If you’ve worked in a restaurant, it’s highly likely you have a story about a difficult, stroppy, or plain awkward customer. It’s part of the job. There’s just something about going out to eat – and, oh yes, alcohol – that seems to invite a strange level of behaviour.
And let’s not forget that carrying steaming hot plates to tables of hungry customers in a mad rush isn’t always easy – so some of the most cringeworthy stories come from what staff have done themselves. Waiters know only too well the “Oooooh!” sound that sweeps the restaurant when a plate is dropped.
To prove you’re really not alone with your weird and wonderful tales, we asked HuffPost UK readers to share their most bizarre experiences – and they did not disappoint.
The Constant Complainer
“I was a waiter at a French Bistro during the Christmas period. We had a table call to request a table at 9pm on Christmas Eve, but they were politely told we seated our last table at 8pm. They weren’t happy. They got in touch with head office, who then made us keep the restaurant open to accommodate them. On the day, they showed up at 9pm, being the only customers in the entire restaurant, and everything seemed to go okay.
“After Christmas, however, they wrote a complaint saying that although the food was nice and the service fine, they were disappointed in the complete lack atmosphere, that the restaurant was empty and that they felt like they were unwelcome!” - Rik
The Sickly Roast
“Once, a regular customer came in for her Sunday lunch, like she did every week. This day, though, she didn’t seem as chatty. Once I’d given her the roast, I checked back to see if everything was okay with the food, and she politely nodded. A few minutes later, a customer nearby told me, ‘that lady has just thrown up on her dinner plate’. Later on, when I went to clear said plate, I expected the woman to say something, but she didn’t. She had covered the food and sick with a mountain of napkins – and I had to carry it back into the kitchen and clear it all. I gagged.” - Kira
The Lemon Debacle
“Someone literally poured a drink on my shoes when I asked them to leave at the end of the night, as we were due to close. Oh, and another screamed at me for using actual lemons instead of lemon juice from a bottle when making them a cocktail. You just can’t please some people.” - Angharad
The Puke Trail
“I was working as a waitress at a golf club and there was a party of 12 who asked for a sick bucket next to the table for one of the children, which we gave. But at one point, the 10-year-old decided to try and make a run for it, instead, leaving a trail of puke through the restaurant. The parents didn’t offer to help clean it up – but with lots of unfortunate diners trying to enjoy their Sunday lunch surrounded by sick, it fell upon me to do it. Worst bit? The family were sniggering as I cleaned it up. And they didn’t even leave a tip!” - Sian
The Champagne Spillage
“I once dropped a whole tray of Champagne on a woman as I carefully bent over to pick up something she had dropped. And that wasn’t even the worst bit – it was Christmas Day and her dress was satin! Lucky for me, she was really nice – but also, I wanted the ground to swallow me up. Happy, er, Christmas?” - Micha
The Part-Time Taxi Driver
“We had a rich drunk couple who used to come in regularly for boozy lunches. They had a little dog who would come in with them and poo all over the restaurant – and it was basically my job to apologise to other customers and pick it all up. Most cabbies wouldn’t take them home. One night when I offered to drive them back (for a little extra cash), they lent over me from the backseat to change the music in my car and we nearly crashed. Oh, the joys of working as a waitress in the countryside.” - Char
The Presumptuous Tea Drinker
“An older lady once spilt milk on her shoe while she was pouring it into her tea, and – no joke – then stuck out her leg while I was wiping a table close-by so I could do the same with her shoe. Don’t worry, I didn’t.” - Lauren
The Poo Incident
“I was once serving a table and kept overhearing a young girl saying she needed the loo. Her mum was agitated and in a rush to leave, so kept putting off taking her. The kid was adamant she needed to go, though. Not long later, once they’d left and I went to clean the table, I felt myself stand in something squishy – only to look down and realise I had stood in actual human poo. The little girl (who was wearing a dress) obviously wasn’t able to wait.” - Amy
The Furniture Shake-Up
“We had a guest ask us to remove three tables from the restaurant as they were ‘too close together’ – and too close to their table. Cue a few of us moving furniture mid-shift and other people wondering what on earth was going on.” - Oisín