The Waiting Is the Hardest Part

Lest you think that we get pleasure out of bad service at restaurants, let’s get one thing straight: There’s nothing that pleases us more than to be able to immediately reward someone for doing a great job. Gratuity-based jobs are not without their faults, but as a customer it’s got a lot going for it.

Which is why we were a little disturbed by reader Han K.’s admonishment to read Frank Bruni’s My Week as a Waiter in The Times (accompanied ominously by this iPod-esque graphic of a waiter about to launch into a flying roundhouse kick). Han said:

An important factor of being a good consumer besides finding the best deals is also being a good person not just being very demanding or complaining about bad service.

Many people seem to think just b/c they’re the consumer they can be rude or unreasonable.

Sure, fine, that’s reasonable, but if one more server brings my steak tartar without the tartar sauce…

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  1. RaginCajun says:

    I’ve never met the people who run this site or the people who comment on it, but I am super-duper at making huge generalizations based on scant information. And it seems to me most of the people hanging around here are NOT the whiny sort–the cranky old woman with the big hair and bad nails–who are never satisfied with anything and complain just to complain. Many of us have worked in the service sector, waited tables, worked retail or lived in a civilized place outside of New York and we not only have experience proper service, we’ve given it ourselves (that sounds kind of dirty). And that’s why folks like us really lose our shit when we see bad service. It isn’t that hard to do. It isn’t that hard to see the problems. It isn’t that hard to correct.

    Hell, I think part of the problem is whiny little biotch-types, who think the world is owed to them, who’ve grown up with too much self-esteem, or whatever, who are working in the service sector while waiting for their ship–or acting gig, or NBA contract, or union card–to come in. Lil’ punk-ass kids, high on pot, acting crazy all the time. When we were coming up, we didn’t LIKE waiting tables and shoving women’s fat-ass feet into shoes obviously two sizes too small. But we did it with a damn smile. And we were happy to get a nickel for a tip. And we walked to work five miles in the snow … uphill. Both ways!

  2. Paul D says:

    I knew this girl in college (who came from a wealthy family, but that may be beside the point) who was really sweet and a good friend to the people around her…

    But when she interacted with anyone in ANY service industry, a switch would go off in her head and she’d turn into the most stuck-up, embarrassing, demon-customer you’ll ever see.

    It was simultaneously amazing and mortifying to watch. It got to the point where I didn’t want to go to restaurants with her. She was simply the most demanding and dismissive, nose-in-the-air b*tch when it came to servers in restaurants or store employees. None of us could figure it out. When confronted, she would simply shrug and say “I just want it how I want it” or something like that.

    I dunno if she was just raised that way by her rich parents or what, but these days I usually try to be the exact OPPOSITE type of customer. It also helps that I’ve done my time in retail AND in foodservice, so I have at least a LITTLE perspective.

    Meh.

  3. ValkRaider says:

    RaginCajun: Nail. Head. Direct Hit!

    I will never justify assholes. But one fact of the world is that it is full of them.

    One of the things that separates a good server, who makes good money and tips – from and average server or bad server – is the ability to deal with assholes.

    No matter where you work in the service industry – you will encounter people who believe it is their right to make your life miserable. If you can learn to accomodate them, and turn their grumpy frown upside down – you will make good money.

    There are realities in any industry – like in the software development industry there are clients with crazy unreasonable demands in impossible timelines. The trick is to not learn to deliver 100% – but instead learning to manage their expectations and help them see what is possible and then deliver that, all while making them think it was their idea in the first place.

    If you don’t like your job – get a different one. Don’t take it out on the customers.

    Additionally, I was proud to walk uphill both ways in the snow. In fact, we *liked it*. Haha.

  4. Tonya says:

    I highly recommend bitter waitress for all your server-related needs — including forums, amusing and not so amusing accounts about serving celebrities and the ever-handy “shitty tipper database.”

    http://www.bitterwaitress.com/

  5. tomdobb says:

    The shitty tipper database is hardly the type of thing that would endear anyone to the plight of the server.

  6. Kishi says:

    Wait a minute:

    a shitty tip is, by my definition, any gratuity under 17% for service which one’s peers would judge as adequate or better (eg. orders are correct, on time, special requests are honored, etc.)

    I’m supposed to give 17% for adequate service?