man was literally all over me, and said he was staying at a $400 dollar hotel, and his girlfriend was staying at a $500 one. I discreetly consolidated my cash, credit cards, and keys, and asked the Italian manager to secure my lap-top behind the bar. He finally had to tell the boy “Please, stop touching Eduard. It is making him nervous.” The boy said “I play cards for a living. Do you like games?” In a coma, I said “Only mind.” “You mean like chess?” “No, not like that.” He continued “I like wearing my girlfriend’s clothes. Do you want to see?” and started unbuttoning his shirt.” “No, no! That’s okay.” When he finished his glass of wine, he began drinking the gent’s. “Another round!” He approached the gent, and asked if he could spare a twenty, as he was hungry. “Viola!” and he somehow tumbled out of the joint. The prostitute was livid. “How could you do that? He is going to buy booze or drugs. There are people who really need the money!” It was time to go, and the gent paid with his black Amex, which he put back into his wallet and jacket. Then he asked for the tab, and the manager gently told him he had already paid, and we saw him put his card back, but, he didn’t leave a tip. “Oh, that’s no problem. I’ll be coming back tomorrow.” “Sir, no problem! Get home safe!! See you tomorrow!” The Mexican guys in the kitchen came out to witness the spectacle, but I felt badly for Charlotte, her first real day after training, whose jaw finally dropped to her navel by the end. She also chose to find a different job a few months later.

  2. Pamela

    Cocktail waitress at a topless bar I had a woman come in and tell the door guy she was there to get her truck, she’d been out of town her son had a house party and a dancer used her truck to go to work since her car was blocked in…..

  3. Amy

    One of the funniest conversations I’ve ever heard was a regular elderly couple talking to each other. They toasted their wine glasses together the old man says”We’ve been together over 50 years and it’s been wonderful, and I’ve only had to whomp you twice” Her response “Only when I really deserved it” Both smiling ear to ear. I couldn’t help myself I laughed out loud

  4. Capt. Luney

    While I was in the restroom at the restaurant I worked at, a woman told her friend who was waiting for her, “it’s ok, the mashed potatoes are in my pockets.”
    I ran out of there, ran right into my manager, whom I told, we waited for mashed potato pickets to walk by and then abruptly fell to the ground laughing our heads off. It became an inside joke for the rest of the time I worked there between her and I…

  5. Kassy

    Wow! This is awesome! Great post! I wrote something very similar, Overheard at Restaurants, in my blog a few weeks ago! Check out kassycandor.org and let me know what you think!

  6. Mousie

    My husband and I were out dining last night, and this very attractive yet not really all that bright young man (think early 20s) kept insisting to his table that female lions had manes, and that’s why the Wizard of OZ starring Judy Garland was inaccurate. My hubby and I did everything we could to not laugh, but our server, Peter, came over and asked if we’d heard it and we just couldn’t help it.

    From my hostess days, I think my favorite quote came from our regular table of stoners. (Every Friday like clockwork: 8:00 pm, ripped out of their minds, over $200 checks and $80 tips minimum… LOVED THEM.) One day when they were in, they were having a particularly deep conversation about the nature of the soul. The single girl turned to the three boys and said, “Guys– guys, what if Casper is actually Ghandi but no one’s figured it out yet? THAT IS WHY HE IS THE FRIENDLIEST GHOST WE KNOW.” One of the boys responded, “Dude, someone should tell his wife. It could be a Patrick Swayze thing like in ‘Ghost’ only with tantra.”

  7. lauren

    So I am a host and one seafood night where we had crablegs (small mountain town rare to get crablegs around here) i overheard a lady talking about the food and looks at her friend and says “man i am going to have to keep my legs closed at church tomorrow. Her friend replies, “cause of the smell of crablegs?”she then goes on and tells her friend, “no because they are gonna crawl right out of me. my crotch is gonna be full of crabs.

  8. Emma

    One of my coworkers had a table last summer, about 3 in the afternoon (so the place was pretty dead) get in a massive fight about his heroin use at the table. They walked out before the food even came out.

  9. maxi

    I was waiting on a table of 4 business-y looking men one evening and I heard this little gem as I walked by.. “I say if they’re is grass on the wicket, we can play cricket”. Ugh. Needless to say my service got a smite colder towards him!

  10. Denise in WI

    Two twenty-something women:

    Woman #1: So he takes me out to dinner and I ask him what his favorite herb is. He said “Rosemary.” Ugh. He should have said “basil”…you can never have too much basil.

    Woman #2: I know, right?! Paul is really heavy-handed on the dried rosemary, too! What’s up with that?

  11. Kristin

    Overheard while waiting tables at an Americanized Asian Noodle House in a very Southern, very college town in Georiga: “Y’all, should I get my nails done before I go to jail or not?” Ummmm…. WHAT?!? 10 years later, I still remember what the poor girl looked like. At this particular job, we kept a running list of hilarious “customer quotes” on the wall in dry storage. It made the days so much better.

