Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Customer is Always Right

The only thing worse than waiting on bad customers is dealing with bad management.  I mean, I can deal with bad customers, because after an hour, they are gone.  But a bad manager that you have to work with several times a week, week in and week out, just makes your job really feel like work.

Now, I've never had a manager that I really butt heads with before, but I finally found that at my current job.  And to be honest, I'm still not sure why we don't get along.  When I was hired, the front of house manager, let's call her Amanda, seemed very enthusiastic about hiring me.  I've served for a while, have a good attitude, etc.  As an added bonus, it turns out that Amanda and I went to high school together, and I was a senior during her freshman year.  She also knew where I grew up, because apparently she lived one street over and she'd play with the neighborhood kids occasionally.  I don't really remember her, but she knew too much to be lying, so I'll take her word for it.  Fast forward seven years and she now gets to hire me!  I was very excited that this connection helped me to get a job.

At first I thought things were going pretty well.  I've been doing pretty stellar at the restaurant, averaging over 20% in tips, which puts me in the top three in the store.  I get along with all my fellow waiters, the back of the house staff all like me, and things are going great.  Then, for whatever reason, Amanda just started acting like I crossed a line somewhere and royally ticked her off. 

Now, Amanda is not what I would call the ideal manager.  She is young, a student, recently engaged and recently got pregnant for the first time.  In addition to this, spends more time on her phone than most employees, has a laser pointer that she plays with WAY too much in the store, and in general won't follow the stores own procedures. 

Case in point, we recently had a store-wide meeting where we discussed ways to make our guest feel special.  One point they really promoted was if it was our guest's birthday, we should let the managers know so they could say something to our table.  Being the corny and chipper employee that I am, I think this sounds great (especially since we don't have to sing!).  I tell Amanda a few days after this meeting that I have a very nice older gentleman at my table who is turning 64 today.  Can you please just go wish him a Happy Birthday?  I only ask because she's talking to the bartender, not doing anything.  Amanda tells me no, she's too busy, but she appreciates the effort (very sarcastically).

Most days I arrive about 10-15 minutes early for my shift, but last week I got off my other job early and arrived about 30 minutes early.  I asked Amanda if I could clock in early and start taking tables, but she said no, we weren't busy enough to justify it.  So, I sat in the corner booth (where we employees sit) and started reading my book.  Five minutes later Amanda starts yelling for runners and looking in my direction.  I told her I would be happy to help, but that I'm not allowed to work since I'm not clocked in.  They stress this big time at our store.  She gives me a look of daggers.  Later, when one of the employees asks to get cut since we are painfully slow, she goes off about how everyone has a bad attitude, and calls me out, by name, in front of several other employees, when I was still in my booth, reading, having not been allowed to clock in yet.  I know this because she said it loud enough for me to here and pointed me out.

Now, I recently discovered one thing that bothered her and worked very hard to correct it.  Whenever a manager or shift leader is working, I refer to that person as "boss."  Not mean or sarcastic, just a "hey boss, can you help me get separate checks" kinda way.  Well, one of my fellow servers came over to me and said "you know, you've got to stop calling Amanda 'boss' she hates it and gets really annoyed when you say that."  Well, shoot, I've been calling her that for weeks, and she never said a single word to me about it.  She did, however, take the time to complain to several other employees about it, one who was kind enough to tell me so I would stop doing it.

But the reason I'm writing this, the absolute dumb event of dumb events, occurred last night.  My restaurant serves a bread item to the guests which are very popular.  We give them out, complimentary, one for every guest at the table.  Most everyone loves them and asks for them right away, and the kitchen constantly has to make fresh ones, much to their annoyance.  Now I NEVER have given away extra bread, but last night I had a two-top that asked me for four pieces instead of two.  The customer is always right, so I said "no problem" and brought them out their two extra pieces. 

About two minutes later Amanda pulls me aside and in a tone that is just shy of yelling, says to me "how many pieces of bread to we give guests?"

"Well, one per guest, but they specifically asked for four."

"I'm sick and tired of seeing you give out extra bread all the time."

"Amanda, that was the first time I've given out extra, and I only did it because they specifically requested it."

"I don't care, that's not policy.  The rule is one per guest, no wonder we're always running out of bread all the time.  I'm sick and tired of seeing extra bread out at people's tables."

"Well, I'm sorry, I usually don't but they made a special request and I thought it was okay."

"Don't do it again."

*Shakes head.*  As it so happens, my mom had come in to eat that night and saw the exchange when she was walking to the bathroom.  She asked what that was about, and I told her.  "But I heard your table ask for four, were you supposed to say 'no'?"  my mom asked. 


I've been keeping a running list of things that she's been doing, and today I get to go talk to the GM and tell her what I think.  Wish me luck!

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