Romance was definitely not in the air for any of these couples. Because they went out for dinner, the poor servers had to get in the middle of their various spats and fights. Just imagine how cringe-worthy it is to take an order when a fight breaks out, or to deliver the bill when the husband is caught in a major lie. Hopefully the servers got decent tips out of the ordeal? Content has been edited for clarity.
"My first day of work on the floor at a country club was the weekend after Valentine’s Day. There was a lot of buzz in the back about this adorable family, where every year the mom brought the son out to a nice dinner at the club, and the father brought the daughter to the men’s section for a dinner (which shows how much pull the guy had, since women weren’t allowed in that part of the club). It was their Valentine’s Day tradition. The kids are both about 14 or 15. I’d also been filled in on the gossip that the waitress I replaced had left to have a baby. She was really young, and there was blanket disapproval from the staff and a lot of the members. I’m serving the mom and son in the more upscale dining room, but getting drinks from the bar where the dad and daughter are, so I’m around both groups. It’s hard to quantify how much that was the vibe in that particular club, but there is a cultural element to working at a private club or one that offers memberships that I think a lot of people don’t understand. The members tend to act like owners. They often treat you as a member of their household staff.
I’m bringing a bottle to the mom when a woman walks in with a baby in a carrier, and starts handing personalized golf balls out to people as a birth announcement sort of thing. She hands one to the mom at the table and one to the son and walks off, when the mom knocked her glass to the floor and starts whisper-shouting at the son.
People are congratulating the new mom and pretending to be friendly, and then each table seems to go perfectly quiet, one after another. I go to the bar to get a new glass and see a man duck over to the dad’s table and say something to him. The man gets up without saying a word, (even to his daughter) and dashes into the men’s locker room, leaving her sitting at the table. The whole room goes quiet, but nobody intervenes as the old waitress goes over to the table, hands the girl a golf ball, and says a few words I can’t hear then walks out of the club. The girl starts sobbing.
Eventually, the mom seems to have remembered the daughter, because the brother comes and leads her out, and they all leave together. When I was clearing the table, I read the golf ball, which says, '(Waitress's name) and (Dad's name) present: (Baby's first name and Dad's last name),' along with the birth date.
I would not be surprised if there was some pressure applied to the waitress, and the attention of a relatively wealthy person is pretty seductive when everyone treats you like you are a different species. The condescension and lack of empathy can really wear on you."
"My now-wife and I both waited tables in college, and she happened to work for a very nice, romantic Asian/Southern fusion place in town. Valentine's Day was overbooked of course, and one table, a guy and his date, had to wait about 20 minutes to be seated. He's whining already as they are seated, so she knows this will be extra fun on one of the busiest evenings of the year.
They order and he insists he wants his filet mignon WELL DONE. Person of good taste, right? Anyway, she places the order as asked and continues on her way. Food comes out. Guy is very upset that filet is still slightly pink in the middle. My wife pulls the plate and assures him the kitchen will correct the error. She takes it back and the chef hands it off to grill, who re-fires it.
His plate comes back out 5 minutes later. This guy is even more irate. HE CAN STILL SEE PINK! He sends it back once more. The chef is done with this guy and has grill turn the whole thing into a charcoal briquette. The charred steak was run out to the table ASAP.
As it's being dropped, my wife is talking to another table on the other side of the room, reviewing the drink list. The guy takes the burnt steak in his hand, stands up, and THROWS IT ACROSS THE ROOM at my wife, while yelling about how terrible the service and the chefs are.
Dead silence in the room. All eyes are on guy. The guy's date is starting to tear up. He yells again about not paying, grabs his date's arm, and leads her out of the building. I hope the date made it home safely. That guy had serious issues."
"A couple came in to my hibachi restaurant since it was the 'fanciest' place in town. The young woman was all decked out in a spangly, light-blue satin gown, and he was in a suit and tie. They wanted to sit at the grill for the show, but still ordered a ton of sushi and drinks, so their section of table was extremely full of dishes. I'm talking multiple mixed drinks and waters for both of them, soup and salad bowls for both of them, appetizer plates, sushi plates, soy sauce trays, and their entrée plates. The hibachi seats 12 and it's basically a bar ledge around the grill for a table. We were slammed so there was no extra room.
