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Should I complain?
May 11, 2011 9:21 AM   Subscribe

A server at a restaurant yesterday was rude. Do I call and complain?

Let me preface this by saying that I'm 27 and look like a teenager. Because of this I get carded all the time, which I don't mind in the slightest.

Last night I ate at a new restaurant and ordered a margarita. The server carded me. She took maybe 90 seconds to examine my ID and said my birthdate to herself. Attempting to make light of what I felt was an awkward moment, I said "I'm old enough, don't worry." She didn't respond and I got the impression that she believed the ID was fake.

I was served, but she was noticeably less friendly the rest of the time we were there. She also didn't ask me if I wanted another drink when I was done, although she did ask my partner whether he wanted a refill of his (non-alcoholic) drink. The whole situation made me very embarrassed and sufficiently uncomfortable that I didn't even consider asking for a second drink. My partner noticed this as well, and we agreed that we wouldn't be returning, in large part because of the server. We didn't undertip or ask to speak to a manager before leaving.

I'm still dwelling on this, 16 hours later. My question: would it be overreacting to call the restaurant, ask to speak to the manager, and (respectfully, civilly) complain? I don't expect to get anything out of it other than the satisfaction of feeling like I was heard.
posted by mchorn to Human Relations (49 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I think you would feel better if you did it, and were I the manager, I would want to know.
posted by 4ster at 9:22 AM on May 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think the server did anything out of line at all. Her employer could go out of business for serving a minor, and she was just probably worried about that a little.
posted by orange swan at 9:24 AM on May 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


No. Don't. You have an impression that she thought you had a fake ID. You also have an impression that she intentionally didn't offer to get you another drink. For this, you want to call up and get someone chewed out or fired?

And if your waitress did in good faith believe you had a fake ID - well, she would have been a bit uncomfortable! The penalties for missing that kind of stuff are pretty steep.

Seriously, there are about twenty other explanations here - waitress had a migraine, waitress's mom died, waitress got in trouble for not spotting a fake ID before, waitress just isn't a very pally person (and god, what I would give for formal, reserved wait staff instead of horribly chummy ones).

I really hate the norms around affective labor.
posted by Frowner at 9:25 AM on May 11, 2011 [54 favorites]


Enjoy being thought of as 'too young to drink' while it lasts, and take it for a compliment.
posted by nomisxid at 9:28 AM on May 11, 2011


Yeah, you need to get over this. She offered your partner a refill on his non-alcoholic drink likely because that refill was free. Had she refused your request for another drink, then yes, you can call, otherwise just forget about it and go elsewhere next time.
posted by Grither at 9:29 AM on May 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


I kind of personally think it'd be overreacting although I don't know what her 'noticeably less friendly' behaviour was. If she wasn't sure about your ID she may have been not confident enough in her judgment to refuse the sale but not really been comfortable selling you drinks thus the not asking if you wanted a second. Or she could have been feeling unwell, or any number of other reasons she wasn't as friendly as you would have liked.

Also I work somewhere where I have to ID people and the 'jokes' that people make along the lines of what you said often come across as passive-aggressive criticism of me for doing my job, and generally aren't received well, although I try to remain polite.

But if you're dwelling on it and you really think you'll never go back there again over this, I guess it's reasonable enough to call the manager, even if it's not what I'd do. I generally don't complain about service unless it is egregiously bad because I've known too many dickish bosses who use customer complaints as a reason to bully (or fire) employees regardless of the validity of the complaint.
posted by lwb at 9:30 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why are you still dwelling on this? What does it bring up for you?

I completely believe that this was irritating and frustrating, but it still seems like a really trivial situation--a stranger wasn't as friendly as you feel she should have been; you feel that you know her reasons but really don't; and it may possibly have been because it looked like you were breaking the law and putting her job at risk.

