Here's 14 things that really annoy your server...
The service industry is hard, really hard. We don't earn much, the hours are long, the work is hard and there's usually very little thanks.
Oh boo hoo.
In a dream world there'd be conscription, with every person having to complete three months in a customer-facing role (preferably serving food or booze) before they are allowed to set foot into the wider working world. This way, people would not only learn how it all ticks, but would also learn how not to be complete dicks.
But the conscription thing hasn’t happened yet, so I thought I’d better find another way to address some of the issues I've been experiencing as a server/bartender of late. I know our relationship isn't always great, so I've put some of my feelings and a few suggestions into this letter.
Maybe you have some things you’d like to get off your chest too, and that's fine, you can stick them in the comments below or on social media. No problem. But if you don't put that f***ing phone down while I'm waiting to take your order I am going to stick this corkscrew right up your snout, alright?
Sorry... where were we?
1. Smile back, maybe even say hello.
This job can be exhausting. I spend a long time on my feet, I work long, erratic hours and I rarely take a break. But more tiring than this, I smile all day... for you. I say hello, ask how you are and do my best to make you happy. I do this even when I'm going through a break up, moving house, or when a loved one is unwell. No matter what I have going on, I’m here performing my social monkey dance and it can be emotionally draining. A little chat and a smile go a long way. When I greet you and ask you 'how it's going?', if your response is 'I haven't decided yet' while staring at a menu, I am going to want to punch you.
2. Shut up and tell me your order.
When I come over to the table, arms buckling under hot, heavy plates and ask who ordered what, it'd be great if you could all take a moment to shut up and let me know. And no, all of you saying ‘that’s Dave’ while giving no indication as to who the hell Dave is, does not help. Just stop talking and raise a hand when I call your dish. This is not challenging, chaos need not ensue.
3. Control your kids.
Yes, babies are cute, but their shit is not. I find it hard to believe that you'd leave your dining table at home strewn with nappy bags, a thousand mystery tissues and ripped up menus, so why do it here? Of course there’s going to be a bit of mess, you brought a tiny human along, which is great. But seriously, put it in a bag, or at the very least gather it neatly in one place. I work in hospitality, not child care, handling poop and sick is not part of my job description.
4. I'm not an idiot... I like this job.
Know that there is actual skill in what I do. I’m an expert in people (I should probably have some sort of qualification in counselling), a mean multi-tasker and shock-horror, I do have interests outside of this room. So please, don’t speak to me as if I’m completely devoid of smarts, because I got the smarts. And don’t be surprised if you find out I achieved something, for example, that I have a degree. A real one, from a real university. And please don’t assume that this isn’t where I want to be. 'Yes, but what do you really want to do?’ has to be one of the most tedious, patronising, dickhead-ish questions ever. How do you know I’m not the owner of this place? How do you know that I don't love what I do? Hospitality is a career, not just a stop-gap.
5. Put the money in my hand, I'm not a leper.
When I tell you how much something costs and you get your money out and start counting coins, then I love you. The till is always running out of change. However, when you place that change on the bar instead of in my outstretched hand, I want to hurt you. Now I have to pick them up, and, oh, the stack has fallen over, now I'm counting them one by one, you're slowing me down. What's wrong with the hand? I'm not a leper. Are you really that worried about the potential grazing of phalanges? Congratulations, you’re gone from Peoples Hero to Grade A Cretin. I hope you’re proud.
6. Turn up on time with the right amount of people.
Did you book a table? GREAT! Well done you, tell all your friends, you are amazing, the king/queen of the party. This means I can be organised too, I can stagger the orders, keep chef happy, and make sure people have enough time at the table. That is, of course, if you turn up on time with the right number of guests. But look, you’re late. That’s ok, it happens. But you've brought six people, it says you booked for four. No we can't just push those two together, that table is reserved. Oh you don't want to sit there? THAT IS THE ONLY TABLE BIG ENOUGH. And now you're taking ages to order, on purpose, and the next booking is going to be mad at me too. Thanks pal.
7. Turn up or call up.
If you don't show up without calling to let us know you are the absolute WORST type of person. Restaurants are closing because of people like you. Happy now?
8. Leave the furniture alone.
We put it there because it looks nice, allows us to fill the place and move around the place efficiently. We did this to optimise the space and the business, meaning we can make you comfortable and happy, make money, improve and provide you with all the stuff you love. So it’d be super ace if you could just leave the furniture where it is and save your Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen moment for your own house, with your own stuff. Or, you know, ask me to move it, with your mouth.
9. If there's a problem, tell me, to my face, with your mouth.
If there is a problem we need to talk about it. Maybe I can do something to make it up to you, after all, that's what I’m here for. Please don't sit there smiling and nodding and saying all the good words whilst mentally planning your next shitty TripAdvisor review. Just talk to me, like a human, but talk to me like a grown up, don’t try to do the power trip thing because not one person here is going to be impressed. Oh, you made a teenager server on minimum wage cry... nice one Bob.
11. Get off the phone.
Trying to take you order while you're having a conversation on the phone is the most annoying thing you can do. Not being able to put the phone down for ten seconds to say 'Two pints please' doesn't make you look important, it makes you look like an arrogant nob. "No Barb, I won’t be back from Zurich until Thursday so the meeting with Google will just have to wait!". Oh please. Nobody cares and until you’re ready to give me your attention, I am going to pretend you don’t exist while serving everybody else.
12. No, that glass is not 'gay'
Please don’t ask me if it comes in a 'ladies' glass' or for a 'man beer' and don't say ‘gay’ in a bad way, the glass is not 'gay', that's impossible, it is a glass, designed to hold liquid. It may still be 1963 in your home, but when you step out of that front door it is 2018, where nobody has time for your outdated bigoted bollocks. Similarly, please don’t feel the need to comment on my image, or my ethnicity. I ignore your fake tan and crap shoes.
13. Do not sit down at a dirty table
Here’s a classic. You've arrived during a busy period and need a table, so instead of waiting patiently and informing a member of staff you've decided to resolve the situation yourself and sit down at a table which hasn't been cleared yet. Maybe you've even moved the dirty plates onto another table. Great. Now you're in the way I can't properly wipe or reset your table. And the nice people who arrived here just before you and waited patiently are now pissed off at both of us. But hey, at least you got a table three minutes quicker than you would have otherwise. Well worth it eh?
14. Learn some new jokes
And lastly (at least for now), when someone is looking for a customer and carrying a lot of food, it is never - and has never been - funny to say ‘I’ll eat it if they don’t want it’. Thanks Dad, never heard that one before, you taught us a new funny. And don't celebrate somebody dropping a glass, why would you even celebrate that? You're not at a football match. In general, you should assume that unless you've thought of some genuinely fresh material on the spot, it is not going to be funny and has definitely been said before a million times.
I should probably leave it there for now, and I’m sorry if that got a little out of hand, or if it seems like I’m overreacting. It's just I spend all day, nearly everyday, dealing with this crap, and it can get to you.
I do hope I haven't scared you off, and that you might even reply, I'd love to hear your thoughts, but I swear to God, if you don't put that f****** phone down I'm going to...
Every Hospitality Worker Ever.