7 things Okies do that drive service industry workers bonkers

Oklahoma service industry workers are underappreciated. I can confidently say this after spending over 12 years of my life working in jobs ranging from cashier, waitress, busser, and sales clerk. Though I have been in my 9-5 job for almost 2 years now, I still find myself empathizing with service industry folk when I patronize their place of work because Oklahoma customers are not always easy people to work with. In fact, here are 7 things Oklahoma customers do that drive service industry workers absolutely bonkers.

1. Leaving religious handouts as tips

For some reason, many evangelical Oklahomans think it’s real neat to leave religious handouts in tip jars or folded in with credit card receipts. If I had a dollar for every prayer card I had received with, or often in lieu of, a tip, I probably would’ve been able to pay more than the minimum payment on my credit card bill.

2. Having long-winded conversations

Anytime I have a friend visiting from out-of-state, they are quick to comment on how the average Okie is “so friendly” and “talks to everyone.” And it’s true. You cannot stand in a checkout line at Walmart without hearing at least one life story or learning enough information about someone’s medical history to at least make an educated guess on their diagnosis. As a customer service worker, this made our job super difficult. We had to find the balance between being friendly by not cutting off the customer wrapping up the story of their grandkid’s 5th birthday party long after their transaction is complete, and providing quick customer service so the next guy in line doesn’t have to wait too long to tell you about his wife’s latest hernia surgery.

3. Alluding to a weapon

At one job, the company policy was that anytime a credit card was used for payment, we had to ask for an ID. I don’t know what Oklahoma customers’ motives are when doing this, but it does not make service workers feel safe, let alone impressed, when you slide over your concealed carry license with a wink to verify your identification, let alone conveniently show a weapon when “searching” for your wallet.

4. Staying WAY too long (a.k.a. camping)

Like I said, Oklahoma customers are long-winded conversationalists. This is not a bad thing, unless you are a waitress trying to clear her table an hour after they’ve paid their bill or when it’s 25 minutes past closing time.

5. “Knowing” the manager

Yes, we are aware that Oklahoma City is a small world and everybody knows everybody. No, it doesn’t mean we are going to potentially put our jobs on the line by ignoring company policy just because you “know the manager” and want to be over-served. News flash: we also know the manager.

6. Offering “career opportunities”

If I had a dollar for every “Scentsy,” “Herbalife,” or any other multi-level marketing scheme business card I was given as a “career opportunity” by an Oklahoma customer, maybe I wouldn’t have needed a second job throughout college.

7. Sweaty money

I know that Oklahoma isn’t the wealthiest of states, but I also know that the average Oklahoman can at least afford a wallet or pants with pockets. Still, many customers choose to secure money on their person in the sweatiest places, like under their boobs or in their socks.

Hayley started off as a cashier at age 14. It was all downhill from there. Follow her on twitter @squirrellygeek

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38 Responses

  1. Not a single one of these is limited to Oklahoma.

    1. This forum can’t seem to write a story without taking a shot at the people of Oklahoma….

      1. The first step to self-improvement is recognizing one’s own faults. We don’t progress by constantly patting ourselves on the back.

        I’m probably guilty of too much chitchat with service workers. MIke, how many of Hayley’s “seven things” made you think of yourself?

        Leaving religious handouts disguised as cash in place of a tip is a truly loathsome thing to do. It’s very hard to imagine Jesus doing that, and it leaves the impression (rightly or wrongly) that Christians are all asshole cheapskates.

        How are you going to get people to respect you if you don’t let them know that you are carrying a dangerous weapon?

        Anyone interested in this topic would probably enjoy (or be horrified by) the “Tales from your server” sub-Reddit. Frequent reading there has given me a fuller appreciation of the trials and tribulations of our service workers. Be considerate and nice to them. They work very hard for not much money.

      2. It’s a satire site about Oklahoma, that is basically the point of it.

  2. My hat is off to anyone who has ever worked as waitstaff. I’d probably be doing life without parole if I waited on some of the jerks I’ve seen in restaurants.

    1. Amen to that! I’ve actually waited tables part-time and let me just say that the customer is NOT always right!

      1. After having owned a retail store for 6 years of my life… not only is the customer not always right. They are always a freaking idiot.

        1. Ha ha! Truth!

  3. Camping is a real scourge on the dining community. Campers render every single Jimmy’s Egg location unusable after 9:00 AM on weekend mornings.

    It’s a freaking diner folks. Eat your damn eggs and get the fuck out.