Also, restaurant workers aren't rich and don't have a lot of rights. For me personally, it would take very obvious intentional rudeness or serious failure to generate a call to the restaurant.
posted by Frowner at 9:31 AM on May 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


There may have been more going on than what I can pick up from your summary (and judging from your reaction it seems likely), but purely from the description of events given here I don't see behavior worth complaining to the manager about.
posted by dfan at 9:31 AM on May 11, 2011


I've had this happen to me. You have every right to be annoyed and I doubt it was just in your head, but for me it wouldn't rise to the level of calling a manager to complain. In all fairness to the waitress she probably did in good faith think you were underage, but chose not to cause a scene because your ID looked legit. It's very frustrating to look very young, but I wouldn't take the waitress's behavior personally. If you had been underage and she was serving you, she could have been in a lot of trouble and that knowledge probably stressed her out.
posted by whoaali at 9:33 AM on May 11, 2011


Ever had a bad day at work? If the worst thing you did on one of your bad days was stare at someone's ID a little bit too long and act less friendly than expected, you'd be doing pretty well.

Service jobs are tough, and this person didn't do anything worth calling the boss over. Even if she had, consider that maybe she was having a rough day, and put it behind you.

Plato said to be kinder than necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of a battle. Give somebody else a break, and maybe when you need a break, the universe will return the favor.
posted by jeffmshaw at 9:34 AM on May 11, 2011 [33 favorites]


It's her job to scrutinize ID cards to make sure the restaurant isn't violating the law. Imagine if a stranger called up your boss and complained that you did something you're required to do for your job.

Your chance to register that you didn't enjoy your experience or the service was when you were leaving the tip. Apparently the service wasn't that bad since you didn't leave a low tip. At this point, if you still want to act on your displeasure with the experience, the most effective thing to do will be to just not go back there again.
posted by John Cohen at 9:34 AM on May 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


None of that sounds particularly rude to me. I've had much worse service in restaurants that I never assumed was personal.

Instead of calling to complain, maybe think about why such trivial and possibly imagined slights would upset you so very much.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:35 AM on May 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Summary: up to you. If you'd feel better just getting over this, that's great, just get over it and don't call. If calling will really make you feel better, go ahead - it's not the end of the world.

I frequently fall in the "don't complain" camp for things like this. But for some reason, I'm thinking "complain" this time if you really want to. The server doesn't have to be your friend, but they should be pleasant enough that you feel comfortable while dining and don't dwell on the issue a day later. So a quick call saying "look, this wasn't horrible, but I really felt singled out and disrespected" would be a valid concern to share. Make a quick call, be pleasant, don't scream and try to get the server fired, just tell your story and how it made you feel and be done with it.

waitress had a migraine, waitress's mom died, waitress got in trouble for not spotting a fake ID before, waitress just isn't a very pally person

Yeah, these are reasonable possible explanations, and it's the manager's job to tactfully bring this up with the server to find out if they remember the issue. Maybe there was something going on. Maybe the server needs to learn a little bit more about ID verification to feel more comfortable. Maybe the server will learn something and then laugh it all off with the manager. You can't know, and it's not your job to know. So if it's still bothering you and complaining will take it off your mind, make a quick, polite call, and be done with it. I'd say not complaining is the high road, but take the road that works for you.
posted by Tehhund at 9:35 AM on May 11, 2011


I also look young and am carded often (which I don't mind, as I used to have to card people myself). I'm sympathetic, because sometimes people who sell or serve alcohol can give off this weird judge-y vibe, even when you're well over 21. If she really had concerns about your ID, it's her responsibility to take the ID to the manager or team lead. I would call and tell the manager that I'm not comfortable identifying the server that I had, but I wanted to inform him/her because it has impacted my decision about returning to the restaurant. It could be that management doesn't train servers very well on handling suspicious alcohol orders.
posted by neushoorn at 9:37 AM on May 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


It sounds like your "I'm old enough" remark unintentionally came off as curt, impatient, or dismissive, and that perhaps you made her uncomfortable too. When I was young and waited tables, I sometimes got a little apprehensive about serving customers who seemed bothered by my presence, and I'd check in on them less often because it seemed like what they wanted.

And at many restaurants it's standard not to ask if a customer wants another drink if it's not a free refill (because the customer might assume it is and get angry when the bill arrives) or if it's alcoholic (many restaurants aren't really equipped to deal with drunk people, and could get in a lot of trouble if they get someone intoxicated who then drives home).

