Sunday, June 6, 2010

On Impolite Customers

My bakery shift starts long before the restaurant portion of the store even opens. And since the bakery is right next to the grill area, I often have to deal with the customers wondering if the grill is open, though it is clearly not, given that there are no employees there, the grill hasn't even been turned on, and the sign says the grill opens at 11:00. My usual response: "No. The grill doesn't open until 11:00."

But on Saturday, I had the pleasure of serving one customer who seemed frustrated with me even before I noticed she was there. I was making rice krispy treats, so I had my back turned to the restaurant. All of a sudden, I heard a woman's voice question, "Are you open?" I turned around and shook my head. I started to turn back to my rice krispy treats, but she continued to question me. "You could have told me that before! Didn't you see me standing here!?" Shocked, I replied with a simple "no." Still, she persisted. "So, your lights are on, and the doors are open, but you aren't open!?" Confused, I said, "Well, grocery is open, but the grill doesn't open until 11:00." At this point, she noticed the sign and left, murmuring to herself.

I was stunned by the way she talked to me. I don't understand how someone could treat a complete stranger that way. But, unfortunately for me, she wasn't the first and is not likely to be the last.

A customer approached me one morning to ask me if we served breakfast. Of course, I told him, "Sorry, no, we don't," and went back to braiding bread, or frosting brownies, or cheesing hoagie buns--whatever task I was performing. A few minutes later, my supervisor appeared in the bakery to ask me, "What's this I hear about you being rude to customers?" I was dumbfounded. I think I just stared at him with my jaw dropped. So my supervisor talked instead. "Yeah, this guy said he asked you if we served breakfast, you said no, and you glared at him." Hardly. I'll admit, I didn't exactly give him the time of day, but some things are obvious (like the fact that we don't serve breakfast,) and I was obviously busy. Luckily, my supervisor recognized that the customer's claim was ridiculous, so we had a little chuckle about it and went back to work.

During my first month of work, when I was a lowly restaurant minion, not yet an esteemed baker, I experienced my first holiday shift-Pioneer Day. We had one customer who was incredibly impatient with us, even though we had near thirty orders to get through. It was just our luck that her order never printed at the grill. It was just my luck that I was working fries that shift, so I was standing right next to where customers tend to stand and wait. This particular customer continued to yell at me and criticize us for how long it was taking. Didn't she see all the other customers waiting? Didn't she see how hard we were working, despite the stress of all the orders, not to mention the heat? Eventually, she did get her order, but she demanded a refund because she had to wait so long. After that shift, my manager asked me how I was doing. I think that's one of the few times I've honestly said I was feeling awful (you know how you usually don't tell how you really feel when people ask? You just say "fine?") He gave us coupons for free ice cream after that shift.

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