Customers Aren’t Always Right

My main job in high school was as a waitress for a little place in my home town.  The owner was a cranky Turk, but his wife was a doll.  I wasn’t a stellar waitress; I’m shy, clumsy, and I was thin skinned.

However, my boss and his wife, who was my manager taught me some very important lessons, first the customer isn’t always right, and second shitty customers deserve to be treated like they are treating everyone else.  It wasn’t a big place, maximum occupancy was only 50 people, during off peak hours, it wasn’t uncommon to have just three of us there, a waitress, the cook and either the owner or his wife the manager.

I was a waitress there my entire junior year of high school.  And I feel like that was plenty long enough.  About a dozen instances stick out as examples of terrible customers.

Like the woman who let her child repeatedly dump his drink on the floor while they waited for their food, which delayed their food coming out because it was me, the cook, and the manager, and I was the only one not exactly tied to a station at the time, so I had to clean up after the monster. She was nice enough to complain to the manager about the slow service and the fact that her waitress didn’t seem to understand that people ate out so they wouldn’t have to clean up the mess.

And the old couple that no one wanted to serve that came in every Saturday morning.  They got the exact same thing each week, fine, and every week they complained about the bill being too high.  Thankfully, I only worked every other weekend, so I only had to deal with them twice a month or so.

My worst tipping regular customers were a group of business men that came in for dinner almost every Tuesday night and I worked that Tuesday because the other waitresses refused.  They would demand things that weren’t on the menu.  They would rattle glasses at us if they went empty and we didn’t show up immediately to refill them (I literally mean immediately… I once watched the guy drain his glass and instead of putting it down, he raised it and shook it at me while shouting that he needed a refill).  I was in the middle of taking someone else’s order.

Then you had people that generally just didn’t pay attention.  We were basically a burger and sandwich place.  We had a full deli set up and hand crafted deli sandwiches and burgers, except before 11 we had breakfast stuff; eggs, bacon, pancakes, sausage, biscuits, nothing fancy.  I once had a customer lose her mind at me because she got a bacon cheeseburger and it had bacon on it.  She just assumed that since the owners were Turkish, they were Muslim so the Bacon would be turkey bacon… it wasn’t.  And they weren’t Muslim.

However, what got me thinking about this stuff again was a friend of mine got testy with a customer at her work because the customer isn’t always right.  And I remembered the group that was the worst.  For the record, I was 16.  5 guys in the party, all of them in their mid-40s.  I’m ringing them out, this is before debit cards and everyone paid with cash and as they have me split the check five ways, one of the guys tells me they didn’t leave me a tip because my skirt wasn’t short enough.  My manager overhead and asked “what would you do if someone said that to your daughter?”  He responded with “I’d tell her to wear a shorter skirt, this is a service industry.”  My manager took over ringing them out and then banned them.

She let me go home after dealing with them.  The owner tried to write me up as abandoning my shift, but my manager sorted things out and she had him pay me for the entire night.  It was awful.  I left shortly after that.  My senior year was starting and I just couldn’t stomach anymore customers and their insanity.

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