53

My problem is that whenever I go to any restaurant where they serve you food, they first take your order, then they bring it and while you are eating with your mouth full of food they have to come to you ask you "Is everything ok?"

This bothers me, a lot. I get that this is how they were trained to do their job and I do not put any blame on the waiter whatsoever for doing their job, but man I just want to eat in peace and not have to answer your question with my mouth full, or at all.

So my question is this, how can I ask the waiter that once they bring me my food to leave me alone to eat in peace. I can't think of a way to achieve this without sounding rude or without it sounding like a big deal.

  • 8
    The best reaction will depend on the motivation. Why does it bother you if they ask how the first bite is? – corsiKa Oct 8 '17 at 1:44
  • 45
    What if everything is not OK? – paparazzo Oct 8 '17 at 7:32
  • 1
    Please don't answer in comments. If you have an answer, write it as an answer. Thanks. – HDE 226868 Jan 11 '18 at 1:31
  • @Bob am I correct to assume that you find social contact uncomfortable in general? – Andy Jul 14 '18 at 17:29

11 Answers 11

20

My answer is very similar to what has already been said, but I would add that it is expected of the waiter to check up on you. So if you follow people's advice here and ask the waiter to leave you alone, I think you should prepare yourself that a busy waiter can still ask you how things are out of habit.

Anyway, here's the phrasing I would use to keep things light. After placing your order:

Oh, and by the way, I really like being here undisturbed in my own little bubble. There's no need to check up on me, I'll let you know when I need something. (I'd really appreciate it.)

You can also ask their name right before you say the above. You can insert their name somewhere to make it a more personal request. I feel like the other answers are quite dismissive of the behavior expected of a waiter. This way you tell them how they serve you best, which is ultimately what they should want as well (because tips).

  • 49
    "Oh, and by the way, I really like being here undisturbed in my own little bubble." This was so awkward to read. Would you really say this in person? Instead of all that I would just say "Oh, by the way, I'd like to have some quiet time, so please don't come check up on me; I'll let you know if I need anything. Thanks!" – Mehrdad Oct 10 '17 at 4:24
  • 2
    " I feel like the other answers are quite dismissive of the behavior expected of a waiter. This way you tell them how they serve you best, which is ultimately what they should want as well (because tips)." I'm pretty sure all the top answers here explicitly state that you should tell the waiter what you want directly. I assume their logic was similar to mine, in that it's an irregular request for a waiter, so you need to make it clear. No one was really being dismissive of that, we just didn't feel the need to explicitly state it. – JMac Oct 10 '17 at 12:08
  • @Mehrdad You are right. I originally didn't have the undisturbed there, but later added it because it would emphasize wanting to be left only even more. The sentence does flow a lot better without it. – LVDV Oct 10 '17 at 14:50
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    @Lorenz: "undisturbed" didn't disturb me as much as "in my own little bubble" did. Who in the world casually refers to himself as wanting to be in a bubble? It's not even self-deprecating, it's being a weirdo... – Mehrdad Oct 10 '17 at 14:57
  • 3
    @Mehrdad As JMac, a former waiter, answered below, it's already a bit of an odd (weird) request. For me personally, I'd prefer to be bubble guy over that guy that doesn't want to talk to waiters. And I rather keep things light over having to interject please in my sentences. – LVDV Oct 10 '17 at 17:08
59

Apaul34208 gave a great answer, but you comment that you don't want to be bothered at all. So I'll add a scenario.

When you order, say (with a big smile and all the charm you can muster, so as not to appear off-putting),

...(order food and drink) and if you don't mind, I'm fine until I ask for the check, Thanks.

The waiter will/should ask, "Are you sure? What if you need water or something's wrong with the meal?" And you reply,

I'm sure everything will be fine, really, but thanks for asking. I'll signal for the check when I'm ready. Thanks.

Then I hope you have no problems with the meal or refills, etc. because that's an undeniably different way to dine out, at least in the US.

27

Simply state, when originally placing the order:

I have things to think about and would like to not be disturbed. If you would, please, leave the check when you bring my order, it would be greatly appreciated.