    1. Especially when they show in a group and want tables moved together for them. They block the doorway until they get it, even when there are booths available for others in line.

  4. Please show your service workers common courtesy.

  5. And from the other side of the coin:

    1. Don’t come by 30 seconds after delivering a meal to see if everything’s all right (probably a legal protocol to protect against law suits or refunds) and then disappear for the rest of the meal.

    2. Please don’t call me “Darlin’,” Darlin’. Never been anyone’s darlin’. Don’t need the reminder.

    3. Don’t play favorites. Spending all your time catching up with old pals while I’m getting no refill is not cool. Treated that way at a diner with a sign proclaiming; “You’re only a stranger here once.” Your damn right; never been back.

    4. Cashiers: actual person-to-person eye contact is permissible. I’m not looking for a new best friend.

    5. Save your blasted “Have a blessed day” for your preacher. I ain’t superstitious — but a black cat did just cross my trail.

    6. Two little words: “Thank you.” I’ve wandered in off the street to give you the money to keep you open when I could have gone elsewhere. Yeah, I’m the guy who’ll hang a “You’re welcome” in the silence as I’m leaving.

    7. Did I mention bad (or lack of) service. At a buffet, I’m not keen on watching my dirty plates pile up. (As a singleton, I choose off-rush hours because I’ve learned how despised a person hogging a table can be made to feel; decent service still not guaranteed.) I was a 3-4 year regular at one place until the owner went back into the kitchen and his lazy kids drove me away.

    8. I’m on your side Hayley. I tip pretty well; don’t camp out; keep my thoughts — and hands — to myself and have fought the “it’s-not-what-you-know–but-who-you-know-that-counts” crowd all of my life.

  6. Hey, I’m One of those people that you were criticizing for trying to spread the gospel. I invite you to our next meeting Wednesday night. We’re called Jerks for Jesus . PTL!

    1. Yeah, people like you need to understand that pushing your religion on people who are trying to earn money, so that they can EAT and PAY BILLS is far from okay. A church invite or a piece of paper (that is going to get thrown away) will never pay the bills. So unless your church plans on doing that, keep your paper and tip your server who gets paid $2.13 an hour plus tip out.

  7. Agree with all of this.

    It’s been over 20 years since I’ve worked in restaurants, but can confirm that the Sunday lunch/brunch (church) crowd, and the Wednesday night (church youth group) crowd are the WORST shifts to work. Very small (or no) tips and it was usually horrible demanding people. I’m not sure a lot of churches around here still have Wednesday night youth group, but I worked at a restaurant in Edmond in the ’90s where the kids would hang out after youth group and the church kids were way worse than the average Edmond punk kid.

    The only time I actually cried as a server though was when someone rounded up to a whole number with a $.12 tip on the credit card receipt and wrote “attitude.” It would have been better if you didn’t tip at all. I was having a horrible night in my personal life and had been working my ass off and doing my best. I was never intentionally rude to anyone. That fucking crushed me and I was in the manager’s office sobbing afterward. I still remember it perfectly over years later.

    1. sundaysaretheworst.com/

    2. Dated a girl years ago that was a waitress. She HATED working Sunday’s. I always assumed it was because it was super busy and she was constantly running. Nope. She explained it was because the after-church crowd were always the rudest, most demanding and the worst tippers.

  8. My single pet peeve of restaurants is when your server asks, “are you still working on that?” Like dining is a chore that must be completed. I’m sure they could find a better way to phrase this question. Also, the offering to take plates away while other people are still dining at the table has always come off as rude to me. It reeks of shaming the people that are slower at eating into hurrying up because they’re wasting everyone else’s time. These people may have personal dietary or digesting issues and need a little extra time to consume what they paid for. It would be nice if waitstaff would have consideration to clear a table after everyone is finished so that people that are slower eaters aren’t placed in an awkward position.

    1. I hate it when they interrupt an obvious conversation among patrons to ask “how is everything tasting”.
      Well, everything TASTES fine. The food isn’t doing the tasting, the humans are.
      Half the time we haven’t even had a chance to taste the food anyway.
      Good and bad servers everywhere. The good ones get extraordinary tips from me.

  9. When my daughter was in high school she had a summer job at a movie theater and frequently worked in the snack bar. For some reason the Edmond moms seemed to be under the mistaken belief that the high school teenager working the snack bar is actually the person responsible for setting the prices there.

    Newsflash, movie theater snack bars price their food like they do at sports arenas because it is a captive audience. The snack bars at Sam’s Club, Walmart, and Costco are cheap because nobody would ever go there unless it was cheap.