Unless she slammed your meal in front of you and stomped off, or ignored your attempts to wave her down, or was otherwise obviously and deliberately rude, let it go. Most servers are doing the best they can. I nearly cried the only time I got stiffed, because I thought it meant I wasn't doing a good job; I would have been devastated if someone called to complain about me when I was just trying to give them what the type of service they wanted without pissing them off.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:38 AM on May 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


The only time I would still be pissed off in your situation would be if she had refused to get you another drink when you ordered one. But you didn't order one, which is not her problem.
posted by gaspode at 9:38 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm always in favor of giving people the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps she took so long to examine your ID and read the date aloud because she has dyslexia or another reading impairment that forces her to take a little longer than most people. Maybe she had a tension headache. Maybe she just moved from out of state and isn't used to the format of your state's licenses yet (my state's are particularly tricky and I always point out my DOB when I travel). Maybe she thought you were picking up on her slowness when you made your comment and she was feeling sensitive and it hurt her feelings. Who knows. I do not think her actions warrant a complaint, though.

Also: are you possibly projecting? Are you frustrated that you look younger than you are and perhaps oversensitive to any implications that you aren't actually 27? If so, I feel you - I look older than I am and am sensitive to age-related comments, as much as I try not to let it bother me.
posted by pecanpies at 9:38 AM on May 11, 2011


waitress had a migraine, waitress's mom died, waitress got in trouble for not spotting a fake ID before, waitress just isn't a very pally person

Yeah, these are reasonable possible explanations, and it's the manager's job to tactfully bring this up with the server to find out if they remember the issue. Maybe there was something going on. Maybe the server needs to learn a little bit more about ID verification to feel more comfortable. Maybe the server will learn something and then laugh it all off with the manager. You can't know, and it's not your job to know. So if it's still bothering you and complaining will take it off your mind, make a quick, polite call, and be done with it. I'd say not complaining is the high road, but take the road that works for you.


See, I feel like there's a duty of care here. We know that restaurant work is often low-paid, that restaurant workers are really vulnerable, that this is a terrible economy and that women are often dinged extra hard for failing to perform affective labor/massage egos. We know, in short, that complaints put people's jobs at risk. So before we complain, we ought to think "is this something where I would be cool with a dickish manager firing the waitress?" If the waitress is racist, if the waitress is totally, ridiculously incompetent, if the waitress was all over my hot dinner companion and ignored me, yeah. But if it's something fairly subjective with a variety of innocent explanations, hell no.

It sucks, but this is one of the strong arguments for good labor law - when workers are unfairly vulnerable, it becomes irresponsible to complain, just as when cops are corrupt and violent, you think twice before calling the police on someone.
posted by Frowner at 9:40 AM on May 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


I think if the service is really, obviously bad, you should ask to speak to the manager and complain right then. If the staff is just a little rude or weird to you, personally I figure that's life, and if it's annoying enough I don't go back to that place. This is also the kind of thing people point out in reviews on Yelp or what have you. I was reading a ton of them the other day, looking for a coffee place and crossing off all the ones that people said had rude baristas. If you have to do something, that would be better, to my mind, than calling after the fact to complain. If you call, I think you'd have to want something specific, and what would that be?
posted by DestinationUnknown at 9:40 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the "overreacting" consensus is right and I'm being overly sensitive. Thanks for the perspective, all.
posted by mchorn at 9:43 AM on May 11, 2011


What are you going to complain about? From your writeup: "she was less friendly" — based on what? Didn't smile at you? "Didn't ask me if I wanted another drink". The rest is "your impression" plus the fact that you didn't help the situation with your remark.

So that's it? You're going to track down a manager, explain that, and then what? You might get a perfunctory apology — if it's not groveling enough, maybe you'll feel even worse, or more embarrassed. They're not going to fire the waiter over this, unless they were going to do it anyway. And they wouldn't tell you if they did.

Just wash your hands of the place and move on.
posted by beagle at 9:43 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The waitress's job is to bring you the things you order. You didn't order another drink.

Your dining partner's drink comes with refills, right? So she offered one. Your alcoholic drink does not come with a refill, so she didn't offer.

