There are certain types of people in this world that, no matter how you look at them, are just the absolute worst. There are slow walkers, people who smack their food around in their mouths when they chew, able-bodied people who take the elevator one floor up, DMV employees, and grocery-store patrons who appear to be stocking up for doomsday and happen to beat you in the footrace to the checkout counter. Recently I was able to add to this list of undesirables — bad Yelpers.
Originally I used to commend other Yelpers for helping
me make the pressing decision of what place in town has the meanest Mexican food. However, the other day my mind changed — and not for the better. What originally started as any other regular day in hell (a five-hour shift at my Mexican restaurant) quickly spiraled into some sort of “Twilight Zone” nightmare.
My shift immediately started in a turmoil of dysfunction when I was called in half an hour early. Although this was an inconvenience, it was nothing I wasn’t used to. A server quit midshift, a line cook never showed and some bratty 7-year-old stuck his fingers in the salsa bar. Just another day in paradise. Obviously short-staffed all around the restaurant, delivering food to one of my tables took a whopping 15 minutes instead of the normal 10. I clearly was dealing with someone who had never worked a customer-service job in their life because suddenly I was no longer Ali the human being who happens to work as a waitress for beer money but rather the peasant woman who brings out Mexican food five minutes too late.
After tuning out a constant string of complaints from my disgruntled customer, I came back to reality hard when I heard the words “You’ll be hearing from me on Yelp.”
It dawned on me. Despite all the disgruntled people I have had the unfortunate opportunity to serve, I never thought to check out my restaurant’s Yelp reviews. There I was with no other choice. For the next few hours I would get lost down the rabbit hole that is the trenches of Yelp. It was here I discovered Yelpers were among the worst of the worst humans.
One of my biggest concerns with the posts really came from my inability to understand who in their right mind even had the time to curate these posts. A common theme I came across was people feeling the need to give a 500-word prelude to why they decided to try the restaurant. Listen, Fitzgerald, this is a basic food review; I don’t need backstory. How about instead you cut to the chase. It’s either the burritos were good or they weren’t. So here’s a simple tip for all you Yelpers out there: better to keep it short and sweet. If we wanted you to carry on for 30 minutes, we would have added you on Facebook and kept up with your asinine election comments.
Then there were the professionals — those who posted Yelp reviews for mediocre restaurants as if they were reviewing a Four Seasons. “The picayune options that proved to be ever too insipid will guarantee me and my pompous ass will not return.” First of all, what the hell does “picayune” even mean? Second of all, if Guy Fieri described food this way, no one would eat at any “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” restaurants. If you’re such an expert, how about you create a review that’s able to be understood by the common folk.
Then of course I discovered the PITA Yelpers. Yes, folks, that means Pain in the Ass Yelpers. These are the critics who go to restaurants expecting the establishment to cater specifically to you. Despite popular belief, no restaurant is held to an obligation to serve gluten-free, vegan, low-carb or half-order options to you. So when you immediately start with dissing a restaurant for its lack thereof, maybe you should consider re-evaluating your diet fads.
Then there were those who used Yelp as a blog forum. If you don’t have feelings on a restaurant, whether they be positive or negative, why waste your time posting? I don’t know about you, but I have a job. In my spare time I am binge-watching “Game of Thrones” and shoving my face with assorted pastries, not Yelping about the “not great but not bad” experience I had at a restaurant last Saturday. I know what they say: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Yelpers, how about if you have nothing of substance to say other than “no complaints but not good either,” go get a hobby. Because “South Park” said it best: Your insignificant post “is not Yelping.”
All I am saying is that there has to be a better way of using Yelp. Quit the backstory. Ditch the fancy-pants language. Vegans, just stay home. Use Yelp to actually help your restaurant-inquiring peers. If you’ve visited a place recently and the service was great and the food was yummy, cut to the chase and say so! If you had a terrible experience somewhere (I’m sorry), warn others to enter if they dare. Try to refrain from docking points from a tasty restaurant because the interior decor isn’t aesthetically up to your standards (leave those comments for Martha Stewart). Try and remember restaurant staffers are people too. Just because you’ve had one bad experience doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try a place again. If there were no such things as second chances, Keanu Reeves would’ve been exiled from Hollywood a while ago.
Fortunately it’s never too late to improve your Yelping etiquette. Yelp me Yelp you.
Ali Schultz studies journalism. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @Alischultzee.