Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Crappy Customers: Business Class

Our business class customers have, it turns out, no class what-so-ever.  They come in confident, with folders or laptops tucked under their arms, wearing their suits and ties - or, the women, in pantsuits - talking loudly, smiling big (like sharks), shaking hands and cracking (stupid "har-har" type) jokes. 

This group, possibly more than any other, finds it totally suitable to completely ignore me.  They are so busy setting up shop in our restaurant, taking out their papers for their business lunch, figuring out the politics of who sits where, that the fact that I am standing there, their waitress, in a restaurant (coincidentally the fact that they are in a restaurant) doesn't even register on their radar.  Usually, one of the more conscious souls will notice me, and tell me what they want to drink, then poke the person next to them to get things started, and sweet relief washes over me because otherwise sometimes it becomes ridiculous, and I find myself standing there, my pen held up, leaning forward, my lips parted slightly, saying this (in my head):

"Excuse me?  Hi.  Yes.  I am actually NOT attempting to attend your meeting.  See this apron?  Yeah.  And the little notepad I have here?  That's to take your order.  I'm your server.  Your waitress.  Uh-huh, yeah, well, you're gonna have to eat if you're in here 'cause, well, it's sort of a restaurant.  I mean, I see that you have the table covered there with your papers and everything, and I'm not sure where you want me to put your drinks when I come back with them, if you ever order them - I'm sure you won't move the papers because it seems, well, in my experience, most people, once they sit down at a table in a restaurant lose the use of their arms or hands, but, you know, whatever, I can just sit it on top of your flow chart there, I see that it's in color - somebody must've worked real hard on that, right?  Printed out from a Power Point presentation, huh?  Yeah, I did those when I was in college.  But, um, anyway, what do you want to fucking drink you fucking lunatics? Let's get this show on the road so I can get ya'll the hell out of here."

My restaurant believes in silent service - the customer shouldn't have to ask to receive, say, a refill of their drink, or rolls, extra napkins if they need them, etc.  Waitresses are trained to use their eyeballs and also recognize social cues that allow much of this to come into fruition as anticipated by the guest.  However, there is a necessary minimum of conversation.  There is pertinent information I need to collect from you such as which of the food items you would like to consume this visit, whether you would like an appetizer, a dessert, a to-go box, the ticket separated or together.  I am not a deaf-mute, and I hardly think that you would want that for your dining experience.  Maybe you would want a robot, in which case, may I direct you to the closest thing, which is the drive-thru speaker at the McDonald's next door.  Or perhaps the convenient vending machine at the location of your office - they probably have board rooms where you can spread your papers ALL OVER THE PLACE!

As it is, I don't even bother introducing myself to this set anymore.  It is the best I can do to get them to tell me what the hell they want to drink, much less listen to me tell them something as irrelavent to their business as my name.

Okay, so, second part of it is that this set always arrives in drips.  First one or two come in, but they always have a couple more meeting them there.  They never want to order until everyone is there.  The rest of them never get there until my next table has been sat, which creates a situation wherein it feels as if I have been double sat because I have two tables ready to place their orders at the same time. 

Finally, businessmen tend to either be arrogant pricks or flirts.  Flirts are better than pricks, but you can only fake-laugh so much before that feminine, lilting tone to your ha-ha starts to sound, well, fake and gets caught in your throat.  I think trying to keep my eyes from rolling does it, like maybe my eye-ball chords are linked to my vocal chords somehow and the strain from keeping my eyeballs in place keeps me from taking it a step forward and doing the obligatory you're-so-funny-(give-me-a-big-tip) waitress giggle. The Arrogant Pricks, though, really piss me off.  In a recent case, I was trying to introduce the french press coffee to one "gentleman" who had asked for coffee and I guess I must have embarrassed him in front of his friends because he snapped at me, "I don't need to be familiar with it." ("Are you familiar with our french press coffee?" is how I open the $3.00-for-a-tiny-little-pot-of-(fresh)-coffee can of worms with our guests, so as to avoid pouring it down the drain as I've mentioned in a previous post.)  He made a big point of noting that he was indeed familiar with the coffee press when it came to the table and he recognized it.  Lord, ego. 

To wrap this up, I'll just note that very recently, one of these businessmen, half-way through one of these business lunches, asked me if he could borrow one of my pens - his had run out.  I gave him my pen, and I never saw it again.  I went to the table after they had left to collect server books, credit card slips, and MY DAMN PEN and it wasn't there.  It wasn't on the floor, it wasn't in a glass, it wasn't hiding under a plate or in one of the server books, it was. gone.

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