It is unfortunate that she cooled off to you for whatever reason, but without knowing why, then you really don't have anything to complain about. I'm agreeing that your opportunity to complain about this level of poor service was with your tip.
posted by hermitosis at 9:53 AM on May 11, 2011


For a bartender in my state, the penalty for serving people who are underage is either $400 or $500 and about 6 months of no bar tending. You can bet your ass that the bartenders at my place make sure that the people they're serving are of age. Nobody who is actually of age has made a joke/statement like you did.

Also, as Metroid Baby points out, if I'm at a restaurant and am asked if I want more of something I'm assuming that I'm getting it for free. Bread, Dr. Pepper, whatever. If I ask for it then I'm paying. Plus if people don't want/need you there, then there isn't really a reason to check on the table. This happens to my wife and me all the time. We get our food, everything's good as long as I don't have to send something back. I don't need a refill on my drink every time half of it's gone.

mchorn: "My partner noticed this as well, and we agreed that we wouldn't be returning, in large part because of the server."

This is the single biggest problem with people judging restaurants. The server gets tipped on 5-10 minutes of their time that they spend at your table. During which they're going around checking on other tables and possibly running food for another server because that other person is tied up somewhere.

If the food is bad one trip is enough. If the place is a mess or the environment is really bad, one trip is enough. A bad server isn't going to be your server every time. They also won't be bad every time.

You don't know how long they've been at the job. Or how long they've been serving anyway. Or what's going on in their personal life.

Most importantly, you don't know the level of assholisness that existed at the other tables the server was responsible for.

Last time I went to O'Charley's we shared a server with an 8 top who asked for more break every 5 minutes, all 3 kids wanted things that weren't together on the menu, and one lady insisted that she had something from the bar that wasn't on the menu and wanted it again even though she couldn't remember what it was or what was in it.

I know this because our table was close enough that we could tell what was going on. But that kind of thing isn't always apparent.

Most of all, you don't know what kind of problems the place has had in the past. You don't know how many customers have assumed they're getting free alcoholic beverages when the server asked if they'd like more and complained when they got the bill. My place gets around this by asking if the customer wants them to ring in another drink for them. But we have really good waiters who all know their stuff amazingly well.

The time to complain about this is before you leave the restaurant. Don't tip as well. Talk to the manager. But do it then, because the next day is too late for anything that isn't food poisoning.
posted by theichibun at 9:53 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Like others said, I guess it depends on what exactly you mean by "less friendly". I experience this all the time, not because I'm particularly young looking but because I'm a race that isn't very prevalent here and my ID is out of state from where I live so people often aren't familiar with it; I've had lots of people bend it around and go "is this real??" etc. I don't mind when it feels like, as others described, simply her trying to protect the venue or whatever in good faith (say, that initial awkward moment--it's so common it doesn't bother me)--but I also know exactly what you're talking about about afterward, where you can tell the person finds you a suspicious "other" and treats you like it for the rest of the night, and how shitty that feels (there is a certain cashier at the supermarket we go to who, no matter how many times we check out with him, acts like my ID is fake, brings over a manager to look at it--and every time the manager is like "duh it's real, what's wrong with you?" and still!--and THEN acts like my coupons are fake, like I'm trying to get one over when he asks how many tomatoes or whatever are in the bag or whatever by taking lots of time to count himself AFTER asking me, checks every piece of fruit like apples to make sure I didn't try to hide some different variety in a bag with cheaper ones, etc., gets frosty when initially he was "normal" friendly, goes back and looks through all my bagged groceries to make sure I got the quantities coupons require even though the machine does that automatically, even the baggers give him weird looks like "what's up with you?"--and it's gotten so no matter how short his line is I refuse to go down it anymore, and have been tempted to write a letter). I think it rests on whether you have concrete ways you could articulate "less friendly"--if it's more just vague body language and nothing else I wouldn't complain, though yeah, like you I doubt I'd go back just because it feels shitty to be treated like a liar or scammer or whatever when you're not. But if there's specific describable ways she was undisputedly snide, I might say something. But if it's more a grey area I'd just never go back given your personal knowledge.
posted by ifjuly at 10:07 AM on May 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why not post an online review in FourSquare, Yelp or Google Places?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:08 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The time to complain about this is before you leave the restaurant. Don't tip as well. Talk to the manager. But do it then, because the next day is too late for anything that isn't food poisoning.

