Wednesday, January 27, 2016

At Least You Don't Work There

Sometimes we get takeout from a local Italian deli. It's a great place to get yummy sandwiches.



As I waited at the cash register for our to-go order recently, the obviously experienced waitress who greeted me handled two phone calls, got drinks for another table, took an order from the table behind me, and flagged down the server who took our order by phone. 



Minutes ticked by. 



I started feeling impatient, but as I looked around, I noticed there were two servers for the whole restaurant. There were about 20 tables, all occupied by customers. Both servers frantically rushed around, looking as though they didn’t know how they’d dig their way out of this mess. 



Meanwhile, more customers were pouring through the door, gathering in the small waiting area to be guided to a table by a hostess that didn’t exist. 



It all took me back to my younger years. I remembered working in similar jobs. No matter what you do, you’re letting someone down.


As I finally paid and gathered my order to walk out the door, I wasn’t upset that it had taken about ten minutes to pay for an order that was already bagged up and ready to go. I was grateful that I got to go home and spend the evening like this:



There were two servers who likely would have traded places with me in a heartbeat.



Have you ever had a stressful job? Does revisiting that same type of business take you back?

72 comments:

  1. Bet the owners/managers don't even realize how much that hurts business. Hire some helpers!
    I spent my college summers working at a department store. When I walk into one of those stores now and someone doesn't greet me in the first minute or two, it bugs me. Customer service was drilled into us back then.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I was a teen, I always thought working in a clothing store at the mall was a dream job. I got that job in college and SO boring. I was the one they assigned to stand at the front of the store and greet everyone coming in. That supposedly deterred shoplifters. I couldn't leave the front third of the store. Standing at the front of a store for eight hours is pure torture. I would have been better off working as a cashier in a grocery store. The day would have gone by so much faster.

      Delete
  2. Yes, my job is always stressful, especially right now when I'm balancing two books at the same time which have to be out in March and there is only but one Dezzy.

    I often think about a young boy who works at my bread shop where they also sell filo pastry pies so it is always crowded and he literally can't breathe from all the work. Some jobs put you under different kind of very immediate pressure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tell me about it! Most of the time I have at least 15 assignments in my inbox. I just focus on writing 2,000-3,000 a day and rotating, one for each client, then go back around and do another for each client. I don't even have that many clients...they just load me down. I'm grateful for it, but I always feel like I'm not working hard enough, even though 2,000+ words is a LOT for a writer in a day.

      Delete
    2. yes, that is the feeling, even though we're wasting ourselves (I've been known for translating books in two weeks when most others do it for two months) we think we aren't working hard enough. And do we get thanks? Admit it, that they will ask and expect even more when you work harder!

      Delete
    3. That's EXACTLY what I'm thinking. I've been submitting extra to make up for taking this weekend off (which is ridiculous in itself) and I've noticed that I'm getting more work sent...so I'm thinking about saving things and sending them from the road, one day at a time. I didn't tell anyone I was taking a three-day weekend because that always seems to be a signal for "more work."

      Delete
  3. Omgosh I have so much respect for people who work in the service industry! We always overtip. I don't know how they do it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do, too. Even when I pick up items, I tip the full 20 percent, even though at this particular place it only takes her a couple of minutes to put it together. She took the order and processed payment, too--all took her away from waiting on her tables.

      Delete
  4. One job I never had was in fast food, something a lot of other kids my age were doing as 80s teens. My first job then was bagging at a local grocery store.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My first job was at Burger King. A friend got it for me, promising I would just be a cashier. Wrong. Day two, a snobby girl from my high school who'd worked there a while complained that I didn't "pay my dues" in the back. I lasted about eight months...and I only worked Saturday and Sunday mornings, which helped me make it that far! Finally I talked my parents in letting me take a job 15 minutes away at the movie theater behind the mall. I LOVED working at the movie theater!

      Delete
  5. I usually over tip as well. I know people who did that job and it is amazing how many people do not tip at all. This restaurant needs to hire more help, but then good help is not always easy to find.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I worked with a guy who didn't believe in tipping. He justified it by saying that one time at the Mexican restaurant where they regularly ate, he saw a busboy take the tip off the table. I explained the busboy usually takes the tip and hands it to the server. Sadly the people who never tip tend to eat at the same places over and over and after a while, they can justify not tipping by saying they never get good service. I found if you plan to go somewhere regularly, you should OVERtip...they will give you the best service every time because you're a guaranteed high tip.

      Delete
  6. Whenever I'm in a crowded restaurant or store situation like that, if I think the server or clerk is doing the best they can, I try to cut them a break. It's when they look like they don't care and aren't even trying that bothers me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We went to IHOP a while ago (our last time) and the server who brought our drinks and took our order wasn't supposed to wait on us. The server assigned to us yelled at her and she was afraid to come back. But the other server took it out on us for some reason by not waiting on us. We had to get the other server to sneak us our food and refill our drinks. I didn't get the logic of being mad at us for sitting down and giving our order to the server who approached...but at the end of the meal, the mean server decided to be nice to try to get her tip. There's no excusing that sort of behavior, bad day or not. The customer had nothing to do with it!

