Restaurant dining is part of modern life, and though rules vary from establishment to establishment, there are a few general guidelines restaurant Servers (and pretty much everyone else who works at a restaurant) would likely appreciate if customers learned so the whole experience for everyone involved can be as great as possible. As a server for more years than high school seniors have been on this planet, I offer these guidelines as suggestions in an effort to make restaurant sit-down dining a better place for all, as the Department of Justice decides on changing the laws on tips (check out #tiptheft), taking them from employees and giving them to owners.

Make your own lemonade

If you ask a Server for whole lemons and sugar packets, they are likely on to the fact that you're trying to get a free lemonade. It’s one thing to ask for some lemon with your tea or water, but it’s another thing to ask for three lemons so you can do a little chemistry at your table. Also, this "free item" makes a complete mess on the table.

Name drop

Servers couldn't care less. Every table is pretty much the same to them and anyone who should get VIP treatment will get it without asking. If you’re friends with the owner, you won’t have to tell someone. If you’re famous or well-known, you should not have to say so. A surefire way to get bad service is to tell your server you’re “important” and know "so-and-so."

Ask to move to a table larger than your party

If you are two people, is it really fair to occupy a table for four?

Sure, this won’t always apply but use common sense. If the restaurant is empty, okay, go for it. Ask for the table you want, but if it’s not, even if it’s half full, perhaps accept the table you are offered. Hosts plot out reservations for the whole night so although a table may seem available, it’s likely not. Not to mention, each seat is meant for a paying guest, not your purse or jacket.

Offer suggestions on how to cook something

There really isn’t much that needs to be said about this but sadly, it’s done quite a lot. Guests often fill servers' ears with how they think a dish should be prepared, cooked, and even plated! Typically, it goes in one ear and out the other for most servers but some may placate by saying, “I’ll let management know,” though it’s a safe bet your opinion is going nowhere other than server gossip-land.

Put your dirty plates or personal belongings on a table other than your own

Sure, it’s tempting to stretch out and occupy more space than you should, especially as you enjoy a meal, but it’s helpful to understand that you’ve now dirtied a whole other table not meant for you. You can also make new guests uncomfortable when a host brings them to their table and you have to unplug your computer so they can sit down. Not to mention, you'll likely leave a water spot or crumb behind that the server has to deal with.

Order a drink with a timetable

More often than one would assume, a guest will order a glass of wine or some drink while the others at the table do, but then ask for it to be served when their salad arrives, and then a cup of coffee when their entrée arrives.

Okay...why not order it when you want it rather than asking a server to time your drink? Drinks and food come out of different stations. If you must ask your server for this, understand that the timing may not be exactly as you request.

Say you didn’t like something after you eat more than half of it

It’s safe to say that if a guest doesn’t like something they ordered at a restaurant, they’ll return it within a few bites unless they’ve decided to stick with their choice and deal with it. Unless something is cooked wrong, like a rare steak coming out medium, taste preference is subjective. When you order food, you run that risk. But if you are going to be the person to return a dish not to your liking, then, at the very least, do it before you clear half the plate.