This, exactly.
posted by TheBones at 10:08 AM on May 11, 2011


And if you thought she was rude, she was rude. Don't listen to the other folks in this thread trying to second-guess you.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:09 AM on May 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


A part of me thinks it would be nice if "bad vibes" were an actionable complaint, because I'm highly sensitive to bad vibes, but it's actually not. Maybe she misheard you and thought you insulted her, maybe she thought it was a fake ID, maybe she's just a jerk, maybe her dog died.

You really can't know but that stuff happens a lot and unless it's really egregious you have to mostly let it go or give it a big space in the pie chart of your life: "Time spent calling about poor customer service."
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:09 AM on May 11, 2011


I agree that you should only say something at the time it happens. I've done this a few times and it tends to snap people out of it. "I'm sorry, did we/I do something wrong?"
posted by rhizome at 10:15 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


For a bartender in my state, the penalty for serving people who are underage is either $400 or $500 and about 6 months of no bar tending. You can bet your ass that the bartenders at my place make sure that the people they're serving are of age. Nobody who is actually of age has made a joke/statement like you did.

In my experience, 90 seconds is an incredibly long time for someone to check an ID. I've had people give me the "How old are you" test and whatnot and even in those cases it didn't take 90 seconds. If it took that long I would probably say something too. In most cases though it takes less than 10 seconds, and I don't say anything unless they make a comment about how I look young or something and I'm responding to it. The server might not have known how to spot fake IDs or something that would explain why she took so long, but still it would be uncomfortable for me as well.

I was served, but she was noticeably less friendly the rest of the time we were there. She also didn't ask me if I wanted another drink when I was done, although she did ask my partner whether he wanted a refill of his (non-alcoholic) drink. The whole situation made me very embarrassed and sufficiently uncomfortable that I didn't even consider asking for a second drink.

As others have said this is not really worth complaining about. If you have a server that is not super-friendly, that's not the end of the world. A server that is actually rude and insults you is one thing but in my opinion this doesn't really count as rude. Also as others have said you can't really count on a server asking if you want another beverage all the time, especially if they would rather have you close out your tab at that point for whatever reason.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:18 AM on May 11, 2011


She examined your ID for 90 seconds? Way out of line on her part. If you sit and watch the second hand on your watch for a minute and a half and imagine waiting all that time for her to scrutinize one ID, well, I would be at least as upset as you. That's ridiculous.
posted by FormerMermaid at 10:21 AM on May 11, 2011


"Less friendly" is not the same as "rude."
posted by desuetude at 10:53 AM on May 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


The OP was basically given the bum's rush out of the restaurant. No big deal, as the OP doesn't have to go back there again, but at the same time it's not as though money grows on trees, or customers exist to fill tip jars.

It is reasonably to expect wait staff to not be "less friendly" for no reason at all. The wait staff does not have to be "friendly", but can be "polite". And FWIW, the opposite of "polite" is "rude".
posted by KokuRyu at 11:00 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think the server did anything out of line at all. Her employer could go out of business for serving a minor, and she was just probably worried about that a little.

Sure. They get to be dicks when checking out your id...but after they can't prove its a fake...some courtesy please. She didn't get any courtesy. Not cool.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:01 AM on May 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I totally agree with hal_c_on and KokuRyu. The time to be suspicious or whatever was in checking the ID (which took forever, so it's not like she didn't give herself time to be suspicious then!)--once you've decided to ok the ID, it's not cool to be frosty or act differently. I don't know, this feels like a common thing, where servers don't like you for whatever reason but know they can't get away with not doing their job or actually being rude, BUT at the same time they thinly veil their contempt or unease or whatever. I can see it both ways--they are aware they still need to do their job so they do it without being outright rude, thankfully, and that shows a measure of professionalism I guess--but at the same time it still feels truly shitty to know they're walking that thin line, it's almost worse in a way because yeah, you can't address it really. So I feel for the OP and think that while maybe it isn't the best thing to formally complain all the people going "what's your problem" to the OP maybe don't know what that's like. It does suck.
posted by ifjuly at 11:29 AM on May 11, 2011


It doesn't sound like the server was especially rude, and I don't think you should be "dwelling on this 16 hours later".

