Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Can't Sleep

I can't sleep, so I'm going to rant about what I'd do if I were to quit. Don't worry, nothing too drastic or destructive. First thing I would do: put my handles on the hostess desk and then ask the hostesses for updates on how long they last in comparison to String Bean's (the back one didn't last that long, like I predicted). According to one of the servers who's been here longer than me, there used to be silver handles on the doors, so I don't know what String Bean's problem with my solution is. Sure, my "handles" are U-bolts, but they're small U-bolts and there will be more of them in the doors than sticking out, so they're bound to last longer than his. We can paint them black for all I care...

Next, I would tell off the PITA party, NA party, Salmon Guy, and any other customer who gave the hostesses trouble while I was there. I would say everything to them that I wanted to say while I was on the clock and couldn't, and I would enjoy it with every fiber of my being. I wouldn't raise my voice, name call, or cuss, I would simply defend the hostesses against guest abuse of the "customer is always right" rule. I would ask them why they thought it was okay to treat the hostesses/other employees like crap, why they continued to patron the restaurant if they didn't like it so much, and would it kill them to be the first one to smile?

After that, I would get on String Bean* and Monkey Boy* about how if they could run a restaurant a little better, maybe they wouldn't have so much trouble keeping good people. Sure they can keep servers, but can they really keep anybody else that's worth any beans? I would tell them that they need to treat their staff better, set the example for the rest of the employees, etc. I guess I got spoiled at my last job by having a really good GM, the restaurant really did go to hell in a handbasket after he left. There are still so many people from that restaurant dying to work under him again, myself included, we could probably just open our own restaurant!

I wish I could find a better paying job so I could quit this one and do all this. But, *sigh*, as it is, I have to grin and bear it all because String Bean is the one signing off on my paycheck...

*Names changed, obviously lol. I got the idea for nicknames like that from another blog that I frequent.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The NA Party Again...

Grr, I really wish we could tell these people what we really think of them! The NA party thinks that because they're always coming in and spending money and have lots of people that they own the place and know how to run it better.

It started with a call, thankfully, we've gotten them to a point where they will call ahead...sometimes. One of the other hostesses answered the phone and got the number of people they were bringing, but forgot to get a time. The number they gave her was 20 people (keep in mind that we are a small restuarant, no side dinningrooms, though people always ask), so I mentally added about 15 more to that number because they cannot count and never give us an accurate number. The head guy (the one who always calls) calls back five minutes later and I answer the phone. He says that he didn't give the other girl a time for when they would be arriving, so he tells me they'll be coming with 20 people at 10. It was 7:30 when he called! We don't do call aheads (which was what he thought he was doing) that far in advance unless the wait is that long and we weren't even on a wait! I tried to explaint that we don't do call-aheads that far in advance and he goes off on a tangent about how we're "always" telling them to call an hour in advance (when I put in that that's more than an hour in advance), how sometimes they call and we have it set up and sometimes we don't, and all this stuff blah-blah-blah. He doesn't even let me try to explain how CAS works, or that nothing is guaranteed, especially with a party that size, and that we don't hold or reserve tables. When he's done, he wants to know what servers are working, which means he wants to know if a specific server (one of a few that will willingly take care of this party) is working and I told him that she was. He wanted to talk to her! She was with other customers at the moment, so I grabbed a manager and asked him to please explain how CAS works to the NA party!

Now, this is Friday night and there is a pre-season Ravens game on almost all of our TVs, we were just a little busy. It was a typical summertime Friday night, except the bar was a little busier than usual. We went on a wait around 8 and didn't get off until a little before 9:30, so I didn't have time to think about when NA was going to be coming and to think about saving tables for them. When we're on a wait, I refuse to set five tables aside for a party that firstly, might be coming in and secondly, has never given us an accurate number of people in their party. There is no way I'm going to leave tables open and tell the people waiting that they can't sit there. Technically, we're not allowed to "hold" tables for people, but it happens, we all do it, but it's not often. There was no way that I was going to hold five tables for the NA party while we were on a wait and none of their party was even at the restaurant at the time to sit there even if I did. They didn't seem to understand this point when they arrived.

