Anyone who works in the service industry has probably come close to losing their temper and going off on a customer. Let’s face it, it can be hard to keep our cool when a customer is yelling at us about something that isn’t our fault. That being said, NEVER THROW A BLENDER AT A CUSTOMER.
That’s what happened to Britany Price when she went through a McDonald’s drive-thru last month in Cincinnati, Ohio. After getting her order, she realized that part of it was incorrect, so she went inside to have it fixed as one would do. She waited 25 minutes for this order to be taken care, and after that amount of time, she returned to her car to get the rest of the food and ask for a refund. Understandably, she was upset. I mean, its McDonald’s. Nothing should take 25 minutes. Britany is seen in the video losing her cool and throwing the food at the manager. Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the best idea, but c’mon, she had four kids with her and McDonald’s couldn’t get their shit together to pack up a few freaking Happy Meals?
McDonald’s released a statement saying, “The safety of our customers and employees is of utmost importance to us. We are looking into this matter and will take the appropriate steps once our investigation is complete.”
Methinks there will soon be a job opening at a Cincinnati McDonald’s because I’m pretty sure that no mater how pissed off a customer makes you, you can’t be throwing kitchen appliances at them.
Moral of the story: if a customer ever gets so mad at you that they begin to throw food, simply take a deep breath, go into the walk-in cooler, and scream.
Thank you to Megan P. Howard for this guest post article about how to stay healthy and sane in a restaurant. -BW
Hospitality workers are the unsung heroes of the modern world, and I’m not just saying that because I am one.
Okay, I am, but it also happens to be true. Whether you’re in the kitchen, front of house, or working as a server, your job can be grueling, physically demanding, and often subjects you to some of the worst humans imaginable.
Think a bomb squad member or neurosurgeons have the most stressful job in the world? Nope. Research indicates that low-paid jobs with a high work-load result in a greater risk of heart problems and strokes. The researchers also linked disruptive shift patterns, which are quite common in restaurants to cancer and poor health. Furthermore, they believe people who work in high-stress jobs, take less care of themselves and tend to smoke and drink more.
So I get it. While you’re in the midst of lunchtime madness, it can be tough to keep perspective on your health. But it’s so, so important. Your physical and mental health are key to quality of life. Your life.
Follow these tips to make it easier to stay healthy at a restaurant job.
1. Don’t Skip Breakfast I know clichés are boring, but it turns out there’s something to that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” thing. Shift work isn’t always conducive to healthy eating habits. Make a commitment to a healthy breakfast, no matter what time of day you wake up. As much as possible, keep a regular schedule for breakfast. Stay away from cereal and processed foods. Eggs, fruits, almonds, and other healthy options will give you the energy to face your day, no matter how hectic your schedule. If you get meals at work, opt for nutrient-rich, fresh meals with lots of greens, proteins and healthy fats. Avoid loading up on “white” carbs such as white pasta and bread, as they can induce an after-dinner dip which wreaks havoc on the rest of your shift.
2. Keep Your Sleep On Track I am a person who likes my sleep. Seriously, I need my big fancy comforter and at least 8 hours of sleep and three cups of coffee before I’m ready to start my day. Irregular sleep hours and going without sleep can contribute to everything from hypertension, increased stress and lowered immune system, leaving you susceptible to every sniffle that passes through the restaurant. Adjust your sleep schedule so you can go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. That might mean missing out on your 7-8 hours. So take time to get in a quick nap here and there. Sleep hygiene is super important, so the goal is to give yourself a regular sleep schedule, no matter how unconventional it is. And if you’re like me, and you know you need more sleep, make sure your schedule allows for it, so you’re not a zombie at work.
3. Keep Moving When you’re working all day the last thing you want is advice that means spending more time on your feet. But unless you want pressure points and corns, you want to make sure you shift your feet and walk around. A good way to get through it is to make sure you have the right equipment. Get yourself some comfortable shoes for standing all day. If you’re working in front of house, and standing in one place a lot, find ways to walk the floor. If you’re a server and running back and forth is already in the job description? Make sure to take time to sit when you can.
4. Stay Hydrated Staying hydrated on the job isn’t always easy, especially in a hot kitchen. Resist the urge to drink coffee, which is a diuretic, and will only dry you out faster. Instead, bring a water bottle to make it easier and more convenient. You can fill up at work regularly. You should also incorporate fresh fruits and veg in your diet to stay hydrated in healthy ways.
