So this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot, and since this is my first post I’d like to get it out of the way so we can start talking about things that are more important, like the whole weird concept of beach bodies, deadly “manliness” camps, and the unbelievably high cost of cancer medication.
As a member of the service industry, I see a lot of weird things, and I experience a whole range of people. The people who come into a bar at two in the morning frequently range from unnecessarily friendly to people who, if I weren’t at work, I would be driven to angry outbursts in the face of their moronic and occasionally malicious behavior. That said, I’ve noticed a few things that seem to pop up pretty frequently, and I have come to believe that many of the things that make my day worse are things that could be easily avoided if people just had a better sense of how bars and restaurants are run. So here, my dear friends, are a few pointers:
1. Order from the menu
Bars and restaurants are not stocked with an unlimited number of foods and alcohols. We have some things and not others. Don’t assume we have your favorite kind of vodka, and then get upset with your waitress when we don’t. Don’t go down the list of shitty beer you have in your head before bothering to look at the menu. Be aware of what kind of a place you’re in. Particularly at the bar I work at, we do not have Bud, Coors, Michelob, or anything with the word “lite” [sic] after it. Look at our beer menu, it’s way better than what’s in your refrigerator. Additionally, stop trying to customize your meal. We will be happy to accommodate allergies where we can, but if you just think your dish would be better if the gravy came on the side and the eggs were spicy, keep it to yourself until after you’ve at least tried it. Chefs make food with the intention of making it taste good, and they do it for a living. Respect them enough to try what they have prepared. If you still insist on customizing something, however, then Don’t Complain. You wanted the gravy on the side, now you can just live with your dry biscuits.
2. Know what you are ordering
The bar I work at has a lot of unusual cocktails and ingredients that people who generally gravitate to sports bars probably haven’t heard of. We work hard to discuss options with customers and to make sure we understand what they’re looking for in a drink before putting an order in. Even so, we still have plenty of people who walk in and order something, only to send it back because when they said “not sweet” what they actually meant was “a little sweet, maybe citrus-y or floral, but I definitely don’t want to taste any alcohol at all.” Talk to us–we usually know what we’re talking about, and if we don’t, we will happy to find out for you as long as you’re willing to be a little bit patient.
3. Don’t touch me
I don’t mean to sound like a dick, but I don’t know you, and I don’t want to touch you. A lot of men, especially men over forty (for some reason. Not sure why. maybe they’re more old-fashioned.) tend to assume that because I’m a young, not-unattractive waitress at a bar, that it is OK to get and keep my attention by grabbing my hand, or standing next to me with their hand on my back. Obviously everyone has a different level of comfort when it comes to personal space, but this makes some people, including me, incredibly uncomfortable. Think about it this way: if you wouldn’t do it to a male co-worker while in your own office in the middle of the day, I don’t want you to do it to me. Ever.
4.Remember that we are people. Just like you. No, really.
People who work in the service industry are not your mother, your babysitter, or your little sister that you can bully into getting what you want. We are adults, doing a job. And that job is not to suck up to you, befriend you, or give you free stuff; That job is: 1) to serve you food and drinks, 2) make recommendations, 3) clean up the mess when you leave, and 4) make sure you pay your bill.
If you think that you’re getting bad service, before going and taking it out on your server, ask yourself: “Is what I’m expecting within the job description provided above? Am I treating my server like I would like be treated, or is my behavior making him or her uncomfortable about approaching my table? If my mother (Scratch that. Imagine Michelle Obama. I don’t know what your mother is like.) knew how I was treating the human who is serving me, would she approve?” If you answer “No” to any of these questions, then it is your fault that you are having a bad time. No matter what the waitress or her manager says when you complain, if you tried to touch her a lot, or talked to her like she was stupid because you asked for something the bar didn’t have, then you really are the one being an ass, and you should know that Michelle Obama would be ashamed.
5. Tip me a little, even if you think I suck
I know this sounds like I’m just asking for money, but I’m really not. It is important to be aware that in most bars and restaurants, at least some of the tip you leave will go not only to the server, but also to the bartender who made you amazing drinks, and the runner who brought you delicious food. In some establishments, tip is split equally among these people, and you should take that into consideration when deciding that the people who took care of you all night deserve to only make the minimum 4.95/hour for their efforts.
6. If I look tired, it’s because I am
Now, bar-going people, I am not saying every service-worker does a good job, or that it’s always your fault if you get bad service. This is obviously not true. But give us the benefit of the doubt that most of us are working very hard and are personally invested in whether or not you have a good time. Service workers’ jobs are physically demanding and stressful because we are working while our friends and loved ones are out having fun without us. Or sleeping. It would be cool if you didn’t add to the stress of the job by making it emotionally taxing just to interact with you.
OK, that’s it for today. For those people out there who are already considerate customers, YOU ROCK. We in the industry love you, and can’t thank you enough for your kindness and patience. Thanks for recognizing that I’m a person, just like you!
- How To Treat Your Waitress (fsu.uloop.com)
- Why the customer is not always right; A look inside the customer/server relationship (coffeeandcursewords.wordpress.com)
- You Don’t Even Know You’re Annoying Your Waitress (badwaitress86.wordpress.com)