They came in around 9:30 (they had asked me if 9:30 would be better than 10 since it was more than an hour ahead, like a half hour is going to make a difference, that was still two hours after they called), and it was four of them. One guy (not the one who called) was really mad that we didn't have anything set up for them right as soon as they walked in the door. He was the type that assumes because you call ahead, you should have a table ready and waiting for you when you get there (like we're mind readers and know the exact second when you're coming in the door). He turned to the guy that did call and was like, "Yeah, they didn't do it" and I wanted to scream! I wanted to yell at them how call ahead seating works, nothing is EVER guaranteed especially with large parties, and I wasn't going to hold five tables all night for a party that I didn't know if they were even going to show up (they've done that before, not shown up when they called and said they would) and have never given me the correct number of people joining them. The guy who called, and who talked to the manager, said, "Yeah, I didn't get a straight answer until I talked to the manager and basically nothing is guaranteed...", thank you! I didn't appriciate the not getting a "straight answer" part because he didn't even let me try to explain and just went right into asking who was working, but at least one of their own was saying that nothing was guaranteed. They found an empty table at the bar and hung out there until we found a place for them in the dinningroom. The guy who called kept telling me "just fit us in where you can" and all that stuff, like he understood my position and what it's like to have my job.

I was about to offer a couple of booths that were fairly close together, when two tables got up that we could push together for them to start off with. At this point, they'd been waiting about 15 minutes (maybe 20) and there were still only about four or five people in their group, so I figured an 8-top for them to start off with would be a good thing. We pushed the tables together, told their server where they'd be (and told the server who's tables we took that it wasn't for her, she was happy!), and I told the party that they had two tables for now, and we'd play it by ear when/if anybody else came in and when the other 8-top (people who were watching the game) got up. The 8-top was perfect for them! Four people from their party apparently didn't want to wait and told one of the other hostesses that there were four and she sat them down in a booth close to where the rest of them would eventually sit. The rest of their party fit at the two tables we gave them, no more came in! At most, the number of people in their party was probably 12 or 13, not the 20 like they told us. For a small restaurant like we are, that is a huge difference!

The NA party has been to our restaurant enough to know that we are small, we don't usually handle that many people (unless they come in), we have no side dinningrooms, they shouldn't seat themselves, they shouldn't steal tables when more people come in than what they told us, they should know all of this, but they don't! They don't know this because we're not allowed to tell them! We can't tell them how it really is, that they need to work this stuff out better, or what I really want, that they should ever come back unless they are willing to do it properly and not get mad when they find out stuff is not guaranteed. They all think that we like having them, we want them to come in, we think their jokes are funny, and we want them to keep coming back (they probably would keep coming back even if we didn't want them to).

I know I'm being petty and these people have been through enough, way more than me, and I should just let it roll off my back or whatever. But just because you come in to the restaurant, I don't care who you are, does not give you the right to think you own the place and act however you want. Just because you're padding my paycheck does not mean that you can treat me and the other employees however you want. Actually, if you're going to bring up the "I'm paying your paycheck" and be mean and nasty to me, I'm just going to say "Keep it". If you're going to walk all over me and treat me like crap, I'd rather have nice people and do my job for cheaper.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

They Will Always...

I have found, that in the chaotic world of a restaurant, there are a few constants (comforting or otherwise). They are:

There will always be customers who...

Are never satisfied no matter how much you bend over backwards for them.

Lie through their teeth to a manger just to get something for free.

Make bad jokes and expect you to find them funny.

Think that just because you're working in the establisment they've just walked into, you actually give a flying fart in space about them, their problems, their issues, what they came in for, what their baby's momma's cousin's nextdoor neighboor's babysitter's hairdresser's opinion of the establisment is; they think that they can treat you like crap, expect you to take it with a smile, and are angry when you don't.

Believe because it's not their house, they don't have to clean up after themselves.

