Apparently, Servers Are Not Allowed to Have Facial Expressions

TripIn my never ending quest to stand up for the average server and also find things to write about on this old, tired ass blog, I have been alerted to a review on Trip Advisor that gives me pause. A seafood restaurant called Nautilus Seafood & Grill in Belfast, Maine left one customer disappointed because the waiter had the nerve to have a facial expression.

The reviewer had planned on having a relaxing afternoon with the family and seemed satisfied with the lunch until the end of service. She explains that she waited “a while” to pay her check, but we servers know that “a while” is the equivalent of about three to five minutes. In order to get her waiter’s attention she waved her card and bill at him. This, apparently, is when things went from relaxing to disappointing, because she perceived that the waiter’s muscles in his face caused him to express a facial reaction that she was none too pleased with. The humanity! The horror! He made a facial reaction!

She doesn’t say what kind of reaction he had. It could have been one that said “Oh, shoot, I need to get over there and close that check as soon as I run these desserts.” Or maybe it said “Golly gee, I hope I haven’t made my customer wait too long.” My guess, since the customer admits she was waving her credit card at him, was that the facial expression was one of “This bitch needs to stop with the waving of the fucking credit card before I punch her in the throat” but then the server realized that his inner thoughts were being played out on his face so he quickly corrected it.

When he returned to the table, she asked him if there was anything wrong and he told her, “No, we’re good.” However, he didn’t make eye contact, again making Sally Sensitive feel that she was getting attitude. She and her family left feeling uncomfortable and not willing to pay that much for lunch with “that kind of service” again. Therefore: two stars!

What we have here is a customer trying to find issues when there are none; making a mountain out of a molehill. This server made a facial expression and she perceived it to be all about her. She must have forgotten that the restaurant does not revolve around her and that a server in a busy lunch scene may have dozens of other people to attend to. Just because he has a freakin’ facial expression does not mean it’s all about you. However, to be on the safe side, I would like to advise all servers, from this moment on, to avoid ALL facial expressions. When a customer tells you you a joke, DO NOT SMILE. We cannot take the risk that they may think we are laughing AT them rather than WITH them. Practice your noncommittal face in a mirror if you have to. Glaze your eyes over, relax all facial muscles and make sure that your face looks completely vacant and uninvolved. Basically, pretend you are Kim Kardashian in a Political Science class. I realize that by doing this we are taking the chance that a customer will leave a review that says we didn’t look happy enough to be at work, but we this is what it has come to.

As for the customer who wrote the bad review, I want to write one for her:

my reviewIf you like this blog, you will love my book coming out in April. You can click here to preorder your copy on Amazon!

I wait tables and bitch about it on my blog, The Bitchy Waiter.

22 thoughts on “Apparently, Servers Are Not Allowed to Have Facial Expressions

  1. Even BOH staff are not immune to this — one day after a terrible morning (sprinkler system went off, lost power, etc) my staff and I were magically able to get the restaurant running for dinner service at 5:30. Unfortunately, not all the equipment was up and running (steam table for pasta wasn’t boiling) but other than that we were good to go.
    Lo and behold, an older couple walk in at 5:30. They are in a “rush” because whatever. Their server explains the situation. They can have ANYTHING on the menu except for pasta. What does she want? Pasta. The server comes up – open kitchen – repeats this request and I politely tell him, no sorry. She can wait thirty minutes for several gallons of water to boil, or she can order something else. I should note that during this time I may or may not have rolled my eyes as he explained what a righteous cunt this woman was being. Naturally, she had seen me, storms up to our manager, screaming and then walks out, her bumbling husband slightly apologizing.

  2. Years ago a waiter friend of mine was told by a customer to smile. He replied “you smile first”, the customer did, then he said “now you hold it for the next eight hours’ and walked away!

  3. I think all of us restaurant workers and owners need to go on a rampage against unfair reviews on TripAdvisor and Yelp. I am a restaurant owner in Michigan. Overall we have EXCELLENT reviews but you always get a naysayer. I fire back at them and I think we should all do it and remind them of the negative impact they make on the viability of an industry that is extremely difficult and demanding. Negative reviews and an especially large impact on small owner operated venues. I will take my lumps when we screw up or a waitstaffer has a bad day and is rude to the customer. Unfounded reviews piss me off.

    BTW, I found this particular review and fired the following at the customer: YOU WAVED YOUR BILL IMPATIENTLY at your server. That is just plain RUDE. I am a restaurant owner in another state. What you did was UNCOUTH. I am sure your waiter was busy with another task and would have been over to get your check and payment momentarily. Do you shake your empty glass at servers as well? Your 2 star review was unfounded and unfair.

    P.S. I really enjoy your posts!

  4. Where I work we tell tables to GO UP TO THE COUNTER AND PAY. Thats just the thing are, If your going to wave it for me I’m gonna have a face of utter annoyance because I already said I don’t take it at the table. You have to go up.

