Despite being essential workers, restaurant staff are often mistreated by customers who just don’t seem to understand their line of work. Some customers are definitely funny in retrospect, but others are terrible through and through. These workers share the worst customer they ever had the misfortune of meeting.
I worked in Domino's and had a guy throw a handful of pennies at me while laughing. The 30 odd cents was my tip and he got mad when I turned around and walked away without picking any of them up. His exact words were, "Oh, my money’s not good enough for you? Fine, I'll never order Domino's again!" I've never had a customer fire themselves like that before. It was great.
A few years ago, I used to work in a bar that sold very old booze. One time, this inebriated man tried to impress his friends by chugging from a bottle of amaro from the early 60s. He had to pay for the whole thing since his lips touched it and it was useless to other customers after that. It cost him around $800.
I was 18 years old and working at a golf club restaurant with a lot of snooty, elderly people. This one old guy came around the corner, out of sight of the rest of his table and other customers. He took my hand in his, gave me a tip, complimented my looks, then kissed me on the cheek. I was very uncomfortable.
I worked in a popular restaurant for a while. We usually have quite a long wait during dinner service and people were told by the hosts about this. There was this lady who got fed up with the wait after 10 minutes. She stormed into the restaurant, stood next to a table of four people and literally asked them, "Are you guys done? We've been waiting for a long time now and would like to have the table if you guys are just chatting." I was completely mindblown how people are able to not care and pull something like this in public.
It was a busy Friday night and we said, "Hey. It's going to be a 15-minute wait for a table." The host proceeded to seat people who were there first. But the other people saw a dirty table, so the host was obviously terrible at their job. Then they went and sat at the dirty table, asking the first person they saw to clean it for them while demanding drinks.
I was working at one of the busiest bars in a major city in the midwest. This absolute loser couldn’t stop pounding his empty glass on the bar, rolling his eyes, and yelling "I'm empty over here." It was 11:00 p.m. on a Saturday and the bar was packed. There was a literal line around the block. I told him I would get to him as quickly as I could.
Not 20 seconds later, I heard him slamming one of my glasses on the bar again . I leaned over the bar to tell him if he couldn’t stop abusing my glassware, I'd give him a plastic cup. This idiot proceeded to spit in my face. I was honestly shocked. One of my regulars grabbed him by the back of his head and slammed his face into the bar. Naturally, a fight broke out. At least 20 of my glasses ended up broken.
Way back in the ‘80s, I worked in a restaurant that was a favorite of a celebrity chef, Jeff Smith (the Frugal Gourmet). I’ve never seen a bigger fool than that guy. He literally made our servers cry. Nothing was ever right, he was beyond rude and condescending, yet he kept coming back. He had a reputation of being a jerk off-camera. Eventually, he was disgraced by being outed as a child predator and was quickly forgotten by all. Our restaurant was a good place. Another celebrity chef of the time, Graham Kerr (the Galloping Gourmet) was always a pleasure to have visit.
Our bar was having a private party. An inebriated dude walked in and ordered a drink. I knew he wasn’t with the party based on his attire and that he came in every so often. I told him I couldn’t get him a drink and he lost his mind. He told me off and wanted to fight me. On his way out, he yelled that we should put up signs, as he walked by the signs on the door saying we were closed for a private event. He came in the next day sober and apologized.
I work in a place that’s frequented by local families and youth sports teams. On Sundays, this one large group of people always came in and they were the worst. The parents drank and ignore their preteens who would run around playing games in the entire restaurant, disrupting everyone. They tried to walk in with a party of 45 during when we were booked solid and got mad that there wasn’t enough space for them. They modified everything like crazy and left no tip.
Stories that matter — delivered straight to your inbox.
After a wedding reception ended at our facility, we were cleaning and I began the process on our espresso machine. The party was over for almost half an hour already. The cleaning process takes 12 minutes. People were still there as the party slowly let out and the father of the bride asks me for an espresso. I told him I could get it to him (we have a strict policy of trying to satisfy a guest’s needs).
But, the machine was cleaning and it would be done in about 10 minutes. He began to rant about how much he paid for the wedding, stormed to our manager and told them I refused to make it for him. The manager is the worst and started ripping me apart in front of the guy. I showed both of them that the machine was just finishing the cleaning process and it was impossible to make it beforehand. I got suspended for two weeks.
I was bartending in a restaurant a few years ago. There was a private party and one of the guests asked me to plug in his iPhone to listen to a song. No big deal. I did it and he tipped me $20. He left his phone behind the bar and got wasted. When he was leaving I said, "Sir, don't forget about your phone!" He threw a beer on me and told me to leave him alone. He then told me to get a real job. Guess who got to keep a nice new iPhone?