Think that "there are people who are paid to do this" when in reality, there is no special position open to unclog toilets and pick random cigarette butts and pieces of paper up off the floor, no matter what universe you live in.

Think they're always right, you're always wrong, and because they are simple the best customer in the world, they deserve everything for free.

Think that it's okay to hit on you to try and get what they want.

Lie about calling ahead and become "angry" when you do not have their name on the list.

Try and weasel their way into getting seated sooner.

Ask how much longer it will be for them to wait, after waiting for ten minutes. Do the math people!

Complain that they've been waiting long than they really have.

Shift the blame to you for their stupidity, incompetence, or total ignorance of anything outside their range of comprehension.

Believe that they are never in the wrong no matter what they do, it's always one of the employees' fault. (Yeah, it's the employee's fault that you ordered steak instead of chicken like you "really wanted" when you really just changed your mind after the server took your order and felt you could get a free meal out of it!)


Oy, you name something that guests do that gets on my nerves and it probably happened today (except self-seating, I don't think anyone did that...).

The oldest toilet in the building needed unclogging because some jerk decides that she needed to use a whole roll of toilet paper. So that took about twenty minutes before it was flushing normally. Luckily, and there was something good about it, it didn't happen while we were busy, it was almost time to close actually, so it wasn't like I was desperately needed during the twenty minutes I was fighting grossness.

People weren't satisfied with the seat I gave them to begin with, even though we ask a bazillion questions about their seating preference, and either moved themselves or asked to be moved.

Large parties did not call ahead.

People go in the wrong door.

People think they're funny with a joke I hear at least twice every time we go on a wait.

People call and hang up before I'm done my schpeal because they've dialed the wrong number. (lol, I think the phone ran like 10 times before I got to it one time tonight, and before I'd even said my name the person had hung up)

We had one party of 10 come in, without calling ahead of course, and after I tell the first guy in the party how long it's going to be (30-45 minutes), this other foreign one comes up to me and starts saying stuff like, "I know you'll do it in less time Baby Girl", "I know how you feel", "I know you trying to do your job", "I know it won't be that long", "I know something will blow up and we can sit down" (I kid you not, he said "blow up"!), and being all flirty or something while he was saying all that. It was almost got to the point where I wanted to say something to him! I wanted to step back (away from him) and say, "Excuse me, I don't know you and you don't know me, please do not call me by any pet names and keep this professional". Except the way I wanted to say it would have not sounded quite so polite.

After waiting about ten or fifteen minutes, they decide that it's going to be too long of a wait for them and they hand me their pager and leave. Five minutes later, back in comes Mr. Flirtateous, and starts asking if he decides to stay, can he have the same number. I had no idea what he was talking about when he was saying "the same number" and he mentioned something about eating alone and then everybody was waiting outside, finally, the other hostess figured out that he was talking about his pager number. He must have thought that the number on it meant when he was going to be sat, not that it was just some random number we page (which would actually make sense, but not very practical with the pagers we have).

When we paged the party, I had one of the other hostesses escort them to the table while I was putting information on the wait list (other people's names and stuff like that), when I feel the foreign guy bump into me! He had to have done it on purpose because there was plenty of room between me and the nearest wall for him to walk between. He acutally bumped into me, not just brushed me as he walked by, he actually messed up what I was writing! Thankfully, after we got them seated (in about twenty minutes thank-you-very-much), I didn't hear anything from any of them again. I asked their server later if they were okay and she said they were, except for that one guy..."he was kinda wierd"...
hehe, "kinda" is putting it lightly...he was downright creepy. he had to have been at least twice my age!

It never fails, when the restaurant is closing down for the night, people think that the entire restaurant is still open to be sat in. I suppose that they think it all gets cleaned after everybody leaves. Anyway, everyone always asks to sit in the closed section on the same night! I'll go weeks without more than one person a night asking me if they can sit "over there", then, like today, I'll get five or six requests to sit in closed sections. I can usually tell when that night is coming too, I'm not sure how, but if I were to give into everyone who asked, the closing server would have no tables in their own section, then, when people come in and want to sit down (in non-smoking) and I say it's full, they're like "huh? Doesn't look full to me". It's harder to explain to people that sections are closed and there's only one server on when tables are spread out over the entire restaurant.

