So in my entry below, someone commented that he/she doesn't understand why certain requests annoy servers. I figure most people reading here will probably be servers, but I thought I'd post this for those who aren't. As far as the ranch, lemons, etc. goes, we know you're not asking specifically to annoy us. And it's more about the individual person's attitude that anything.
For example, I wasn't annoyed with the people yesterday who ordered water with four limes and water with four lemons--I was just commenting that karma was already kicking me in the ass by giving me customers who were going to have a low check. Generally, water orders make us groan because it means the total bill will be less, and therefore our tip probably will be too. Of course there are exceptions sometimes.
However, when I ask someone if they would like an iced tea or something else to drink, and they respond "NO! I don't drink! I just want WATER!", I know they're going to be a pain. Likewise with people who start shaking their head as soon as I start offering a drink, and who sort of smirk at me and cut me off with "just water". And specifying "I'd like water, with two lemons, with a straw, with little ice" gives us the impression of a picky person who's going to make our job harder. I know I'm probably in for an order full of modifications, and all I can do after I input it is hope that the kitchen gets it all right, because of course I'm going to suffer if they forget to slice the sandwich diagonally.
Timing also plays a role. For example, if somebody orders a side of ranch when they order their meal, that's absolutely fine. If they ask for it when I deliver their food, okay. However, if when I come back with that ranch they ask me for another one, and then when I come back with that they ask me for more lemons, and then when I come back with lemons they ask me for more ranch ... then I start to get pissed off. I once had a table of four require eighteen trips to their table--and they all arrived and ordered at once, and didn't have dessert--for a five dollar tip (5%, in thise case). That's about ten more trips than the average table would require. People like this often will ask for sides of things, one at a time ... and then not even touch them.
One thing that I think annoys everyone, everywhere, is the dreaded hot tea. There are a couple of reasons for this; one is that past experience has taught me that hot tea drinkers generally linger for a long time and leave exceedingly average tips. But mostly, it's because it's a super pain in the ass to set up. The setup for my restaurant is to put a lemon, spoon, packet of honey, and tea bag on a small plate surrounding a small metal pot of water, and also to take a coffee mug full of hot water. It doesn't sound that complicated; but consider the following:
1) If I'm being a good waitress, I have to list all the flavors of tea we have--seven--and 99% of people ask me to repeat them at least once.
2) The side plates are on the expo line, across from the drink station, and I have to dodge the expo guy and anybody else walking through the kitchen to retrieve it.
3) The spoon and honey are right next to each other, but the honey packets are always sticky and stuck together.
4) The lemons are in the same general area, but usually require waiting in line to get the tongs to retrieve one.
5) The tea bags are several feet down, stored on top of the soda fountain--so not only do I have to wait for people to get done pouring sodas, half the time I can't reach the particular flavor of tea bag because I'm short. And sometimes the boxes fall behind the soda fountain, so then I have to retrieve the box, or go to the back, find the step ladder, climb up, get the right flavor out of the new box, and go back.
6) To get the hot water, I usually have to pour it out of the little hot water spigots on the coffee machines--which are very slow. Sometimes we'll have a pot of hot water sitting on a burner, it just depends on if anybody else has had tea that day.
If I'm unlucky, all of this can take five minutes, but even without any glitches it takes three times as long as pouring a fountain drink. And if people want milk or cream for their coffee, I have to go harass the bartender for it. Plus, even if it's a table of only two, I now have to use a drink tray, because there's no safe way to carry a regular glass, a hot coffee cup, and a plate with a hot metal kettle on it.
What it really boils down to is peoples' attitudes about requesting these things. Anyone who's been serving long enough can predict their tip with fair accuracy based on the way their customers speak to them, and their body language. Not everyone who has some french fries with their six buckets of ranch is a bad tipper, but if the same person doesn't make eye contact with us when asking for things, it's a bad sign.