I had a guy who was a germaphobe with really bad OCD. He came through before and my co-worker didn’t want to deal with him. So, I went to the drive-thru window after washing my hands. I cashed out the order that was onscreen and he reluctantly handed over his card. I gave him the coffee that I cashed him out for.
He started yelling at me, saying that it was wrong. Apparently, the person that took the order forgot to type it in. It’s unfortunate but it happens. He started yelling at the co-worker who didn’t want to take his order at the window. Instead of just saying that it was the wrong order, getting refunded and being on his way, he stayed in the driveway for 20 minutes telling my co-worker that she was stupid, unprofessional and was unfit to be a supervisor.
He kept demanding that we get the phone number of our franchise owner, but apparently the number was wrong and he kept yelling at us. When we came back to the window after 20 minutes of this, he left. My supervisor eventually went into the back to cry. I felt so bad for her since she's honestly such a sweet person.
Fast forward less than a month later. He called the store to apologize and the manager made sure that my co-worker never dealt with him again. He was allowed to come in as long as he didn’t make a scene. He told the manager that his therapist told him he should apologize. He spent a combined total of three hours on the phone with the manager, where he apologized and also blamed us for making him late to his appointment that day. And at the end of the phone call, he asked if we were hiring.
I worked fast food near a high school. The absolute worst were the moms. I had one who came in weekly and screamed about wrong orders or whatever complaint she could dream up so she could get free food for her family. Then you get the losers who thought harassing employees was funny. The absolute worst customer was the owner of the franchise. He’d walk in, “test” employees and then fire someone for an issue so minor it was likely made up.
I worked at a bakery for two years and had to deal with the most heinous customers ever. I've worked in the food service industry my whole life and I have never dealt with such entitlement. One day, one of our staff members quit by text message five minutes before her shift, 30 minutes before we were set to open at 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday.
We were hard-pressed finding someone to cover, so I was alone until a person was able to come in about an hour later. I had one of the kitchen staff helping me and all they could do was grab things and bag them as they weren't trained on cash or coffee. So there I was, running around trying to help customers, make coffees, ring people through, and clearly stressed.
This terrible man was clearly annoyed that he had to wait. He was huffing and puffing. Eventually, he loudly exclaimed, “Ugh, no way. I’m not waiting for this stupid stuff anymore.” He then proceeded to throw his bagged muffin at my head and storm out. I legit almost chased him down, I was livid. Customers are the worst.
A customer ordered one of our daily specials and didn’t like it. So, instead of complaining to me about the food and letting me offer something else, she complained to my manager about me . This was May of last year. In August of last year, it turns out she was one of my college professors for the semester, teaching a management course. She recognized me the first day but I played it off like I didn’t know her.
I got my worst review from a woman who I welcomed warmly and who I had served appropriately and politely. This customer accused me of being terrible, rude and swearing at her because - get this — I held up two fingers to illustrate that we had two cup sizes. My boss and co-boss also agreed that I was kind to her as they witnessed the whole thing.
However, this customer also said that I’d been consistently rude for over a month and was the reason she was never coming back. Only I’d actually transferred from a different store and it was actually my second day working there. So, I guess she had no way of knowing. I just want to know what her issue was. I thought I was friendly to her. I don’t understand why she’d go out of her way to try and get a minimum wage worker fired.
Any table that mentioned the tip at all. "Don't worry, we tip well,” "If you do X, we'll tip big" or, "We'll take care of you." Holding the tip over my head doesn't get you better service, you get the same service as everyone else does. Customers like that were, you guessed it, always pretentious, rude and never tipped well.
My favorite was when people burst into the restaurant the minute we opened. Then they decided they’d get up from wherever the host sat them to pick their own random table in a corner. "Well, you can sit there, but it's 10:00 a.m. and the server for that section isn't on until noon, so…” And if we didn't notice right away that they went to go hide in a corner, they'd complain about the "lack of service." We don't just assign tables for fun!
I worked at a Vietnamese restaurant back in high school and I had a Viet family come in to eat. They gave me a snobby vibe the entire time, especially after I told them I couldn’t speak Vietnamese. They ordered regular pho but asked for no cilantro, so I rang the order in with “no cilantro.” It came out with cilantro in it and I told the kitchen what the family asked.