If you tend to frequent a few establishments, you can "seal the deal" by leaving an appreciative tip for the occasions when it works perfectly.

Wait staff, if properly trained or experienced, will appreciate that "service" is supplying what the patron wants, and that their tips, which are an important part of their income, depend on making the customers happy.

When you make it clear what you want, and asking for the check means you won't be ordering anything else, they are better cued that alone is exactly what you mean. If you tend to use the same set of restaurants, leaving a tip that says "thank you" for the extra service, will help to reinforce the point for future visits. And, you are asking for extra service; solitude, which is not the standard service.

  • 2
    It may make it clear you don't want to order anything extra, but I don't see how it makes it clear you want to be left alone. If the waiter is trained to ask you if everything is ok (as is done in some restaurants, because it helps avoid ridiculous complaints of poor service), asking for the cheek seems unlikely to prevent such an inquiry. – Zach Lipton Oct 9 '17 at 3:07
  • 1
    @ZachLipton The real communication occurs when the waiter/waitress is told to stay away, hopefully in a assertive and polite manner. Asking for the check only reinforces the point, and removes two other excuses for an interruption (delivering the check and offering extras for the meal). – Witan ap Danu Oct 9 '17 at 3:25
21

Asking wait staff to leave you alone probably isn't the best way to handle this situation. They're likely to need to bring you your bill and you're likely to need a drink refilled...

What I usually do when they ask about my meal and my mouth is full, is just smile and nod which generally means that it's good. If they're asking if I need anything, I smile and shake my head to indicate that I don't. More experienced wait staff usually take the hint and don't try to engage in small talk after that.

  • 5
    My goal is not to be bothered. When I'm ready for the bill, I'll call them. – Bob Oct 7 '17 at 23:51
  • 1
    "you're likely to need a drink refilled" : That depends very strongly on where you are, and what you are drinking. Doesn't happen at all here around the upper Rhine. – Martin Bonner Oct 10 '17 at 9:59
16

I would go with something along the lines of:

"This may seem like a somewhat strange request; but I would really prefer if I were left undisturbed during my meal. If anything is wrong with the meal, or I am ready for my bill, I will make sure to get your attention when you come by."

Basically just be as straight forward as possible. It's really less work for the server; they just have to know what you're expecting. The basic instinct is to check up on tables (usually not expecting anything more than any positive gesture in return).

I also want to make it clear that when trying to get the servers attention, you shouldn't do anything extreme like call out across the restaurant. Wait until they are near your table, and try to make eye contact before talking to them, or try to make a small waving gesture when they aren't with a table and near you.

I've worked in Canadian resturaunts for a decent amount of time. It might seem like a bit of an odd request; but as long as you let me know first, I wouldn't find it rude as the server. Some people like peace and quiet, other people like to chat with the server.

9

This is pretty normal behaviour over here in the UK as well.

It's simply the waiter being courteous by ensuring that you're happy with your meal and that you have everything you need. If someone got the wrong order or if something was cold/too spicy, this is the time to report it and get it resolved. This also relieves you of some of the embarrassment of having to wave a waiter over to sort something out.

Waiters typically ask you only once and then leave you to finish your meal.

The appropriate response is

Yes, it's fine thank you

or (if your mouth is full)

Smile and nod

By refusing the opportunity for the waiter to talk to you after the meal is served, you're waiving your right to get anything corrected. Plus saying "give me my meal and don't bother me afterwards" is borderline rude (in my opinion).

  • 1
    I down-voted because it feels like you completely ignored my question. I'm fully aware why they do it. – Bob Oct 9 '17 at 23:26
  • 3
    @Bob The answer gave the appropriate response and what to do if for you some reason you can't give that response. Isn't that exactly what you asked? – David Schwartz Oct 9 '17 at 23:48
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    @DavidSchwartz no, he is telling me to let the waiter come and bother me, the whole point of my question is to prevent them from coming to check up on me in the first place. – Bob Oct 9 '17 at 23:54
  • 4
    You said, "I just want to eat in peace and not have to answer your question with my mouth full, or at all.". He answered by explaining that you don't have to answer the question with your mouth full, or at all, because you can just smile and nod. When you provide details like that, expect people to use them to make sure you get useful solutions to your actual problem even if you didn't ask exactly the right question. – David Schwartz Oct 10 '17 at 0:02
5

When receiving your food or after ordering, you could try saying something like:

I'll signal you when I [need the bill / want something].

