Complaints are magical little moments that allow you, as a waiter, to look deep into the soul of the guest and see what makes them tick. You see beyond the well-dressed (or otherwise) exterior and deep down into their insecurities and paranoid psychosis. Or something, not that I want to over-think things. Sometimes a steak is just an overcooked piece of meat and not the start of a mental breakdown.
But quite often when a customer complains it's less about you or your restaurant's inability to sling three appetizing courses over two hours down onto a table, and more about the punter and their state of mind. Honestly some days I know they're only one overcooked tuna away from a William "D?Fens" Foster moment.
Take this bed wetter extraordinaire who asked me to change his steak as there was a grilled tomato on his plate.
"Yeah I don't eat tomato, don't like them. Never have done, they taste yuck."
He actually said yuck. This fully-grown, professional looking, man of about 40, maybe 45 years old, said tomatoes are, "YUCK." I was tempted to ask if they made him sicky in his tum-tum. But I didn't.
So you want a new steak?
"Eh yeah ... it's just the tomato..."
Mmmmmkay....eh. I'll see what the chef says. He'll probably just take the tomato off though.