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When you stagger out of the bar at 2:00 am and you’re far from being ready to go home, it’s perfectly normal to stumble toward the first inviting location that presents itself. More often than not that location happens to be a Denny’s, Shari’s, IHOP, or similar 24-hour diner. Like flies to honey (or poo), small groups of inebriated friends are attracted by the all-hours cafe. It’s like something in their makeup tells them that if you can sit in a booth and down a slice of pie, the night’s magic might still be just beginning…even though it’s well after last call and you’ve struck out with pretty much everyone you talked to. But, once you get to the diner, slide into that duct tape-patched booth, and get ready to place your order, there are a few things you should know to make your experience as pleasant as possible.

1) Sit in the Corner

After coming directly from a noisy club or bar, chances are you’ve become a little bit acclimated to talking about three or four notches louder than any normal person should, and you might want to bring it down a notch. But, even so, it would be wise for you and your friends to pick a booth or table as far away from other patrons as possible. Chances are they’re not going to appreciate your drunken debate over who was hotter, the bartender with the tattoos or the blond that was totally into you but left before you could get her number. Also, just because you’re feeling a bit buzzed doesn’t mean all social etiquette should go out the window. For whatever reason, there always seem to be a few people scattered throughout 24-hour restaurants at four in the morning just sipping their coffee and reading a magazine, and they don’t want to deal with your drunk ass being all loud and obnoxious.

2) Seriously, Drink Some Coffee

Even if you’re feeling like you’re on top of the world, chances are you’ll be crashing back down to reality in a matter of hours. It would serve you well to order a cup of coffee and try to do a little bit of sobering up. Plus, coffee will give you a great excuse to hang around after the meal if you still don’t feel like going home yet. “Just one more cup of coffee, then I’m gonna take off,” you say for the third time as you further indent your ass-groove into the booth.

3) Be Prepared for a Wait

Most late-night diners are notoriously slow (Shari’s, I’m looking at you), and when you decide to grab a bite to eat at a time when most sane people would be sound asleep, you pretty much forfeit all rights to prompt service. In the majority of the cases, simple logic dictates that the one waitress on shift just isn’t going to be able to cover 8 tables scattered across the entire restaurant with the same swiftness you might be accustomed to. Deal with it. And, whatever you do…

4) Don’t Bother the Waitress

She’s doing her best out there, and while she might seem a bit surly to you, it’s probably because she’s on her second straight shift and is rapidly growing tired of drunken patrons either trying to make awkward small talk or treating her like she doesn’t exist. This goes double if the waitress is attractive. Sure, there are movies where a waitress is swept off her feet by a dashing customer that says all the right things and whisks her away to a better life, but if you ever find this thought entering your head, take a quick trip to the restroom, look in the mirror, and ask yourself, “Am I really that guy?” Because honestly, you know you’re not.

5) Eat With Reckless Abandon

If you’re still in a drunken state by the time you place your order (and chances are you will be), the best thing you can do is pass things over to your id and just order whatever crosses your mind. If you’re drunk enough you won’t remember, and if you’re reasonably sober then logic will prevail anyway. Go ahead and get an omelet, a tall stack, two orders of cheesesticks, and a side of biscuits and gravy — if it’s what sounds good, knock yourself out. Just be sure to eat it before your buzz wears off and you realize there are five plates of food in front of you and you’re not even remotely hungry.

6) Don’t Overstay Your Welcome

As soon as your meal is concluded, you’re going to need to come to terms with the fact that the night is now winding down. You’ve just used up your last excuse to extend the evening, and even though the night clearly didn’t turn out exactly how you’d hoped, it’s time to head back home, lay down, and let the room slowly spin you to sleep. The longer you hang around after you’re done eating, the sadder you start to look. People will begin to judge you and wonder why you’re still hanging out an hour after you ate your last bite. That is of course, unless you have coffee.

7) Leave a Hefty Tip

Lastly, be sure you leave you waitress a hefty tip. Don’t shortchange her because you don’t remember ordering all that food even though she insisted you did, and definitely don’t shortchange her because she rebuffed your awkward advances by walking off and ignoring you for the rest of the evening. Whether you’re aware of it or not, drunk people can be a bit of a handful, and you are no exception, so give generously. And the next time you wander into the restaurant in the dead of night, there might just be a corner booth waiting for you.

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