The implication would be that you won't wait until they approach you if you want something, so there's no need for them to approach you.

This may only occasionally work though, as it's based on an implication and some might consider it rude to just leave you alone.

If you want something more clear, I don't think there's any way to avoid having it come across as a bit rude or weird. You could consider adding something like the below to the above:

You don't need to come ask me if I need anything.

Just asking for the bill as soon as you get your food is another approach that could sometimes work.

If you've already asked for the bill, you're presumably not ordering anything else, so there's no point in asking you.

You could also actually pay the bill early on, after which there will be next to no incentive for the waiter to approach you. You should probably wait until you've at least tasted your food though.

Tone and body language and looking busy (being on your phone / laptop or reading a paper) might also help dissuade waiters from approaching you, but probably not to a particularly significant extent.

2

Make your point as a benefit for the waiter, after you are all set with your food say very friendly:

'Oh! BTW no need to worry about me at all, if I need anything I'll let you know' and smile.

I'd even wink at the waiter.

2

Stick to the same restaurants, and you won’t have to re-educate the staff per your special habits. You may have boxed yourself in as a special needs customer with an eccentricity that you are entitled to. But how can you say it’s no big deal when you describe it as so important to you?

All you need in a new setting, though, is to nod that your food’s okay without smiling and you’ll convey without rudeness that you’re no Chatty Cathy doll.

  • 2
    I'm not sure deliberately not smiling would have the intended effect. Some waiters might mistake it for a polite way of expressing that the food is actually not that good, and take it as incentive to redouble any efforts to nevertheless get the guest “happy” at the end of the evening – through extra care, unknowing that this is the opposite of what the guest wants. – leftaroundabout Oct 8 '17 at 19:10
1

TL;DR: Smile and nod (wave your hand) instead of speaking.


I beg to differ. I find this sentence the most important of your question (since this is usually my case as well):

I just want to eat in peace and not have to answer your question with my mouth full, or at all.

There is a better way

Instead of instructing the service personnel (often there are more waiters) in advance, that you require a special treatment which is at odds with how they serve hundreds of other people every day (and which, being of certain decency, you surely must reflect with a huge tip!) you find yourself a useful habit which is very simple to go by and works everywhere (even when you don't speak local language!).

What to do

You do it like this: put on a smile with lips closed together, position your hand causally about five inches (12 centimeters) above the table, palm down, and move it about the same distance laterally in the direction of the hand (right hand from left to right), than you fold your palm again, and continue eating without being forced to any socially unacceptable or uncomfortable position.

Note: Smile alone goes a long way, which is useful in social situations.

Etiquette

Etiquette, a.k.a. not forcing other people to awkward or uncomfortable situations, should extend to service as well. What is important to mention is that once you form a habit of instructing the waiter in advance that you wish not to be disturbed, you may very quickly grow into yet another habit of expecting the waiters to understand your request even in a perhaps complicated situation , which may lead to misunderstanding and awkward situations (complicated for you: you say only half of what you mean and confuse the waiter, complicated for the waiter: you ask nicely yet still disturb said water's flow or concentration).

0

Just make sure right from the start he/she understands you will signal him/her if you need anything. If he/she is not the pig-headed type it will be perfectly clear and you should not be bothered other than with the bill.

And if the person is doing his/her job well and is not busy all the time, he/she will from time to time stand around somewhere, which is a signal he/she is available at that moment if ever you need something.

It's all a matter of understanding each other. You have a nice meal and are well served, and the waiter or waitress gets a decent treatment, maybe a sign of appreciation and/or a tip, and everybody will be happy.

protected by NVZ Jul 11 at 11:18

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