The life of a server: Campers


There are always days in the restaurant where there are plenty of patrons. The managers are expecting it to be busy, so they made sure to staff well and everyone has a reasonable sized section. 

Those nights usually aren’t bad because the restaurant fills up pretty quickly. Everyone is making money without feeling too overwhelmed and the tables in the smaller section are turning faster. Well, for the most part. On a night like that, a server’s worst enemies are campers. It's the table of patrons who decide to stay a while long after they paid the bill. 

On a slower day, I wouldn’t mind a camper. Usually they don’t want to be bothered, so I get to tend to my other tables, or maybe do some side work so I can get out at a reasonable time. But on busy nights campers just throw a wrench in my groove. 

They sit at the table forever, both before and after they order their food and give me dirty looks when I try to see if they’re ready to order. I swear, I’m not rushing you, but the moment you’re ready to order and I’m not around, you’re not going to be happy. At a restaurant, everything is the server’s fault.

The actual serving process goes well and maybe because they took years to order food they'll get an appetizer and a couple of drinks. It’s the aftermath where things get complicated. Keep in mind: I have a four-table section. 

Now the campers are sitting in one of them, which means I am no longer making money off the table. If it’s busy enough, I could be turning tables every half hour, but no: they just have to sit around and show each other pictures of their kids for another 45 minutes.

Not only am I no longer making money off that table, but now I have less to do. Theoretically, four tables aren’t that much. Now I am down one table, and there’s only so much side-work in the world. All of the sudden I am stuck in the weird limbo where the restaurant is busy, but I look like I'm slacking off because I only have three tables and no other busy work to do.

I’m saying campers are bad. I love campers on a slower night, especially the ones who tip better. But if it’s a Friday night and you’re planning on chit-chatting for hours, maybe don’t do all of it after your server has dropped off the check. Your server will thank you.