TRUE LIFE: CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER WAITRESS

“A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person.”

Quick scenario: You are out to eat at a restaurant during a busy summer month. Your server is working over time, trying to make sure that everyone has everything that they need. She has provided you with all of the information that she has been given from the kitchen regarding delays in service. The restaurant is packed. She is sweating a little, running around, but she is very nice and cordial, taking the time to answer all of your questions. Something happens in the kitchen, and your food takes a little longer than you might like. You then choose to respond to this reality by screaming at your server, belittling her in front of five other tables, and degrading her as if she is barely deserving being spoken to. She offers you free drinks and dessert, while apologizing profusely. You pay the bill, over a hundred dollars, but you don’t tip her a single cent. You leave, and she cries briefly before plastering a smile on her face and heading out to serve the rest of her tables.

Admittedly, I was that server.

Having waited tables for 6 years, I wish I could say this was just a fluke, an isolated incident, one that was normally unheard of in the business, but if I did I’d be lying. I'd actually go as far as to say that almost anyone reading this that has worked in a restaurant or a retail store is, at this very moment, having flashbacks of similar scenarios that have happened to them. 

Working in this type of industry I was always expected to be friendly, courteous, and skilled at my job - regardless of how poorly my diners treated me. If I greeted a table and in the middle of my smiley introduction was met with, “I’ll take a Coke” I had to pretend that their attitude didn’t affect me. If a dish came out of the kitchen that a particular guest didn’t like, I was expected to empathize and respond with kindness.

Fine. I could handle big expectations; after all it was my job. But what is expected of the guest? Surely human kindness should be on the list.

With the holidays quickly approaching I felt it super important to address the fact that just because you are paying for a service doesn't mean that you now own the person taking care of you. For the average person the holidays mean extended weekends, time with the family, and fun producing that quite-essential holiday cheer. Yet, for those in the customer service industry the holidays mean extended workdays, less time with family, and all around stress-laced, Bah-Humbug workdays.

The people who are waiting on you, ringing you up, driving your uber, or doing any of the other things that make your day easier and/or more enjoyable are real people and they have real feelings. They're human beings and should be treated as such.

*Rant over*

J

Photography by Garrett Lobaugh