Friday, January 8, 2016
Trial By Fire
My daughter has been working at the airport with me since she got out of school last spring. She worked with me at my last restaurant as a hostess but just like me was a fish out of water working at a five star fine dining establishment with a well known Atlanta restaurant group in the world's busiest airport.
I've been a server since 1979 and have learned quite a few lessons in the past thirty seven years. Number one on my list is "Never let a customer make you cry". I learned it the hard way when I worked for Longhorn. When I got my job at Longhorn it was (at the time) with the number one store in the company. Moving up from thirteen years at a pizza joint where I felt comfortable to a snooty community steakhouse was a big change for me and a hard transition. We were trained not to offer steak sauce because felt our hand cut steaks were perfect without anything added.
A man dining with his wife one night flipped his lid when I came back to ask if they needed anything and said it would have been nice if I'd offered some steak sauce. I told him I'd be glad to get him some but the establishment felt the steaks were delectable straight from the grill.
His tirade commenced and only got worse as I fumbled for the right answer. He told me he was disgusted with me giving him "Typical southside service" (as compared to downtown Atlanta dining) and should have expected it from someone like me.
The top of my ear lobes immediately started to burn (the sign I get from being totally humiliated and spiritually blistered) and left the table in tears. My manager had to take over the table and for the life of me I couldn't stop crying. When another co worker would try and console or hug me, I just cried more.
It was just awful, but was a lesson well learned.
I may be a server or (as many say) "Just" a server but am a human being with feelings and if you cross that line without just provocation...that's on YOU, not me. I cried the rest of the night and was inconsolable.
I've never let a customer make me cry (and never will) since that horrible night. He was a horrible person, not me and certainly wasn't worth draining my emotions and making me feel like a loser. He was a loser and most probably always will be.
Massey got her own "Trial by fire" last night.
Massey can sometimes try me or get on my nerves but always at home not work. My kids all grew up with me working in restaurants and know the routine. "Don't bite the hand that feeds you".
Massey has really blossomed at her new job with me and everyone there absolutely loves her. She has several mommas now. She can still be a kid at home and do things that get on my nerves but when she's at work is focused and gives it her all.
Last night she ran a plate of food to the bar, unfortunately at the one time when our bartender (who also loves her) wasn't behind the bar and our manger was out front of the restaurant. He asked her for hot sauce (which we don't have) but offered him him some crushed red pepper. He declined her offer but she found a packet of hot sauce in a drawer where one of the employees had stuck a packet of Texas Pete sauce when getting a meal on break from the food court. She took it back to the bar and the man was on his phone so she leaned over the wide bar and slid it to him and walked away so as not to interrupt him.
I came walking off the patio area back into the restaurant when the man came over asking me where the server with the short blonde hair was? I asked if I could help him and immediately pointed his finger at me and began to tirade with a lot of profanity that she had "Tossed " a packet of hot sauce at him and was bull sh*t. About the same time Massey came out of the kitchen and once he again pointed, this time at her and continued his verbal assault."This is bull sh*t and don't ever throw anything at me again!"
Massey was mortified and I felt the top of her ear lobes burning for her. He went on for a good ten seconds and my first response was to slap him but couldn't. We were at work, co workers not mother and daughter and no one witnessed this but her and me.
Massey immediately said "I'm so sorry, you were on your phone and didn't want to interrupt you."
He was an ass. I knew it but was also mortified by the verbal and finger pointing assault less than five inches from my face and directed at my kid. I held it in and apologized once again, Massey fled back to the kitchen.
Massey immediately went out the back door of the restaurant and found the manager, told him what had just transpired as I went behind the bar and told the returning bartender the same. Both said had they heard it, he'd be bounced out the door.
By this time she was in emotional shambles in the back and wet faced. I begged her to go behind the bar to remove a bus tub and hopefully get another cussing out from him while the bartender was there to hear.
She remained in the back until he left.
As much as I wanted to, I said nothing to him but know Karma has our back.
She cried the rest of the night, cried the entire ride home and then some.
I've been there almost two years and this was the first ugly experience I've had. My daughter's been there about nine months and has been inducted to waiting on the public with "Trial by fire" the hard way.
It took her almost twenty four hours to get over and will most probably never forget it, much like the rude man who told me I gave him typical southside service when not offering steak sauce.
Here's the thing.
When people are complete ass wipes just need to remind yourself... they are obviously, totally and miserably unhappy and you're not.