  5. Working at Denny’s in Hollywood CA ,graveyard shift I was told by mgr who was filling in for our regular mgr – that I will be sent home (at 4 am ) because I don’t look smiley …Fuck, I was going to the back to fetch some dressing & I guess I missed the page in my servers manual where it says ” U must smile at a tub of blue cheese” . I ended up staying my shift .Actualy asked the prick if mayby he needed to go home . But years and years of this type scuffles & threats create anxiety & stress .Who needs this shit ? Some ppl are just not good ,not every Life is perfect .Mine is far from it but I’m trying to live without treading on anybody’s toes 🙂 Peace -Your server Joey B.

  6. Perhaps the server felt bad that his thoughts played across his face during a “moment,” and was too embarrassed to look at his customers? Or perhaps he was trying to clear plates, glasses, etc. from the table (of course she doesn’t say in her post), when she asked him this and because he didn’t want to drop something?? ( I didn’t read the above comments so this may have already been pointed out, if so I apologize)

  7. Aaaah, “facial expressions”. I have Resting Bitch Face and once got yelled at by the GM on my way INTO THE KITCHEN about “the look on my face”. I oh-so-calmly explained to that 12 year old pre-teen of a GM that I was THINKING; there was indeed NO “facial expression”. Also, I do not walk about the restaurant smiling like I’m in a commercial; I am thinking about the million things a server gets to think about during a shift. In no way do I look grumpy, but this is my FACE AT REST. How people who personalize this makes me weary. (I think those people are just looking for a fight.) I can’t believe I’m still doing this after THIRTY-THREE years of it and all the crap that goes with it. I guess I must still love the job!! 🙂

  8. Im really sorry for the waiter and the customer, as this incident i find quite sad. I have been in retail for over ten years, and yes the customer is always right, the snowball effect of a happy customer is imaculate. Its the industry, people shop when they are happy/sad/stressed/bored, you name it. Its an art to perform high quality service, and trust me, you will probably win over the grumpy customer. Those are the customers who funny enough, will come back. Going out to a restaurant should be an experience, it should be something that makes you feel good and satisfied, you are paying a tremoundous mark up on the food already!!! Its a pity how one person can ruin a brand that so much time, effort and money has been invested into, but the brand is only as good the service directly linked to the end consumer.

  9. I’m so amused by this because I make a variety of facial expressions while I’m at work. I generally don’t try to make them at my guests, but I regularly make faces at the POS if I hit a wrong button and I make faces at my coworkers all the time. If a guest happened to see me, I guess they could misinterpret it. But I would hope they would listen to reason after I explained I was making a face at the computer because I hit the apps button instead of entrees.

  10. Could be a number of things…
    …he was having trouble with his new contacts?
    …he was embarrassed because he had forgotten the customer?
    …he was having gas pains?
    …the customer is a self-entitled, over-sensitive, rude, petty, narcissistic, heifer.

    What the heck? I pick the last one.

  11. I received a written complaint because I didn’t smile. They went on to say nothing was wrong with their food or service but felt I should smile. It was during an extremely busy night during the holidays. I agree with Jennifer, however I think everyone should work as a server for 1 year, like the military in other countries!

    1. I received a write up because the customer said I wasn’t being rude, but she felt that I wanted to be rude..after she kept ordering pitchers and appetizers..and then wanted the check split ..people are unbelievable.

  12. wait, i’m confused. in her first statement, she says all went well until she waved the bill.
    then the server came over, and she perceived some sort of facial expression insult? so much so that she had to question him about it? so why then in her review does she give the service one star, according to her all was fine, until the bill paying. so the service must have been fine up til then also? why when people get a little hissy fit going on, does then all hell break loose, the server sucked, the restaurant sucked, the food sucked, blah blah blah, all over an implied, maybe but i am not sure, was that a look? seriously, everyone should be made to work as a server for a month at least, then they would know what it is like, and maybe treat us all better for it

    1. So cute! You must be new here – to the human race, I mean – expecting reasonable behavior from people. Also too, everyone should be made to work as a server for a year minimum, ideally between ages 15-20.

      /who are you callin’ cynical?

  13. What a biatch! For all she knows the server had a fierce case of the shits from a less than par shift meal and that’s what took him so long to pick up her check to begin with, thus also creating a facial expression! This is all providing the whiney twat even had to wait to have it picked up to begin with. Maybe the facial expression also stemmed from the shitty tip written in on her check. Bitch needs to quit over-evaluating facial expressions of strangers.

  14. She obviously doesn’t know how to read someone. If you feel compelled to ask if you did something wrong, you probably did buddy. Don’t try to project your shittiness into someone who doesn’t deserve it.

  15. The poor guy was probably upset with the way she treated him. And when looking at the bill saw she left him a wonderful 10% (not so wonderful). While he thought he gave her good service. So yes the expression was disappointment… If all this crazy lady can complain about is her check waving she got damn good service, just wants to justify leaving her shit tip and feel special posting about it.

  16. Uh. He probably made a facial expression because waving your bill is fucking rude. It’s one thing to hold it up to let your server know you are ready, but if she was actually waving it around like an impatient cunt, I’d make a face too.

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