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Waiter explains the best way to help service workers after a meal

A video has sparked a debate about whether customers should help servers by stacking their plates after a meal.

Waiter explains the best way to help service workers after a meal
Cover Image Source: TikTok | @treyburry7

Editor's note: This article was originally published on May 12, 2023. It has since been updated.

Working in hospitality is a challenge and just like any other corporate employee, serves, too, feel overworked and tired at some point. Not knowing how many customers will be seated or busy your day will be, dealing with serving food while being quick on your feet during your shift is not an easy task. While it may seem like you're doing a server's job by leaving your dirty dishes around the table and your cutleries on the floor, the truth is that it is more helpful than you might imagine. A TikTok video, in which a user calls out a popular content creator for suggesting that helping servers in a restaurant is not proper protocol. The video was uploaded by TikTok user Trey - who goes by @treyburry7 on TikTok, with a stitch from content creator Caterina Valentino, who goes by @caterinavalentinovip, on the video-sharing platform.

Girl, fuck you, respectfully and your etiquette,”
Image Source: TikTok | @treyburry7

In the clip posted by Valentino, she attempts to help the server by piling all of the leftover food onto one plate and stacking it on top of the empty ones. She indicated that the customer was wrong to do that and marked this behavior with a red “X.” The video then cuts to Trey, who disagrees with this gesture, saying, “Girl, f**k you, respectfully, and your etiquette." He thanks customers who stack plates and said in the on-screen text that Valentino "clearly never served a day in her life." Trey elaborates in the caption, writing, “When I am in the weeds, and I have 10 tables 4 need refills and 3 need to order and 2 need their checks, this is the most helpful thing a table can do to help me get back on my feet."

Image Source: TikTok / @treyburry7
Image Source: TikTok | @treyburry7

Later in the video, Valentino is shown sitting in her chair while the waiter clears the table without her assistance. Yes, there are specific systems for dirty plates and silverware and if you need to separate the forks from the glass bowls and ceramic plates, there is nothing wrong with doing your part as a customer. As a responsible customer, the least you could do is stack up the plates neatly so that your server does not scurry around the table to fetch your plates when they are short of time and have other customers to serve. You are not doing the server's job, but rather assisting and escalating the process so you quickly have the pie you ordered for dessert.


Moreover, it is good etiquette to place your silverware on the plate either straight up and down in the center of the plate or between 10:00 and 4:00. It is an old-fashioned technique, but still works like a charm for letting the server know you are finished eating and ready to be cleared, per Kent State University. Your help is not an obligation, but being kind enough to do the necessary assistance to help your server can be a great help. Mounting your dirty dishes correctly with the leftovers on top makes the dishwasher process move faster.

Image Source: TikTok / @treyburry7
Image Source: TikTok | @treyburry7


Image Source: TikTok / @treyburry7
Image Source: TikTok | @treyburry7

We are a society, and helping each other when needed is how kindness is displayed. People in Trey's video agreed that helping out is good conduct and that folks not leave it as they are. "We do this almost every time we eat somewhere. We usually pile napkins all up so it’s easier," said @webfrndz27.kristy.

"Whenever I do this around my boomer parents they always tell me to stop 'cause it’s their job. It costs $0 to be a decent clean human being," added @prikachuuuuuu. "I try to stack my plates with my trash, paper napkins, and utensils on top & hope it makes their job easier," wrote @kenny4325. "I do this at every restaurant I go to out of respect for those hard-working servers and tip them good money as a thank you," shared @destinicruz4.

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