Shortest End of the Stick

Trent Gautney, Opinions Reporter

Everyone knows all too well what it’s like to overhear or see someone acting in an improper way towards an employee at a restaurant. 

The scene may go something like this:

You (and maybe a partner or a friend or two) decide that you want to go out to eat. You spend way too much time picking out the perfect place on Yelp, and make the trip there to enjoy a nice meal.

Once there, you order your food and are enjoying the experience when you hear the person sitting behind you speak to the server in a very rude tone. “This is not what I ordered” they might say, or “Can I just have the check now?” They may proceed to give a long winded, and totally unnecessary explanation, as to why they had such a terrible ordeal whilst ruining everyone else’s time as well.

You glance at the flustered employee walking by and give them an apologetic look even though you know that it is not you that committed this atrocity. You wonder how someone could be so rude to someone that they don’t even know.

This happens far too often in the service industry, and it is not the patrons who receive the worst of it. It is the employees. It’s the servers, bussers, baristas, cashiers, etc. who get the shortest end of this very nasty stick. 

Being rude to service employees, particularly those in the food industry, exhibits a kind of poisonous attitude that can only stem from pure entitlement. People make mistakes, but to belittle them and call them out in front of everyone can mean only one thing: you are a spoiled individual who has always received exactly what you wanted.

If someone has no remorse for treating someone in a demeaning way, it means that they do not respect that person and what they do. 

Service employees are some of the hardest working individuals, but for some reason, they are the ones that many people like to use as an example of someone who has failed or lacks the ability to hold a “real” job. To think of service employees in this way, is to show one’s ignorance of the trials and tribulations that these employees go through, and how little they are paid for it.

This suggestion may seem harsh, but as any server will tell you, the ways that people can act towards these employees can be much, much harsher. Due to notoriously low wages, service employees survive off of tips. Whether they are able to eat or not may depend on the mood of whoever they are serving that particular day. If someone decides that their meal was not deserving of a tip, or that they just don’t want to fork over the extra few dollars, they have just hurt an individual in more ways than they can understand. 

Servers not only are balancing your needs (including filling your water, bussing your table, checking on your food, and getting your drinks) but they are also having to balance the management picking at every aspect of their service. They have to come up with answers every time something is sent back to the kitchen; chances are, if you yell at them because the food isn’t correct, the kitchen will too. 

Lest we forget how quickly their night can get ruined by a table who stays entirely too long, which cuts into their income since they cannot “flip” that table any longer. If you and your friends decide that you want to stay past closing time, the server can’t leave until you do. 

Because of all this, I ask this simple thing of the reader: please treat your servers with the respect and dignity that they deserve. If they happen to mess something up, do not get mad or yell at them. They did not mean to do it, and the conditions of their work can be stressful enough. Let them know how appreciative you are of them and above all, tip! 

You may not know the inconvenience you are causing, or you may never have caused them, but knowing what can really affect their income is imperative to being a polite patron. If you are unable to follow the above recommendations and simply cannot treat people with human decency and respect, then please do everyone a favor and just stay at home tonight.


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