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Rude people & you

Rude People Suck


IamWaitress, not iamPsychologist, but because of my profession, I have a pretty good grasp on human behavior.  I witness all sorts of people on all sorts of days. Nice people on bad days, mean people on good days and average people on average days. So many people, with so many behaviors.

Everyone has an invisible sign around their neck that says, “MAKE ME FEEL SPECIAL!–and if you don’t, *shrug* I’ll just be rude to you.”

That’s the tough  part about being a server in a restaurant. If the guest doesn’t feel special enough, their wrath is on you.

But here’s a problem, because there’s a human underneath that apron, there’s also an invisible sign around your neck that reads, “make ME feel special,” or at the very least it reads, “don’t be mean to me, don’t be rude, because I can’t be rude back.  I’m on the clock!”

And maybe that’s the hardest pill to swallow, maybe it is the shackles of employment that makes rude behavior so maddening. While at work, we are powerless. We must act in a certain way, we must take the abuse, we must maintain composure. (Look at THIS GIFT CERTIFICATE if you wish crappy people weren’t rewarded.)

What’s a server to do?

Personally, I stew on it– regardless of how I’ve handled the situation. It’s a lose-lose; if I was nice to the rude guest, I stew on things I could have said or done to really stick it to them.  But if I was rude in return, I think of all the better, stronger, more compassionate ways I could have handled the situation, and of course I feel guilty at my immaturity and unkindness.

That’s a part of being human, but the other part of being human is the power we have over our own brains and thoughts. The problem is, most of us are absolutely out of practice when it comes to  controlling our thoughts and emotions. But, like anything worth developing, practice is all that is needed for attainment.

Part of the process of shrugging-it-off comes in the shape of knowledge and an understanding of “why people are rude.”  I mean the actual psychological reasons behind rude behavior. Sometimes a little science mixed with a little emotion is the right equation for change and understanding. Let’s hope this is the case.


Why People are rude: 3 Reasons


Everything stems from fear:


You might be thinking, “what in the world does my three top of bitchy woman have to be afraid of?” And you’d be smart to wonder.

But when I refer to fear, I don’t  mean the shakin-in-their-boots kind of fear, but more of a fear of not being recognized as F***ing AWESOME!


Think of every movie you have ever seen with the line “do you know who I am?!?”  In real life the answer is usually a genuine and apologetic “no, I don’t know who you are.”  And that is what makes people absolutely irate! “No? What do you mean, no?”  People that are “fearful” in this way have excellent reason to be; they know that they aren’t really  that important.  I know, I know, everyone is important, but some people want to be waaaay more important than they are…

The basest of all human emotion is anger. Remember that.  That means people that don’t have strong emotional health, (which is a lot of people) will become angry easier. And anger shows up as mean, rude, insulting and impossible to please behavior.




Three branches of fear



Most people love a knowledgeable Server, Maître d’, or Sommelier. After all, a knowledgable restaurant professional can take your dining experience from a 4 to a 10. But for some people, it doesn’t translate that way. For some people, another persons knowledge just causes them to feel ignorant.

And when someone feels stupid, do you think that cheers them up? Do you think it puts them in a great mood?

Nope. It makes them fearful that you’ll catch on to their ignorance. And what does fear drive people to become? Mean, rude, insulting and impossible to please.




There are SO many classes of people in the world, and you never know how the person sitting in your restaurant categorizes themselves. Self perception is everything.

Inferiority comes into play when a person’s environment is unfamiliar to the point of making them feel like they don’t belong.

Anger shows up as mean, rude, insulting and impossible to please behavior.
Unfamiliar situations or environments can causes people to feel out of control, and you and I both know that control is a HUGE issue for a lot of people. If they don’t feel in control they can become afraid, and what is the basest of all horrible human emotion? Anger.



Whereas inferior comes from the environment, insecurity is caused by other people’s security, or ease of self.

