Obey these server-approved drinking decency tips, or you suck

by Lisa Johnson


It’s finally summer and you want to hit the patio for a beer or a cocktail with your friends as soon as possible. Maybe in the evening just as the sun begins to set, maybe right after you clock out from a hard day’s work, or maybe you can’t even wait that long. Hey, I won’t judge — do what you want.

But however and whenever you do it, don’t be “that person”. Before you get a terrible reputation at your favourite patio pub for being an obnoxious douchebag, take a moment to read this article — and if you see yourself in any of the following points, take some time to think about the fact that you might just be a bit of a dick when you go drinking.

Being a Saskatonian, I spoke with well-known local bargoyle, Erica Wilson. The issues are universal though, so just pretend she’s from Regina if a Saskatoon source in a Regina paper bugs you. According to Wilson, there’s a “full spectrum of douchebaggery” one needs to worry about. And it goes well beyond simply knowing your limits.

You’ve got the obvious no-no’s, of course: drinking so much that you vomit on your table, trying to duck out of your bill, loudly discussing your favourite anal lubrication in a quiet bar, or having your junk fall out of your pants before you pass out on the floor. Wilson has seen it all (including the junk, unfortunately) but she says you’ve also got to consider the small things.

Sometimes, it’s a simple matter of understanding the mechanics of bar or pub service.

“Don’t snap your fingers to get your server’s attention. Or start waving your hands to get attention if you have a joiner — as if that makes a difference,” says Wilson. Here’s a tip: it doesn’t. You won’t get your drink any faster and you’ll look like a turd.

“Typically, depending how large your section is, a server will do a round of all of their tables — taking orders in one swoop, going to the bar and checking the kitchen for food, and delivering in the next. Even if I’m not talking to patrons, I’m scanning their tables,” says Wilson.

It’s a matter of servers managing their time.

“People seem to get offended if they just ordered their pint and I’m moving on to another table,” says Wilson. “But if I did one table at a time, I would run myself into the ground.”

You should also avoid “one-drinking” your server at seven-minute intervals, especially in a large group, says Wilson. Don’t say this: “Come back in two minutes! I’ll be ready in two minutes.” You’re not a Tudor; just order your next damn drink while she’s there and everybody else at your table is ordering.

The same goes for bills. “One person will ask for their tab, but if I ask the table if anybody else wants theirs, they ignore you. Then when you come back, they’re miffed that you missed them,” says Wilson.

And if you didn’t order at the same time as the rest of your friends, she says, you should manage your expectations. “Especially on the patio,” she says.

Another common problem is that some bar patrons simply don’t take into account the value of their drinking real estate, says Wilson. “They seem to view the smaller tables as less important.” As a case in point, she recalls one night during which seats were in such demand that she couldn’t keep up. “As soon as people left a seat for a moment, somebody would swoop in and take it — even if the table hadn’t been wiped off yet,” she says. “And in the middle of this, a man came in and demanded that we clear him a table, simply because he had a party of 11.”

“‘What are you going to do for us?’, he asked. There was a lineup at the door with small clusters of people waiting for tables. ‘You’re going to turn away the business of 11 people?’ he said, obviously perturbed.

“It’s like he expected us to flip tables over and clear the restaurant just to accommodate him and his special group of 11. So this conversation, which should have been over at, ‘Sorry sir, we’re full,’ continued for a few minutes while he just angrily repeated the word 11 at me.” Generally, the bigger the group, the stronger the entitlement and potential for acting like a douchebag, so be conscious of the little tables when you’re with a large party.

Or, take this gem:

“It was a Sunday afternoon, and we were forced to close the patio down,” says Wilson. “I had a group of six, and their food was up and ready just as the rain began. We took them inside but only had a table open for two. They all tried to crowd around it uncomfortably. One of the women was very pregnant. I suggested that they ask a gentleman seated at the window table alone — at a table meant for six — if he would switch with them.”

That’s when things got ugly.

“He said no — for no real reason other than he was possessive of his table. The party of six was flummoxed, including the ready-to-pop mama. It was pretty inconsiderate towards these people who wanted to eat,” she says.

It also needs to be said that a single patron drinking alone at a large table that could otherwise be filled sometimes forces the staff (and the establishment) to forfeit revenue — especially if you’re lingering all day long.

Finally, if you’re the type of sneaky douchebag that doesn’t even care about screwing his friends over, know that somebody is always watching, says Wilson.

“You’ll see a person pick up the tab, say with their credit card. Their friends will flip them cash to cover each of their portions — usually overestimating the cost of a couple of drinks, or their food. As a server, you can easily count this up. When the transaction goes through, the person paying ends up tipping much less than 10 per cent, so it’s pretty obvious that they’re pocketing what was intended to be a tip — they’re making money off of their friends,” says Wilson.

So: any of that ring a bell? If so, time to re-evaluate your self-image. Because no matter how decent you think you are, you’re a drinking douchebag. But hey, it’s never too late to change!