By: Ellis Keipper
Last Saturday at work, it was a slow night. On what was meant to be the busiest night of the week, I had a surprisingly ample amount of time to get things done at a relaxing pace. It got to about thirty minutes before closing, and I was getting ready to start cleaning my area of the restaurant, so I could get home; then, three tables of people walked in. I groaned knowing I wouldn’t be able to finish cleaning for another hour because of them.
I have been a food runner at a local Italian restaurant for over a year-and-a-half and I have numerous stories about terrible customers not respecting the operation and the employees at the restaurant. On top of running food to tables, I also check out customers at the register, do food prep, make salads, bag to-go orders, and weigh food for customers in the market section.
The most egregious example of customers being terrible is when they come in at the absolute wrong times. It makes me want to punch a wall when I’m almost finished closing and a customer walks in asking for a table ten minutes before closing. At that point, there is no one in the restaurant who wants to stay around an extra forty minutes after closing to wait on and serve only one table. Others have argued that the customer entering at this time is good for the restaurant and servers because they are still getting money from the customer. I would counter that by saying that on a personal level, no one in the restaurant really cares enough to stick around that extra forty minutes just to make a few extra bucks.
Customers do not tip well. A lot of the orders that I ring up are from the market section which takes a decent amount of time for me to do. Most of the time, customers’ orders from the market are upwards of thirty dollars. It pains me to put together incredibly expensive orders for customers only for them to not tip me because they didn’t eat the food at the table. The same thing goes for to-go orders. It’s frustrating to ring customers up for to-go orders that are upwards of seventy dollars only for them to not tip anything. A majority of the time, I only get tips from small orders that end up being like three or four dollars. Since I am only paid ten dollars an hour, tips are vital to my income.
Another annoying subcategory of customers are the impatient ones–especially food delivery drivers. It seems that recently, Doordash or UberEats has made it so drivers get paid less if they take longer to deliver the food. Because of this, drivers have been more antsy to pick up their orders. The problem with this is that the food is not always ready when the driver arrives. Just last night, I had an experience with a driver that tried to walk behind the counter into my work station to grab a bag that she thought was her order. As if other annoying impatient customers are the ones who refuse to recognize that you have other duties outside of helping them. When I’m busy and a customer walks in, I usually say, “Just give me one second, and I’ll be right with you.” These types of customers either ignore that or take that statement literally. They are always looking to bother you while you’re in the middle of doing other, more immediate things. Customers need to recognize and consider that due to Covid-19 and the work shortage, they should be more patient with workers in the service industry, as they are trying their best to serve you to the best of their ability.
In conclusion, the customer is not always right. From a service standpoint, the customer needs to be able to recognize that they cannot always be the number one priority. If you work at a restaurant, I’m sure you can relate to a lot of these experiences. If you often solicit restaurants, I would hope that you keep these words in mind the next time you go out to eat at a restaurant.