I want a new job, but I think sometimes that I might miss it. I don't know. I found my summer job so boring, the only interesting customers were the ones yelling at you. Call me crazy, but I think I would miss the chaos sometimes when I'm bored. I think I thrive on chaos, pressure, and stress. I don't think so at the time, but when I look back on it, I kinda like it. Maybe it's because it's all I've ever really known for a job, maybe it's because I just don't want to leave my comfort zone, I don't know. I'm just rambling now so I'll end this post...

Friday, August 19, 2005

Notible Customers - Part III

Yes, these customers are so unique, and so utterly annoying, that they get their own Notible Customer post! Read on!

The PITA Party...

At the beginning of the summer, we started to have a live trivia game in the bar every Thursday night from 8:30-10:30. Every so often, this trivia game becomes part of a local, multi-bar trivia tournament, with a "trivia bowl" and everything. Trivia is an annoyance to most of the staff at our restaurant, the DJ is loud, annoying, obnoxious, etc. The guests who come in to play trivia, take up multiple tables and only buy beer, hoping to win free appitizers rather than buying food themselves. The bar area doesn't concern the hostesses really, but when larger parties come to play trivia and don't want to sit in the bar, i.e. because they have kids or they don't like smoke, then it concerns us. The one party in particular that none of us like, is the PITA party (Pain In The A$$). Thankfully, so far, they've really only come in for the tournament.

The PITA party has usually around 8 to 10 people, children included, and they never want to sit in the bar. Ever. The past tournament, the first I've been there for, was a particularly busy season for the restaurant. Thursday nights were almost like Friday nights with the number of people that would come in to eat. The PITA party comes about an hour or so before the trivia game starts so they can have dinner and feed the kids, so not only are they taking up at least two tables for the two hours trivia is in play, they're taking up two tables for an additional hour during peak dinner hours just because they can. We're always telling people that we have call-ahead seating available, though nobody ever seems to quite grasp the concept, and this particular party eventually learned that they had to call ahead if they didn't want to wait. They like many others, however, did not ever grasp the whole concept of call-ahead seating.

Before they figured out that they could call ahead, they would just show up with 8 or 10 people and expect to be seated right away simply because they thought they somehow deserved it. They would always have one of their children check (unless they were really ticked off because they had to wait, then you got Mean Lady or Mr. A-Hole, the ringleaders) and see "how much longer" it was going to be for their party and never really be satisfied with an answer unless it was "you're next so it will be just a moment". For some reason, they always felt entitled to special treatment, though none of us ever figured out why, it wasn't like they were our best customers or anything, and frequent asked for one of our managers in particular (not the GM). I guess they felt like he was being really nice and friendly towards them and making them feel special, or they just felt cool 'cause they knew his name and if they complained enough he did stuff for them.

After they figured out we had CAS, they got especially mean about it. Mean Lady would always call ahead one to two hours before they arrived and not give the poor hostess who answered the phone time to get a word in edgewise. If we would try to explain that we don't do CAS when we're not on a wait, she would snap "I know that but I'm giving you my name anyway" and hang up, after she gave us the name, number of people, and what time they would be coming in. Eventually, I learned to tack on an extra half hour, forty-five minutes, to an hour to what time they gave us because they never showed up at the time they gave us. Probably had something to do with the whole "we're special" attitude they seemed to have. That, and I think they thought that we "reserved" tables for them as soon as they called so they could show up anytime they pleased, that's what they seemed to expect (for no valid reason) anyway. Whenever they would arrive, and we didn't have a table set up and waiting for them (which we did on occaison if we could), they would pout around at the bar (outside if it was nice) and make comments to each other like, "I don't understand this, we called ahead", "If we called ahead we should have a table waiting", "We should talk to *manager's name* about this", etc. etc. You would think, that after coming in week after week after week, and having the same stuff, that is sooo bad, happen to them, they would figure out to either give us an accurate arrival time, call closer to the time their coming, or something along those lines. But, of course they didn't, because that would just make too much sense and be too logical for them.