      Delete
  7. People working in the food industry do not get enough credit for the hard work they do. I remember dealing with soooooo many horrible snobby people when I worked in Panera in high school, I don't get how people feel they can treat others so badly.

    In a restaurant a few years ago, the table next to us were treating the waitress horribly and eventually made her cry. My mother lost her temper and told them off, and then we sat the waitress down at our table and told her what a great job she was doing and not to listen to those assholes behind us. When the check came, the total was like $10 (she only charged us for the sodas). We left the full amount for our food anyway, plus like a 50% tip. I will never forget the looks on the faces of the people at the other table when my mother told them they deserved to have the waitress spit in their food....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We were at Bonefish Grill around Halloween when a huge party next to us pulled out five or six coupons and wanted to use them all on the same check. So the server had to go split the check into five parts and get the manager to override because it's "one per table," clearly printed on the coupon. They were bending over backward...and the table of 12-15 (plus young kids) walked out without tipping.

      Delete
  8. The most of services jobs get people stressed. Some times it's hard to believe how they deal with all their work. We should be more understanding.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I try to be. I'm Southern, though. We're ridiculously nice! There are two servers in Nashville--one at Chuy's and one at The Egg & I--who are extremely mean. They both just act exasperated at your very existence. We've learned to pick a favorite server at those places to avoid getting seated in the meanies' sections because I just feel really awkward when people are mean to me.

      Delete
  9. I would be tempted to throw on an apron and jump into the fray. Poor things! I do sometimes feel that way when I see other people in public with unruly children--not that we haven't all been there, but I like my kids. Challenges and all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did want to help out! I felt so bad because the phone kept ringing and all I could do was just stand there and try not to look impatient but my husband was circling the parking lot. (On weekend nights there are no parking spaces because of a super-popular Mexican restaurant in the same shopping strip.)

      Delete
  10. All the more sad this is a minimum wage job. It sounds like the multi tasking women do at home. I had a stressful computer job at one time I am sure it affected my health.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Although I will say that if you want to make money, waiting tables is the way to go. Especially at a place that serves alcohol. Tips can be really high. This deli serves wine and beer...so they probably aren't making as much as they could down the street at a restaurant with a full bar. Maybe that's why they're short staffed!

      Delete
  11. Anyone who does the best they can deserves respect and appreciation. Almost as rude as not tipping is being impolite, such as not saying please or thank you.
    Stress is a powerful emotion that can propel one to extremes; good and bad. When I had a full and a part time job, a young child and three vintage people to care for I felt as if even asleep I was constantly busy. Sure glad things have mellowed out since then ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I've had that feeling a few times in my life. You'd wake up in the morning feeling as though you'd spent all night working!

      Delete
  12. I was a waitress back in the day and I so remember how hard it was and often people were mean. I so remember. I treat all wait staff with lots of kindness and always tip well.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are mean people...there are also super-nice people. Most people fall in between those two extremes. I did find that those who were most demanding were usually the worst tippers. I guess that makes sense since both behaviors are inconsiderate!

      Delete
  13. Oh yes. Working retail at a busy store was like that. Never again. I'm always very kind to sales associates because I know what they have to deal with.

    I've been pretty bad at blogging and reading blogs lately, so I just wanted to say that I LOVE your covers for the Piper Morgan series, and I can't wait to read the books!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I enjoyed staying busy when I worked retail but I didn't like that feeling that there's no way whatsoever to handle all of the demands placed on me at once. And I felt that pressure when I was in that restaurant.

      Delete
  14. Loving your choice of illustrations to accompany this piece.

    I worked in a bingo hall whilst at college. A nightmare job, I broke up many a fight between warring pensioners, generally because someone sat at someone else's seat and the days before smoking was banned the air was so thick with smoke I could barely see from one end to the other.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh, smoky bingo halls were the worst! And that's where the young athletes always had to volunteer to raise money for their teams. Because second-hand smoke = fine athletic performance.

      Delete
    2. I can't say I ever did the bingo hall thing! I did VERY briefly work in a smoky bar. That one was tough.

      Delete
  15. I once worked as a waitress at a Pizza Hut in the far north. It was a nightmare. Tables full of cheap, rowdy, non-tipping teenagers, 19-year-old managers who were mad with power, eight-hour shifts on my feet with a lousy 30-minute break to eat a Personal Pan pizza that wasn't even free if you wanted more than one topping.

    I will forever be sympathetic to waitresses, and always tip well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can only imagine! I think Burger King charged us for our meals, too. We may have gotten a discount? It's been so long!

