My husband and I were on our honeymoon in New Zealand. It was New Year's Day, but we needed to eat out because we were tourists and our motel did not serve food. We were in a touristy town on the south island and we found a restaurant nearby through our GPS. We go in and speak to the hostess, who says they usually require reservations for holidays, but they just had a family cancel and we could take their place. Ok, I felt awkward because I hadn't seen anything about reservations for holidays on their website, but it seems like we won't be trouble. The hostess tells us she's working double as a waitress and mentions that she's getting paid time-and a half since it's a holiday. She says please excuse her if service is slow, since it's a holiday no one else wanted to come into work, so they are understaffed. She complains about being stuck with having to work this holiday. From the kitchen, which was open to the restaurant, I hear the chef complaining about having to work New Years, too. So, we look at the menu for a bit and then the chef comes up to us and says he's having to also work as a waiter that day and he will take our order, even though he is the CHEF and as such is normally above the menial task of serving. So, we haven't looked at the menu long enough for me to really decide, but the chef seemed rushed, so my husband went ahead and ordered. He asked if we could split a steak. BIG MISTAKE.
Now, I know that there is a controversy, at least in the US, about whether or not splitting meals is acceptable etiquette. However, in the US, a way to ameliorate the issue is to tip according to the price of two entrees. In New Zealand, there is a general service tax that automatically adds tip, but you can still tip extra, too. We wanted to have some steak but also order other entrees to share, as well as drinks and dessert, and we would have tipped extra on account of splitting and the holiday.
But, my husband did not get to complete our order. The chef at first just asked if we would want an extra plate to share the steak. Then, he paused and said, actually I'm not gonna let you do that. Couldn't we see that we could order two smaller steaks separately!? (No, I hadn't noticed that, and I understand him wanting us to take that option instead.) He said, "You come in here, on New Year's Day, and expect this!?" He went on a tirade saying that we were mean, selfish, spiteful people for trying to cheat him and the restaurant on a holiday. He ended by saying that we could have the two separate steaks, and because he was a gentleman, he wouldn't spit on them. We couldn't get a word in edgewise and his display probably disturbed the few other people dining that day. He stormed off, saying that the waitress would have to finish our order because he was too angry to deal with us any more. We left, since we didn't trust him to actually not spit on our food, and the whole experience would have been awkward since he was so belligerent.
I was really, really, upset. I try my best to be polite and nice to people and I'd never in my life been called mean before. I know that he was pissed about working the holiday and probably saw us as typical Rude Americans, but there was no need for him to yell and be judgmental and make assumptions about our character. He could have just said, "Sorry, but we don't allow meals to be split." Or, if the restaurant didn't actually have a no splitting policy, he could have politely mentioned that we could also choose the two smaller steaks.
I still have fantasies about yelling back at him. Asshole.