My read of the situation - as someone who also looks like a teenager and yet is well old enough to not even be carded anymore, let alone heavily scrutinized about it - is that your server was probably new on the job. Or possibly had recently been reprimanded for not catching a fake ID. I'm pretty bad at the "what year you were born = you are X years old" math, myself, so I'd give restaurant staff the benefit of the doubt on that. Especially if we're talking waitstaff and not a bartender or bouncer.

I don't think her offering your companion a refill on a soda is comparable to her not offering you another margarita - cocktails can be expensive, and that might be read by other customers as pushy upselling on the part of the server. Whereas non-alcoholic refills are often free or of negligible cost. I can't think of a single time I've ordered alcohol in a restaurant and had the server offer another, unless maybe it was happy hour at the bar and patrons were presumed to be having several rounds.

I agree that it's better when a server is charming, articulate, at ease, having a sense of humor, etc. But being slightly awkward isn't the same as providing bad customer service.
posted by Sara C. at 11:39 AM on May 11, 2011


I don't think you should complain.

I once wrote a letter to the owner objecting to the way an employee at his bookstore had treated me. She was immediately fired and did not go to the doctor to get heavy between period spotting looked at because she'd lost her health insurance. By the time advanced metastatic uterine cancer was diagnosed, it was too late for effective treatment and she died relatively soon thereafter.

I don't feel that much to blame for her death most of the time, though sometimes I do, but at the very least I'd say there are a lot of fragile, precariously balanced lives out there, and a person ought to think many times before giving anyone else a shove no matter how much one feels they deserve it. The way your server had to mumble over your birth date to figure out whether you were old enough makes me think she might find another job hard to come by.
posted by jamjam at 11:40 AM on May 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


I wouldn't bother complaining. Vote with your feet/dollar and don't go back. Based on my time in the service economy one of two things is likely going on: the person is performing within the expectation of that establishment (mediocre) or they're having an off day.

The off day corrects itself. The mediocre establishment will continue to be mediocre because that's all they're shooting for. Don't waste your time with it. The world is full of alternatives and often the competition kicks out the mediocre and something better comes along. Go reward quality and don't do these folks the service of giving them more thought and concern than they gave you.

If this is just an aberration and it's a good establishment that hasn't yet ferreted out a crap employee... *shrug* They will eventually if it's important to them. What's the worst that happens, it turns out they're actually a good place and you don't know to go back? No huge loss. If it turns out to be an amazing place down the road then perhaps you'll hear about it.
posted by phearlez at 11:43 AM on May 11, 2011


Plato said to be kinder than necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of a battle.

Plato did not say this. It's a nice quote and a good one to live by, but it's not Plato.

As to your question, OP, I totally understand how irritating this kind of crap is, but at the same time, best to let it go just because nothing is gained by pursuing it, IMO. I'm sorry this happened.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:34 PM on May 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just out of interest: this article identifies the source of the "be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle" quote as a Scottish minister John Watson a.k.a. Ian MacLaren in the late 1800s.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:38 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I realize there are already a million responses and it's been marked resolved... but I think that if your gut tells you she was rude to you (not to mention your partner noticed as well), then I'd call and complain if it'd make you feel better. I recently called my cable company and the guy on the other end literally yelled at me, gave me attitude and told me I was more or less unable to add. I asked to speak to a manager and reported him. She recounted my bill and it turned out that I was right and he was wrong and she told me that he had no right to speak to me in that manner. She was appreciative that I had complained so she could correct his behaviour for the future.
posted by DorothySmith at 12:41 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would call, or at least write and complain. If they felt your ID was invalid they should have said so, but if they didn't then they had no reason to treat you different, which you were.

If it was me I would have left a very meager tip, if any at all (and I'm a big tipper), and wrote an email after-the-fact to let the manager know you didn't approve with how you were treated and you will not be returning because of that fact.
posted by zombieApoc at 1:15 PM on May 11, 2011


I don't think the server did anything out of line at all. Her employer could go out of business for serving a minor, and she was just probably worried about that a little.

If that is the case then she shouldn't have served her. She (the server) could have very politely asked fro the manager to look at the ID if she thought it might be fake. All of this could have been done without being rude.
posted by Big_B at 1:19 PM on May 11, 2011


I'm pretty bad at the "what year you were born = you are X years old" math, myself, so I'd give restaurant staff the benefit of the doubt on that.

