Since June, I have been working as a hostess at a 24-hour, ridiculously inexpensive chain restaurant in North Torrance. It is a popular haunt for geriatric retirees whose children never call, drunk college kids who need strawberry-topped Belgian waffles after going to “sick ragers” and exhausted parents with three or more toddlers. Even though I think about quitting almost every day, I actually really do like my job. The environment is friendly, the people I work with are loads of fun and the money I’m saving up sure won’t hurt when I go off to college. That said, working at the restaurant has really exposed me to the dark underside of humanity in a way that terrifies me to my core. Here are just two of the rudest/meanest/most ridiculous people I have encountered on the job and how I did not handle them with grace and compassion.
1. It is about eleven p.m., and there is an older man sitting at the counter, which (as I tell the old man repeatedly) is closed. After about twenty minutes of this, he throws a fit because no one has taken his order…at the counter, which is, in fact, closed. There is also a list and a wait time of about ten minutes to get a table. “Would you like me to put your name down on the list?” I ask. He points his finger down at me and yells back, “No. I want you to show me some respect or else get back in your house and pop out babies for the rest of your life. Take my order now.” What the what? That sentence doesn’t even make sense. He made me want to gouge my eyes out. I told one of my co-workers. He laughed and said, “You have got to love racist, sexist white guys.” What? No I don’t “got to love” them. That is the opposite of what I need to do. How is this okay in any way, shape or form?
2. There are three things you need to say when you are working the cash register: “How are you,” “How was your meal” and “I’ll see you next time.” No matter what, we need to go through all three statements, even if we get no response. Keep in mind that we often have to take three, maybe four payments at the same time and keep all of the credit cards and cash straight in our heads. A lady pays a bill for $12.89 with a hundred dollar bill. I ask her the questions, but I am met with nothing more than silence and a death glare. I give her back one penny, one dime, two dollar bills, a five dollar bill, and four 20 dollar bills. I count it once, and then I count it again. The change comes out to $87.11. She slaps down her hand on the counter. “Where is the rest of my money,” she demands. “This is short, where is your manager?” I call him to the front. I kid you not, this is word for word what she said. “Y’all need to educate your cashiers in here. I don’t know if this girl here went to school, but she got her arithmetic all messed up. She can’t even count.” Keep in mind that all the while, she actually had the correct change in her hand. Believe me, I know my arithmetic and have the GPA to prove it.