The “Ultimate” Threat

August 14, 2009

Dear Petulant Customers,

“I’m never coming back.”

“Well, you just lost my business forever.”

“We won’t be visiting here again.”

In your minds, this is the ultimate threat. It supposedly means loss of revenue to the restaurant, loss of a tip to the server, and, hopefully, loss of employment to the offending employee. However, I thought you should know that, at best, this threat is an ineffectual scare tactic that only gets under the skin of the uninitiated. To the more experienced, your threats mean absolutely nothing.

Would you like to know why?

First: we only ever hear “I’m not coming back” or one of its variations during a temper tantrum. You want something comped, or you weren’t seated where you wanted to sit, or the server forgot something, or you’re just having a bad day and you want to take it out on someone. In other words, you’re an entitlement junkie or just a bitch, you act like a child, and therefore nobody in possession of a spine is ever going to take you seriously.

Second: people who are truly upset almost never make a scene the way you do. If they say anything, it will be quietly to a manager. Most simply finish their meals and leave, the poor or absent tip the only clue to their displeasure.

Third: the people who leave quietly, they truly never come back. You, on the other hand, almost always do. And you almost always find something new to bitch about the next time you’re in. In a pinch, you’ll bitch about what happened the last time you were here. We’re not going to take an empty threat seriously.

We had one of you lovely people come into The Restaurant last night. A beady-eyed woman carrying some shitty hardback novel, who ignored my friendly greeting and instead immediately asked “Do you have any booths?”

We have four booths. We only have four booths. They are immediately visible from the door. All were quite clearly full. No, we don’t have any fucking booths.

“I’m sorry, no, they’re all full. Would you like a table?” I asked her, gesturing at the completely empty table section.

“Ugh, I hate those tables. I really want a booth.” She looked at me as if she expected me to perhaps draw back an invisible curtain revealing the fifth booth that we maliciously hide from customers. Or perhaps she wanted me to tell one of the groups to leave so she could plop her solo ass down for an hour or two at a table that seats four.

“Well, I’m sorry,” I was desperately hiding my exasperation by now. “I don’t have any booths. I could give you the table in the far corner, it’s like a booth.” It also seats three people, but never mind.

“I hate having random strangers sit next to me,” she snapped, and then sat herself at the counter. With her back to me, I just rolled my eyes, got her a water, and went to find the counter waitress so I could warn her of the incoming blowhard.

Shortly after I had seated this bitch, one of the booths left. As our busboy for the evening–a fellow I’ll call The Comedian–passed by her to clean it off, she stopped him and declared, “I’m going to sit there.”

Now, as the name implies, The Comedian is quite the jokester, and he’s also probably my favorite of all our new staff. He’s fun to work with and he does his job well. But like most comedians, sometimes he doesn’t know where to draw the line. His reply to Crazy Lady’s declaration? “They’d rather you didn’t,” said with a big, stupid grin.

Unsurprisingly, she didn’t quite get the joke. And the first words that came out of her mouth were, of course, “Fine, then I’m never coming back here again.”

Astonished, The Comedian tried to placate her, telling her that it was only a joke and of course she could move to the booth. Alas, a joke is never funny if you have to explain it. He walked back into the kitchen, eyes wide and much of the color drained from his face. “I am so fired,” he moaned. I bet that’s what Crazy Lady thought, too, especially after she bitched to the manager for about ten minutes. A victory for the Petulant Customer, right?

No, wrong. One, while the joke was inappropriate (we sure thought it was funny, though), Crazy Lady blew it way out of proportion and was therefore not taken seriously. Two, this woman has threatened never to come back multiple times, and yet she always does. Three, The Comedian is one of our best bussers and The Restaurant’s resident clown. In other words, a valuable employee.

What happened to him? Oh, he was taken aside and told not to joke with the customers anymore. He might lose some hours for a little while; we’ll see what happens. But he’s not going to be fired. You see, we like him. And we don’t like you, Petulant Customers. We would all be much happier if you actually made good on your threats and never graced us with your presence again.

Sincerely,

K.

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I’m Not a Bank!

July 25, 2009

So, good sir, why did you give me $7 in change? Initially I thought maybe it was all right because it was all silver, but I returned to my senses when I realized I now had enough quarters to win Pac-Man about 30 fucking times.

I also have something to say to our hearing-impaired friends in the audience–if you are half-deaf, do not get pissed when I’m forced to raise my voice so you can hear me. Furthermore, do not get pissy when I ask you to repeat yourself because you are whispering on the phone. Do not hang up on me before I can confirm your order and then bitch when it’s not exactly right. In fact, just go away and leave me alone.

Continuing with the stupid shit, tonight we had a solicitor. Has this happened to anyone else? Some guy came in and tried to sell us boxes of candy to ostensibly benefit a program for children. I was so stunned by the audacity of the situation that I stood there, slack-jawed. Sister A, however, was quick to throw him out on his ass.

It’s not that I mind donating to charity–that’s fine. But coming in and pulling a hard sell in a restaurant? Bothering employees and making customers uncomfortable? Why on earth would you think that that’s an okay thing to do? Due to his complete lack of professionalism or tact, I’m inclined to believe he was not actually gathering money for charity and instead was a con artist trying to scam a bunch of hard-working foodservice employees. I really can’t believe the organization he claimed to be working for, one I am well-acquainted with, would encourage its volunteers to behave in such a way. Then again, we have the Shriners, who create traffic hazards by standing in the street to guilt motorists into buying a newspaper they’re never going to read. So I could be wrong.

Final, happy note: I actually made about $9 in tips last night, which is damn good considering over the past month I’ve made about $3. Remember, this is carryout–tipping isn’t mandatory. It was like getting paid for an extra hour of work, which is great because we closed 15 minutes early.

That’s all for today, tune in next week for the thrilling conclusion!