Monday, June 27, 2005

My Bubble

It's my bubble, not yours, so stay out!

We all have our own personal bubbles, it's the little space that's all the way around our bodies that we hate when people invade it. Guess what? Hostesses have them too! Not only do I have a bubble, but I also, like many, hate having it invaded by people I don't know time after time after time after time...

This falls under the whole respect thing too. This mostly happens when we're on a wait and I'm running the board (that's what we call the wait list). A guest walks in, makes eye-contact with me when I greet them (sometimes) then their eyes dart down to the wait list and stay there while I'm talking to them. The eyes only come back up to mine (sometimes) when they have something to say to me, like their name or asking a question ("30 minute wait on a Saturday night, you're kidding right?", umm, why would I joke about that? Honestly, some people are just so desensitized to waiting because of microwaves and fast food restaurants). I just hate it when people walk through the door, stand right next to me and my desk (which is my working area) and stare at all the names on the wait list while I'm speaking to them, asking how many in their party and their seating preference (smoking or non, I'm on the east coast, we're working on that whole non-smoking indoors thing). They answer me, but not without taking their eyes off the board like the names will magically disappear if they stare at it hard enough.

Really! They look at the board like they know what they're looking at, or maybe they're checking to see if I write down the times that all the guests come in and sit down (I do both), I don' t know if they think they know what they're doing or if they know what to do with all the numbers they're looking at (pager number, number in party, time in, wait quote, table number, time sat) or what. It just bugs the hell outta me because it's like them saying that, first of all, I don't deserve their eye contact when I'm speaking to them, and, second of all, like I don't know what I'm doing and they feel the need to double check my work. Other guests, who's names I have already taken, will come up and just stand there, staring at the list, counting the names in front of theirs, and then get indignent when they see names below theirs crossed off. This is the reason I never completely cross off names, I always leave it so you can read all the information (where they sat down, when, or if they left or went to the bar) just in case a trying-to-complain-to-get-sat-sooner guest comes up. This way, I can easily explain that this guest decided not to wait and this one found a seat in the bar. Do I get an apology or anything? Of course not, I get that "oh" (that everybody who's ever worked with cutomers knows) like it's a substitute for an apology.

If you want to know how much longer until you get sat down, please just ask and don't get all up in my space to find out. Or, you could check your watch and figure, "well, we came in about 20 minutes ago, and she told us it was going to be 45 minutes, so...", but no one actually does that, nobody can do mental math anymore. I wish I had a dollar for each guest that came up and asked how much longer it was going to be when they'd only been waiting half the time I told them. Another thing, look the hostess (or host) in the eye when they are talking to you. Just because they work at a restaurant does not make them any less of a person and it does not mean that they automatically have no idea what they're doing. I've been working in restaurants since I was sixteen, I know how to be a good hostess. I don't appreciate people assuming that I have no idea what I'm doing just because I look younger than they are. I don't appreciate people thinking that just because I work in a restaurant, it's okay to treat me like crap or ignore me altogether. And I don't appreciate people (guests, managers are another story) who try to tell me how to do my job when they really have no idea how this particular restaurant works (I have a previous post about a lady with a party of five who had to wait for a big booth and was mad at me because we didn't have any ready for her when she walked in the door, like she called ahead to let us know she was coming anyway, she probably would've been even more ticked off...anyway...). I've worked at more than one restuarant and I don't even know how every single restaurant does every little thing, so don't think you, a guest who has never needed to work in a restaurant for your whole life, knows everything or anything about how we do things at my restuarant. Some restaurants do call-ahead seating, some don't, some only do it for large parties (8 or more), some only seat larger parties if the entire party is on the premises, etc. Don't think that you know how each and every restaurant works in every microscopic way.

Look me in the eyes when I'm talking to you, you expect me to do the same when it's you that's talking, don't you? How would you like it if I was staring out the window while you were talking to me? Or what if I was on the phone while you were trying to put your name down, how would you like that? I'm giving up my free time to work a job that isn't always the greatest, and yeah, there's always "someone else" that could be taking care of you, but eventually, we're gonna run out of "someone else"s. Eventually, if guests keep treating people like crap, all the "someone else"s are going to be either 14 and throw a fit every time someone yells at them or barely capible of speaking English so they need 2 people to cover the register because their combined English is better than each one individually. Eventually, those people are going to be the only ones that are going to take the kind of crap some guests dish out for the kind of money that they're being paid. Are you going to like that even better than a 19-year-old college student who's been hostessing for going on 2 years and knows what she's doing? Just like I thought, you'd rather have the 19-year-old college student (more mature than a 14-year-old) who can speak perfect English (and could probably give you a run for your money grammar-wise) and has more experience than most of the other hostesses put together, right? Well guess what, that's me folks! And if you'd like to keep the older, more mature, English-speaking restuarant employes, you'd better learn to be nicer and pay them a little more respect.

What's a way you can respect me as a hostess? Stay out of my bubble! If you would like to know something about the wait, please ask me, don't just assume you'll find out by staring at the list. Don't look at the last name on the list, see what I quoted them, and ask why your wait will be longer. Because you have a frickin' party of 8 and that'll require two tables! Or, because so many people are coming in at once and I can't tell them all the same thing because it'll take time to seat them all. After getting about four names consecutively on the list with more on the way in, I up the wait quote because I know we can't seat 15 names in 20 minutes, it just ain't gonna happen! Believe me, we (the hostesses) wish it could because that would me less people for us to deal with, but it's just not something we can do.

Bottom Line: If you haven't read any part of this post, this is the part to read. Basically, stand at least two feet away from me, look me in the eyes when I'm speaking to you, answer intelligently in full sentences, and do not look at the wait list like you know what you're looking for. The wait list and restaurant itself are my domain and you are a guest, so please behave as one!