Do you have a natural ability to herd people, are you twitchy and obsequious? Do you smile when you want to scream?….aaah yes you’re in the service industry!! and if so, this is specifically for you!
Tonight a had yet another opportunity to thank God, Divine Mother and everything in between for having the good sense NOT to allow me to serve the large table with the rabid tour guide.
I have been a waitress for many years. Through circumstance and opportunity I pretty much did everything backwards. As a youngster I started off in ‘respectable’ office jobs and in my late twenties found myself in a restaurant as a waitress. I’ve always considered waitressing as one of the more fortuitous occurrences in my life.
I found myself unemployed and because I was utterly desperate I decided one day to pluck up the courage and just walk into the local grill and ask for a job. The Universe being what it is somehow arranged for me to find the courage on the day that the restaurant was about to advertise for a waitress. So despite the fact that I wasn’t really experienced but was presentable and could communicate clearly, I got the job. Somehow I managed to get through the trial period without getting fired or giving the owner a heart attack and ended up working there for the better part of 10 years.
After my youngest was born it was time to quit working nights and I found a position in an up-market restaurant which allowed me to work mostly day shifts.
So about that……..
We always draw straws to see who works which section, and tonight I was upstairs…..thank you Jesus, Bob Marley and the Krishna’s!
I worked on the smaller tables, had an easy shift and earned a vaguely decent amount of dosh. My colleague on the other hand got Psycho Sam and her brigade of naffs.
In this industry you develop a natural ability to read people. It’s generally not a conscious thing. When the friendels come through the door you go on autopilot. So tonight when this group came in Matriarch first, walking next to a 5 year old in a light blue 3 piece suite and trailed by the rest of the family, I clocked them immediately! They were going to be trouble! My instincts were proved correct when I looked over at the tour guide who was herding them to their table. Oi Gevultz! Give the woman a chill pill cos this was gonna blow ugly!
You get 2 distinct types in the service industry. Those that genuinely enjoy what they do and are relaxed and comfortable, and then you get those twitchy, frantic, types who are greedy and/or desperate for the big pay off. This tour guide was the latter.
After she’d herded them to their table and before she’d even sat down she grabbed my colleague and asked in a loud voice if we expected it to get busier as she wasn’t going to have her guests sitting in a half empty restaurant and was about to walk out.
and things just went downhill from there….
She barely sat down the whole evening. Every 5 minutes she was jumping up and scuttling around like a spider, complaining about the aircon, the food, the quietness, the service and so it went on and on. She even accosted my colleague just outside the scullery area where she’d been dropping off plates to complain that she was not watching the table!
Now just so you know, her waitress for the evening has been at the restaurant for many years. She is fast, organised and hugely respectful. She knows her menu backwards and is definitely one of the better waitresses and that’s saying a lot considering how high the standard of service is at our restaurant.
Now fortunately I missed out on most of this as I was working upstairs. It was only after I had been cashed off and had come down that I had a taste of what had been happening. I walked past the front desk where said tour guide was feverishly writing all over our bookings book. I was horrified, but fortunately calm.
I asked her nicely not to write in our bookings book and she turned to me and growled ‘WAIT!’
I could see she was waaaay out of control and she was writing in pencil, so I let her finish and then looked at her and said ‘Really?’
She had scrawled her diatribe over an entire page, completely obliterating Thursday!
Now we expect this kind of behaviour from the grumpy just-had-a-fight-with-my-hubby tables. We expect this from the anxiety ridden executives that are trying to show off to their bosses, or the crass Noveau – Riche crowd that come in with their wealthy just-left-the-trailer-park friends. We don’t generally expect this from tour guides.
When this group came in one could see that they would have to be treated well as they were clearly old money and used to a certain level of service. The older lady was NOT granny, she was the Matriarch and should be accorded due respect. The younger tribe members wafting gentle scents of expensive parfums were clearly accustomed to first class establishments and were to be called ‘sir’and ‘madame’ – apart from that they were fine.
The tour guide was clearly desperate to impress. After a tour is over and if the clients are satisfied they usually always give the guide a nice fat bonus. In her determination to coddle and smother her money out of this bunch she managed to ruin the entire evening for her group. She was terrified that if things didn’t run according to her expectations then it would reflect badly on her and she would lose her dosh.
Mad, crazy pathetic woman!
and finally I reach my point…….
As a tour guide you have the ability to determine your clients enjoyment through your attitude. No matter the circumstances, if you remain calm and pleasant, your guests will too. The more she revved up her guests and pointed out perceived errors and problems, the more the guests picked up on her vibe until eventually we were left with an entire table of people who saw death and destruction everywhere and didn’t even drink their coffee because it ‘wasn’t up to standard!’
This group missed out on the enjoyment of eating in an established restaurant who not only have accolades up the wahoo but actually know what they’re doing. What an entire waste of time, money and effort.
Considering how much she moaned about the service, her own was thoroughly questionable! After her rabid scribbling in our book she stormed out of the door leaving her group sitting in the restaurant wondering where the heck she was.
Of course the evening wasn’t a complete disaster………..
She didn’t have ME as her waitress…..