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

By Ryan Cady

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.

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