Avoiding Awkward SituationsWhen Ordering Food, Hold the AwkwardEliza Hurwitz

Whenever I go to a restaurant, café, bar or any place where I have to order something, I forget how to talk like a normal person. I get super nervous, which means I talk too quietly, stumble on my words, don’t know whether to look at the menu or into the waiter’s eyes and if I start to laugh I am unable to stop. So, here are some tips that have helped make ordering food or drinks more bearable for me and less annoying for those serving me.

Breathe:

Before ordering, just take a deep breath. It may seem simple but it truly does help to put things into perspective. Sometimes ordering a drink at Starbucks is my most challenging part of the day, a fact that makes me feel pretty silly and sad, which means I get even more anxious about ordering. On the other hand, I’m a competitive person, so if this is my challenge for the day, I want my request to come out perfectly. So, I suggest taking a deep breath and not thinking too much. I also give myself words of encouragement such as, “You got this”, “Believe in yourself” and “Never give up. One day you will be the person you’ve dreamed of: the perfect orderer.”

Pass It On:

Casually pass off the burden of ordering to someone else. If you’re with a group of people, just tell someone what you want to get, then pretend to be extremely interested in an object in the restaurant like a lamp, chair or cashier. You could also pretend to be invested in something outside such as a squirrel, bird, streetlight or sign across the street and become so mesmerized that you must leave the table to get up close to it. Then come back once the waiter has been to your table, this way you avoid any awkward encounter. You could also just get up and go to the bathroom, which is less imaginative but equally effective.

Practice:

If you can’t pass your request to a friend or if you feel ready to take on the challenge of ordering for yourself, it’s always a good idea to practice saying what you want before the time comes. You can say your order in your head or aloud to someone next to you. You could also practice in a mirror before going out. I recommend anywhere from 1-3 hours of practice before ordering. That way when your friends see you flawlessly order that kim chi jae yook bokeum – complete with a Korean accent – and they ask you how you did it, you can say, “I practiced for hours” and you won’t be lying!

Go With the Flow:

I was at a wedding this weekend and was ordering white wine but I accidentally asked for “wet wine” instead. I then started laughing, mumbled “never mind” and walked away. I realize now that I should’ve just gone with the flow and pretended that “wet wine” was a real thing. I should’ve been outraged that they didn’t have my favorite “wet wine” drink and then I should’ve stormed off only to return a minute later and begrudgingly say, “I guess I’ll take the white wine.” So, if you mess up your wording, it’s important to not acknowledge your mistake and pretend you meant what you said, no matter how crazy you seem or how many people you might offend in the process. Feign confidence and no one will question your strange requests.

With these tips I assure you, one day you will be ordering food and drinks like a pro in no time. Your friends, family, and fellow restaurant-goers will be silent in the face of your crazy confidence, loud, strong, non-mumbling voice, and your inability to admit a mistake. Whether their silence is fear or awe doesn’t really matter; what matters is you’re getting what you asked for, with a side of awkward.

comments

Please help us maintain positive conversations by refraining from posting spam, advertisements, and links to other websites or blogs. we reserve the right to remove your comment if it does not adhere to these guidelines. thanks! post a comment.

  1. this is great, could you do a blog on public speaking??

  2. This is great! I’m a waitress, and while I consistently run into people who have awkward ordering habits, I’m not the best talking either. In fact, just a few hours ago at work, I put myself in an awkward position, mean to say “Thank You!” I ended up saying “Yank to!” Even worse I just stood there, hoping they would understand I stumbled over my words, and then walked off. Taking orders can be just as difficult, and awkward.

  3. Thank you so much! I thought I was the only one and friends and family give me such a hard time about it! You have no idea how much I loved this piece.

  4. I am a big fan of all of your pieces. It is very unfortunate that “the awkward girl” is so underrepresented in the media, and often misrepresented.
    In my adolescence, I suffered from terrible social anxiety, and there was nowhere for me to turn. It’s hard enough being a teen, add some social awkwardness to that and you’ve got yourself a hot mess.
    Thank you so much for writing these pieces in such a warm, funny, comforting manner. You’re creating a very helpful tool for all the girls (guys too) that are still in the process of figuring themselves out. I can certainly say that the socially anxious me would have greatly benefited from reading this.

  5. As a Starbucks Barista, and one who complains A LOT about customers at that, I can safely say that awkward orderers are not in the least annoying :) Don’t feel badly! I get intimidated by people at restaurants all the time.

    Just make sure you decide what you want beforehand. It’s so irritating when someone comes to the front of the line and stares at the menu with their mouth open.

  6. So happy that you feel the same way. Ordering something, especially with words that are too cute and perky for a meal name can get uncomfortable.. AH

  7. Glad I’m not alone in this! Thought I was the only one! Ha…. Ugh…

  8. This is why I always make my fiance order for me!

  9. Um, are we related?

  10. so glad to see I’m not awkwardly alone in this!

  11. hahaha i do this part sometimes “pretend to be extremely interested in an object in the restaurant like a lamp, chair or cashier”, not when ordering food, but when i’m trying to avoid something hahaha
    great post!

  12. Your next post should be about leaving messages. I’m fine ordering food but I can’t leave a decent message to save my life.

    • yeh.. that was 16 years ago, before text messages! but i totally do that now. and run through the voicemail over and over in my head beforehand, if i don’t hear back and have to get in touch with them. heart pounding the entire time, of course…

    • That’s why I don’t call someone unless I already KNOW that they will be able to pick up the phone… I actually text message the person I’m going to call and wait for their reply before calling…

    • I totally know what you mean with the messages! When I was younger, I had to write down what I was going to say before hand, and read it off. Which means I had to call a couple times before hand, to know I had to leave the ‘dreaded message on the machine’. Now I just hang up…

  13. oh wow I’m not weird then! Thank you!

  14. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, I am not alone! My husband has to talk me down before I order or ask me what I am going to get while we are still in the car. Then it never fails that I get “clam hands” as the waiter waits for my order. Oh well, a girls gotta eat!

  15. haha, I love your post about awkward situations because I can totally relate to them! Here’s my tip: If you want “sweetened” passion tea lemonade from Starbucks, remind yourself not to say, “Umm…sweetened,” when they ask because they may take that to mean “unsweetened!” Why do I need to interject that “Umm” every time?! I’m expecting the question and I know my answer. Sigh. I think I’ll try your breathing tip next time!

  16. I usually point to what I want on the menu when I don’t want to go through the hassle of trying to pronounce something

  17. I was a waitress and bartender for many years so in an effort to also help you get over your nervousness I’d like to tell you a few things about the wait staff… the men are usually retched, immature little boys (of course some of them look delicious but you wouldn’t want to date them anymore than you would the guy hollering at you from his car window at a red light), and on top of that we only get paid 4 dollars an hour with high hopes of getting a big time roller to leave you a thousand dollar tip (this ACTUALLY happened to a coworker of mine, ick! why not me??)… anyhow, in terms of people, we’re the same as you (and truth be told, you’re probably better than most servers in terms of morale and character) so don’t sweat it! order your wet wine and see if they are smart enough to decipher that it’s not an accent you’re speaking with :) Happy dining :)

  18. I am so glad someone was brave enough to come forward and talk about nervous ordering disorder