Jim, my husband, and I went out to dinner locally the other night, and were shocked by the customers at a table near us.

The woman complained about absolutely everything, from her drink to her food and so on; it became apparent that she hoped that if she complained enough their meals would be compensated (given to them free) by the restaurant.

As a paying customer, it angers us when people pull these shenanigans because we are really paying for the scam artist's "free" meals. Someone has to pay the food cost and this cost will be paid by raising customer prices.

I understand that there are legitimate reasons to return food — over/under cooked meat, the wrong food, and so on — but the nit picking that can go on can be ridiculous. I want the food I paid for to be hot and delicious and I don't expect inferior food, but there is a limit as to how much one should gripe.

Be reasonable, and if you truly do not like the food or service, don't patronize that establishment. Don't continue to frequent a restaurant you dislike and make everyone's life miserable.

Servers are just that, at the restaurant to take our food order and serve our food; they are not the attentive servant of one table. Don't be that person who is so needy you tie up the server to the exclusion of any other table. This drastically cuts into the server's tip income, which is a major portion of their pay.

Unfortunately, the customer is not always right and bad behavior on the part of a customer shouldn't be tolerated. Also, people who order food excuse themselves to the restroom or for a cigarette, and then leave without paying should be prosecuted, as that is stealing.

Please don't take advantage of the business establishment, and do make sure that you tip fairly and treat your server with kindness. "Please" and "thank you" go a long way in a restaurant.

Last of all, if you desire to go out and can't afford to tip, go to a fast food establishment where tips aren't part of the wages.

Janice Lynn Crose, a former accountant, lives in Crestview with her husband, Jim; her two rescue collies, Shane and Jasmine; and two cats, Kathryn and Prince Valiant.