      Delete
  16. I was a waitress at Crackerbarrel for a year, and never want to do it again! Thanks to their hard brick floors, I developed a nice patch of spider veins. =) Waitressing is hard work, and so many of the customers aren't the least bit understanding or nice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm always SO nice to the Cracker Barrel servers. There are some real grouches eating there, though! Those people work hard and because you don't serve alcohol, your tips aren't as good as in other restaurants where the work might not even be as hard.

      Delete
  17. When I first moved out on my own I was working two jobs and one was working in the restaurant serving tables. The things we had to put up with would be considered sexual harassment from customers for what they said to us. We just brushed it off then. We worked for peanuts. I made good tips for those days so I didn't complained.

    I don't complain when something isn't perfect or I have to wait.
    I understand because I've worked harder when someone couldn't come in because of sickness.
    Have a restful day. Hugs,
    JB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep! You never know what's going on behind the scenes. Often it's that someone called in sick at the last minute or someone just quit without notice and they're shorthanded.

      Delete
  18. That brings back memories! I was also a waitress back in the day. I didn't like it at all! But having experienced the work and how stressful it can be, like you, I have a lot of patience when a waitress/waiter is having a bad day and I always tip well. Great post Stephanie! Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We went out in a snowstorm for dinner last year and there was one restaurant open. They had two waiters. We got there early so we got our order in, but I watched the two waiters and they just had no idea what they were doing. One guy would do ONE thing on every trip. I was pointing out the next time we were in a fully-staffed restaurant how a professional server does things. Every trip is maximized. A good server can take a drink order at one table, take a food order at the next, get demands for items from every other table, put all the orders in, go get the drinks and items, and bring it all back at once. Takes about five minutes. I totally admire servers who can do it. It's definitely a game for someone with a sharp mind and strong body!

      Delete
  19. People should always tip. That is part of the agreement when you go into a restaurant. I've worked with too few to do the job and it is a hassle; but, the day goes remarkably fast.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. If you don't want to tip, eat at Taco Bell or stay home. I find it interesting that some restaurants (Joe's Crab Shack) are eliminating tipping. Meanwhile, I get a tip line everywhere I go these days, from picking up my pizza or Chinese takeout to getting ice cream at Marble Slab.

      Delete
  20. I've had many stressful jobs. The staffer was fortunate that you were understanding and sympathetic about the delay.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it helped that just three years ago, I worked on an IT help desk and it was like that every day. I had to set up laptops and make sure the hearings went well while also helping with computer problems through the whole building. There were many days that felt like the night those women were having!

      Delete
  21. Most people feel entitled and want everything right away.
    I've seen servers handle things with grace I couldn't dream of having.

    Some servers have problems with my best friend and I because we need the occasional extra help (sandwich cut up, for example). Even if the place is nearly empty. Most help willingly, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My sister cited a study where a restaurant used security cameras to compare restaurant traffic 20 or 30 years ago to the traffic in a restaurant today. They wanted to see why they weren't making as much money. Turned out, it's the CUSTOMERS who have changed. People aren't happy with where they're seated, they take longer to order, they're too busy taking pictures of their food to eat, and they loiter at the table longer. It was pretty fascinating!

      Delete
  22. I've worked in the food business, both in a fast food and sit-down. I've worked for Hardee's (also known as Carl's) and Taco Bell. Then I worked at Chinese restaurant after High School. I rose from the dish washer, to the bus boy, to the Host. It's stressful, especially when it's busy. I recently read an article on the worst tippers at restaurants and what some people do is shocking. 85 dollar bill and a tip that reads "get a real job". I find no matter how busy a restaurant of any type is, I refuse to get mad at the servers. It's a stressful REAL job.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OMG when we were in L.A., I was shocked at how respected Carl's Jr. is there. We don't feel that way about Hardee's in the South. We were going to eat at In N Out Burger and everyone was saying, "Carl's Jr. is better. Eat there." I was shocked. I never eat at Hardee's. I do eat at Taco Bell, though. Yum! I probably don't want to know what goes on behind the scenes at Taco Bell, though!

      Delete
  23. I had a job as a waitress for 4 weeks. They didn't train me properly and it was just me in the whole place to take care of everyone which was insane! I didn't last which was fine by me but I had many customers feel bad for me and thought the owners were not the best...which they weren't

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a funny story about that--I was supposed to help out on New Year's Eve as a bartender. I was so excited about it...it was just something new I learned how to do. At the last minute, they told me I was going to wait tables...with NO training. It was horrible. They called me to ask if I'd work for them again and I told the woman, "That was the worst night of my life." It wasn't the worst night. It was a learning experience...but I wouldn't ever do that again!

