Chronicles of trading in Corporate America for a waitress's apron during my very own quarter-life crisis.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Don't Cater to Crazy

I'm on a brief break between busy Saturday shifts right now, so I thought I'd jot down a few things the restaurant has taught me in the last few weeks:

  • Within the varied and ever-changing staff of a restaurant, you may find yourself with a group of veritable Jacks of all trades.  They're food servers, yes, but each server often has a second job or a hobby that gives them a completely different skill set.  I work with a cosmetologist, a game show entertainer, a chemical engineer, softball players, a disc jockey, a pastor, and a guy that buys and flips foreclosed properties.  Then, of course, there are the many students, who are paying their way through college and building up to their prospective careers (then again, as a manager reminded me in my interview, you never completely leave the restaurant industry once you're in it -- much like the Mafia).  Then again, I also work with a guy who, by choice, pretty much lived under a bridge for a while.  It's a mixed bag.
  • Nothing good ever came from trying to use a broken broom.  I once tried to sweep my section with a broom that had a bent bristle end.  It caught awkwardly on the floor, and the handle smacked me in the face.  Then last night, I was having a bad time with a broom that had a broken handle.  The end of it was basically twisted metal.  I managed to get a picture of it this morning:
  • The handle slashed the crap out of my arm, and now I look like I need psychological help.

  • Speaking of psych issues, I won't cater to crazy anymore.  I'm more than happy to listen to my customers about how their week is going terribly or how they're so happy to be off work after a long day (meanwhile, my feet are aching, and I still have seven hours to go on my shift).  Really, I'm generally a very sympathetic person, and I genuinely converse with these tables.  But the minute a customer insults me, shakes a glass of ice at me, or whines about "Why did they get their food before us?  We ordered at the same time.  (Well, 15 minutes after.)  And we have a child," all they will receive from me is the required service steps, and the only reason I will smile at them from that point on is that other tables and my managers can see me.  (And pretty much any time someone says "I have a child" as a means to absolve themselves of all social decency, I stop listening to them, whether I'm at the restaurant or on an airplane.)
  • Say what you will about human resources mediation within the restaurant industry (I certainly have), as it isn't quite the same as the system you'll get from a cubicle, but when you have a problem with a staff member, a customer, or even in your personal life, I've found that management really will listen and try to help.  I've run into a few hurdles since I started at TGI O'Chilibees -- personal, professional, and medical -- and the managers have been behind me 100%, or at least that's how it felt on my end.  Perhaps this comes with being an "older, non-traditional" server?  My years of corporate life have changed the way I interact with management, so maybe I'm able to state my case more reasonably than others?  Managers have to hear so much about the drama of the 20-year-old servers, so maybe when a server who's rounding the bend to 30 has a problem, it's treated appropriately?  Who knows.  Point is, I feel like most of the managers have my back, and that can be hard to find.  


  1. I loved what you wrote about you not listening to people who use their child as a joker. I am a flight attendant, so I totally relate. I feel like wearing a badge saying "I have run out of chicken, not fuel. And if your child is such a picky eater, perhaps you are not doing a very good job at parenting."

    1. Thanks for reading! Oh, gosh, flight attendants must have it rough with kids. The kids at my tables leave after an hour or I can hide out in other areas of the restaurant, but you're stuck with 'em! Every plane ride I've been on, there's some shitty kid right behind me.