Can I take your order?

Can I take your order?

I love to people watch, because their actions always surprise me…


My husband, Marc, and I were sitting in our favorite Italian restaurant.  Right after we put in our dinner order, another regular couple entered the restaurant.  This particular restaurant is small and quaint, has a very friendly owner and staff, and tends to be frequented by the same patrons week after week.


Marc and I were sitting, sipping our wine, and chatting as this couple, who was adjacent to us, placed their dinner order.  Moments later, the busboy exited the kitchen carrying two salad plates, which he brought to the other couple.  Marc turned to me and said, “I bet you those are our salads.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” I answered.  “I am sure they will tell him.”  But, they didn’t.  They let the busboy place them in front of them.  The picked up their forks and started rummaging through the dry greens that now sat in front of them.


“Is this mesclun?” I heard the woman ask her husband as she tentatively took a bite.   He shrugged his shoulders in reply as he poked around his plate.  The salad we ordered was tailored to our taste – mesclun greens, shaved parmesan, and candied walnuts with dressing on the side.

“Guess you are wrong,” Marc stated as we watched them pick at their plates.


The waiter glanced at the two tables and spotted the busboy’s error.  “You brought the salad to the wrong table,” he scolded in a hushed whisper, and then walked over to our table to express his apology.


“Don’t worry about it,” Marc told him.  “I saw him do it.  Mistakes happen, but why didn’t they say something and save you guys the effort of having to make another salad.  They know salad doesn’t come with dinner, especially the kind we concocted. I bet you they won’t even eat the salad.  It is just such a waste.”


And sure enough, seconds after Marc uttered those words the couple pushed the uneaten salad away from them into the center of the table.


If you were in a restaurant, and the waiter brought you over something you knew you didn’t order, would you say something or just accept it?  After year of waiting tables, I know what I would do…

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38 thoughts on “Can I take your order?

  1. I also was a server (right out of college for about a year too) and even if I hadn’t been, I would have said something (IF it was a situation that you stated where salad is NOT normally included)

    If salad HAD been included, to be honest, there isn’t any way that this couple would have known, unless the service was SUPER SUPER FAST (since you mentioned they had just placed their order)

    Bottom Line, if I were at a restaurant and received something I didn’t order, YES I would have said something

    1. Caren – when you wait tables, you really learn a lot about people…. And trust me, the salad that we ordered would never have come with a dinner (looking back, it was even a little odd for us!)

  2. I’m guilty of doing this ONLY ONCE!! It was an honest mistake – we were in France – in one of these tiny out of the way villages and so used to the small scale type cafes, the really friendly family run place where everyone knows your name or tries to, that kind of place where we were used to the owner giving us freebie titbits as we waited for our meal while the family chatted with us – that type of place!

    Anyway, we were sat down, our orders taken and minutes later the waiter came with cocktails we didn’t order! We honest to goodness thought they were complimentary before dinner drinks so we said our merci beaucoups and drank heartily only for the chef to come running out saying they weren’t for us but for the group waiting in one of the outside tables. LOL!

    We paid for them, had a good laugh and the cafe owner gave us freebie apperitifs instead! Take care

    1. Old Kitty – that is an honest mistake… I think in that case I would have done the same thing, especially if I was used to getting free stuff from the restaurant. There are always those places that when you frequent a lot that give you stuff…. Most of the time they announce it, but sometimes they don’t until you question…

  3. I always say something immediately. I simply hate for food to go to waste because a lot of restaurants just throw the food away if it was taken to the wrong table because they can’t take the chance that the person might have taken a bite before realizing it was wrong.

    1. Julie – I do too… It is very different when you have been on the other end of the table…

  4. First time here – good stuff.

    I’d definitely say something. Just last night, i told the hostess that a guy just shook off his umbrella in the middle of the already slickish floor. He had no idea of what he’d done.

    Actually, maybe he suffers from the same malady that struck that couple near you – that they’re so focused on themselves, they don’t recognize that what they do affects everyone around them.

    1. Eli – I think a lot of people suffer from that same malady…actually more people than not. I always wonder how people could be so inconsiderate… and I also wonder if the guy you saw would even have realized his guilt if someone had fallen…

  5. I would certainly say something. even just a “oh, I didn’t realize salad came with our meal.” something to clarify.
    probably an honest mistake by the couple, but how clueless do you have to be?
    seems rude definitely.

    you guys handled it perfectly though.

    1. Rorybore – that is how i play it too when something is brought to us we didn’t order. We frequent only a few restaurants regularly and are often given free stuff. We always want to clarify if it is a gift from the restaurant or a mistake. And if it is a gift, we want to make sure to thank the owner…

  6. Yep–I would say something for sure and have in the past. I would hate for someone else to not get what they ordered because orders were mixed up. I don’t always say something when the meal is not up to snuff, however. I don’t like to complain and if it is not a big deal I will soldier through and not complain. I ALWAYS compliment when it is deserved. Always! And tips—-I am a very good tipper—-man who wait tables really depend on those tips.

    1. Beth Ann – this comment doesn’t suprise me at all 🙂 I could have guessed this was your answer too.. I don’t complain often either, but sometimes I do. It really depends on what is wrong with the food and where I am… If it is a place I frequent a lot I feel more comfortable. If it is a new place, I don’t. I remember one of my managers when I waited tables said to the staff “spit happens” I will never forget her lax attitude when it came to “revenge upon customers” and it has always stuck with me… As for the tipping, you are so right… Waiters and waitresses work so hard and are paid nothing but tips… and in most places have to share with at least five other people. so many people take that for granted…

  7. It probably depends on the situation and what I ordered or ended up with …but yes, I probably would say something and if I didn’t Brian definitely would.

  8. Oh wow, that’s crazy!! I absolutely would have brought it to the busboy’s attention right away, or flagged down the server – too funny Marc predicted what they would do (and was right!!) 🙂

  9. Yet another case of people being weird. I might understand eating the salad that was offered, but if it was an odd salad (not the standard side salad) then why didn’t they say something?

    1. MamaBadger – it was definitely a weird salad… their expression when they received it said it all… but their mouths didn’t say a word…

  10. Since salads don’t come with the meal and yours were special, we would have noticed right away and said something but in the end it is the waiter’s error and should have been crystal clear when having someone help him serve. I waited tables for years and never trusted others with my patrons, I got burned way too many times.

    1. Lucy – you are so right… And looking back, I remember doing the same thing.. I resisted help because in the end there was no help, just hurt…

  11. People just don’t pay attention. I bet they didn’t even realize that they weren’t supposed to get the salads. That salad sound good though!

  12. We always say something because it is wrong to take something that is not yours plus it can get the waiter in more trouble depending on the restaurant.

    1. Darcie – I know… you are so right… Some places make the waiter pay for mistakes like this…

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