The 4 Worst Things I've Ever Witnessed While Working the Brunch Shift

I've worked as a waiter for 30+ years, so let's just say I've seen some things.

Five champagne glasses filled with various brunch drinks

Dotdash Meredith / Sabrina Tan

For most people, the thought of brunch conjures up images of good friends, eggs Benedict, and day drinking. For restaurant workers, the thought of brunch can trigger a severe case of PTSD. I’ve been to hundreds of brunches in my lifetime, but for most of them I was wearing an apron and speeding from table to table to serve customers. I’ve been witness to a lot over the years, but these are the four worst things I’ve seen while working a brunch shift. 

Fresh Tomato Bloody Mary

The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

1. When the “Hair of the Dog” Bit a Diner Back

Bloody Marys and mimosas are a brunch staple. The simple act of adding tomato or orange juice to liquor makes it 100% acceptable to start drinking before noon. The problem is they go down far too easily, especially at a “bottomless brunch” where there’s no limit. I once watched a noticeably hungover woman nurse it with the hair of the dog that bit her. After a few spicy Bloody Marys though, that dog caught up. She suddenly realized that what goes down must come up and she made her way to the restroom. Well, she almost made it. Nothing kills a brunch vibe faster than seeing someone projectile vomit Bloody Marys and thick-cut maple bacon.

chocolate dipped strawberries

 Elaine Lemm

2. When Someone Got Too Up Close and Personal at the Buffet

The best thing about brunch buffets is that customers can help themselves to whatever they want. It’s also the worst thing. Sneeze guards serve a purpose, but too many people completely disregard them. They duck their head underneath it to examine every morsel of food before also ignoring the tongs to pick through the offerings with their bare hands. But that’s not the worst of it. Once, I watched an unaccompanied little boy make his way to the dessert station and I prepared myself for the worst. His eyes landed on a chocolate-covered strawberry. He stared at it, unsure if he wanted it or not. He picked it up with his grubby little hands, dragged his tongue across it, didn’t like what he tasted, and tossed it back onto the pile. (He grabbed a donut instead, and that was the end of the chocolate-covered strawberries that day. 

Dinner Omelet

The Spruce / Julia Estrada

3. When Someone Slid an Entire Omelet Into Their Purse

All-you-can-eat brunch buffets are a gold mine for hungry customers. That said, plenty of customers have eyes that are bigger than their stomachs, and it's easy for them to get carried away and pile up their plates way too high. No one likes to see food wasted in this way, but I’m not sure what I’ve seen is a solution: Folks showing up with zip-top bags and Tupperware for packing home their “leftovers.” I actually watched a woman deftly slide an entire omelet into her bag complete with rolls and butter packets. (Believe it or not, she then asked me for another piece of rye toast.)

Raw Vegan Cashew Milk in a glass

The Spruce / Nyssa Tanner

4. When Someone Went Way Overboard on the Unlimited Drinks Option

One restaurant I worked in offered unlimited drinks from coffee to juice to sodas. Wanting to take full advantage of every feasible beverage option, a customer asked me to bring him one of everything to drink. “Everything?” I asked? “Everything,” he replied. My tray was laden with a cup of coffee, a cup of hot tea, a soda, glasses of orange, cranberry, and grapefruit juice, and anything else I could think of he might want to drink. When I got to his table, he called me out for not bringing him a glass of milk to go with his pancakes. Exasperated, I returned shortly with one more drink and placed it before him. As I stood on the other side of the dining room, I watched him quaff the entire glass of what he thought was milk. It was actually eight ounces of half and half.