I barely managed to talk them into letting me take the empty dishes as they finished with them, but it hardly helped. The chef starts his show and the dude is super into it, demanding to be included. So the chef flicks a shrimp at him. In his effort to show off and catch it in his mouth, he manages to miss it completely and crashes into the table. He sends food, drinks, and a full bottle of soy sauce on a plate right into his date's pale blue satin-covered lap, and everywhere else. It was a complete nightmare. She was screaming and crying, and the other couples that had their meals ruined were all upset. The guy is blaming me somehow?! The bus boys and I were just trying to clean up and salvage what we could of the service. It was awful.
And as if it weren't bad enough, we were a pretty small restaurant. 135 seats total in one open rectangular room. We were completely full and on a 45-minute wait for regular tables. There were about 50 people milling around up front by the bar, plus all 135 seated customers, and all the staff. When he kicked off that disaster, he did it in clear view of about 200 people in a town so small that basically everyone knows each other. I can't even imagine how long it took for him to stop hearing about it."
"I worked at a pretty high-end Mediterranean bistro. My second Valentine's Day there was probably the busiest night I've ever worked as a server. We had reservations that booked basically the entire restaurant, including the bar and patio from 4 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. No walk-ins were to be seated unless a reservation was cancelled, or someone with a reservation didn't show up.
Most of the customers were pretty understanding and either waited or simply left. One dude kept pushing and pushing, asking every 10 minutes how much longer until he is seated, constantly saying how he is a regular customer and how his date is going to be there at 7 (he got there at 6). We insisted that once a table was available, and all the customers before him we're seated, he would get a table. Because of the amount of reservations, we couldn't guarantee he would even get a table at all. At about 6:50, the guy loses it.
He power-walks up to the hostess stand where the reservation book is, grabs the reservation book, and practically runs out the front door.
Now everything is devolving into complete chaos because the only copy of the reservations for the night, that is barely half over, is gone. Two of the owners ran outside to follow the guy and try to get the book back, but by the time they got out, he had already left the parking lot. Even better is, two hours later, chaos is still running rampant and the dude shows back up saying he has a reservation for two. Three of the five of the owners (all brothers) took the dude and his date out to the parking lot, and they banned him from the restaurant permanently. They even took a picture of him and posted it in the window saying 'Do Not Serve This Man'.
"Oh man, back when I used to work at Red Lobster, I was forced to work an opening to closing shift, so I was there all day. There were the common seafood dates and anniversaries and such, but then came this one guy wanting to propose to his girlfriend. He wanted to do this by ordering a lobster and having us put the ring on one of the claws. Pretty goofy, right?
It was a big group of customers, so me and another waitress were taking care of them. I was busy taking drink orders, so he told the other girl about it and gave the ring to her. I say this because I had no idea about what was going on initially. She went and told the cooks about it, but they didn’t speak English very well, and I guess they misunderstood what she was trying to say. Their interpretation of the proposal? Stuff the ring inside the stuffing that was in the lobster.
When I went to drop the food off at the table, I noticed this man was pale and looked as if he were about to vomit. I asked him if everything was okay, and all he replied with was a whispered, 'Where is it?'
It was at this point the other waitress came out and saw what was going on, and she quickly pulled me back into the kitchen to explain what was going on. We hurried and went to talk with the cooks and try to figure out what happened with the ring. While all this is going on, the party starts eating. The girlfriend, who pointed out she was on a diet and didn’t eat any of the rolls or appetizers, must have been famished, because apparently she just started tearing into the lobster. I’m sure you see exactly where this is going.
In her haste, she didn’t notice the ring. She takes a big ol' mouthful of stuffing, just to crunch down on a genuine 3-karat diamond. We found this out when we heard her scream out in pain and rushed out to the table. This poor girl had cracked one of her molars straight in half and gouged the side of her gums with the ring. She was positively bleeding all over the place and couldn’t stop crying.
When she told him she must have bitten down on a fragment of the shell or something, he must have put two and two together. He fished through the small mound of chewed up food and blood and saw the ring, at the exact same time his girlfriend did. She asked him what was going on and he had to stutter through what his actual plan was, and how he was mortified at how it all went down. She at least had it in her to laugh at the situation through the pain and say yes. It was actually a very sweet and tender moment. He was holding her and crying with happiness, and she was also crying from pain, but also probably from happiness too.
The chefs that worked on the meal and that waitress were IMMEDIATELY fired right after. I was spared because she was nice enough to tell our manager that I had no idea what was going on and had no part in it, which I admired, but also couldn’t help but feeling bad."