5. Practice Mindfulness Whether you’re a server or a cook, chances are you’re really good at ignoring the signals your body is sending like, “hey when’s the last time you’ve eaten?” or “Ow, the finger I cut yesterday hurts!” We press on and do the job. But too much ignoring your body’s signals can really do a number on your overall health. And it doesn’t stop there. Restaurant jobs can do a number on your brain as well. With all the crap you get from customers, your colleagues, your manager, topped with a mountain of big and little things you have to keep in mind while working, stuff can get heavy.
A study by Mental Health America showed a correlation between the work environment in the food and beverage industry and a high level of mental health issues. Stress, low pay, long shifts, job insecurity, a toxic work culture, substance abuse and sexual harassment are all factors prevalent in this industry, and detrimental to anyone’s mental health. Several mental health programs have been launched for hospitality workers, for example: “I’ve Got Your Back” and “Fair Kitchens”. But as long as those programs have not been integrated into daily restaurant life, it’s up to you to take care of you. Mindfulness can be the first step. By being mindful, you stay in touch with how you feel. If your body hurts or you feel anxious or down, take action. Create pockets of rest or movement for yourself, and speak up about it. If your lack of breaks is starting to make you forget what it feels like to sit down during an eight hour period, talk to your employer about reasonable break times, so you don’t have to literally starve yourself to work. And yeah, take toilet breaks!
6. Get Your Exercise In If you’re like me, the last thing you want to do on your days off is hit the gym. But living on restaurant meals can really do a number on your waistline. As your job is already pretty physical, you want to stay able to lift those weighed down trays. Exercising will also help you get some anger and frustration out, and give you happy hormones. Instead of doing it because it’s good for you, find fun ways to keep yourself motivated. So how about a Fitbit contest at work? Yoga’s also great when it comes to staying balanced, and “un-cramp” those overworked limbs. So there are definite upsides to regular exercise. Also, you can totally crush Janet from Front of House, who is always bragging on her Fitbit scores.
If you like a gentle workout specifically for servers, try this great yoga routine by the lovely (and occasionally hilarious) yogi Adriene:
7. Take Care of Life Outside Of Work Make your life easier by forcing yourself out of the house on those days off. If you’re lucky enough to get two days off a week, schedule one of those days for errands, and the other for socializing. Give yourself at least one day to reconnect with friends, so they know you’re still alive. It’s a great opportunity to vent about the job and get back to yourself. Try to cultivate an outside-the-house hobby (Something that isn’t Netflix, perhaps?) to keep you from moping around the house on those few days you have off.
8. Cultivate Work Relationships
Speaking of socializing. It’s really important to develop a good working relationship with your co-workers. Not only are they the only ones who really get why you have a least favorite table, or the sheer horror of that moment when you realize that group of five are just getting appetizers (why do they need to sit here for four hours?!). But it’s also essential for a well-oiled team. Listen, you’re going to have sick days. And when you do, it’s a good idea to have people you can call. There are going to be days a group of 20 come in an hour before closing, and your co-workers are the only thing keeping you sane. So do yourself a favor and build a great relationship with the people you’re working with. Sure, there’s a chance you only see them at work, but it turns out, that’s a depressingly large amount of time!
Working in a restaurant a stressful job no matter your position. Shift work takes its toll on your health and the day-to-day stresses leave you exposed to kitchen dangers and rude and aggressive customers. Keeping a tight grip on your health is just one way to ensure you close out your shift with your sanity intact. And if you fail, there’s always steak knives.
A few weeks ago, I did a segment on the TODAY show and got a lot of push back from readers who called me a “sellout” for some of the things I said and some people accused me of throwing servers under the bus. (Bitches, you all know that the menus are dirty so please don’t try to pretend they aren’t.) Well, this week, I appeared on Inside Edition and got to say some things that I bet all of you will fully support. In fact, when we were discussing what happens when a customer snaps at their server, I got to say my most favorite thing I have ever said on television. Before this interview, my favorite thing I’d ever said on TV was when Dr. Phil told me it was my job as a server to tell one customer that another customer was being disturbed by their crying child and I flat out told him “‘that’s not my job.”
Break out the party hats and confetti, because today has been declared “National Tell Off a Customer Day.” For anyone in the service industry, it’s a day they have likely been dreaming of for a very long time. Retailers, waiters and waitresses, flight attendants, hairdressers and anyone else who deals with the public can get a free pass today and let a customer know how they really feel.
