Life as a waiter can be tough. Steve works at The Bistro, a restaurant in Manhattan, New York City. Most of his customers are nice people, he thinks, and he treats them with respect. But how do you deal with the ones who are not?
Customers can really be a pain in the neck. I can deal with complaints about food or service that's part of the job. But when customers attack you personally, I must confess I am tempted to hit back. Many of my customers have so many personal problems that it is hard for them to behave in public. They consider us waiters their servants and think yelling at us is safe. We become their therapists or punching bags. I have had people call me a loser and shithead to my face. How would you react if someone at work talked that way to you? When that happens, watch out. Revenge is near.
"Waiter," my customer says, "my coffee is not hot."
"I´m terribly sorry, madam," I reply.
"Make it hotter."
"But of course, madam."
"Remember," the woman says,"I´m drinking decaf."
I take the coffee to the back an dump it out, fill the cup with piping hot decaf-coffee, and return it to the table. A minute later the customer calls me back to the table.
"Waiter," she says,"my coffee is still not hot."
"Terribly sorry, madam."
"Are you stupid?" the woman says. "How hard is it for you to give me a hot cup of coffee?"
"A thousand pardons, madam," I say.
"I´m new here." (I´ve been here for six years.)
"Get me another cup," the lady says.
"It´s decaf," I say. " Understood, madam."
I return to the back and fill the lady´s cup, though not with decaf but with regular. I brew strong espresso and dump it into the lady´s cup. I place the cup in the oven. After two minutes at 400 degrees I take it out with a pair of tongs and place it on a cold saucer. I bring the bubbling Java back to the ill-mannered woman´s table.
"Madam," I warn, trying not to be a total jerk,"please be careful. Both the coffee and the cup are extremely hot.