As with all service professions, variations in attention and expeditiousness are bound to happen from time to time. This can feel particularly vexing at a busy or popular restaurant or bar where there’s a time limit on your table. So if the service is slow but you only have 90 minutes to enjoy yourself, what do you do?

First of all, this is very unfortunate. You’ve made the reservation and you’re paying for the experience, so you should get a well-paced meal in return. But if a place is slammed or understaffed that evening, a certain amount of patience on the part of you, the patron, is in order. You might feel compelled to mention that things are moving a little slowly, but fight the impulse to be rude.

Instead, try to be smart about ordering and communicating with your server when they’re with you — you might even note that they seem really busy. If it takes 15 minutes to get their attention and you want another round or dessert, when you finally get it, make sure everyone in your party orders together. (Nothing is worse than having to wait another 20 minutes for a second cocktail when everyone else in your group is almost done with theirs.) Same goes for the bill. Maybe when the final course is dropped, you mention that you’d like the check. This way you’re not stressing as you’re trying to leave, and the waitstaff knows your intention to go and hopefully won’t rush you along, which indeed is never pleasant.

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Time limits on tables kind of suck, so if you’re opting to take a reservation at a place that has them, do hope for the best experience, but be prepared for the unfortunate circumstance in which service is slow and you feel a little rushed. Then maybe head to a chill place after where you can eat or drink at your own pace.

*Image retrieved from loki_ast via