The kitchen told me they couldn’t do anything about it, so I told my manager and they told me to ask the family if they still wanted it. The family said yes so I brought it out, they took out the cilantro and ate the entire thing. At the end of the meal, they spoke to the owner and complained about how I got their order completely wrong, got the food for free, and got their bill taken out of my pay. The owner told me I should’ve removed the cilantro myself. Disgusting management, disgusting customers.
My friend works at a restaurant. A vlogger was shooting a video and since it was allowed within the place, nobody troubled her. Apparently, she wanted one of those clickbait thumbnails, so she asked my friend to place his face in her chest while she squirted ketchup on herself. My friend refused as he was in a relationship but another employee agreed. After they shot the thumbnail, she marched in the next day, claiming assault. I don't know what happened after that but it didn’t turn out well for the liar.
An old man would always ask me out every time he was in our restaurant. He’d always say that he was my ticket for a green card. He was so creepy that the moment I saw him coming, I would leave the register and hide in the office. My manager caught onto my act because I’d been doing it often, so I had to tell her about it. She advised me to tell him that I wasn’t into guys so he’d leave me alone.
A lady from the real estate agency next door ordered a chicken box and proceeded to drive an hour to her next showing. In the middle of summer, where it probably sat right in front of her AC unit in the passenger seat. Surprise, surprise; food gets cold when left in the cold. Who knew? Upon the shocking discovery that food doesn't stay warm, she called us to scream at my boss that we tried to hurt her. Since he's a spineless pushover in the summer, he agreed to give her a new free meal when she came back.
She came to get her free food and things didn't improve. One of our chefs came to collect her cold food. While still in front of the window, he opened the box and fished out the uneaten biscuit. He threw the rest away but walked away with the bread. I presume he meant to eat it, but he went about it all wrong.
She started screaming about how we were "recycling" food, that she was good friends with the health inspector, that she was going to see us in court. The histrionics brought my boss out of his office and after chewing out the idiot chef, he tried to smooth things over. I don't remember much. We were all busy and since he'd taken over the drive-thru, I hopped onto another task.
She wouldn't move forward, and the line was piling up. My boss was starting to get annoyed. They had stopped talking to each other. Her hot, fresh meal was up, and he went to hand-deliver it and tell her to get out of line. All I remember was a surprised gasp from our food runner and looking up to see a box of steaming hot chicken come sailing through the window and scatter across the front of the store. My boss had barely stepped back in time. We could only stare as the crazy lady roared out of the parking lot and he snapped at the first person stupid enough to still be making eye contact.
Sometimes, people would leave their phones behind after a night of partying. When they came back the next day looking for their phone, the manager would say, "Let me go check in the office. In the meantime, you can close out your $100 tab from last night." If the guy paid the $100, he'd get his phone. If he refused to pay, the phone was never found. We’re not exactly doing God's work, but at least it's some consolation for dealing with rude fools who disrespect the employees of the bar.
I used to work at a chain restaurant at one point. Our regional manager was one of the worst kinds of people and would come in to “test” the employees’ knowledge. He never had people fired, he would just grade you on our pushing of the new menu items and overall knowledge of the menu. It was super cringe-inducing. I hated that job.
Where I used to work, there was a large patio that was blocked from the pathway in front of it by planter boxes that you could easily get around. We didn't open until noon. If a customer didn't come through the main entrance via the hallway, there was no way to know someone was on the patio. So, servers didn't go out there unless instructed by the host. I can't tell you how many times people came in angry, telling us no one had come to their table for "20 minutes!" The only, and best, response was, "Did you check in with the host?" Crickets as they blank-faced back to their table.
When my sister was in college, she worked at an Asian fusion-type restaurant. On several occasions, she had older dudes hitting on her and a couple even leaving their number. Like, what are you doing? I think some of these dudes thought they had game back in the day and just couldn’t grow old with decency. Also, no one wants to be hit on at work.
I waited tables for a few years in college. The worst table I ever had was a Catholic priest and some guy he was trying to hit up for donations. During the whole meal, he was very condescending and demanding. After everything was done, I left the check at the table. He ended up walking out, stiffing me not just on the tip but on the entire check.
He even took the leather check holder. I reported this to my manager. A couple of weeks later, the same guy came in with about 20 members of his congregation. My manager told him he wasn't welcome in our restaurant after walking out on his previous tab in front of his whole party. They all ended up leaving to go elsewhere. They were the best manager I've ever had.
I worked in fast food for a while. This man ordered a double cheeseburger with extra cheese and received one with four slices instead of the usual two. Two minutes later, he was absolutely red in the face and screaming at the poor cashier. He demanded to talk to the "little jerk" who made his sandwich, asking if we thought this was some kind of joke. Apparently, when he ordered extra cheese, he wanted one extra slice, not two.
