Was meeting a friend at a local pub I like a lot, even though it’s often noisy as hell, and I picked out a booth to wait for my friend to arrive. The waitress gave me a glare when I sat down at the table that still had the paid ticket and the dirty dishes. I had never had a rude waitress there, so gave her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she wasn’t looking at me.
Then it took her a full five minutes to get over there and clean the table off, and I wondered. When I tried to order a Strongbow (cider beer) she said they didn’t carry it. I told her I got it every time I came in. She said, no I didn’t (almost the same as saying “you’re a liar.”) I was trying not to get irritated, I mean, this WAS her job, after all–serving customers.
“Well, do you have any other cider beers?”
“Woodchuck.” She seemed anxious to either go home early or choke me with her towel.
I knew Woodchuck came in almost as many flavors as gourmet coffee, so I asked, “Is it the one that’s cider?”
She said, “No, it’s peach.”
I wondered if the peach was also cider…”Is the peach cider, or just peach?”
“We don’t have any cider drinks.”
Since when? I thought. I struggled to employ as much patience as I could, knowing that if she had been a bit more helpful, I wouldn’t have to play Twenty Questions with her. I decided to ask her for a drink menu, deciding I’d look for myself. There, under the CIDERs was Woodchuck Amber. I called her over and pointed to it. “See this Woodchuck Amber? It’s listed under cider. Could you bring me that?”
She said nothing, but took the menu and stomped off. Is she getting my Woodchuck? Or is she just walking away? I mused. I always feel fiercely uncomfortable by a wait-person who isn’t in a good mood. I feel guilty, like somehow it’s my fault. But then the voice of reason kicks in and I begin to name all the myriad ways in which her behavior was unacceptable:
- I had been a waitress for years, and was never rude to a customer. That’s why I made great tips. And why she didn’t. At least not from me.
- She had chosen a position in the service industry: service, being the operative term.
- I was not asking for anything other than what I always got when i went there.
- There were plenty of other people who needed a job, and would be glad to have hers.
- Customers should not have to engage in a game of Jeopardy to place their drink order (Answer: Woodchuck Amber. Question: What is the name of your cider beer?)
Presently, she returned with the Woodchuck and tried to get away, but I stopped her, asking for a menu. That, too, it seems, caused her a great deal of consternation. I was fearful, at that point, of ordering any food, because I thought she might spit in it. After a few moments, I got up and snagged another waitress and asked if they’d send a manager to my table when the manager was not too busy.
A minute later a girl appeared, and I felt compelled to ask her if she was the manager before I continued, since she appeared to be about 16. She verified she was a manager, so I explained the situation, as nicely as I could, stating that I had never had a problem with any of the wait staff here before, which is why I kept coming back, but that I was hoping to get a different server for the remainder of the evening. She happily obliged and offered several apologies.
So for the rest of the evening, I had to watch the previous one walk by, and glare at me.