"I was working for a higher-end chain steakhouse in Los Angeles. Valentine's Day is obviously one of the top 5 busiest days of the year for us, we had about 500 diners between 5 and 10 p.m. It’s also a restaurant with a very open concept floor plan. A younger couple (maybe mid 20s) dressed to the nines came in shortly after we opened, and they were seated in a table basically in the dead center of the dining room. They were very friendly and pleasant and I could tell that for them, dining at our restaurant was a really special treat. So I did everything in my power to make it special for them. When they’re done, probably around 7, I brought their check, which was around $300. When I came back to pick it up, the guy had a super embarrassed look on his face and he said he thinks he left his wallet in the car. The woman, who is embarrassed for him, doesn’t have anything with her, because her dress had no pockets and she didn’t bring a purse. So he goes out, and 5 minutes later comes back in looking pale as a ghost.
He has left his wallet at home and asks if he can call back later with payment info. My general manager won’t let this fly, because there’s no collateral of any sort he can leave, so the guy has to drive home TO BURBANK to get his wallet, while the woman waits with her hair done and her red lipstick and her pretty dress, in the middle of the dining room on Valentine’s Day. Now, on the best day with no traffic, it’s at least 40 minutes each way from our restaurant to Burbank. She was there for almost 2 hours waiting for this guy. We were all so embarrassed for her that the staff kept discreetly slipping her drinks and little amuse-bouche bites from the kitchen. It was one of the most awkward things I’ve ever seen in a restaurant.
When he finally got back, he was super apologetic to us and to her. He paid the check and tipped like 30% and they left. It was pretty obvious it was an honest mistake, but I still think about that couple from time to time and wonder how things worked out for them."
"I had a section of tables one day that had a marriage proposal, a 40th anniversary, and a break up all at the same time. The break up was the worst. The guy brought his high-class date a gift: a mini ceramic bear holding balloons. He presented it when I was at the table, and she looked at it like it was a hot turd. I just knew this was not going to end well. She left at the end of the meal and must have said something, because he stayed at the table for another 40 minutes, head down and crying. I felt bad, as he clearly saw the celebrations going on at the other tables.
It's been a few years, but my remembered impression was he was an off the rack button up shirt guy, no tie and jeans. She was very polished, great make up, thoughtful attention to dress. I remember the vibe being wrong from the start. Just something you pick up from working in the service industry, I guess. I did not have the power at the time to treat him to something. I did put my hand on his shoulder, looked him in the eye, and asked if he was going to be okay. He shrugged and nodded. The human element was all that I could offer at that time."
"I was a pastry chef at this big resort in Cape Cod. We got a special order from this guy who was coming in for his anniversary. He wanted his dessert to have 'Will you marry me?' written on it, so he could pop the question when it came out. He called ahead to the front and back kitchen, even came in himself that morning to make sure it was good to go. The whole crew was behind him. We had cooks all night coming in the ask if it had happened yet. I wrote the inscription on the plate and dressed it to the nines with gold leaf and expensive chocolate. I'm taking a picture of the plate just before it's set to go out, and notice our head waiter come in with a weird look on his face. He says plainly 'They don't need it'.'
She broke up with him before the entrées hit the table."
"A couple sitting at the bar were enjoying their night out. The man got up from his barstool and left for the bathroom. As his girlfriend was alone (and absolutely wasted) at the bar, a random woman approached and revealed that she recently matched with the woman’s boyfriend on Tinder. The two of them had hooked up a week earlier. The wasted girlfriend refused to believe this story, so the woman showed her his Tinder profile and their conversation. The boyfriend returned to a messy, sobbing, and screaming girlfriend.
I felt like I was watching a reality TV show. It was incredible. The poor girl was basically carried out of the bar by her boyfriend of 3 years, whom she just discovered has been cheating on her for who knows how long. It was the most dramatic moment I have ever experienced, and it was absolutely none of my business.
For those wondering how the woman knew the couple was in a long-term relationship. I really don’t know. My guess is she figured it out the same way I did, based on listening, body language and the fact that this woman was overly touchy and liberal with cheek kisses and such. It was fairly obvious. Regardless, she approached out of concern and curiosity and she succeeded in outing the guy, which resulted in a very upsetting scene."