PITA gives us no trouble after they're at their table, but boy you do not want to tick them off while they were waiting because they're out to make their wait a miserable time for the hostesses and anybody else that came near them. I might not mind them so much if they would at least smile once in a while. The guy usually does, and he's not all that bad, if you keep him happy. But his wife is a trip...she looks like she's in a constant bitch mode or something. I don't think I've ever seen her smile at any of our staff ever. They aren't nice at all though. They complain to our district manager whenever they get a chance (when he stops by for a "visit") over stupid little things that could happen to anyone. Apparently, ONCE they were misquoted a wait time and thought it necessary to bring it to our DM's attention. With all the times they've come in and waited, being misquoted once is an exceptionally good job on the hostesses part, but do they tell our DM that? Of course not. Any chance they get to pick us apart and try for free food, they go for it. I prefer Salmon Guy to these people! At least he doesn't complain about every little thing he can think of to our district manager!

Where do these people get off thinking they're better than every other guest that comes through our doors? Where do they get off thinking that they can treat the hostesses and wait staff like crap and whine and complain to the manger everytime some small mistake occurs? Would it kill Mean Lady to smile once in a while? (I personally, though, think that her face stuck that way a long time ago) What happened that made them think that they deserve special treatment? What makes them think we'll throw the rules out the window for them, and hold tables for them all night while we breathlessly await their arrival? Is it just because they bring money into the restaurant? Because, as much as they probably wouldn't believe it, the restaurant would continue to do good, even great business without their money. What really irks me is that we hostesses still have to open the door for them and smile so they get the impression that we like them and want them to come back. We're not allowed to talk back or defend ourselves, that would probably get us fired (not me, I'd have to do a heck of a lot to get myself fired, they need me too much), we can't explain to the manager what happened while they're listening (they'll contradict or disagree on details), we just have to sit there and take whatever crap they decide to give us.

We have to grin and bear it, just like everything and everyone else.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Notable Customers - Part II

Mr. $100 Pair of Sunglasses...

So this girl calls up one night at work and I happen to be the lucky one that answers the phone. She says that she and her boyfriend “ate there the other night and he left his sunglasses”. They had called earlier in the week and someone told them that they still had them. So, apparently, instead of coming and getting the sunglasses when she called before, she decided to wait a couple of days and call again to see if they were still there. I put her on hold, searched the hostess desk, go find a manager and ask if there are any sunglasses in the office, manager says “no”, go back up front, pick up the phone and tell her that we can’t find any sunglasses of her description anywhere. She then asked me if I was sure because “those are hundred dollar sunglasses”. Okay, I know she couldn’t see me search the desk (or anywhere really), but I was gone a while, but I don’t like people questioning my competence or honesty. I assured her that we couldn’t find the sunglasses anywhere.
An hour or so later, the boyfriend comes in. He tells me his girlfriend called a while ago and asked about the sunglasses. I tell him the same thing I told his girlfriend. He tells me the same thing his girlfriend told me, “those are hundred dollar sunglasses”, and asks me to check. I check the hostess desk again, making a lot of movement and moving things around so he could see that I really was looking, and there’s not much to our hostess desk. I tell him they aren’t there, he asks me to check the office. I go and find a manager to open the office, we look in the office, the only pair of sunglasses we find are a pink pair that don’t match the description he gave me. I go back up front and give him the same report, no sunglasses. He asks “could you check again? Those are hundred dollar sunglasses.” I look again, because the customer is suppose to always be right. I’m sure that if he has me check the desk enough times the sunglasses will magically appear and he’ll be happy because he didn’t really waste a bunch of money on something that is easily lost. Again, I tell him there are no sunglasses and he leaves not so happy. He might have talked to a manager, but it happened so far back I can’t remember if he did or not. I just remember telling people, when I told them about this guy, that he just shouldn’t have spent so much money on a freakin’ pair of sunglasses! I have a pair from the dollar store that do the job just fine and I love ‘em.

