It's around 7 when we come in. There's a semi big group of what looks like two families with a few kids. They're just finishing their meal. There's also a four top that is just digging in and another family of six mid-meal. We waited by the Please Wait to Be Seated sign for a couple minutes, scanning the restaurant for a server. Finally a girl looks up from the tables across the room and comes over to seat us. She leaves without a word. Being familiar with the menu, we quickly decide what we want, close our menus and place them at the edge of the table. A male employee walks by us to the four top, checks on their meal, walks past us again to the table of six to clear a couple plates, then continues on his way. No acknowledgment to us whatsoever. We scan the room again for anyone who can take our order. The girl who seated us comes over a minute or so later. No "Hey, sorry about the wait." or "We're really busy/short handed/whatever." Just takes our order and leaves.
Hubby and I get involved in a new app he has on his phone and lose track of time, until he looks up, past me to the counter by the kitchen and says, "You think that's our food sitting there?" I turn around and see two plates chilling on the counter, right next to the male employee, who is busy chatting with an older lady, and not a foot from the girl who'd taken the order but was now deeply involved in cleaning a ketchup bottle.
"How long has it been there?" I ask my husband.
"I don't know. I just saw it."
We wait a couple minutes, by now curious to see how long it would be before anyone took notice of the two plates. I finally can't stand it any more and push my chair back, fully intending to go get the plates myself. Just then, the girl looks over, then abandons the ketchup and brings over our food. Its lukewarm temp confirms our suspicions, but we are so starved and it was still edible, so we just eat. Both of our glasses are by now empty, so we move them to the edge of the table, betting each other how long it would take before we get a refill.
During this time, both the male employee, the girl, and another female employee that had showed up keep walking past us, checking on other tables, clearing plates, delivering checks... no inquiry is made of us how our meal was going. It was only until the girl arrives to clear our plates that she says, "Oh, do you want a refill?"
I wanted to tip about 10%, but hubby bumped it up to 12%. As we were leaving, the male employee called out, "Thank you! Good night!" and we both burst out laughing. What a strange time to finally acknowledge us! Really, as frustrating and terrible as the service was, we couldn't help but be oddly amused through the whole thing, thinking over and over "how much worse can it get?"
ETA: As I was writing this, I figured I'd get the "you gotta speak up" tag so I tried to make it clear that we did attempt to "speak up" but it's kind of difficult when there's no one visible at first. And after that, it became kind of like a game, so we made a conscious decision NOT to speak up and just see what happened. :)