Monday, October 7, 2013

How to Treat Service Staff

Photo from jeffgunn of Flickr
Over the weekend, my wife and I went to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants.  We've kind of fallen off from going there because the location that was nearer to us burned down, and we found a different restaurant that was much closer.  But, my wife wanted it, so we went.

When we got there, we were very promptly seated.  They got us chips and salsa and drinks, took our orders, and then we started visiting while we ate--you know, as you do at restaurants.

Now, this restaurant isn't perfect.  We've had issues with them in the past.  One time we were there for an hour before we got our food.  We were there with friends that time.  They came by to fill our glasses maybe twice, and we ran out of chips and salsa and they never came back to fill them up.  We were pissed.

Another time that I was eating there, I ordered a chimichanga and wound up with a toothpick in my mouth.  Turns out, that's how you make chimichangas--you use toothpicks to hold the folds in place, then remove them when you're done frying them.  This time, I was not mad however.  I just wanted them to know that they'd missed one and to be a little more careful.

These incidents do not ruin the restaurant for me.  They are isolated incidents of mess ups because the restaurant is run by human beings, and therefore are going to make mistakes from time to time.  That's just the way it is.

Anyway, back to our weekend meal:

While we were waiting for our food, this very large lady came sauntering in with her friend.  The large lady's black hair was pulled back tightly away from her face.  She wore a black long sleeve shirt, and black sweat pants. The other lady was a smaller, petite blonde wearing acid washed jeans and some Ed Hardy-looking shirt.  When they were seated, the waitress came over to take their drink orders.

"I want to see your smallest glass of wine," the large lady bellowed.

The waitress hurried off and soon came back with the smallest glass they served wine in.  The large lady's face soured.

"No, no, no.  That's too small.  Instead, we'll both have sweet teas.  Now, we want limes in our sweet tea.  Not lemons.  Limes.  Do you understand."

"Ma'am, we don't have any limes.  Just lemons."

"You don't have any limes?"  Her face soured further.  "Just bring us the teas, then."

The waitress wrote on her pad, nodding, then hurried away.  While she was away getting their drinks, the large lady and her friend got their chips and salsa.  They started eating them, but when the waitress came back, the large lady looked even more upset.

"These chips are stale.  They're stale and hard and difficult to swallow.  They're not crispy.  Look at this," here she picked up a chip and broke it in half.  The chip broke in half the way chips do.  She added, "This one's fine, but a lot of these are stale and hard and I won't eat them.  I want you to go get me some fresh chips, okay?  Fresh from the fryer."

While the large lady spoke in a hard, too-loud voice, the waitress cast her eyes around the room, as if she were looking for someone that might help her.  She nodded to the large lady and headed off to get some new chips.  Meanwhile, the large lady began bitching about her tea.

"This tea isn't sweet enough.  Here, I'm gonna need to add some Sweet-N-Low to it just to make it drinkable."

(Incidentally, the tea there is terrible, but not because it's not sweet enough.  It tastes weird...almost dirty.  However, I've had the same problem at Subway, so I suspect it's not the water, but the tea leaves they use to make the tea.  It's why I always just get soda, instead.)

The waitress came back with the lady's fresh chips.  The lady snatched one out of the basket, popped it into her mouth, chewed, and grimaced.

"These aren't fresh either.  Look, I want fresh chips.  Chips that are just out of the fryer, dripping with grease, understand me?"

The waitress looked like she was trying to explain how they couldn't do that, and finally called the manager over, who nodded and headed back into the kitchen.

Now, at this point, my wife and I were so annoyed at this woman's bitching, that we were hoping they would just kick the two women out and refuse to serve them.  My wife said, "They have the right to refuse service to anyone.  Refuse it to them!  Jesus Christ, I've never seen someone bitch so much at a place where people make and bring food TO YOU!"

Because we are who we are, we started making loud, sarcastic complaints of our own.

"My ice is made of water.  I clearly asked for the frozen tears of the wait staff," I drolled.

My wife chuckled and added her own. "We've been here for almost an hour and my cheese has cooled.  I demand someone come and breath on my plate to warm it back up!"

I hoped the lady heard us and got pissed off enough to leave.  Eventually, because this is a cruel, unjust world, she got her fresh chips and began order, during which she demanded the each side and the entree all get their own individual plates.

Ladies and gentlemen, the point of this post is this:  do not act like this. Not only do I assume that if you're reading this, you are adults, but I assume you're humans.  This woman wasn't treating the wait staff like they were humans.  She was treating them like they were slaves.

I've never been a waiter per se.  I have, however, been forced to car hop from time to time when I worked at Sonic and it got too busy for the actual car hops.  Being a waiter or waitress is a thankless, shitty job.  They're expected to be on their game, smiling and cheerful no matter how busy they get, how over worked they are, or how obnoxious their customers are.  They're often treated condescendingly, rudely, and any mistakes in the kitchen are often treated as the waiter or waitress's fault.  For this horrible treatment?  They get almost no pay, instead they're forced to rely on tips.

I honestly hope the old cliche was true and they spit all over that lady's food because she was a horrible, horrible person that expected to be treated like she was a goddamned queen.

I'm not saying that if a waitress is doing a terrible job that you have to be happy about it.  I'm just saying, show a little basic human decency.  Look around.  Is it busy?  Is the waitress overworked?  Do they seem like they're new to the job?  Then for God's sake, give the poor workers a break.

The old chestnut "treat others how you want to be treated" holds true more often than not.  If we all took a little time to think about how we're treating someone else, we might make the world just a little less shitty.