We’ll Work It Out When We Get There...

On a Friday night, not particularly busy and not a very long wait, we get a call. This woman has a party of 8 people and they want to sit in smoking. The hostess who was talking to the woman explained that the bar was pretty busy and it was all seat yourself, so she would have a tough time finding space for 8 people. The hostess asked the woman if she would just like to put her name on the wait list for nonsmoking for call ahead seating, but the woman declined, saying, “No, we’ll work it out when we get there.” I shook my head when the hostess told me that she said that.
“Well then she better not whine and complain when she wants nonsmoking and has to wait at least forty-five minutes for it.”

About a half an hour or so later, the party came in. They told us it would be about 8, they wanted smoking, and they had called a little while ago. While we knew that they had called a little while ago, their name wasn’t on the list because they didn’t tell us to put it on the list, they wanted to wait and see when they arrived. On top of that, they took one look at the bar (the smoking section) and didn’t want to sit there, but they didn’t know that the bar was all of the smoking section. They had spotted a six-top booth that we were about to seat (but didn’t because this party came through the door and needed to be dealt with) and were just about to go and cram themselves into it when we told them it was for another party.
“Isn’t that smoking?” The woman in charge asked.
“No, that’s all nonsmoking, over here in the bar is smoking.”

They then wanted to know how long it was going to be for nonsmoking (who saw that one coming?). I took a quick survey of the dinning room and, at the moment, didn’t see anything available, told them it was probably going to be about 45 minutes. Needless to say, they didn’t want to wait that long (should have put your name on the list when you called then dummy!), and were on their way out the door when I saw an open six-top booth waaaaay in the back of the restaurant. I told them that I had another six-top booth open in the back. You would think that since a few minutes before, they had voluntarily offered to cram into a six-top, that this offer would be fine. No. The woman in charge had to go and LOOK at the stupid booth! It’s the same as the other one you were about to get into genius! They took the booth though, in the end. I hoped it was because they realized that if they went anywhere else it was going to be a longer wait and they didn’t feel like doing that (they also had kids with them, which could have added to that, but all the kids came in carrying McDonalds bags!).

With a Heat Index of Over A Hundred...

This one didn’t happen to me, this was one of our other hostesses who told me about it the next day. This particular hostess, Kelly (name changed), is not a particularly big girl, you could definitely say she’s skinny, but it’s not an unhealthy skinny, she’s just thinner than most. One day, as she’s holding the door for these two guests, (an elderly woman with a walker and what was assumed to be her son who was also middle-age-looking) the guy says to her in a rude tone, “With the heat index over a hundred, and you being eighty pounds, I recommend you go and get yourself a drink of water before you wither away!”

What do you say to something like that? How is it that teasing someone because they’re skinny is okay, but if you tease someone because they’re fat, it’s offensive? If this guy had been big pounds and Kelly had said, “With a heat index of over a hundred, and you being 300 pounds, if you don’t go get some water you’re gonna have a heart attack”, he could have gotten her fired. But, since she was a skinny employee of the restaurant he was patronizing, that somehow magically gives him the right to comment on her weight, manners be damned.

I wish I could tell you that was the last of this guy, I really do, but it’s not. His mother was friendly and nice as anything, I wonder what happened to her son that made him as mean as he was. At the end of their meal, he comes up to Kelly with the little black book in his hand and demands, “What do I do with this?” It’s a common thing for people to bring us their checks, thinking they pay the hostesses for their meal and we’re hiding a cash register somewhere in our desk (even though all the servers say “I’ll take the check when you’re ready” after dropping it off at the table). Other people don’t want to leave it on the table because they think someone is going to steal their information (yeah, all of the last four digits on their credit card, whoopie), or they don’t want to leave any cash sitting on the table.

