4 Things You Learn From Working In Foodservice

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Now, I know this topic has been somewhat belabored, and I myself have read more than a few lists of “#serverprobs” but there is a reason that food service employees everywhere continue to share their grievances with the world: they are a largely under-appreciated group. Now a college student in the midst of my fifth summer in the food business, I have learned some important things about people and how to interact with them…

1. People Are Not Observant

I’ve worked at a local sandwich/coffee shop for four summers now, and time and time again I have seen this proved true. Even though we clearly have a specific part of the counter where customers are supposed to place their order (you know, by the cash register maybe?!), they prefer to attempt to place their orders with the girls in the kitchen instead of the girl at the register (note: our register is a giant white iMac..pretty hard to miss). Oh and did I mention the girls in the kitchen are usually busy preparing food? Yes, let me just stop right in the middle of making three sandwiches at once just so I can take your order…NOT.

It got so aggravating, especially in the summer when the shop is busy, that we hung signs pointing to the register saying “please place your order this way”. Do you think people pay any attention to those? No. Of course not. Additionally, there is a box of detailed sandwich menus in plain sight on the counter available for people to read, yet the amount of times people don’t see them is astounding. Our new greeting has become “Hi! How are you? We have sandwich menus here if you’d like one” and the customer usually looks blankly around and then goes, “Oh! I was looking for one!” Well, maybe you should have looked in the BOX THAT SAYS “MENUS” ON IT RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE. Has everyone suddenly become illiterate? It seems entirely possible.

2. People Think They Are Funny

This one doesn’t need much explanation. If I had a dollar for every time someone walks into the shop and, upon taking in our display of desserts and entrees, remarks “I’ll have one of everything!” with a little laugh, I’d be financially set for the rest of my life. Of course, every time I hear this I’m obligated to laugh good-naturedly while inwardly my eyes are rolling back into my head. Another popular remark is, “My god, how do you stay so skinny working here? If I worked here I’d eat everything.” Well, number one: I do eat a lot of things, and number two: talking about weight is weird. I know they just mean it as a light-hearted comment but really, there is no good way to respond to this. Time for another exasperatedly good-natured laugh. Sigh.

3. People Are Careless

Now before I begin this one, let me first present a disclaimer: a large percentage of customers ARE in fact friendly and respectful; by no means are they all disrespectful. However, there are those people every once in awhile who really just grind your gears. One occurrence that really irks me is when I’m on register and people question me about money. Say the order comes to $9.50, and the customer hands me a ten-dollar bill. I ring the order through and return the correct change, which is 50 cents. The customer then says, “Oh, didn’t I give you a twenty?” No, no you did not. He persists. Yes, yes sir I am sure you gave me a ten. This honestly bothers me to no end, so much so that I have gotten into the habit of saying “Out of ten?” or whatever amount they pay with, so that I am not accused of giving incorrect change. Keep track of your money, people; don’t blame me for it and then give me a dirty look even though I did nothing wrong!

4. People Are Not Always Respectful

I can’t even begin to count the number of times my coworkers and I have put together a massive order of sandwiches and salads totaling upwards of $65 only to receive zero tip from the customer. I understand that we are not a fine dining restaurant, but think about it: in a restaurant you would have tipped the waitress at least $9.75, yet you can’t leave us even fifty cents? It just baffles me sometimes how unappreciative people can be. I remember one specific instance in which a customer called ten minutes before closing needing a quart of ice cream, and I politely let her know we were about to close, but if she could get to the store before closing, then we were happy to help. She said she lived close by was on her way-and did not arrive for at least twenty minutes. We literally kept the store open late solely for her, and when she finally waltzed in she took her sweet time and left no tip. Really?

Well there you have it, just a few tidbits from the endless wealth of knowledge (read: exasperation) I have gained from working in the food business. Of course, I haven’t only gained negative experiences; there have been plenty of positive ones as well. These are just some of the ones that stick out the most.

So next time you go out to eat, whether it be at a five-star restaurant or at a small local coffee shop-please, just be friendly to the servers, and if they are friendly in return, think about leaving a few cents behind! When you appreciate us, we appreciate you. Good vibes am I right? #serverprobs TC mark

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