      Delete
  24. I've had a couple of jobs that involved working directly with the public, and boy, do you see it ALL. Being "on the floor" can be the absolute WORST. I've seen behavior that would not be acceptable on a grade school playground from customers, toward both myself and coworkers. What working in varying forms of customer service did do was train me to approach encounters with service industry workers with a smile, and patience, and I rarely have a bad experience that is really the fault of the server, or checkout guy, or counter help, etc. I did have a truly bad encounter with a ticket person at Disney World, of all places. And I will always be baffled by restaurant regulars who are difficult or don't tip - don't mess with people who handle your food.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh. As much as you're paying for a day at Disney World, they need to be NICE!

      Delete
  25. I had a multi-tasking job for fifteen years and many of those years management saved money by not keeping us fully staffed or tried to pile on more responsibilities. I have more situation awareness when I am out and about in shops and restaurants and can see why I'm waiting. Glad those days are over for me. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. Been there, done that! I worked in state government. "We don't have to add more employees when the few we have will just handle it all." Us: "But we can't do our jobs correctly because we're understaffed." Basically the attitude was, nobody really gives a darn if service sucks. It's government!

      Delete
  26. I remember back in my retail days when the lines would be long and the customers would be complaining. And we had no one else in the building who could run a cash register. But try explaining that to irate customers. I so have sympathy now when I'm waiting in a long line. (Well, some. And some irritation.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, the person doing all the work is the one who has to be the "face of the business" and therefore deal with every single complaint customers have about everything!

      Delete
  27. It sounds like your server was working really hard to keep on top of things. That deserves some credit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. The one woman is awesome, too. She's always on top of it all. Even she looked frazzled that night, though!

      Delete
  28. Poor girls. They really earn their paycheck it sounds like. I never really had a job like that. Worked as a secretary for a while and then as a teacher. A little stress there, but not so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think teaching has gotten harder. I was reading something about the whole "social learning" trend and how it's making the job really draining for introverts.

      Delete
  29. I've baby sat, worked in my college professor/counselor's office, temped at several companies and currently working at non-profit organization. But out of all them, my most multi-tasking job, which I'm in for life or at least until they go to college, is motherhood.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I think that's the most difficult, for sure!

      Delete
  30. I've worked at a place that did not have enough help. People would leave in droves because the company/management wanted to save a few bucks.

    Skeleton crews are not fun

    ReplyDelete
  31. Most jobs I have worked at I enjoyed but there was one job I didn't like at all. Fortunately I only worked there 3 weeks...and that 3 weeks seemed like 3 months! :)

    ReplyDelete
  32. Oh yeah. Been there in the crappy job where customers blame you for management under staffing shifts.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Those poor servers. I never get angry at servers if my food takes forever. I get that they must be stressed. I always assure them that it's okay.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I am happily retired! I can't even volunteer in a school! They offered to have me pour juice!
    (ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

    ReplyDelete
  35. I still have waitressing nightmares and it has been over 20 years. The manager was likely in the back leaving them to drown on their own.

    ReplyDelete
  36. My God, yes. I have worked part-time at a deli and at Starbucks when I was still studying. If you're lucky, you get to work a shift and tough it out with other hardworking colleagues, one of whom is now a very, very good friend. F&B is a tough industry and the staff are generally underappreciated. You get to see a lot of behaviour you wouldn't otherwise have seen (eg men making fun of student-waitresses just to score cheap laughs from their friends ... or the nice ones who tell you about their nightmare with learning French or those who come in to buy drinks for other people but admit they don't care what size the beverages are or what type of milk they want etc.) Character sketches.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I do work in a stressful job. Contrary to popular opinion, a guv'ment job can be stressful.

    However, when it comes to stuff like you've talked about, I'm usually very patient. This comes from having spent roughly 25+ years working grunt retail in some shape or form. So I always give the benefit of the doubt to the (usually) overworked clerk/waiter/attendant. Up to a point.

    There is a fine line between having to wait because staff is getting slammed and having to wait because the staff is ignoring you.

    Father Nature's Corner

    ReplyDelete
  38. Wow! Lots going on and glad you made it home safe. Like you mentioned, I'll bet those servers would have traded places in seconds. (lol) Yep, I've had stressful jobs where I worked 11 hours a day, then was still on call in the evening handling one crisis after another. The list is endless, and probably explains why I'd much rather read a book or watch a movie with my cheeseburger. (lol) Hugs...RO

    ReplyDelete
  39. Yes! I worked in an ice cream parlor named Scoop's and they served hot dogs and hamburgers. It was like a DQ only the ice cream was not soft serve. Talk about STRESS when it got busy and the management of the place was horrendous. It's not the server and/or cook many times, it's the management of the business (not having back up when someone calls in sick, not stepping in and rolling up the sleeves when you're short on staff, etc).

    ReplyDelete
  40. All my jobs have been stressful, some more than others. Although I never worked in a restuarant, I have been in some where the staff was overworked and I try my best to be graceful.

    ReplyDelete