So Kelly thought maybe this guy was thinking that he paid up front, not before she noticed that he didn’t have the check for very long before coming up to her.
“Oh,” She smiled. “You can just leave that on the table and the server will get it.”
He didn’t seem to like that idea. “I don’t think so, that wouldn’t be very convenient for me because I need change. Actually, I don’t think that would be very convenient at all do you think I want to leave that much money?”
Like we can tell what’s in the book when it’s closed and being held in our faces...
“Okay, just a minute, I’ll go get your server.” Kelly replies and heads back towards the kitchen. This guy follows her as she’s going back and into the kitchen! While in the kitchen, he spots one of our managers and demands (see a pattern?), “Are you a manager?”
“Then I assume you can take care of this for me.” Says the guy as he hands the manger the check.

The manager did take care of the guy and his check and he left in a huff, though his mother was all sunshine and smiles to Kelly on their way out. Some people are just rude for no reason aren’t they?

Salmon Guy’s Evil Twin...

One of our servers who somehow ends up with Salmon Guy on a regular basis, got what she called “His Evil Twin” one day. I remember this guy too, I got his drink for him. He wanted an ice tea with the ice, not only out of the glass, in a completely different glass and he wanted it filled to the brim (with ice). He didn’t read the menu right at all, thinking for some reason that the sandwich he wanted came with a salad so instead of this salad that doesn’t come with it, he wants something else. So the server explains to him that his sandwich doesn’t actually come with a salad, but would he like the whatever-it-was-substitue anyway? Nope, of course he didn’t.

I saw him eating his sandwich later. It was a naked chicken sandwich, and I mean naked! This thing came just plain chicken on bread, and he wasn’t even eating the bread! The bread was on a completely separate plate than his chicken, which he was proceeding to cut up into small, infant-bite-sized pieces with his knife and fork and eating it that way (with his ice-tea-ice-in-a-separate-glass to drink). I’m not sure how much he tipped the server, I hope it was more than what Salmon Guy does.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

A Sense of Humor

I've learned, slowly and over time, that having a sense of humor is a very good thing, especially in my line of work. I took a summer job cashiering at a grocery store and it only furthered my point. People will blame you, as the person that they are looking at, for everything they find wrong with the store or are angry about. Because it's always your fault, no matter what. The food rings up a different price than they thought it was, your fault. They left their discount card at home, your fault. The special sale item that they drove across town to get is all gone (imagine that), again, your fault. No matter what it is, no matter how crazy the situation seems, it's always your fault.

People always make it more difficult for you, nothing is ever done the easiest possible way. They always take their time, assuming that you have all day just like them. It's almost guaranteed that at least one person will come through your express lane with a cart overflowing with groceries and unload half of them onto the belt before you've finished helping the customer before them; thus making it impossible to turn them away to another lane. Oh, and the ones that do that, always have to write a check, but they don't have it filled out and waiting for you. Nope, that would just make too much sense. Nor do they fill it out while you're ringing up their obsene amount of groceries (at least it's obsene for the express lane). They wait until you give them their total to whip out their checkbook and say "How much do I owe you", forcing you to repeat yourself at least one more time, which you do because you want them out of your lane. Naturally, their check doesn't want to go through the machine the first time around. Naturally, you're forced to punch all the buttons again and stick the check back into the machine, hoping desperately that it will work and you can get this annoying person out of your line! (This happened today, I'm just venting)

Mr. Courtesy Card

Then, there's people who think they know how to run a store, and proceed to tell you all about their genious ideas. Or the ones that yell at you for following rules or about management's new policy, like you made it yourself just to tick them off.
"I must have done my job because it's working, isn't it?"
Like this one guy I had. He had all of four items, which would explain why he chose my lane, and when I asked him if he had a discount card with him, he proceeded to say, "No but you swipe courtisy card" (he was also foreign, so his English wasn't perfect, unfortunately, I could still understand him).
I replied, "I'm sorry, but we don't have the courtisy card anymore, they took it away"
Which was true, I got back from vacation and found out that this was one of the things discussed at the meeting I missed. Apparently, our store has the highest courtisy card swipe number of the stores in our area, so they took the card away. Making new rules about it too. We aren't allowed to swipe our own cards for the customers and we aren't allowed to ask any of the other customers for theirs. Rediculous isn't it? I can see where the store would want to save money, but this is just nuts! The cashiers are as unhappy about it as the guests are, more so because the guests seem to think it's the cashier's fault! Anyways...

