Dear Salty, I’m a waitress at a sports bar/grill in the Midwest. A few days ago, I was waiting on this guy, and we struck up a really nice, borderline-flirtatious conversation. It for sure wasn’t the standard server-customer interaction. It was pretty clear that he was into me and I was into him. But he paid and that was that.
Before he left, though, he paid by credit card so I looked at his name, and later when I got home (creep alert) I looked up his Facebook profile. Is it weird if I friend him on Facebook? I’ve been thinking about this, because I know if the roles were reversed and a male server tried friending a female customer on FB, it would feel creepy. I’m well aware of the double standard, which is why I’m reaching out to you for advice.
Questions like this make me pine for the good old days, when Lycra looked good and you had to ask for a guy’s phone number if you thought he was cute. It took cojones, but at least you weren’t running a virtual detective agency. I’ll cut you a little break, though—you probably didn’t want to ask for his number while you’re working.
But this is 2018, so instead you’ve searched for this dream boat on Facebook. I’ll assume he’s not kissing a girl, wearing a wedding ring, or flexing for a shirtless mirror selfie in his profile picture, right? If he is doing any of the above, I’ll repeat the ageless words of Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost: You in danger, girl.
If those warning signs are all-clear, we’re really just determining the creep factor of contacting a customer—by also peeking at his credit card—after a single interaction. I’m with you—I don’t advise male servers to go Facebook friending ladies left and right. And even given that you’re a woman and he’s a man, tread lightly. Let’s examine the spectrum of scenarios that could come from friending him on Facebook.
Best-case scenario: You friend him, and he immediately messages you that he’s so glad you reached out. Date plans ensue.
Less-exciting scenario: You friend him, and he ignores your request. Now this is awkward. Maybe he just didn’t recognize you from your Facebook photo? Or maybe he just wasn’t as into you as you thought? And what if he comes back to the restaurant? Do you pretend you never reached out? I’d be sweating like two rats screwing in a wool sock.
Not-great scenario: You friend him, and he’s weirded out, either ignoring your request or messaging you that he’s not interested. This could result in him avoiding your restaurant or, if he really freaks out, getting in touch with your boss, which sucks on all levels. Don’t forget the fact that you used a business transaction to sleuth his name for personal gain.
I think it comes down to just how sure you are that he’s into you. After all, plenty of people flirt with servers with no intention of taking that anywhere because they think it’s a no-consequence, escapist scenario. In my mind, if he was as flirty as you say he was, he’ll come back to the restaurant again where you can ask him for his name and number in person. Erring on the side of caution (and not creating trouble where you work), I’d wait for him to come back again. If you love a customer, set him free, or however the saying goes.
But if you’re really, really not content with that, consider Facebook messaging him rather than outright friending. Don’t go stage-five clinger in the message. Maybe just bring up something you two talked about, and acknowledge the strangeness of the situation: “Hey, it’s Alyssa, your server at Whatever Bar. I hope you don’t mind that I’m messaging you here, but I wanted to let you know that [I listened to that song you recommended/I watched the YouTube clip you mentioned/I thought of another movie you might like].” Leave it at that.
If he’s into you, he’ll write back. If not, well, he’s just not that into you.
Got a question about dining out etiquette? Or are you a server/bartender with a horror story the world needs to hear? Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.