Michael Falso, chairman of the Workers Alliance of National Kindness (WANK) came up with the day about two years ago and it has finally been federally approved and nationally recognized. Says Falso, “as a service worker myself for many years, I always thought it would be great if we could just have one day to release the pressure and say whatever we want to a customer with no repercussions.” Along with his business partner, Theo F. Aik, the two men began the process of applying for National Tell Off a Customer Day. “I figured if there was a National Corn Dog Day (March 16) and National Answer the Phone Like Buddy the Elf Day (December 18), then why not a day where we can say whatever we want to customers?” added Aik. After submitting the required forms with the government, the day was approved: October 9, is National Tell Off a Customer Day.
Says the proclamation:
On this day, any service industry worker can choose one, and only one, customer and tell them exactly how they feel about them. That customer shall be required to listen to the feedback and accept it with a smile. Furthermore, there shall be no negative consequences from any owners, managers or bosses to any employee who chooses to exercise their right to tell off a customer on this day. Employees shall refrain from any using disparaging remarks that have to do with race, sexuality, or gender. However, insulting their age or physical appearance is perfectly acceptable. It is also acceptable if the employee chooses to yell their statement at the top of their lungs. If an employee has more than one job, they can choose one customer for each job as long as the “telling off” happens at the place of employment and on this nationally recognized day.
To learn more about this day click here. If you would like to submit a suggestion for your own National Day, click here. If you have an epic “telling off” that you recorded and would like to submit it to the national database of telling people off click here.
Server dreams. Waiter nightmares. Whatever you call them, we all get them. It can shake you from a deep sleep and you find yourself wrapped in your sheets, covered in sweat and wondering what happened to the order for Table 12 that you rang in, but the kitchen never got. I have one of these dreams at least once a week and from what I understand from other “lifers,” I will never stop having them.
So let’s be clear: waiting tables gives me fallen arches, varicose veins, an intense hatred of the human race and a guarantee of never-ending night sweats from dreaming about being in the weeds. That’s just great. And to make it even better, here it is in video form:
What is one to do when seated in a restaurant and it appears that the staff has forgotten all about you? In the case of Sonyita when she went to Applebee’s, her decision was to wait for twenty minutes before asking another server if anyone was going to take care of them.
The server’s response: “Did you seat yourself?”
This exchange prompted Sonyita to post about it on Facebook which is an open invitation for me to jump right in and offer my 100% completely unsolicited advice.
Where to begin? I suppose I can try to defend the server, but I’ll be honest, it all depends on how she said it. There is a way to ask that question that makes it seem like you’re trying to get to the root of the problem and find a happy solution for the customer:
Or, that question can be said in such a way that implies the customer is a dumbass who ignored the proper restaurant protocol, therefore creating their own problem by seating themselves and keeping staff from knowing they are new customers:
My guess is that the server’s response was closer to the second version which would explain Sonyita’s disappointment. But here’s the thing. Did Sonyita really sit at the table for twenty minutes before approaching someone or was it more like seven minutes and it just felt like twenty because she was so hungry for some mozzarella sticks and Fiesta Lime Chicken? Twenty minutes is a really long time, like you can pretty much watch a whole episode of Schitt’s Creek in that amount of time. I can ride the 7 train from Queens to Times Square in lesstime than that. Could it be that Sonyita possibly exaggerated that wait time in order to prove her point? And if she really did wait twenty minutes, why would anyone wait that long before taking matters into their own hands?
Attention customers: if you are ever seated in a restaurant and no one has approached your table or even recognized that you’re there within 4-5 minutes, go back to the person who seated you (assuming someone actually seated you…) and ask when someone will be at your table. Don’t wait for twenty minutes and then do it. All you’re doing is wasting your time, because if it really is twenty minutes, then it’s clear that there was a miscommunication and it just needs to be straightened out.
Attention servers: if a customer approaches you to see if someone is ever going to take care of them and you ask them if they seated themselves, try to ask them in a way that doesn’t make the customer want to go to Facebook and complain about it.
As for you Sonyita, I’m sure your Applebee’s gift card is on the way and next time, try not to exaggerate. (We all know that’s what you did there.)
I want two things: a shift drink and your email address!
Someday, if I ever get my act together, I might send out a weekly newsletter about the wonderful goings on of the restaurant industry. Or maybe I won't.