Nine years of waitressing
Updated: Mar 5
Now I’m sure like many others, prior to going into my ‘career job’ I did my fair share of part-time waitressing, pint pulling, and washing up jobs.
I got my first job a few months before my 14th birthday as a pot washer in a local restaurant. I moved through the ranks, to waitressing and bar work, even doing a bit of cheffing along the way too.
Other jobs I had alongside this job included in a farm shop café, wedding work, and at country shows on a food stand. From all this, I think I can safely say I’ve done plenty of customer service work.
Now, as a journalist, I still deal with people every day, but thankfully I’m not serving them anymore and instead I’m interviewing them.
I finished my last customer service job last year when I got my current job offer in August, and WOW it felt good to hand in that notice. From this though, I got thinking about all the things that you deal with in customer service, specifically hospitality.
When I was listing the pros...they were slim, but overall it was about food and the people. When I say food, I mean free food. I often worked a Sunday lunch at a pub and I’d get a free roast dinner before heading home and getting another one a couple of hours later, that was decent.
Then the people…Now this wasn’t always good of course. I’ve had a mixed experience when it comes to bosses, staff, and customers. I’m not going into detail with that… but I’d say the split was 30% great people, and the remaining 70% were annoying, rude, or just insignificant.
Now for the cons…how long have you got? I planned this piece by making a list of things that I remember really rattling me in the jobs and I very quickly realised I had examples of a lot of things that annoyed me.
So here were go, the rest of this piece will simply be me recalling some stories of getting really pissed off… strap yourself in and enjoy the ride. Oh and if you’ve worked in customer service, chances are these examples will resonate with you too.
Everyone does it at least once lets be honest. The scale of how bad it is depends on who you spill it on, if the glass smashes, and what drink it is.
For me, it was a busy night (of course) and my target was a child. Drink of choice? Full pint of lager. What followed were tears, pissed off parents, and a very apologetic India.
Now I’ve grouped a few things under this topic...
People not leaving when they’re supposed to despite being told a time the table is needed again.
People being late for their table and then being annoyed when you've given it away.
People arriving early and then being annoyed that their table isn’t ready.
When people ring up last minute for a table and aren’t at all realistic with what’s available. For example, ringing up on Sunday morning at 11am and wanting a table at 1pm… the time that EVERYONE wants a table for Sunday lunch.
Christmas, birthdays, work meals…anything with a table of more than 12 and people suddently get really annoying.
Not listening - Whether you’re trying to take their order or give out food and drink NO ONE listens to you and you end up shouting.
Asking for more sides and then not eating them.
No one knows what they’ve ordered if it’s a pre order. There is always one person (it always seems to be a woman) who has a list of who is having what…and it makes everything take ages because they end up failing to listen to her either which takes us back to point one.
The end of every meal comes and it all becomes a bit difficult for some customers. Some crack terrible jokes about not paying that I’ve heard a million times and some argue about who is paying and get me involved – I don’t care as long as I get paid.
Tipping is a bit hit and miss too, most of the time I did pretty well but I’ll always remember when a table of 12 left me 15p and the old man paying acted as if he’d left me a tenner…what an insult.
Yep…not done with my rants about drinks.
Men don’t think a young girl can pull pints.
Men makes shit jokes around giving head when it comes to their pint and while we're at it, sexist and racist old men in general.
When people ask for adventurous cocktails in a traditional it’s a Yorkshire pub – look at your surroundings.
General bar etiquette – who orders first, waiting for drinks, knowing what you want…all things that people need to work on.
When people don’t like a wine they’ve ordered and expect you to swap it for free.
Okay so for the places I worked, and I’m sure it’s the same for most places, you have an ordering system that means people have about 10 minutes of looking before you go over and you serve them (usually) in the order they’ve arrived.
Despite this common sense I’d hope customers would have, it doesn’t stop people trying to push in and get served first. Oh and the cherry on top of the cake is when they get arsy with you on a busy shift because they want to skip the queue and order first…love that.
The actual decision of ordering is fun too, especially if you’re really busy and go to serve people and they take AGES telling you what they want.
Steak is a whole issue itself. One time I had an old lady that ordered a medium steak, at first I liked her for this because most old ladies have salmon or something. Well my feelings for her were about to change. I took her the steak and she quickly called me back to say she’d like it cooked more. I looked at it and told her that is medium (the chef hadn’t messed up, it had no blood but was pink so the perfect medium) to which she replied ‘oh I must want it well done then, I like it grey’. Great… you’re wasting everyone’s time but of course all I can do is keeping smiling and do as I’m told because the customer is always right, apparently.
There is a time to order, and there are times when it really isn’t convenient. In the middle of bringing the food out and some people see that as the time to order.. really? When I walk past with a load full of empty plates..you want to order six drinks now and expect me to remember them? Not a chance.
Being clicked at. Enough said really, if you want to order that is not the way to go about it.
Kids and dogs
So our rule was that dogs are fine in the bar, but not the restaurant. Did that stop people sneaking them in and leaving them in places for me to trip up on? No.
Kids running riot… love that. What makes it worse is when you could drop hot food on a child (or a dog to be honest) because they trip you up but I’d be the one to blame…where is the logic in that? Once a little girl ran into me with food and got some gravy on her (thankfully it was cold gravy as I was clearing a table) but if it had been hot I would have been screwed and she would have been burnt. The parents still got arsy because it stained her dress. People amaze me.
I’ll leave it at that I think, although I have other things I could rant about. I’m hoping people will relate to this, find it marginally entertaining, or if anything it was great therapy for me.