If you're a server, all you have to do is memorize a year. In this case, 1990. And note the birthday compared to the current date, of course.

The math shouldn't be a problem; determining whether the thing is a fake might be. But in that case, the server should have excused herself and asked for authorization from a manager. I have this happen when I try to pay with a $50 bill (which, unrelated, ATMs seem to be dispensing now instead of $20s, and it's pretty annoying).

That said, I don't think this minor inconvenience is worth complaining over. I'm still carded for buying liquor, and I'm 40. People think that should be nice, but it's not; it's irritating to be treated like a kid when I'm practically middle-aged. Still, I don't take it out on the cashier. They're not making much, and they deserve the benefit of the doubt.
posted by torticat at 3:08 PM on May 11, 2011


Wow, there are a lot of answers, but I will pipe in too on the ID issue. We ask for IDs where I work, even of people we know well, including relatives. Most are ok with it, but some people get annoyed. It makes the employee nervous when people are annoyed with them. I am thinking this is what happened with your server.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 3:15 PM on May 11, 2011


Just don't go back.
posted by mleigh at 3:45 PM on May 11, 2011


The service must be really awesome where you live for this sort of thing to still be on your mind.

I also get carded a lot due to looking younger than I am and if I was bothered by it, I'd be bothered quite often. I sometimes joke about my gray hair, but I don't put the person selling me alcohol in the position of feeling like they ought not look at my ID. From the perspective of the person asking for my ID, they carry some risk if they serve to someone not of age. In your case, this place is new? Perhaps the server is new to the whole thing as well and doesn't want to fuck it up. Perhaps her boss just gave her a big lecture about fake IDs.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 4:40 PM on May 11, 2011


A lack of fantastic service is not rudeness. Scrutinizing your id for 90 seconds is odd, but not rude. The natural and logical consequence of lackluster service is a lackluster tip.
posted by theora55 at 7:10 PM on May 11, 2011


She took maybe 90 seconds to examine my ID

Maybe 90 seconds? Did you have a stop watch? Do you know how long 90 seconds actually is? I'm having a really hard time buying this. I think you're exaggerating when you say it took that long although it probably felt that long because you thought it was an awkward moment.

Maybe it took her longer than most people who card you because she's new, or she's tired, or she's naturally nervous, or the place just got busted for serving someone underage and the manager at the preshift lineup bitched everyone out and threatened to fire anyone not adhering to the rules. Ever see a coworker get handcuffed and taken to jail for serving someone underage? I have and it sucks and it makes you really fucking nervous. Yeah she could have taken the ID to the manager but that just creates a weird situation with everyone involved. You also don't know the manager and he/she could yell and berate the server for wasting their time for being so incompetent.

Attempting to make light of what I felt was an awkward moment, I said "I'm old enough, don't worry."

That's not making light of the situation, that's making light of a potentially serious situation and her losing her job. That's not funny and it was actually a pretty rude thing to say. I can see why she was "less friendly." Less friendly is an interesting choice of words because you are saying she was still being friendly, just less than before. She was never unfriendly.

She also didn't ask me if I wanted another drink when I was done, although she did ask my partner whether he wanted a refill of his (non-alcoholic) drink.

I think other people already covered this one but I'll add one thing. After carding you and serving you a drink, she may have been still feeling nervous about the situation and second guessing herself. "Shit, maybe that was a fake ID, and I served her. God I hope the ABC agents don't decide to come tonight or I'll get fired. I can't tell the manager about it now because I already served her, oh god I hope I don't lose my job." So she probably didn't offer you another drink because she was hoping you didn't want another one so she'd be safe once you left.

I can't believe the lack of humanity in this thread in a few responses over something this trivial. I can understand complaint letters or calls for egregious transgressions but the server was never blatantly rude to you. You also never cared to mention the rest of the service. How was your food? Did she bring you everything you asked for? Was she timely in bringing everything out to you?

The food service industry is soul sucking and you get treated like a piece of shit on a regular basis. Anytime you can find it within yourself to be patient and kind, you would be setting yourself apart from a large portion of people who dine out.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:59 PM on May 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


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