Blogs » On Another Note » Be Nice To The Help


I was listening to the comedy channel on Satellite Radio this morning, when a particular comedian asked if anyone in the crowd had never waited tables at all. There was a few people who applauded, and he told the crowd.. “Those are the jerks…”

He went on to this pretty funny observation on how he thinks it should be mandatory for every person in America to wait tables for one year in their life so they will learn that they’re cheese fries really aren’t that important.

I happen to agree with him. It’s not just food, it’s the way people in the service industry are treated in general. I think if we actually take the time to put ourselves in the place of the person helping us, we may change our outlook on the way things are.

So picture it. You’re working in some dive for a low wage and rely on tips to break even. Your manager is always on edge and there has been a back up on tables for the past hour. The kitchen staff wants you to pick up your order for table 7 to clear up the counter space, you’re halfway caught between wiping down a table, getting a refill of tea for table 8, avoiding the pessimistic waitress in the next zone, and making sure your new customers have menus.
I know this because I used to do it. Not just by waiting tables, but also other jobs, like working a cash register, or retail sales. One bad customer can ruin your whole day. It’s very tough to shake off all the bad karma in the air after a confrontation with just one customer. Even trying to clear your head, well it doesn’t make it very fair for the next polite customer.

This happens a lot during Christmas time. Working in retail, you can really learn to despise the commercial aspect of the season. I mean think about it… It’s a time of brotherly love and goodwill towards men, a time when magic is plentiful for the children of the world, and I have to listen to some lady rant and rave in front of other customers because she didn’t think to pre order an XBOX 360… did she not think the hot item of the year would be sold out? I don’t know… but somehow it’s my fault because I have the nametag.

Between my real job, the band, my marriage and family… I can honestly say I do the retail job out of pure joy. You see it’s in a music store. I don’t ask for a lot of hours. I really work there because I like the discount…. And I have this thing for alphabetizing CD’s. I like to hold the album in my hand, look at the track listing, appreciate the cover art… I like talking about music when I recognize an artist or someone asks a question that I know a little about.
I’ve gotten my share of crazy customers too, like the guy who told me I was a racist and worked for the white devil because we didn’t carry a San Antonio Tejano artist, or the lady who was angry because we didn’t price match like Wal Mart did, or the guy who asked for “that song…. You know… the one with that guy…. He sings with that girl…. With the hair…. It’s about love.” I basically showed him the sales floor and said… “take your pick…. They’re all about love these days.”

This doesn’t excuse the lazy service people though… not by a long shot. There are some that just don’t belong in the service industry. If you have never been required to work in the service industry… be glad about it. Although I must say that I have learned a lot about human behavior and the effects stresses have on people since I first turned 16.