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Six Lies Servers Tell Their Customers

Let’s face it, a small untruth told by seasoned restaurant work staff can make the dining experience easier and better for everyone.
December 25, 2021
7 mins read

Working as a server in the restaurant business can be one of the most physically, emotionally and socially exhausting professions. To be a server requires constant movement, whether it be striding back and forth from the kitchen or lifting heavy trays of food. Not only are they forced to be on their feet for several hours a day, but they are also given the impossible task of pleasing everyone who visits the establishment. If that wasn’t enough, they have to deal with the cringy one-liners that customers say on a daily basis. It’s no wonder why there are help wanted signs in front of every restaurant you see.

Eventually, a server will be so caught up in their work that they make an error. Shocker, your server is a human being who has feelings and makes mistakes. Whether they forget to send an order to the kitchen or don’t bring the order out on time, servers have to learn from their mistakes, but potential problems can sometimes be smoothed over in the short term by inventing a lie. Although it could be the truth when a server says that the coffee is fresh, they have learned to use white lies to make their jobs a little easier and satisfy the customer at the same time.

Some servers, such as Darron Cardosa — the “Bitchy Waiter” — have taken to social media to translate what your server says to what they really mean. Here at Study Breaks, we offer the reasons why servers may drop the occasional white lie. Without further ado, here are six lies that waitstaff use to improve the overall dining experience:

1. “The kitchen lost your ticket.”

This lie is usually told when a server forgets to send a ticket back to the kitchen. It is an easy way to shift the blame to the cooks, whom the customer will rarely come in contact with. A similar lie that keeps the blame off of the employees entirely is that “the printer is down.” It’s better for the customer to be upset with the machine than the server who was too busy to realize they missed an order.

2. “Your server is really busy right now, so I’ll be taking care of you instead.”

Servers, we’ve all been there. After emerging from the kitchen, you find ungreeted customers giving you the death glare. It’s not that you chose to ignore the table, but you were so caught up in your work that you failed to notice that they were there. Much like the first lie, this takes the blame off of the server and puts it on a very busy imaginary employee. Sometimes this isn’t a lie at all, and the server has decided to help cover their coworker’s tables. For the most part, though, this line is used to placate angry customers who have waited too long to get service.

3. “I will give your feedback to the chef.”

Compliments are greatly appreciated by the workers who slave in the kitchen for several hours without a break. Critiques, though, are not as appreciated. When the food does not meet the high expectations of the customer, they give instructions to the servers about how the food should be prepared. Sometimes this advice is delivered to the cooks. More often, however, the server will let the customer feel heard and then move on with their day. If you think you know more than the cooks or are incredibly picky, you might be better off preparing your food at home.

4. “The ice cream machine is broken.”

This lie is famously told at McDonald’s locations around the world. For some godforsaken reason, it seems that the ice cream machine is mysteriously broken each time a customer wants to order an ice cream cone or a McFlurry. This very likely could be a cop-out told by employees who can’t be bothered to fire up the machine; however, the real reason it’s told is to avoid the laborious cleaning process that’s required of the soft-serve machine. It’s not just McDonald’s employees who tell this lie, though. Servers and bartenders who use blenders and espresso machines frequently fib that the machine is broken to avoid having to make a fancy drink.

5. “I would recommend the — .”

A common server pet peeve is when the customer asks the server what their recommendations are. It’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask when the customer’s order is undecided, but the server will be judged regardless of their answer. It is assumed that servers recommend the most expensive menu item to increase the bill and their tip. They are often told to push items on the specialty menu or a dish that the kitchen has copious amounts of. Perhaps the most expensive dish truly is the more flavorful option. Maybe one of the pricier entrees has gotten great reviews from other customers. It’s in the server’s best interest to tell you what they would order personally, but don’t get upset if it turns out to be costly.

6. “We turned the heat up for you.”

The cold winter months are rapidly approaching, so the heat must be adjusted to accommodate the guests in the dining room. It’s never comfortable to stay in a cold restaurant, but the truth is that the servers feel like they’re in a sauna. They are constantly on their feet, running in and out of the kitchen. Even the most minimal heat would cause them to break out in an ugly sweat. Chances are the thermostat was not adjusted upon your request. Maybe bring a jacket or sweater when dining out in the winter.

Let’s not pretend that customers are perfect angels, either. They tell twice as many lies as servers, but they don’t seem to fool anyone. Some customers promise “I’m a great tipper” or “I’ll be your easiest customer tonight.” To get their way, they might recycle the lines “I know the owner,” “I come here all the time” or “They did it for me last time.”

Although it should go without saying, be sure to tip your server at least 20% when dining out. You might consider tipping a bit more generously during the holiday season to express some appreciation for your favorite server.

Now that you have the inside scoop about the lies servers tell, don’t abuse it. Take it as an opportunity to appreciate everything your server does to keep you happy and comfortable, even if they have to tell you a harmless non-truth every now and then.

Jenna Amore, Oakland University

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Jenna Amore

Oakland University

Hello! I’m a senior at Oakland University in Michigan with an English major. I enjoy writing nonfiction and dystopian science fiction. I’m excited Study Breaks is giving me the opportunity to write for them!

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