This past Sunday, I went in for the lunch shift at the Hot Spot and got a table of 4 people. They seemed nice enough as I approached them for their drink order, but as time passed I realized that these would be difficult customers to satisfy. As nice as they were, they were extremely specific (and altogether picky like crazy) about their order and I worried that they may complain about everything from the timing of the service to the quality of the food.
First of all, they wanted their Brazilian Coffees to be hot. “Put the coffee in the microwave if you have to,” they said. So that’s what I did. As much as I hate to nuke things in the microwave, I did what they asked. The coffee seemed hot enough as I took it out and poured it into a sugar rimmed glass mug. They didn’t want whipped cream, so I filled it to the top and took it to the table.
I set the coffee down in front of the two people who ordered it. One of them took a sip right away and said it wasn’t hot enough, so I brought it back to heat it up for a minute and a half. The coffee was boiling and bubbling, so I told the gentleman to be careful. He touched the mug and seemed happy with how hot it was.
Then, the woman with the other coffee said (in a very disgusted voice, might I add) “Is there even any alcohol in here?”. I was a little stunned and told her that I had put the correct amount, but if she wasn’t pleased with it i could get her some more. “Well, yeah. I mean, there’s no alcohol in here at all.”
I sighed to myself. Of course there was alcohol. I’m not going to cheap out on that, but I also can’t make it half alcohol and half coffee (like some people may make at home). “I’ll get you some more, ma’am. It won’t be a problem at all,” I reassured her.
Before I could leave and get the alcohol for her, another man at the table told me they were ready to order, so I set down the tray I used to bring the drinks and took out my pad of paper and pen. Their order was complicated and they were changing things around on the menu to suit their preferences, but I didn’t mind as much since they were the only table in the restaurant. I also didn’t feel like arguing with them that normally we don’t put ketchup on our burgers.
As soon as I was taking the menus from them and about to walk away from the table, the woman with the coffee said “Excuse me, but is that alcohol coming?”
Cue the crickets.
I didn’t speak for a moment because I was shocked at her question. I could not believe what she was asking. How could the alcohol possibly get to the table without me leaving to go order it, let alone get it from the bar. Did she think I could have sent out a discreet signal to someone to get it right away? Did she think I could somehow communicate with the bar that she wanted more? How could she possibly think that it could get there if I never even left the table? It seemed like such a ridiculous question to me. I guess some people don’t have much common sense in how things work. It is impossible for me to get something if I haven’t even left the table. If I could use The Force, I would. But I can’t.
So I said “I’m sorry, ma’am, but I haven’t even had a chance to leave the table yet, but I’ll get it for you right away.”
“Well, don’t forget it.” She replied.
All I could do was repeat “I’ll get it right away ma’am”.
So I pretty much ran to the bar and prepared it for her and took it to the table.
“How is it?” I asked as she added it to her mug.
“It’s good enough, I guess.” She said.
The rest of the service was pretty much the same way. Complaints about the soup not being hot enough, the fact that I didn’t bring bread to the table (we only bring bread if the customers ask), asking what we give for free for birthdays and saying a chocolate cake wasn’t good enough, etc.
Every waiter has had customers like this. And sometimes it’s a little infuriating. People need to realize that we are only human, we only have two hands, and we are not mind readers. I really tried my best, and it still didn’t seem good enough.
TIPS FOR CUSTOMERS
Think about what you are asking from a server. Is your demand physically impossible? If so…then take a moment to maybe rephrase your request.
TIP FOR SERVERS
Try to keep your cool.