Customers are not always right. Sometimes, even when they are right, their attitude about it is enough to make you want to scream at them. Sometimes, I think it’s just the customer having a bad day and you are the anonymous person they can take it out on. It doesn’t make you any less of a jerk, but it does explain why some people just seem to lose their mind over something small.
It was an afternoon shift, started at two pm, but I think it was almost dinner time, so maybe 4:30 pm, I’d been at work way too long by then… The cook went by the name Jesus, I don’t know what his real name was, I don’t think I ever heard it, but he did look like all the Catholic representations of Jesus, so it was easy to remember. I didn’t work with him very often, because I often got stuck on the breakfast shift on weekends and he didn’t cook in the morning, ever.
It was a group of five guys, easy order, burgers all around with fries. I put it in, we were just about to get the Saturday evening rush. I’d been at work since 4:30 am, the lunch shift waitress had called in and no one was willing to pick the shift up, so I got stuck working until someone could get in, I was told she’d be there at 6 or a little earlier.
The guy that worked with Jesus in the kitchen, I think his name was Alan, had just gotten in and was helping to fix the orders for the three or four tables we had. It was Alan that screwed up the order. One guy had ordered his burger without stuff, I think it was supposed to be ketchup only. I didn’t notice before I put the plate down. They asked for extra ketchup, I told them I’d be right back and before I could walk away, the guy pointed out his cheeseburger had stuff on it.
I apologized, bent over to grab his plate and he grabbed my arm. And began to scream at me, just inches from my face. He had hold of me so hard, that I couldn’t straighten up and I ended up with a bruise on my forearm from it. He was screaming there was no use of me taking it back, he didn’t want me to just scrape the toppings off and serve it back to him again, he wanted a brand new one.
For the record, I had never done this and had never seen anyone there do this. I had been told it was a firing offense when I was hired. Jesus could hear this guy screaming at me from his position in the kitchen manning the grill that’s how loud he was.
I stammer out that I promise he will get a totally new burger, I even offered to leave his plate with the offensive burger at the table until the new one came out, even though that wasn’t the policy. Jesus came out to check on things. He explains he’s the cook and the kitchen manager, he apologizes about the burger and says he’ll make him a new one. He offers to comp the guy’s meal, but says the customer has to let go of me.
The guy agrees after a moment or two of talking to Jesus. I think everything’s good. Jesus and him even shake hands. Problem solved. I start walking away from the table, Jesus decides he is going to walk with me. Alan suddenly shouts from behind the counter “Watch out!” This guy stood up, grabbed the plate with the cheeseburger and fries and flung it at Jesus like it was a freaking Frisbee.
Fries go everywhere. The plate hits Jesus in the back and when it then hits the floor it shatters. Now, there are fries and broken plate everywhere on the floor along with cheeseburger. Alan calls emergency services. Everyone at the table just gets up and leaves. A customer got the make and model as well as the license plate of the car they left in.
The bruise is already starting to develop. The dining room is a disaster. I have been at work more than twelve hours, and the customers are all hanging out to talk to the police when they arrive.
One couple gave me a $20 tip for “having to deal with that man.” Jesus offered to comp all their meals as an apology for the drama. They all refused. The only reason I didn’t quit right that second and just walk out is because of the customers, all regulars, that volunteered to stay because no one should be treated like that and get away with it. And Jesus made Alan clean up the dining room. That helped too. I was exhausted and the idea of cleaning up that mess made me want to cry.
I did press charges, but the guy took a plea deal for simple assault or something like that, meaning I didn’t have to go to court and neither did the customers that had stayed or my coworkers. And the guys that had been with him came in that evening after I left and paid their bills. By then, the evening shift had come in and I got to go home finally.
I was scheduled to work the next day. My co-waitress came in at 6 complaining about how awful her day was already, I’d been scheduled to be there at 4:30 am. She whined for three hours about her bad day. The owner was working the kitchen that morning. And I had one of her tables come up to cash out their bill and they complained to me about how awful we were for making her come in so early when her kid was home sick. I told them I wasn’t in charge of schedules and unless she’d gotten goats in the last three hours, she didn’t have any kids sick or otherwise at home.
The table went back and got part of the tip they had left, so she told the owner I had told them she didn’t have any sick kids at home and it had cost her tip money. Coming so quick on the heels of a day when I had worked a 14 hour shift and been assaulted because she had called in too sick to come to work, but healthy enough to have a hangover the next day and her hand still had the stamp from the local comedy club on her hand when she showed up for her shift that morning. I got in trouble for it. The owner told me I had an attitude problem and I should go home, then he never scheduled me for a new shift… Fine with me.