Customers Say The Darned-est Things…

Posted: November 2, 2014 in Uncategorized
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First a style card, then a story.  Firsty has been using up too much of my time, so I never really got to do Halloween this year, so I’m going to go ahead and dress up late.  My outfit is ‘Little Mousie’ from Envious, a slutty little Mouse outfit, including the ears, that would have Walt Disney spinning in his grave or possibly thrusting in his bed.  To push the mouse theme a little harder, I’m also wearing adorable pet make-up from MiaSnow and a mouse tail I got out of the Linden Labs Library.  I’m still pregnant, (and increasingly ready to serve Piper with her eviction notice!  Why didn’t anyone warn me how uncomfortable it is to have a small person in my abdomen?!?) so my shape is Teen Katie (wk 36) from Cukabebe and I’ve also started to develop Pregnancy Stretch Marks from Freaky Geeky.  For skin, I chose Kesia, an older group gift from my goto skin supplier, WoW Skins, and my messy red ponytail is source-unknown, (although I believe it is also out of the Linden Labs Library).  Credit for the ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy’ tattoo goes to Rachel Swallows Creations.  And now for story time!

Just hanging out in Sleepy Hollow Halloween Village...

Just hanging out in Sleepy Hollow Halloween Village

Like most of us in the food service industry, I am an inveterate eavesdropper.  There are, as you would expect, a bunch of reasons for this.  Partly it’s just nosiness.  There’s also a factor of insecurity.  It can also be entertaining, because I love stories, and you get so many good stories off other people.  The primary reason I eavesdrop while I’m working is professionalism.  Just as waiting tables has warped me to the point where hypocrisy is a virtue, so too is eavesdropping in the serving world.  My job is to determine the customer’s needs and deliver them.  My motivation is tips: I want the customer to give me money, and I get more money from happy customers.  In an ideal world, customers would be honest and forthright and speak up about what they want.    Sadly, I have to work in the real world instead.

This is my real world; I dare you to say anything...

This is my real world; I dare you to say anything…

As an aside, why do customers not tell their servers what’s going on, but expect us to read their minds?  One of my steps in waiting on you is to check back shortly after your food arrives so I can make sure a) you have everything you need to enjoy your meal and b) the meal is of the good quality you were expecting.  Ideally I deliver your food myself so I can check off concern a before you even take your first bite, do something quick for another table, and then come back to see how things taste.  If someone else ran my food, you’ve probably already taken a couple of bites, so I’m going to take care of both concerns in one trip to the table.  One of my stock lines that I use a lot is, “Let me ask you the most important question of the night: Does everything taste as good as it looks?”  That really is the most important question I have for a customer- is the food as good as they want and expect it to be.  It’s why they came out, and if the answer is no, something needs to be fixed.  It amazes me how many customers don’t speak up if something needs to be fixed.  Sometimes they never speak up, just give me a tip that reflects their dissatisfaction with the dining experience, which is frustrating, particularly if I don’t know what dissatisfied them.  Sometimes they wait until I bring the bill, and then say they didn’t like food item X.  Here’s some advice.  Corporate restaurants can be a little different, but in a busy, non-chain restaurant like Giovanni’s, that’s a horrible approach.  If you tell me something’s wrong, we will try to fix it, and if we cannot fix it, we probably will take it off your check.  If we do fix it, but we feel like it still could have been handled better, we may throw you a discount or some free dessert to help make things better.  If you declined three or four chances to tell me something was wrong between when the food came out and when I brought the bill, my managers are going to assume you just want something for nothing.  They won’t even want to go out and deal with you.  When I insist, they’re probably going be rude about it, both to me and to you, and you are more likely to have to pay for that food you didn’t like.  Giovanni’s is busy enough we have occasional bad waits and trouble fitting in all the customers who want to be there.  We are popular enough that customers who have been banned for bad behavior eventually come back and return to regular status once they ‘straighten up and fly right’, whereas if I was ever banned from a restaurant or bar, I would be too embarrassed to show my face there ever again.  Your threat that you won’t come back if they make you pay for your meal just doesn’t impress anyone.  So speak up early if something displeases you, and everything will better all around.

Riding 'Mr Toad's wild ride'- not really all that wild...

Riding ‘Mr Toad’s wild ride‘- not really all that wild…

Still, because customers do expect me to read their minds, I eavesdrop shamelessly.  If I overhear you express dissatisfaction to your party, I can pretend you told me and try to fix it.  If you hint at something, I can try to pull some metaphorical teeth and get you to tell me.  Sometimes I’m lucky, and just the fact that I really do want to know what’s wrong is enough to convince a customer to speak up and overcome their fear of a potential conflict.  Of course, I don’t know what I’m going to overhear until I’ve heard it.  Sometimes I hear something I would rather not hear.

Recently I was following another server as we carried food for a party of six.  As Mackenzie delivered the food she was carrying and I held the tray with the rest of the party’s food, I was standing at the end of a booth where two good looking guys in their late twenties were having beer and nachos.  I didn’t hear the conversation leading up to this statement; I only heard one guy tell the other, “Bro, no conversation that includes the phrase, ‘anal seepage’ can ever end well.”


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