The 7 habits of highly annoying food servers

First, let us praise the hard-working food servers who go out of their way to make dining out a flawless and enjoyable experience. It's a tough job, and most do it well, but now and then every diner has also run into the dedicated server's evil twin, the one who seems determined to take all the fun out of food. Maybe he's not cut out for the job, maybe she's just having a bad day, but somehow they manage to turn a pleasurable meal into a teeth-gritting hassle. Usually their mistakes are a minor annoyance; occasional they can ruin a good meal. Here's our list of the seven most common ways a food server can leave diners with a bad taste in their mouths.

1. The Look-Away Excuse me.... Miss, uh, ma'am, uh, server person...Hello? Yoo-hoo! Don't pretend you don't see me. The whole damn restaurant has seen me by now, flailing my arms like I'm lost at sea and you're a passing trawler. Remember us? You just served us this delicious-looking veal and medium-rare steak? Unfortunately, I ordered the shrimp, and my friend's meat is still mooing. Even if we wanted to eat it, we have no utensils. And the candle has just set these curtains on fire. So we could really use your help. Apparently, though, I've been rendered invisible. Maybe you're busy, but a quick glance, a smile, and an "I'll be right with you" would be a big help about now.

2. The Priceless Special Yes, today's special of line-caught Tasmanian devilfish with caviar-truffle compote sounds delicious, but how much does it cost? It seems you neglected to say. Is it $18? $36? Should I just put my wallet on the table and you can take what you need? The problem here is that if I'm interested in the special and you don't tell me the price, then I have to ask. And if it's too expensive and I don't order it, I look like a cheap-ass to you and my date. If I do order it to save face, I fall behind in my rent. Maybe to a true foodie price is no object, but I'm just a working slob, and after I've spent all my money with you I still have to tip the valet.

3. The Lord of Food Service Pardon me for intruding on your evening. I hate to tear you away from your conversation with your colleagues. And I'm sorry to trouble you with my impertinent questions about the menu and the wine, and my 30 seconds of dithering over what to order. I can see by your obvious impatience or brusque condescension that you must be very busy. Just one more question, if you wouldn't mind: Is there anything on this very expensive menu that doesn't come with a side of attitude?

4. The Amnesiac That was very impressive, the way you took the orders for our entire party of four without writing anything down. It was less impressive when you came back 10 minutes later and asked if I'd ordered the scallops or the scaloppini. And then later served the scaloppini to someone else at the table. Just a thought, but a pad and pencil might do wonders for your memory. And actually looking at the pad might do wonders for all the other waiters who consistently get orders wrong.

5. The Drive-by Bill Diner food sure hits the spot. And I could go for a bit of dessert and coffee right about--wait, did you feel a sudden draft? Oh, apparently that was our server flying by, dropping off the bill. No "Thank you," no "How was your meal?"--just a check for 25 bucks. Are you coming back? Perhaps we offended you in some way. And the whole dessert-and-coffee thing--I'm assuming that's off the table?

6. The Premature Evacuation Thank you for snatching away my nearly finished plate of food. I had been looking forward to eating those last, delicious morsels, but you're right--I really don't need the extra calories. I'm already full, which is why I set my fork down for a split second, which no doubt gave you the idea that I was done. And I appreciate you not asking me if I was through with my entree, or the bread rolls, or that last couple swallows of wine. That would only have tempted me to answer no. Thanks for saving me from myself. Yeah, thanks very much.

7. Waiting for Godot's Check The food was great, the service was pretty good, and now it's time to go. So where the hell did you go? The place is half empty. You've been serving three tables nearby--but for the last 20 minutes you're nowhere to be found. If this takes any longer I'm going to need to see the breakfast menu. Are you on a lunch break? Have you been seized in the Rapture? We have a movie to get to. A sitter at home. A life to get on with. Help, were trapped! Lassie, hurry--go find our waitress!

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