Friday, September 29, 2006

Service with a Groan

When did it become ok for people to put down servers and counter clerks?
Seriously? When did it become ok for ANYONE to be put down?
I went to Panera Bread tonight to pick up some dinner for my wife. We forgot to defrost dinner last night...oops.
So I have this couple in front of me. The guy is a wannabe goomba. I say wannabe because he can't pull it off.
His girlfriend, who is standing with him, is one of those gals that thinks she's still 17 and in high school, even though she's in her 30's. How do I know? She's wearing low cut jeans, a shirt that's a little too high in some place and low in others, and a "Hollister" jacket. From the moment I got in line behind these people, I could sense trouble.
Though it was a rough week, I was actually in a better than average mood, and when I feel good, I whistle. Not really loud, but I whistle just the same. The tune in my head was "Something Stupid" by Sinatra.
Again, this is a low whistling, ok? Not the kind that everyone in the place can here. It's barely audible. Yet, as the guy in front of me is ordering, his girlfriend turns and stares at me.
Being the pleasant person I am, I nod a hello.
It is not returned.
"All right, I want a Smokehouse Turkey Sandwich...and soup...Chicken Noodle. She wants the Fuji Apple Chicken Salad. That's it."
The kid behind the counter starts ringing it up.
"What side do you want, sir?"
"I want a sourdough roll."
"We're out, sir. Sorry."
"What the hell?!" This is yelled loud enough that people on the other end of the restaurant turn and stare. "How can you be out?!"
"We sold out, sir."
"I want money off then. I'm not getting what I want!"
The manager sees this and comes over to talk to the guy. They go aside.
I order. I make it a point to be nice. This person is doing me a service. Sure, they're paid, but I figure they are still doing a service, so I have no reason to be mean to them.
I ask the kid, "Are you ok?"
"Yes. Thanks for asking."
"No problem. No one has the right to act that way."

What I don't see is Wannabe and his girlfriend are standing right there staring at me. I pretend not to notice.
After finishing, I have to walk right by them. Wannabe decides to stand in the way. However, being the navigator of hallways, I easily move around him.
Here's where it gets fun.
Wannabe follows me and keeps staring at me.
I stand by the counter waiting to be called by name, and I look over at Wannabe and his girlfriend.
Both of them stare at me, so again, I nod.
"What the hell are you looking at?" Wannabe asks.
"Excuse me?" I reply.
Thinking I'm stupid (or he's funny), I am told, ""
"Just looking at my surroundings."
"Mind your own business next time."
"Don't make it everyone's business, then," I reply without hesitation.
"Fuck you," Hollister Girl says.
"Nice," I reply, "Very mature."
"What'd you say to my girl?" Wannabe says while striking the look at me flex pose.
"Jesus Christ," I say under my breath. "I said your girlfriend is too old to look that way, and you need to stop posturing. Oh, and you need to treat the people who work here better." And with that, I turned and got some water.
Obviously two things happened here. The first was that I realized after speaking that I needed to shut the fuck up. The second was that Wannabe and Girl were obviously not prepared for what I said.
"Who the hell do you think you are?" Wannabe asks.
It's Friday. I've been through Homecoming week. I'm tired, and my ears aren't 100% yet, so I really don't want to deal with this.
"Look. Shut up. You talked down at Kyle over there. He's new (Didn't you see the trainee badge). No one has the right to act that way. So just shut up or hit me or whatever. I don't care."
Again, this was not expected. Wannabe and girl just stare. The manager, who is behind the counter serving the food, just stares. The other patrons stare. I felt like Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Funny enough, Wannabe's food came up. They call his name. He grabs the bag, turns to me and says, "Go FUCK yourself, Jizzbag," and starts to walk out. Again, I couldn't keep my mouth shut.
"Have a nice day. Oh, and remember, that feeling in your ass? Probably you head."
I get the bird from each of them. I resist the temptation to bite my thumb at them.
The manager is quiet, and then says, "Thanks for sticking up for Kyle, but don't do that again or you'll be asked to leave."
"I understand. That's fine. He just had no right to be an asshole."
What has happened that we are now ok with people being dumped on? I imagine that no one had ever told this guy to that. I also imagine that he's the kind of guy who gets a 100 dollar tab and still tips two bucks.
We treat each other so badly. I saw it today at the high school. I expect that kids will talk down to each other, but there seems to be no boundaries anymore. Of course this also happens with colleagues.
I remember seeing an usher at the local movie theater be berated because he asked to see someone's ticket. Rather than waste the time by screaming and jumping up and down like a toddler, just get the damn ticket out.
Remember, these people are just trying to earn a living.
Be kind.


J.P. said...


Thanks for sticking up for Kyle. I know exactly what he must of felt like considering I worked 2 years in a chinese restaurant and know all about those types of customers.

They suck!

It's when people like you stand up for us that we feel that our job is ours and worth doing for the good people like you.

Cristina Cordova said...

Love the story. And you were great! This is a Chasing Windmills episode right here!

Leab said...

Feel free to take it.

Cristina Cordova said...

Maybe we'll have you star in this one. After all, it IS yours. Who could do it best? I just have to find a way to work it into the plotline... see how to work one of the other characters in...
I dig it.

Arthur Willoughby said...

I know a lot of folks would say it's crazy for the father of a newborn to take a risk like that...but I for one am proud of you. People like that need to learn that they are NOT in charge of the rest of us.

He probably worked off the steam by kicking the crap out of his girlfriend later, or abusing his dog.

Just goes to prove folks like that have nothing to back up their posturing, and using a few monosyllable words is usually enough to shut their dumb asses up.

dennis said...

Man thats a great story, we call them rednecks down here though. Act the same way. BTW, you should look into Judo or Karate lessons. It would just be the icing on the cake