I used to be a bartender at this hybrid movie theater. On big movie releases, the bar would get absolutely slammed. On this particular night, we had run out of glassware completely (people were allowed to take their drinks into the theater). The only glassware I had at the time were regular pint glasses that you would normally serve water in.
This guy and his wife got lucky and caught a seat at the bar. He ordered a Jack Daniels neat. Having no other glassware, I put it in a pint glass and explained that we were running low on rocks glasses, assuming he would understand since it was absolute chaos everywhere you looked. He took it and said, “I’m not very happy” in a smarmy way. He then gave this ugly little grin.
I apologized again and said, “Unfortunately, we’re not making any more glasses back here.” He and his wife acted like I reached across the bar and slapped him. I got my manager and told him to deal with them — he told them the same thing I had told them regarding the lack of glassware. But, he gave them a free drink, which they seemed happy with. I would’ve felt bad if there was something else I could have done for them, but there wasn’t, so get out of here.
This one guy who basically hated his order so much that he waved me over and told me to put my hand out. He proceeded to spit what was in his mouth into my hand, then told me to refund him and make him something else. I was too shocked to really retaliate against what he did. I don’t like confrontation, so I walked away to the bathroom and cleaned my hands for what felt like hours. My co-worker saw what happened and told my boss, who kicked him out. He was no longer allowed back.
One dude would come into the cafe with his two dogs that would hop on everything and bark at people. Even if there was a line, he’d just raise his hand, yell, “Coffee!” and walk past the line to wait for his coffee, where he’d pay cash at the pick-up area. One day, after he skipped a particularly long line, I refused to make his coffee. He started shouting at me and saying he’d get me fired. Eventually, he went to the end of the line and had to order his coffee from me. Nobody clapped, but I felt like the people in line were clapping in their hearts.
I worked as a busboy and it was getting near closing time. It was around 9:30 (we closed at 10) and this table, probably 20-ish feet away from where I was, tried to say, “That’s a free meal.” I stopped vacuuming because I just didn’t understand what they were asking me. Supposedly, they were under the belief that if someone was vacuuming before close, they got a free meal. Eventually the owner came up to me and asked me how far away I was vacuuming and I said the same thing. She told me, “Yeah, they’re idiots” and asked me to wait a little bit. They ended up leaving past 10:30 and I don’t think they left a tip. They didn’t get their free meal.
I worked in a beach town in NJ for a while, and NY tourists were the worst. It was like they thought they were doing everybody a favor by being there. This was a "rich beach town,” not one that relied on tourism at all. In fact, these arrogant tourists probably brought the average income down and definitely the average tips down. I also hated anybody who snapped their fingers. I preferred, "Hey, you!" to finger-snapping.
I worked at a sit down "artisan" pizza place in a nice neighborhood for a while. One time, I saw a customer scream at and belittle one of the waitresses so much she cried. He kept shouting, “You're an idiot" and "How hard could your pathetic job be?" type of stuff. He was mad that there weren’t more pepperoni slices on his pizza. He also did this with his wife and two kids at the table.
What is it about being in a fast food restaurant that makes people psychotic? It’s like a different world where normal rules of humanity are suspended. Throwing coffee at people, calling 911 over fries, crying over one slice of cheese. People don’t call 911 because they were given the wrong nail at Lowe’s. It’s so strange.
I served a couple once and we got along really well. It seemed like a totally normal time and there were no complaints about anything. I ran the guy’s card and it declined. I told my manager and when he went to talk to them, they told him that I was a horrible server and treated them like garbage. They left me a penny as a tip.
When I was bussing tables, I was always confused as to why people who just came in would just sit at the table I was literally about to clean. They were surrounded by plenty of other clean tables in the same server’s section. They always acted like it was a major inconvenience that I was still cleaning ketchup around them. Sorry that you want to eat in filth, but the law says otherwise.
Long story short, my buddy was 16 and got his first job at McDonald's in the food court at the mall. His third day of work was Black Friday and he was put on a cash register. There were three registers open and a line well over 50 deep at each register stretched across the mall. Some jerk got to the front and started talking smack about the wait. My buddy closed the register, hopped over the counter and told everyone in line to get out. Karens in the middle of the line were proclaiming, “You can't do that." People are awful.
This one time, my uncle was waiting tables and a group of five business dudes were hassling him the whole time. At the end of their meal, when he was clearing the table, one of them tried to tip him 100 dollars. He said something like, "Here's the most money you'll probably see” and shoved it into his apron. My uncle replied, "Hey! I don't need this!" and shoved the bill into his mouth.
