So, on top of University, I am a part-time waitress… and I LOVE it.
I really enjoy talking to people, seeing them enjoy their meal, finding out about their lives, and best of all, I get really excited when customers come back regularly and end up knowing you by name.
That kind of relationship is nice to me.
It makes the work day go smoother.. and importantly, if the restaurant is packed, which it almost always is, having a friendly relationship with customers means they’re more sympathetic and there is less chance of people complaining.
I like seeing young parents come in with their babies and toddlers; I enjoy making the milkshakes that couples share together on dates, and seeing older couples still so in love and holding hands across the table and getting slightly embarrassed when I turn up with their food makes my heart melt.
Last week during a quieter shift, a guy came in with a girl – I later found out that they were on a first date – and as soon as the girl started speaking to me I realised I knew her from somewhere. It took me 15 minutes, but I eventually realised she had served me a couple of times at a local bar I frequently go to, and we’d chatted a few times because I noticed how her voice was the exact same as Miley Cyrus’. -C’mon, there are more horrible things to be compared to right?
Anyway, as I brought the food to their table, I mentioned I recognised her, and she instantly caught on and said she remembered me from the bar. This led to a friendly chat, which turned into a longer chat when she came up to pay the bill, and to be honest, after having had a busy morning period and feeling run down, it was such a nice thing to round off my day at work. Those are little moments that I live for at work. Sure, I love the rush of every table being filled and working together as a team, especially since my colleagues and I get on so well, but the experience is made so much better when customers are kind and don’t mind giving you some chat in between courses or when they’re settling their bill!
Sometimes, people are just plain mean. And to be honest, I really don’t understand it. I don’t mean people who end up getting angry if their food comes out wrong or they have to wait a long time for their meal (this doesn’t happen often as I am a top waitress(!)).
I mean those people that come in, and usually it’s the ones who come in for brunch on a Sunday morning and are hungover and irritable.
My opinion on this is… I didn’t make you go out and drink, therefore I am NOT the cause of your hangover, so there is NO reason for you to be annoyed at me as soon as you come into the restaurant.
Yesterday, I was trying to make conversation with a couple who were paying by card (it is the most awkward 40 seconds if there is no chat).
It went like this:
Me: ‘So, are you guys getting up to anything exciting for the rest of the day?’
The guy: ‘Yeah.’
And then he just LOOKED at me!
Nothing. No chat. Just staring.
It was so awkward I just stood there praying for the receipt to print from the card machine quicker. I don’t usually feel uncomfortable around people that easily, but I couldn’t get away from them quick enough after handing the guy his card back.
Then, on the exact same day a table of 6 people came in. The were foreign, which I normally wouldn’t think twice about, but after having only waited ten minutes they stopped me on my way to the kitchen and asked for the food to come out quicker.
I politely explained that they had ordered food that needed time to be cooked, and that I could assure them they would get it as soon as it was ready. They nodded and I started to walk away.
Only for them to start bitching about me in their own language, which just so happened to be the language that I am bilingual in.
‘Can’t even tell the chefs to go quicker. We’re hungry and it’s ridiculous to have to wait this long.’
Fuming isn’t even the word. The restaurant was packed and there wasn’t any way I could have physically made the food come up quicker, and I felt it was hugely unjustified that I was being spoken about like that about something I had no control over.
Normally, I’d just walk away from this type of situation… no need to stir the pot. But I felt so angry in that moment, and, realising I owed these people nothing because I didn’t know them and hadn’t done anything wrong to them, I walked back over to their table.
‘I really do apologise for your wait, however I cannot do anything about the food situation at the moment, unless I serve you raw food that will make you ill. If you have a problem with this you are totally welcome to go down to speak to the chefs themselves, or you can try and make the food cook quicker.’
I said all this to them. In their language. With a smile on my face. And though my heart felt like it was going to escape through my chest, I felt like I’d gained a small victory in actually standing up for myself for once in my life, and doing it in a way that wouldn’t get me into trouble. They all went red and apologised for talking about me so rudely, and everything ended pretty well- they ate their food when it arrived, they remained polite, they got their bill and then they left.
This incident reminded me of something my dad has always said to me.
‘Kill them with kindness, Princess, it’ll do more than weapons ever will.’
He had a point. It’s nice to be nice, and you know what? If people are going to be horrid, there is no need to lower yourself to their level. Smile, deal with it, and forget about it, because others being mean says more about them than it does about you.