"16 years in hospitality gives you some good stories. At my first job as a waitress, a guy wanted to propose to his girlfriend. He came in two months before to book a reservation and had everything figured out. He planned to pop the question during dessert. We had drinks, balloons, and sparklers prepped for the big moment. The time comes, he drops to one knee, and gives a speech about his love for her. He asks, she says no. She puts the ring in her bag, finishes her dessert, and leaves. Quite possibly the most awkward thing I have had to witness (alongside around 200 other people.) The manager gave him everything for free, he felt that bad for him. I cringed inside every time I saw him after that.
Another time, I was working as a duty manager, and one of the tills kept dropping off the network. As I was trying to fix it, I could clearly hear the conversation of the table by the waiters station. It started out sweet enough, with her excitedly telling him she was pregnant. He went quiet and didn't say anything for a bit, and then asked her what the plan was. She said she was keeping the baby. He said he didn't want kids and had told her this. She got upset and said she thought he'd be happy and change his mind when he found out. (By this point I've fixed the till, but am unable to step away from this car crash.) Turns out she stopped taking the pill without telling him, thinking she could turn him around. He said he knew she could be a little nuts sometimes, but this was next level. He told her it was over and she could send someone to collect her things, as he wanted nothing more to do with her. He called me over to pay the bill and just left. The guy never even shouted, he just calmly noped out of there. I couldn't even look her in the eye, so I just left her to leave in her own time."
"I was working as a waitress in a sushi restaurant and Valentine's Day was an all-hands-on-deck shift. This guy I had just started seeing wanted to go out, but I told him that working in food service, you never get Valentine's Day off, and we'd just have to celebrate the day after or the weekend after.
Nope. He got so upset that he went and asked a different girl out, came to the restaurant I worked at on V-Day and sat in MY SECTION. He then proceeded to spend the entire evening making a fool out of himself and making his date uncomfortable as he tried to make me jealous.
When I first saw him getting seated by the hostess, I thought he was coming to surprise me and I thought it was so sweet. Then the awful reality slowly dawned on me. My coworkers were just as livid once they realized what was going on.
Needless to say we didn't go out again. Ever."
"My co-worker told me how one day a guy enters the taco restaurant were we worked at. The 20-something guy says he's waiting for someone, so he's gonna wait to order a full meal, but as waiters we are taught to insist a little more and sell something. So the guy finally orders the cheapest item on the menu. A few hours went by, the dude's date still hadn't arrived, and every 20 or so minutes he would order another small carne asada taco. Eventually the owner of the place, who is a really cool dude and has been a friend of my family for years, tells the waiters, 'Look at this poor sucker, if the girl never arrives, I'll pay for everything he has ordered myself!'
So another hour and a half goes by, and this dude finally gives up and asks for the check. He looked pretty sad, so as a waiter of his age, my co-worker told him everything he consumed was on the house. He smiled and left good tips anyway. Stay strong. If they have you waiting that long, they're probably not worth it anyways."
"The place I worked at in college was a pretty nice establishment and considered a romantic destination because our view overlooked the entire city. It was also located at the top of a five-star hotel that had several projectors cycling through what was going on around the hotel in the lobby. There was no footage from the gym or pool, so it was relatively tame and never a privacy issue. It would only show people eating, walking around the lobby, or drinking at the bar.
This guy walks in with his wife and asked to be seated in a secluded area. Well you can imagine since it’s busy and Valentine’s Day, we didn’t have those, so he basically waited an extra hour to make sure he was seated in the back corner.
It’s my section, so I take their drink order and take care of them. When I return with drinks, the husband had left, and I didn’t see him go to the bathroom. Thinking nothing of it, I return to the bar and see ALL of my coworkers huddled around the monitor above the bar, along with everyone else in there. Sure enough, I found the husband as he was underneath the table, getting intimate with his wife.
Only problem was the camera above their table had a clear view, because it was situated in the corner. So now the entire hotel lobby can see as it cycles between us in the bar laughing, people checking in, and our romantic couple dining on each other. More and more people start to notice and the bar fills up. This includes back of the house staff like dishwashers and the line cooks. Eventually it also brings out my manager. He runs over to their table, tells them what happened, and they both run out mortified.
But before they do, the husband tries to stand up too quickly and flips the table. He ruins all the plates, while also exposing that his fly was open. We saw everything. He’s yelling at my manager, the hotel manager (who came up when he saw it in the lobby), and security as they take him and his wife out of the building. So yes, it was a disaster for them, but man, they made a lot of people laugh that night."
