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

First Date? I Totally Couldn’t Tell

Yes, I could.

This topic tickles my funny bone because I have only ever been on a first date with one person, and that person is still my partner (going on 4 years, shout out to my lost “wild and free” twenties!). Despite this, I feel like I know a few things about first dates, due to my charmed* and magical* and inspiring* time in the service industry, watching you all go on them over and over and over again. It’s cute, I promise.

The bar I work at is a very popular first-date and blind-date spot on weeknights. These seem to be prime date-nights for first-timers. We can tell right away that it’s a first date because of a few simple factors:

1) You shake hands or hug before sitting down and say “hi!” in the cheeriest voice you’ve used all week.

2) You have “already eaten.” If the date goes well I know you’ll probably end up getting snacks later.


Plus, blind date bonus, 4) you may wander around the bar looking for someone before standing awkwardly in the corner texting, and when you find them, you have to say their name in a nervous high pitched voice to be sure that this is the person you’re actually meeting, and not some other guy who is also on a blind date.**

A first date on a Tuesday at my bar is designed to tell 3 things to the lucky date-ee:

1) Look how classy I am, we’re at a cocktail bar. Did you notice these seats are leather?

2) I am a generous person–can’t you tell? I brought you to a place where drinks cost more than your whole outfit!

and either:

3) I respect you, so I took you out for our first date on a weeknight so you can tell that I’m not trying to just get laid, because we both have work in the morning.


3) You’re not getting laid tonight, buddy, because I have work in the morning.

These unspoken signals seem to work pretty well, most of the time. Ladies get buttered up by the nice atmosphere, and guys feel manly when they can order an Old Fashioned and suggest something for their date, too. Of course, there are a few things that first-daters do that can easily spin the first day of the rest of your life into the last day of this budding relationship. Here are a few things I’ve noticed while watching y’all do the mating dance:

1) Dudes: Do not be overly friendly to your waitress.  Pleasant, sure. Polite, yes. But don’t make unnecessary small talk with me. When you’re polite but distant to your waitress your date thinks, “wow, he’s such a gentleman!” When you’re actually friendly, she thinks, “OMG is he flirting with the waitress? Am I boring him? Is he an asshole? How to interpret this smiling and chatting?!” and she’ll spend the rest of the night monitoring our interactions. I mean, look, hopefully she’s not nuts and she’ll understand that you’re just being nice, but you’re on a first date. You’re both feeling nervous and vulnerable. It’s better to play it safe and distant with the waitress so your date knows that your attention is on her.***

2) RELAX. I see it over and over again. You guys and gals walk in here, all nervous. You sit down and I can see from way over here that you’re having a terrible time: you’re stiff and uptight, and you’re throwing back vodka sodas like they’re actually the dirty water that they taste like. Then, Bam! Five drinks in, you’re so relaxed that you’ve wilted, and it might be embarrassing for you if you realized how drunk you are, but you kids are finally having a real conversation! It only took two hours and no dinner plus 10 ounces of vodka to get you there.

3) This may seem obvious to you, but don’t get wasted. You’ve finally gotten comfortable on this date, you’re having a good time, and now what? Whoops, you realized you had seven drinks in 3 hours and you’re making out right there in the booth at 8:30 on a Wednesday**** and you may or may not be able to call this guy tomorrow. It’s going to depend if you make it home alive. And if you can live down the embarrassment.

That’s all I got. I’m no dating expert, so I’m sticking with the things I can see happen on your date while your drinking in my bar.

Come back soon, now, you hear?

*These are creative terms

**This has actually happened. Once, a guy walked in and approached two different girls waiting at two different parts of the bar, both of whom were waiting for other dates. He sat down (far away from those girls) and his actual date arrived a few minutes later. It was hilarious.

***Plus I’m super hot, so who wouldn’t worry that her boyfriend is in love with me?

****This has also actually happened.

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!