Friday, July 12, 2013


I remember it was when I was still working at the college bar back in Berkeley on one of those weekend nights when we'd be six deep at the bar, slinging Long Island Ice Teas, Cape Cods, Cuba Libres and all the other trendy cocktails that the kids liked to drink back in the '00s.  At some point in the evening a petite blonde coed comes back up to the bar with the LIIT that I had made for her to tell me that 'Um, yeah, this tastes like ass!'  My response was something like, '-nice to know you know what ass tastes like.  Could you tell what's wrong with it?'  Anyway, she didn't like the drink and wanted either another Long Island, or something else altogether.  She got what she wanted and left the bar.  I don't know why that out of all the lame shit people said to me in the seven years I worked at this particular place I remember the 'ass' comment so well.  It's probably because of both the crude description of how her drink supposedly tasted coupled with her lack of niceties.  Imagine if you were to overhear a diner, his mouth full of food, telling a waiter that his meal tasted like 'ass'.

Of course there are those whom you might think would know how to comport themselves in a customer service scenario, but don't.  I have just handed a customer his purchase and told him the price.  '8.00! That's sooo expensive!' said the man to his friend who sells fancy French products like the 8 CHF chocolate bars I buy from her on a somewhat regular basis.  I have never once crinkled my nose to the employee and said, 'Ohhh, that's so expensive!'  Why?  Because to do so would be rude.  She isn't, magically, the Queen of the Chocolate Bar that I buy, so it's really not up to her how much to charge, but rather it is at the discretion of the shop owner to decide what to charge.  The shop worker says weakly, 'Well, the pie is worth the expense every now and then.'  With that the man buys his pie, none too happily, and we're done, fortunately.

Even more excruciating for me is when owners and employees behave badly in front of customers as I like to think that we should know better.  A customer I am serving is taking up quite a bit of time.  He is undecided, wants to know the prices of things, and, after he's chosen his meal, wants me to pack up the lunch 'to-go' even though he's going to go sit on a bench not 15 feet away and eat 'for here'.  He's a regular customer who works in the vicinity and I know how his behavior.  He takes his time when ordering, but has never once told me that our product tastes 'like ass', so I don't have a problem.  The manager of our shop, however, was of a different mind.  As I was packing up the man's meal, my manager leans over and says to me IN FRONT OF said customer, 'You know he's a difficult person.  Don't let him take up so much of your time when you have other people waiting.  Don't put his lunch in a bag, just hand him the food and be done with it.'  'What did he say?  What was that about being difficult?' said the man.  'Oh, it's nothing to do with you.  Please, don't worry about it,' was all I could manage to say while putting his food in the bag that he had asked for.  The incident seems largely forgotten as the customer has since returned to purchase lunch.  I wonder if I'll forget.


  1. Oh... Some people lack social graces. Also, what is the point of complaining about the price of a pie -- take it or leave it, I say.

    1. I hear you! I also think it's a bit rich to hear a Swiss person complain of high prices (here in CH).


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