I see this ugly human trait most often exhibited to people who are either:

Good looking: Customers of either sex can become mean (out of insecurity) to servers, food runners, hosts, or restaurant managers who are good looking. Because “How dare they have that face? I bet he/she thinks he/she is Gods gift. I’ll just be mean, they’ll see that I have the upper hand no matter what.” Obviously they don’t really think that (although some might), but this is a puffed up version of what happens in their own thought process the moment before they decide to become rude or difficult.

Financially Strong: If you think that only poor people are judged by rich people, then you are sadly mistaken! When a “poor man” comes to a “rich man’s house,” there is a strong possibility of disdain, judgement and bitterness that can come from the man that is without.

You might be wondering how “financially strong” has anything to do with you as a server.

Well, if you are serving a “poor man,” (I don’t necessarily mean poor, but one that perceives himself to be poor or not in a position in life that he strove to be at) and the poor man is in a restaurant full of “rich men,” (I don’t necessarily mean rich men, but people who are in a perceived position in life that is equal to some sort of status), or someone in their party is a “rich man” or if the menu is full of “rich man cuisine,” this can make the poor man strike out. And who is the one person who must do his bidding? Why you, silly! Lucky-lucky you.  And a “poor man” can get bossy and shitty when feelin’ bad.

Which of those types of rude people make you most mad?

It’s normal to get pissed off at these people.  Mean isn’t cool and being treated like shit doesn’t feel good. But when you break it down, who are these people?  They are someone who waltzes into you section for 2 hours, and then they leave!

I always think, this person has a wife/husband/brother/auto-mechanic, etc…thank GOD it’s not me…thank God.

The best you can do is:

  • forget about them
  • never act like them…ever
  • be nice


What to do with this information

Hopefully this is a tool for you to use against taking offense, or taking people’s rude behavior personally.

I will try to remember and take solace in this article, maybe even tonight, (God forbid) when someone is snippy, rude, or just plain mean.

But maybe this is a bonus of being in the restaurant industry, or in any profession really… it keeps our tongue less sharp and our actions more civil. We may not have the maturity to showcase it our own cognition, but at work, we are true professionals.

Best of luck!


Jennifer (iamWaitress)

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  1. Great article! In my experience, the seniors are sometimes not very nice when they first sit down. But once you get a little something in their bellies and their 5 o’clock cocktail, it seems to be smooth sailing from there! For the most part, anyway!

  2. I had a really rude customer today who just didnt like the look of me the minute she saw me. I walked up and said “how are you tonight guys? Can i order you any dinner?” And she insulted me by asking how i ever got a job saying words like “hey guys.” Keep in mind i work in a funky urban street cafe not a five star restaurant. I then asked if they would like a beer glass with their beers (as i was trained to do) she then continued insulting me by calling me a moron and why would a lady drink from a bottle. I was absolutely amazed and stood frozen with my heart between my legs 🙁 i have worked there for two years and NEVER had such abuse for doing my job. I love my job and i am very cheery to customers, but this lady just wanted to bring me down. I later spoke to her and apologized for whatever it was that offended her and she pushed the door in my face so i then said sge was the rudest customer i have ever served and shes not welcome back.

  3. This happened to me yesterday! I’m still feeling a little down about it the next day but I would like to just learn from it and move forward. Today is a new day, a new double for new dollars! Lol, thanks for the great articles Jennifer!

    • Joni, isn’t it amazing how one person we don’t even know can make us feel like shit?
      You are right, today is a new day. It’ll be a good one for you and a crappy one for the people that will have to come in contact with your last nights guest.

  4. I often will blame low blood sugar on rude behavior. I know I get pretty cranky when I am hungry.

  5. Thanks Jennifer. The article was a great read and gave me a little hope in realizing and understanding that it’s not my fault that people are mean and rude. I hope that the next time I serve a rude customer, all of what I read comes to my rescue!

    • Wonderful! I hope that too. Kind and considerate people (typically, people who work in the restaurant industry) have a hard time comprehending mean or rude behavior. They tend to analyze, beat themselves up and bring their mood (and sometimes their entire shift) down into the dumps. YOU are great, but not everyone is. You just need to realize that YOU are not the reason behind a persons shitty attitude. Keep on rockin’ the profession Kathy!

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