Top

blog

Stories

 

The Customer Effect, Or: How This Restaurant Worker Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Getting Treated Like An Asshole

By Ryan Cady

linecook.jpg
Flickr user Phanatic
Just a little respect would be nice

I spent the last five years of my life working in a restaurant. It was a nice place--sort of a family sports bar, and while I was there, I did pretty much everything.

Cashier, server, dishwasher, arcade attendant, custodian--and for the last two years, I was a cook. Other employees came and went, our menu items changed, we got new food suppliers; but in five years of employment, there was only one constant:

Customers are dicks.

Before you get your bees in a goddamn bonnet, just think for a second about all of the urban legends you hear about restaurants. In every single one, the employees are always at fault. Human finger in a cheeseburger? Staff's fault. The bill is overcharged? Staff's fault. Rude to the staff, they'll spit in your food.

Now, all of those myths are either total bullshit, or just one-time occurrences out of the literally billions of instances in which someone has bought food (the other 999,999,999 burgers were pretty much totally devoid human finger parts, by the way). But let's focus on the last one: if you're rude to the staff, they'll spit in your food. Now, in my five years, I've never once seen staff do anything intentionally fucked-up to anyone's meal, and moreso, I've not only never seen anyone spit in anyone's food - I've never even heard of it.

Yeah, yeah, bring out your stories about your brother's friend's nephew who supposedly took a piss on somebody's steak once maybe--super credible. We've all seen Ryan Reynolds making an absolute ass of himself in Waiting--yuk yuk yuk, but it's just a movie. It's fictional. The reasons those myths are so prevalent is because customers are terrified, needy cattle just as likely to kick the staffer as to be complacent.

I understand, sort of. You, the customer, have a right to be a little cagey about an eating establishment; what you eat can literally kill you. But in that case, shouldn't you be treating the people making your food almost with reverence?

In my five years, as I said, I've never seen anyone fuck with food...but I have seen customers do some horrible things. I've seen them sneak in little dogs, little bottles of booze, little packets of every manner of drug possible--legal or otherwise. I've seen them walk in the door with their children and spend the entire evening drinking piss beer and ignoring their kids, who wreak absolute havoc on the staff and furnishings (these aren't just people on the Child Protective Service watch list, either - plenty of nice, PTA-type parents have ditched their kids and gotten absolutely hammered).

I won't talk about how those parents treat the poor arcade attendants who have attempted to instill a little order on their demonic unattended children -- hell hath no fury like a drunk, entitled mom or dad. And I definitely won't talk about the things I've seen in restaurant bathrooms...but man, I've seen some things.

My Voice Nation Help
17 comments
Dave Ehrman
Dave Ehrman

I have pics of Carls Jr. employees spitting in my food.. I wish OC weekly would investigate this. Horrible service at 2 Carls locations. Aliso Viejo, and Laguna woods. Both owned by the same Franchise. Carls Corp does not care. Called multiple times, sent pics and still they just dont care.

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

an employee spit in the coffee of a cop at McDonalds - was that fair since the cops are liars.

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

Yeah they fired me from Albertsons of all places because of a customer complaint back in '93 and because they said it was company policy so whoever was the company policyest that thought that one up was the real dick.

Erk Audelo Leon
Erk Audelo Leon

Hahahahaha awesome read! Customers are NOT always right. That is a very stupid phrase. They might give you money for a service, but I would rather keep a good employee than a rude customer. I wish supervisor, managers would treat "situations" between customers and employees better, not the stupid phrase, "The customer is right", even though you know they are just being punks. We as customers should work in a restaurant for a year and YOU WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU ASK FOR FOOD, FAST SERVICE, EVERYTHING PERFECT, ETC... I remember a customer complaining because my brother (dishwasher) at that time was making noise in the kitchen while washing. He wanted no noise from dish washing LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL

Stephanie Roske
Stephanie Roske

Always treat people as you would like to be treated. Wish that would happen so much more!

johnny_libertine
johnny_libertine

This is a great article. Regardless of whether or not people believe there is semen in their food, we need to learn that we are all just doing our job. Mistakes happen, food orders will be missing extra dressing or grilled onions, and chances are, you will be back next week anyway. Learn to be a decent person. I can see the people who have done time in the food service industry, and the people who haven't. Bad attitudes have never made any situation better. Time to grow up America, or cook your own damn food, in your own damn house, for your own damn kids...then when they tell you it sucks or throw it back at you, maybe for that second you will feel this article running through the back of your brain.

cynthia241
cynthia241

We required all four of our kids to work customer service, preferably in food service, as the best prep ever for life as an adult, There are few things more "douchy" than the jerk snapping his fingers at waitstaff, or looking down their snobby noses at some poor sales clerk who has no control over the price of whatever you are buying. While I hope our kids would have grown up to be decent human beings anyway, this topped off the mentality,  those who wear name tags for a living are human, have good and bad days, and deserve respect. And if service is good, tip 20%. If it is bad, stiffing your server is the height of snot, and frankly ineffective as a teaching tool, because the real jerks just figure you were cheap or forgot, they will never admit they got stiffed because their service is lousy. Instead, leave something, we all have to get by, but make the tip small enough to drive home the point that they didn't earn more. Be the kind of customer you would want to wait on if your roles were reversed, and in karmic justice, in this economy we never know which of us are going to end up being the one asking "Would you like to see our dessert menu?" 

aphan2929
aphan2929

amen to this article... this is spot on if you ever have worked in a restaurant in your life.

Wendel Burdine
Wendel Burdine

i guise that means people fuck UP YOUR FOOD WITH EVILE ELEMENTS food

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

Having "served" my time in food service, I personally have no problem telling a fellow customer who is acting like an picky ass to go home and make it themselves. I'm tired of folks treating the person behind the counter or waiting their table like garbage because they don't "have to" be nice or even civil to them.

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

This is actually a good post by Ryan Cady, very genuine and humble in the way the "diatribes" of self-absorbed downtown Santa Ana hipster-wannabes that soil the screens of this infernal blog are not.  


My suspicions that most restaurant staff never mess with other people's food has been confirmed.  Unfortunately, so has the fact that most people eat their food and then send half of it back, expecting a refund.  And hell hath no fury like any entitled mom or dad these days, drunk or otherwise.  Especially when with their little monsters on an airplane or in an airport. 

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

@Stephanie Roske If they treat you like a dick then treat them back in the same manner.

Turnabout is fair play.

MikeOxbent
MikeOxbent

@tongue_twister_for_t  There are plenty of jobs that require you to be professional and polite when dealing with rude customers.  If you don't like it, go drive a truck, then you can treat everyone on the road "like a dick". Or maybe STFU and get back to work. And smile, it won't kill you..

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...