If Malaysian Waiters were Honest, Here’s What We Would Say to Our Customers

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I have something to tell you.

We do spit on your food when you piss us off. I know it’s disgusting – but when you yelled at us in front of the whole restaurant, it ticked us off.

We’re waiters, not punching bags.

Our shift is crazy. We’ve busted our ass for nine hours. We’re fucking tired.

The last thing we need is a customer who cursed at us over the parmesan in their salad (we didn’t know you were allergic).

First things first, don’t look at me. Someone else spat on it. Secondly, customer service is one of the toughest part-time jobs I’ve had to do.

It’s fast-paced and stressful. I’ve no idea how I ended up as a waitress for several years. When you do survive it all, the nightmarish customers to low hourly rates – you’ll be rewarded with life lessons better than a Tony Robbins course.

Since we’re serving honesty as today’s special, waiters (like me) have many things to say to our customers.

Let’s start with this one.

“We’ll be right with you”

So you’ve been waving for our attention. The restaurant is buzzing and the waiters are busy. You want a second refill of your tortilla chips.

We know your arm is hurting, but we have a few things to sort out.

We’ll be right with you.

That family over there needs a baby chair for their crying toddler. And that couple? They want to know if our cheesecakes are gluten-free. And let’s not talk about the stupid birthday dance we’re about to do in five minutes.

We understand how annoying this can be.

You’re charging me service tax, but I’m not getting good customer service?

I swear we didn’t do it on purpose. On a busy day, we’re trying our best to attend to everyone – all 52 customers in our restaurant.

Trust us, we’ll be right with you.

If you really need those tortilla chips, stop the next waiter who passes by your table. He or she will get those refills faster than we can.

“Let us know if you need five more minutes”

The joy of dining begins when the menu is handed to you.

You’re hungry. You haven’t eaten since breakfast. You’re ready to devour everything on the menu.

“Pesto spaghetti or Aglio olio?”

We know it’s hard to decide from our six-page menu and express lunch set. It’s overwhelming.

The thing is it gets awkward when we have to wait around for your order. I’d normally stare at the wallpaper when a customer does that to me.

“May I recommend the pesto spaghetti? It’s the chef’s favourite.”
“Hmm, I’m not a big pesto fan,” you reply.

Then, the staring game continues.

We can’t leave the table until we get your order (unless of course, you tell us to come back). So it does get tricky when we want to serve another table right now.

Also, doesn’t it feel uncomfortable to have a waiter watching over you like a helicopter Mum?

We don’t mind giving you five more minutes to decide your lunch. In the meantime, we can fix your drinks until you’re ready. Win-win, if you ask us.

“It’s not our fault if the order turned out bad”

We know you’re pissing mad when you find a fly in your food. We think it’s fucking gross too.

Just a tiny request? Please don’t yell at us. Waiters only serve your order. We don’t cook or prepare them. We have no control over what goes on in the kitchen.

Yes, your anger is completely understandable. Who wouldn’t be mad when they find a bug in their fries?

Let us call our manager. Let us get the kitchen to cook up a fresh batch of steak frites. Let us fix this. As waiters, we can make amends for anything that happened during our shift.

We’re sorry that happened. But for the love of god, please don’t yell at us. We didn’t put the fly in there.

“Is there anything else you need?”

You know those customers who kept asking for one thing at a time? They’re annoying, especially when they flock in groups. The nine minutes spent attending to their needs can easily be divided into other diners who need our attention.

One time, I served a group of aunties who won’t stop asking me for things.

Auntie 1: Excuse me, can I have an extra plate?
Me: Sure, here you go
Auntie 2: Thanks. Do you have Tabasco sauce?
Me: Yes, we do.
Auntie 3: Girl, can you give me extra serviettes?
Me: Sure, no problem
Auntie 4: Wait girl, what’s your Wi-Fi password?

I swear to god.

It doesn’t help when waiters have to manage a busy restaurant and keep every customer happy. When you’re dining with your mates, be nice and ask your friends if they need anything else.

It’s not the extra tartar sauce or plates that bother us. It’s the continuous back and forth that annoys us. It takes up our time.

“Can you keep an eye on your child?”

Working in a family-friendly restaurant meant that we had to deal with kids. Chatty and energetic, they love running around and causing a ruckus.

They’re cute, we know.

The thing is, it’s not cute when they start bothering the baristas or playing peekaboo with the chefs. We deal with hot food and breakable kitchenware all the time. Accidents can, and do happen.

One time, my colleague Hana was serving a hot bowl of tomato soup and curry laksa. Out of nowhere, a three-year-old pulled her apron and she spilt the food all over the floor.

Everyone stared, and the kid’s mother immediately pulled away while saying, “Sorry sorry. Budak nie suka main-main.”

The kid was alright. What the parents didn’t know was that someone had to pay for it. Since Hana didn’t have the heart to bill them, she sacrificed her lunch allowance.

It means a lot to us if families can keep an eye on their children. We really mean it. We know you have a lot on your plate, but the last thing we want is seeing your child get hurt.

“Thank you for bussing your table”

We know it’s not a dining customary in Malaysia, but we do appreciate it when someone busses their table for us. Yes, we notice it, and we can’t thank you enough.

On a side note, we don’t expect all of our customers to do it. It’s not required. However, if I can speak from a customer’s perspective, it’s the least we can do.

A small help goes a long way. Little things like placing the cutleries on your plate or wiping the sauce splatter off your table matter.

It matters more when you eat in a fast food chain. Their table turnarounds are high. These wait staffs don’t just bus tables, they clean the toilets and mop kid’s vomit too. Besides, it requires very little effort to put those burger wrappers and empty soda cups on the tray.

If it helps the next waiter, why not?

“Let him pay”

Ah, couples.

We serve them in restaurants all the time. For me, the interesting part about serving them is seeing who pays for the meal. You might think that couples should go dutch on their first date, but I always take the man’s credit card.

I’m sly, but hear me out.

One time, a couple had their first date in our restaurant. They were laughing and having a great time. Soon after, I handed the bill. For eight minutes, they went back and forth, insisting to pay.

When I took the man’s credit card over hers, she was disappointed.

“You really don’t have to pay,” she said to the guy.

“It’s alright. I had a good time,” he insisted. “Next round on you?”

She smiled, “Deal!”

And that is how you score a second date.

Honestly, there are some things that waiters shouldn’t do.

Spitting on your food when you’re being a pain the ass is not cool. That includes the other horrible things we do to bad customers (read: serving you the oldest lasagne in the fridge).

If we can be honest about something else, here’s one: we’re doing the best we can. We may be too busy to notice you or take forever to refill your iced lemon tea, but we’re trying our hardest.

It’s a tough job for waiters to serve twenty tables for nine hours straight, but we love doing what we do. Serving food that puts a smile on your face and getting a thank you from a sweet three-year-old make us happy.

While we’re aiming to be the best waiters, we look forward to serving more customers who make our shifts pleasant.

With that being said, here are your tortilla chips. Sorry, it took so long.

For more articles by Cheryl, read 6 Devious Ways a Cheater Uses WhatsApp, and What It Feels like to Be Stalked by My Partner’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

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After being raised on a steady diet of chic flicks and Mum's spaghetti, I've decided to do the things I love most. So I bade farewell to my desk job, moved back in with my parents, and started my freelancing career. You can either wish me luck or read how I'm coping with taxes and annoying aunties on In Real Life.
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