"I was the manager of a wings-and-pizza place with a full bar. Definitely not the kind of place you'd take someone for a 'romantic' dinner, but it was still busy because some people aren't very tactful. We had a guy who had called ahead and asked if we could put a ring in a dessert for him, and of course we obliged. He dropped the ring off the day ahead, and I put it in the safe in our office to keep it secure.
Fast-forward to Valentine's Day. The couple shows up, and they're so obviously in love that she didn't seem to notice or care about the fact that he had brought her to a middle-of-the road place with a sports-bar atmosphere, on the most romantic day of the year. They ordered drinks and entrées, and it was almost time for dessert. I had used my chef skills to whip up a special chocolate strawberry tart that wasn't on the menu, just for this occasion. Because why not try to make their night at least a little fancy? I went to the safe to get the ring, and it wasn't there.
I was freaking out big time. I asked everyone there if they knew what the had happened to it. My assistant manager on-site had no idea, so I called my other assistant (who also had the safe code), and they didn't know either. Finally, my bar manager mentioned that one of the owners had been in earlier, and spent a little time in the office. So, at my wit's end, I called the owner.
It turns out that he had seen the ring in the safe, and thought it was something a customer had left behind. Figuring that he had come into an extremely lucky situation, he decided (like the scumbag he was) that he'd take it for himself and save money on a gift for his wife on Valentine's Day. So I asked the server and bar manager to help stall the couple. The server told them that we were going to do something special for their big date, and to hold tight.
I ran out, hopped in my car, and rushed to get the ring from the owner's house (because he was - as I had mentioned - a scumbag, and didn't want to be bothered with bringing the ring to the restaurant himself). The bar manager went over to the table, and did some complicated, table-side drink mix that had a bunch of flair bartending tricks and ended with a flaming shot that, once dropped into the rest, made it smoke. I was really disappointed when I heard about all of this because I would have loved to see it instead of breaking a ton of traffic laws on my quest to get the ring.
Finally, I rushed back in after about 15 minutes of being on the brink of a heart attack, placed the ring on the dessert, and had their server take it out. At that point, just about the entire staff was watching the table, and when we saw the look on her face, my heart finally started beating again. She said 'Yes'. And, I started looking for someone else to work for the very next day."
"It was Valentine's Day around 2011 or 2012 in Chicago. I was serving at an Italian restaurant and we were slammed. There was a 30-45 minute wait and a crowd of people were blocking the door. People with reservations couldn't even get in the door and were super upset. There was no love in the air that night. The bar was full and everyone was waiting on drinks. We didn't even have a dedicated bartender that night, so whatever server had to make a drink order for their table got stuck getting yelled at every time they got behind the bar. We had large heavy wooden chairs, and the nails had come out of the top of a few of them, so when you try to grab the seat and move the chair, the seat and cushion come off. They had been that way for a while.
Well, this night a guy tried to move his chair while sitting in it. He reached down to grab the seat and scoot all in one move, and he got his finger caught between the wooden seat and wooden chair frame. Off flew half his finger 10 feet across the room.
The guy held up his arm and blood was shooting out of it, to the rhythm of a heart beat squirting left and right. A very large lady close by saw it and sprang into action immediately. She grabbed a napkin, picked up the finger, and said, 'WE GOTTA PUT THIS ON ICE!'
She ran to the bar and was yelling, 'I NEED ICE! I NEED ICE! GIVE ME A GLASS OF ICE! HURRY!'
An oblivious guy at the bar turns to her and yells, 'Well, you're going to have to wait! I've been waiting on my drink for 10 minutes!'
Meanwhile, the 9.5-finger guy is standing in the same spot yelling and squeezing his half finger with his other hand, hoping to stop the blood from shooting out. Someone else was trying to make a small tourniquet. Blood is all over the table, floor, and chair. Customers are looking at it in horror and confusion. An ambulance was called and they arrived about 20 minutes later. It was cold out. None of the customers wanted to go outside so the EMTs could come in. It took the EMTs another 10 minutes to get in and get him out.
Not long after, the restaurant got hit with a lawsuit. I'm not sure what happened after that, but I'm sure he got paid. Oh, and they weren't able to re-attach his finger. Crazy night."