A Walk Down the Server’s Aisle

2 February 2019

There was food in the window, and the enticing aroma of warm, buffalo wings pervaded the server’s aisle. The clamor of washing dishes and the chatter of employees at The Vine Tavern and Eatery echoed through the concealed insides of the establishment.

I was ready for another day of work.”Out first, B15!” shouted one of the cooks. As a food runner, I was responsible for knowing the jargon of table numbers and food that was placed in the window. The procedures of running food were subconsciously embedded into my ticket analyzing brain, so I grabbed the hot wings in the window, put on my best “Hello table! Isn’t this a wonderful day? I am so happy to be able to deliver your food to you” face, and headed out to the table.This routine is second nature after nearly two years of work at the same restaurant, and normally I don’t have a problem with it.

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Normally, customers will greet me thankfully for bringing them their food and treating them with a smile. However, when simple mistakes such as mixing up a table number, forgetting an extra ranch or even asking a couple to wait five minutes to be seated, have customers up-in-arms and bring out the worst in people, a serious lesson in empathy is needed.

As I was bringing the hot wings out to B15, a booth, the 15th to be exact, I passed by a couple waiting at the host stand. After dropping off the food, I noticed that they were still standing and waiting. I approached the host stand, noticing that the only tables open were in a server’s section who had just been triple sat. This is often quite stressful for a server, especially on a busy night.“I’m sorry, but I am going to have to ask you to wait five minutes to go to your table,” I told the couple. The male did not take kindly to this. He arrogantly confronted me, demanding to know why he could not sit at an obviously open table.

Although I attempted to pacify him and explain our procedures, he continued his rampage. He asked for my name and the phone number for The Vine, and he abruptly, promising some sort of fiery vengeance upon my soul. Although the customer was obviously a conceited and ignorant man, this was the first time that I had ever caused a customer to be so irate, and I was actually worried about my job.Fifteen minutes later, the same customer realized my anxieties. He stormed back in, more livid than ever, and he demanded to see a manager instantly. Following the workplace guidelines, I asked a manager to come to the host stand to pacify the customer. He spat his curses at her, twisting and contorting the story in every which way to endanger my job.

Luckily, the manager saw the story my way, but she was still forced to offer discounts to the spitfire hothead of a customer in hopes that he would abstain from speaking poorly of The Vine in the outside world. It really is a shame that employees of the service industry are forced to take this bombardment from ignorant customers. However, the ends justify the means in the business world.Although this account seems specific and personal, it is quite common to hear similar stories from employees in any service industry. Nearly all of these mandated people pleasers can recall a time when they had to deal with such a raging, egocentric parasite of a customer. These parasites force their way into the workplace, against all of the employees’ wishes, and find their host’s vulnerabilities. Incessantly complaining that the food was not warm enough or that it was the worst (insert food item here) they ever tasted, these narcissistic leeches create havoc for service industry employees.

Even though the hosts know they are being manipulated and taken advantage of, they are forced to follow a form of ethical guidelines that the customer is always right, and the parasites feed off these morals. They nullify all of the host’s personal rights, growing in spite of their misery. Even if the host wishes to fight back and eradicate the parasites, it is stuck in a trap of regulations and manipulations. These customers can truly be monstrous in their lack of empathy.However, there is a way to prevent future parasitic situations from occurring. Despite the seemingly irreversible evil that lies within these characters, their parasitic tendencies could be reversed through simple understanding of the situation those in the service industry are in. If these customers could experience the same situations and problems that they now cause, the number of service complaints would be significantly diminished.

Customers would no longer complain about their food taking a long time or about a server’s mix up of drink orders, for they could understand and relate to the problems that servers cope with. I am not asking everyone to drop everything that they are doing in their lives and apply for a job in a service industry. Such a claim would be irrational. However, I do ask that when individuals go out to eat, they remember that servers, bus boys and food runners are people too, and they are working as best as they can to ensure a quality dining experience.As a food runner/bus boy, I can see clearly that most of the reasons servers are docked on their tips are not at their own fault. Delayed or cold food is an effect of a backed up kitchen, and high prices are a policy of management. If individual attempts to make a customer’s experience worse, they would not be employed.

It does not make sense that a server should have to pay for such circumstances in the long run, especially since they do not make a significant hourly wage. The two objections stated above, cold food and high prices, account for nearly all customer complaints. If customers took the time to put themselves in the shoes of those serving them, they would see that the server is not responsible. All it takes is empathy.

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