I had a customer order the crab-crusted salmon. After about 30 minutes, I brought out the food and the customer then decided to tell me that they couldn’t eat it as they were allergic to crab. Apparently, they didn’t read what the meal was. Both my manager and the chef were pretty upset because the customer didn’t want to pay for the meal.
I had a family of four come in. I work at a sushi restaurant, so there's the open sushi set and each person gets charged for it. The dad started joking around, trying hard to make me charge him with two sets instead of four. I apologized and said I couldn’t do anything about it. He got mad and bitterly said, "Some respectful staff this company has. I want to speak to the manager."
I told him there was no manager at this branch. He laughed like he didn’t believe me. Then he said, “I’m going to ruin your life for this." Two days later, HR called and told me that a man came in saying I yelled at him and that I was very disrespectful towards him and his family. Apparently, I wasn't helpful or welcoming and I refused to be nice to him. I stood up for myself and told him what really happened. HR then said, "I really don’t know who I should believe" and hung up. Two days later, I got fired.
We had a regular who came in every Sunday morning and ordered the same thing: a side salad, supersize fries, and a happy meal for her grandkid. One day, the person who bagged her order put the salad and the fries in the same bag as we were trained to do. If you've never seen a supersize fry container, they're tall.
The side salad is in one of those little rectangular plastic things, so as you can imagine, the fries fell over. For a normal person, this is no big deal. But, not for this lady. She needed new fries and a new salad, in separate bags this time. Of course, the fries we had already made that came up one minute ago were not good enough. She refused to leave or accept the new ones until we made a fresh basket.
I worked at a nice restaurant near where the Mets have spring training. One well-known player would always come in like five minutes before closing during the week when we were empty. He’s come in with his mistress. He wasn't really a bad customer as he tipped well, but I found it really strange. It was an unspoken rule never to tell anyone about it.
I used to work at Subway. One time, a couple came in and were extremely rude the whole time. But, what stood out was they got two six-inch meatball marinara double meat extra sauce and wanted my manager’s number to complain because it was messy. I was just standing there thinking, “I make sandwiches, not miracles.”
The concept of "the customer is always right and we'll make it however you want" in restaurants needs to just kick the bucket already. I worked at this Italian place for a while and the number of plates that were sent back because "we thought it would be like the way they served it at Olive Garden" would shock you.
I worked in a restaurant that was in a 55+ community. During our busiest night of the week, I was bussing tables to get empty glasses that the bar desperately needed. When I grabbed a clearly empty wine glass in front of a woman, she poked my hand with a fork, screeching, "I'm not done with that!" Mind you, the only thing left in this glass was a droplet of wine at the bottom that had dried up 30 minutes ago.
I told the owner about it and he had my back. He took her outside and explained to her why we needed the glasses, then banned her from the restaurant for two months. It doesn't seem like much, but she and her friends were regulars at this place, so not being able to join them for two months hurt her social standing in the community.
I was a cook, so I didn't deal with the customer directly. But, I felt the server's pain as she came back and reported to me. This woman came in with her young daughter and asked what the soup of the day was. She was told it was tomato garlic. The woman then demanded we serve her a bowl without the garlic because she had a date later. She’s honestly far from the worst customer, but maybe one of the most unaware of how food preparation in a restaurant kitchen works.
I worked in a Japanese restaurant and it was small, so I was usually working as cashier, waiter, busboy, and delivery driver. Basically, it was me handling everything and the owner would come out from the back to take over if there was a delivery. One day, we had a family come in. The mom and dad got sushi rolls for themselves and then got chicken hibachis for the kids.
The hibachi came with a side of rice and I watched as these kids started throwing rice at each other. The parents did absolutely nothing to stop them. When they left the place, all around their table was an absolute mess. To make things worse, the floor was carpeted, so cleaning rice out of it was a huge pain. We didn't even get a "sorry about the mess" from them.
Once, an older man came up to me and asked if I would be his sugar baby. I was 17 years old at the time. He then went on to tell me about how the Aryan race was superior and we wound up getting into a heated argument because I’m Latina. I got a write-up and the management made me hide from him in the kitchen.
I’m a barista. I had a guy who used to regularly come into the place and order a complicated drink. He always finished the order by asking for a “finger swirl” in the drink. If you gave him a confused look, he would say, “Well, how else am I going to taste you?” It was utterly disgusting and that guy was the worst.
Stories that matter — delivered straight to your inbox.
If you like humaverse you may also consider subscribing to these newsletters: