Service Industry

Some Final Advice from Your Waitress

I’ve been meaning to post something new here for ages. I’ve been meaning for that thing I post to be an incisive and intelligent blah blah blah article about one of the many things in the world that is currently terrible, like this, and this, and this (just kidding, the last one was a puppy. Go ahead. click it.)

But I’m in a transitional phase right now, and will soon be relocating to a new state–Texas! I’m sure that my time in the Lone Star state will spur a whole new set of incisive/angry articles about a whole new set of terrible/upsetting things, but meanwhile, I’m just plain too exhausted to be articulate about these things. Moving is hard work. Also, moving comes with quitting my jobs.

That’s right, your waitress will no longer be a waitress–at least for a little while.

So in honor of that, I have decided to devote one more article to a little helpful hint for all you bar and restaurant goers out there. Here goes:

Your waitress is not interested in you.

Shock! The thing is, I think that most people know that when your server is being friendly, it is because it is their job to do so. However, there are still plenty of people who seem to have not gotten the memo about this, and this article is for them.

I recently had an interaction at work that went like this:

Dude: wow, are you the only server working tonight?

Me: yep!

Dude: so you must be really busy. I guess I shouldn’t hit on you right now?

Me: You should never hit on me.

Dude: *confused pause* I should never…?

Me: Can I get you another drink?!

Dude: Mumble mumble no thanks mumble.

Now I could have been nicer to that guy. But I don’t really think he deserved it. There was a time when that kind of interaction would have sent me into a tizzy of embarrassment and uncertainty: did I somehow provoke this? Did I offend him? Should I just have flirted to preserve a tip? (hint: no.) And then I would have avoided the table for the rest of the night.

But I’m a grown-up now, and I don’t get embarrassed anymore, because I understand that 1) it’s not my fault some people are inconsiderate, and 2) it’s not my responsibility to make sure that those inconsiderate people feel good about themselves. The kind of person who is going to try to be smooth with me while I am working is also the kind of person who doesn’t respect that I am working. He doesn’t understand or doesn’t care that regardless of the niceness of our interaction, it must intrinsically be disingenuous because I am working. He is not prepared to face rejection, and doesn’t care that I am almost certainly not interested. I feel bad for this kind of person, because he does not know what is going on. The world is, apparently, a vast mystery that he has yet to crack.

Lucky for him (I’m sure he’s thinking right now) I am here to help.

So honey, a message for you: your hat is stupid, your line is unoriginal, your presumptuousness is a turn-off. I don’t appreciate your lack of respect for me and I’m not going to pretend like I do. Next time you hit on a girl at a bar, make sure it’s a customer. You might do better with someone who’s drunk.

Service Industry

Don’t Call Me Honey

We’re back to lists of rules. People love rules. I’m not sure if they love following them, or just knowing what they are so they can laugh in your face and then break them, but they love them.

During my time working in the service industry, I have had an incredible number and variety of experiences in which the people I am bringing food to manage to be ignorant and condescending at the same time. Now I truly don’t believe that you all are in a vast conspiracy to try and make your servers’ lives worse. What I think is, mostly you’re confused or uncomfortable with having someone serve you stuff–particularly when some of that stuff is stuff you don’t really recognize, like that fancy cocktail you dismally failed at pronouncing the name of. That’s ok. I will try not to be condescending back. Unless my blood-sugar is low, then no promises.

Anyway, here are a few easy things you can do that will make my (and therefore, unequivocally, your) experience a better one.

1. If You Don’t Understand Something, Ask

If I don’t know the answer to your question, I can get it in a matter of minutes. But you’re only going to make the whole situation worse if I say, “do you want the regular manhattan or the featured single barrel [read: high-end] manhattan?” and you say, “yeah.” and then I say, “sorry, which one?” and you say, “I’ll just have that regular barrel manhattan.”

I’m sorry, what? Your words did not form coherent ideas. After an interaction like that, I say, “sure, ok,” and walk away, and get you the cheap one because I don’t want to risk you yelling at me later for getting you something expensive. It’s clear to me that you’re embarrassed that you don’t know the difference between these two drinks in front of your (clearly first) date, but I promise that if you just ask the question, with confidence, I will answer, pleasantly, and we can all just go on with our lives.

2. If You Don’t Like Something, Tell Me

I know you don’t like it when it sits on your table for an hour and the level of the liquid in the glass doesn’t go down. If I ask you about it and you say it’s fine, I have to take you at your word–but if you had just told me the truth, chances are we could have replaced it with something you loved, instead. Now you’re miserable, and I feel bad for you. Just tell the damn truth!

3. Don’t Be Sarcastic. Don’t Try to Be Funny.

This place sucks, haha! I hate these drinks, haha!

You’re ugly. Ha. Ha.

Look, I understand that you’re a funny guy, and you have a better time out when you have a good rapport with your server. I have a better time when that happens, too! But the fact is, we’re not friends. I just met you seven and a half minutes ago. I don’t understand your sense of humor, and I’m currently at work–I’m trying to focus on doing a good job. If you say something is bad, or I’ve been rude, or you’re having a bad time, my first reaction is not ever going to be–“oh, that guy must be joking around with me!” It’s going to be, “Oh no, I’m so sorry you’re having a bad time, what can I do to help you have a better time?” And then you’re going to feel bad that you made me feel bad.

A better way to try to create a rapport with your server is to be friendly and conversational. Once we’ve talked for a few minutes, it will be much easier for me to gauge if you’re joking, and we’ll all have a nicer time.

4. Speak Clearly

Bars are loud! SO LOUD. And you don’t really want to talk to me. I get that. You want to talk to your cute date. But waving your hand in my face while staring at the table to get me to leave is not going to be effective. Whispering is also not–I will just lean in and ask you to repeat yourself until I get your order right. The other thing that doesn’t really work, is saying random, vague words.

For instance, “we’re all set.” This phrase can mean any number of things, but in general, servers take it to mean two things: 1) at the beginning of the night when you’ve just sat down and looked at your menus, it means that you are ready to order, and 2) at the end of the night when I’ve been back to your table three or four times to see if you want anything else, it means you are now done drinking and would like the bill. What it does NOT mean at the end of the night is that you’re fine for now but may order more things later. Nor does it mean that you are done with one of your food items but would like to keep the other. You are confusing me; just tell me what you want!

The other commonly used vague phrase is “for now.” I don’t understand this at all, but customers seem to like to attach the phrase, “for now” to the ends of sentences liberally, throughout the night, for no reason. What I generally interpret “we’re good for now” to mean is  that you would not like anything further at the moment, however you will be ordering more at some point today. However, the number of people who have been annoyed at me for not bringing the bill after this statement is about equal to the number of people who have been annoyed at me for bringing the bill after this statement. WHAT DO YOU WANT? If you want the bill, ask for it. If you are going to drink more, say “I am going to get more in a while.”

Basically, speak complete sentences in an audible tone to me while looking at me and I will be yours forever.

5. Don’t Call Me Honey

I’m not your sister, your daughter, or your girlfriend. I am not even your potential girlfriend. I am not even a girl who is going to become your friend. If we are not good friends, pet names are condescending. Period. I call you sir, ma’am, or miss, because that is respectful. I have a name–you can ask that, and call me by it, or you can return the favor of being polite and call me miss right back.

Service Industry

Going Out? 6 Ways to Make My Night Easier and Yours More Fun

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!