This guy said, "I want a manager" and then went on a rampage about how he was in the store every other day and how everybody knew him. How he was "in here yesterday" and got the card swiped for him then, "the rules change overnight? They different today?". How he spends $200 or $300 dollars a week in the store, and just on and on while we waited for a manger to come over (I had called for one when he asked, but of course, no one was coming to my rescue). He kept saying stuff like do this "before you kick me out of store" and "I know you want to get rid of me", and all this other crap that I had no idea where it was coming from because I had been nothing but apologizing and trying to help him. Finally, one of the main store managers happens to walk by and my guy recognizes him and asks if he has a card. The manager, not even looking at this guy, just hands me his card, I swipe it and hand it back. I almost died from smothering laughed when I saw how much the guy saved, but I didn't say anything. I just bagged his items. The guy then proceeded to tell me how to do my job when a customer tells me they don't have a card. He pointed at the application table and was saying how I should offer to get them a card and all this other BS and brought up the kicking him out of the store thing and he claimed "I know you want me out of here".

Finally, he leaves and I start ringing up the next customer. She couldn't have been more than 15 or 16 and was probably running an errand for her parents or something. When I smiled at her and said "hello" and apologized for the wait, she said,
"Jeez, my mom got a card last week and it didn't take more than 3 minutes."
"Yeah." I said. "And for all that fuss, he saved 20 cents."
After all the crap he gave me before I had a chance to offer my card or see if anyone else in line had one (I didn't know about that particular rule at that point), there was no freakin way that I was going to give him a break and let him use my card!

Too Many Scans

I had another lady who grabbed the wrong ice cream one day. Bryer's was on sale as "buy one get one free", there were signs everywhere, huge signs too, and this woman grabbed two Edy's. When I scanned the first one, among her other groceries, she was watching the screen to see what price it came up as, and when it didn't come up as the right price, she promptly told me.
"No, that's not right" She said forcefully, pushing the ice cream (that was still in my hands!) back towards me...and across the scanner...
It scanned like three times before she let go and I could put it down! I had to call a manager to void it because it was over the amount I'm allowed to do without an override. Boy did this woman look ticked when I called for manager assitance though! I think it was worth the trouble she gave me! She was mad and it wasn't anybody's fault but her's because she grabbed the wrong ice cream and she shoved it across the scanner because she thought she knew better than me and the computer!

"Next time wait!"

Then, on the same day as Mr. Courtesy Card, only earlier, I got a woman who seemed to think that she also had the right to tell me how to do my job. Now, usually, when I'm entering the money they've given me into the computer, I hit the numbers fast, but I wait before I actually finish it up, just in case they have change that they want to give me. Most people will look around for change so they don't end up with more coins, or they tell me before hand that they might have the change. This woman handed me a twenty dollar bill (her total was something like $15.16) and waited until I punched in the numbers, pushed the "cash" button, popped the drawer open, and started counting her change before she decides that she has change and wants to give it to me because she doesn't want anymore. When I told her that it was already in the computer and I couldn't change it now, she gave me this deer in the headlights look, like I had three heads or something. When it finally registered in her head what I had said and why i wasn't taking her coins, why I was giving her more in fact, she said, in a very rude and condesending tone, "Well next time you should wait."

Um, last time I checked, this was the express lane and I'm suppose to get customers in and out. Fast is a good thing. If you didn't want more change, you should give me the coins before I punch in the numbers like the rest of the population, not wait until the last second after you've watched me enter everything. Figure out what the hell you're doing before you start to get off telling me how to do my job.

In Conclusion

So, yeah, I've learned that if you've got a sense of humor, if you can learn to laugh about the customers after they leave, you have a much less stressful time at work. If you can laugh, and not take anything personally, you can actually get through life pretty well too. I'm a firm believer in the fact that you really do need a sense of humor to get through life, it really is much easier to live and laugh at people and yourself.