    The talkative Oklahoman isn’t a myth. There is nothing worse than a flight to OKC when you sit next to a native. Just because you seat was assigned to me doesn’t make me your buddy, and it is simply amazing the personal things they will tell you.

    I have never worked in the service industry, but I show them the same respect that I do to other professionals, such as doctors, but with the service professionals common courtesy is as essential as a tip.

    Also like most current and former service workers my daughter tends to overtip, which also makes me proud.

  10. Long winded conversations that impede efficiency suck, but a reasonable dose of #2 is what I like about my side of Norman. People are friendly to each other, hold the door for you, take the time to say hello and ask how it’s going. Never know, might be the scant human interaction that person has that day.

  11. I’m clergy who frequently tries to remind my people of the negative image given us by the kinds of church folks who act and tip poorly, especially at meals following our usual meeting times: “Sunday lunch at a restaurant is the most important meal of the week if you’re a church person, because everyone knows where you just came from and they watch to see if it made a difference.”

    The tracts disguised as big bills and the grumps who say, “I give God 10%, why should I give you 20?” all turned me into a paranoid tipper who won’t go below 20% and in my small town I usually round up from that because the staffs know who I am.

    That said, it’s kind of silly to think that any of these items are limited to Oklahomans.

    1. I agree, it’s not just an Okie thing, it’s everywhere. When a religion preaches that it’s members are somehow superior to others, this is bound to happen.

      There is a website dedicated to this kind of abuse of servers by the crowd that shows up after church with the Holier Than Thou attitude. Sundaysaretheworst.com . It has like 25 pages of posts about this and why servers hate Sundays trying to serve the church people. Check it out.
      I appreciate your efforts to lead your flock in a better direction. I hope it works well for everyone.

  12. [local idiot, when an item doesn’t ring up]


  13. Reading these comments It is obvious that even the supposedly more woke TLO crowd expects every server to know each and every one of their personal serving etiquette idiosyncrasies. All of this is why I prefer takeout…

  14. Does the author even work in the service industry…

    1. Did you even read the article?

      1. Does the author currently work in the hospitality industry?…

    2. You could find this out by reading literally the first paragraph of the article.

      1. Be kind. It may be an issue of poor short-term memory.

  15. The chattyness and friendliness of the people of Oklahoma are what I cherish most about living in this state. I don’t want to live in a place where no one speaks to each other and thereby denigrates the value of anyone other than themselves. While I may not be deeply into every conversation I have with someone, I very much value the smile and friendly attitude of each person I have one of those talks with. I have been to New York City and other places where it is considered rude to even look another person in they eye, and believe me, it is not fun, or pleasant. So if the author does not want to have ANY sort of conversation with the people at their table in a restaurant, only have the people answer her direct questions with direct answers, eat their food as rapidly as possible and then get the hell out so she can turn the table, I suggest she find another occupation and learn how to be friendly and enjoy other people. We all have stories, even her, and there is nothing wrong with being nice to other people.

  16. I often feel like its deliberate timing when the waitstaff comes by, just as you take a bite of whatever you are eating, asks how everything tastes, and actually waits for a response. I usually just nod my head and continue eating.

    1. Totally..a lot of them are probably misanthropes made worse over the years by assholes, and the rest of the considerate customers reap the benefits!

  17. DMV workers are the worst when it comes to customer service. They need to go through 40 hours of training or more on how to be nice to people seeking a drivers license

    1. They don’t live by tips.


    1) Wait to be seated. Why? I know how to walk over to a table and sit down. I don’t need guidance.

    2) “Is everything OK?” Asking once = acceptable. Asking more than once = you’re pestering me. If something sucks about my food, you’ll be the second person to know, believe me. Meantime, quit hovering and leave me in peace. PRO-TIP: If I suddenly begin projectile vomiting or make a face that looks like I just got kicked in the nuts, then everything is not OK. Inquire further. If, however, I’m simply CONTINUING TO EAT then perhaps that is a clue that things are OK and there’s no reason to inquire further.

    I have spoken.

  19. A while back I read about a corporate executive who takes job candidates out to lunch for the interview. Then he observes how the candidate treats the waitstaff.

    If the candidate is an asshole to the waitstaff, they don’t get hired. The strategy probably saves his company a lot of grief over HR issues down the road.

    You don’t make yourself look big and important by treating your servers like dirt. It’s just the opposite. You make yourself look small and left behind.

  20. You’ve forgotten the uniquely Oklahoman practice of asking for separate checks for one large group.

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