  12. Jenny

    I’m not sure why someone would be sad at the fact people like art, but oh well…
    Well I could hear snippets of a rather morbid conversation this evening conducted by 3 women in a section all by themselves. They’d had at least 2 bottles of Rose between them (probably White Zinfandel – YES we do sell it… xD) and they were talking about how “their girls aren’t going to last” or something. I hope it was their dog rather than their children.

  13. GOTV

    Three young 20 somethings- Guy 1 “She’s great in bed and makes really good cheese dip.” Guy 2 “But does that make her ‘wife’ material?” Sex and cheese dip, men are so simple : )

  14. tim

    Hi BW. I have been a bartender for 20 years give or take. I am self publishing a book on Amazon that is similar to your funny conversations you have overheard. My book is entitled “quote of the night. For years I have been compiling funny quotes I have overheard as a bartender. I currently have about 250. I have them all writeen down on various pieces of buisness cards, bar naps etc. They are all dated, with a description of the person who made the quote and where they made the quote. The cover will be a collage of all the pieces of paper on which the quotes were written.I think it’s a unique idea that many people in the industry would appreaciate as well as others. It will sell for $9.95 and I hope to have it published by Christmas. I will send you one free of course.

  15. Amy

    My Dad actually said in a restaurant, with me and my brothers (we were all 20 something.) “When I married your mother and agreed to have kids, I thought coochie coo, how cute. I’m sittin here with 3 fucking adults, I didn’t bargain for this.” We’re obviously from NYC!

  16. Teresa

    I work at a high-end golf resort clubhouse. On my second day, one of our members had a dizzy spell, fell and sliced his nose open. He was laying on the ground, bleeding and disoriented, his wife holding his head and comforting him. As I’m on the phone with the paramedics, this is what another member’s wife is saying:

    “Look at what she’s wearing. My god, could she be any tackier? Why doesn’t she dress her age? Disgusting…”

    Wow. The compassion is overwhelming, lady.

  17. Taylor

    I was behind the bar last night and a group of “townies” walked in. The two girls were clearly trying to impress the guy they were with. I had put college basketball on the tv and idiot #1 said (after a player scored a 3 point shot) “oh wow!! That was so far away! He should get 4 points for that one! I mean, I know it was a 3 pointer, but he deserves 4!” O.o Get out. Haha just drink your delicious mojito and get out.

  18. Jenn

    Can’t recall anything overheard. Perhaps I should start jotting things down for a future coffee table book.
    But…last week I had a 4 top all order coffee. When I checked on the table for refills on the coffee I noticed their coffees were all lightened up with creamer but noticed only 2 creamers were opened. Then I smelled the Bailey’s. I thought I should give them a hard time just for the hell of it especially since we serve Bailey’s but I figured since I did not actually see a bottle of Bailey’s I would just stay mum. They were a good bunch and left a nice tip. Faking ignorance can be bliss.

  19. Julia

    I work at a high end restaurant in wine country. The table is a father with his three 20 something children. All very well dressed and spoken. So the father says to one of his sons ” How can your mother possibly be so upset that I put the bong in the dishwasher!?!” . Daughter chimes in “Dad you CAN NOT put the bong in the dishwasher. ”
    “Ok ok” replies the father.
    Great family time.

  20. anne marie in philly

    I love bingo too!

    “what kind of life is he living that he thinks that women have only one occupational option?” – WTeverlovingF? reminds me of growing up in the 60s and having it drummed into me that the only things I could be (in this order) were a nun (catholic school, don’tcha know), a mommy, a nurse, a secretary, an airline stewardess, or a waitress. slim pickings, eh? thank the FSM for women’s lib!

  21. Kris D

    I always got random stuff like that but when I started bartending (and I’m a woman! Look at me breaking little kids expectations) it just got amazing. I could fill a book with the amount of inappropriate and intimate knowledge I have (or make a fortune in blackmail). It really was like I was a piece of furniture and people would just talk and talk.

  22. Snoop beaver

    The cow one listed above, he was describing being allergic to casein, which is a protein found in milk and is pretty common.

  23. Tnt Ross

    While doing sugars during the graveyard shift, I heard this from my only table of two young girls.

    Girl 1: “You know, the best thing about having sex to a live recording of a song is after you’re done you always get applause.”

    Girl 2: “Your sex only lasts the length of one song? That’s sad”

    I couldn’t help but giggle. I’d heard the first part before but the second girl’s response was too perfect!

  24. Laura

    The two best things I ever heard while working as a waitress (so good that they are committed to memory verbatim).

    Woman: “I hate her so much. She eats salad EVERY DAY. What, does she think she’s better than everyone else or something? I don’t even know what dressing she uses but it really hurts my soul.”


    Man: “Damn, that girl had so much makeup on it’s like she woke up and just DUNKED her face in that shit.”

    It really never fails. Second best is bus/subway conversations. The stories I have…


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