This morning I decided to treat myself and went to Subway for breakfast. The person working behind the counter was really young and had obviously only started there a few days ago. He was nervous, took ages to get my order together, apologising the entire time and when I had paid I thanked him, I went back to my seat and enjoyed my breakfast.
Just as I was getting ready to leave a young woman walked in. She was smartly dressed in a suit, had obviously just been to the hairdressers and was carrying an expensive handbag. This was the conversation that followed:
Woman: “I want a 6″ sausage sub on Italian Herb and Cheese.”
Employee: “I’m sorry, we don’t have any of that bread ready yet.”
“How about you just choose the bread then, seeing as there’s no point in me choosing it. I don’t know why you bother putting the list there if you aren’t going to provide me with all the options.”
“Sorry about that. Would you like it with cheese and toasted.”
“Can I offer you any salad or sauce?”
“Why would I want salad on a breakfast sub? I want tomato sauce. And can you hurry up i’m in a rush.”
The employee made her order, she paid without saying a word and promptly turned and stormed out of the store without so much as a ‘thank you’ or ‘have a nice day.’
How rude. I don’t know how the poor lad didn’t resist the urge to shove her sub up her arse.
From the age of 16 I worked in several service jobs until I qualified as a teacher. My first was at a fast food chain and I was there for 18 months. It was one of the most depressing jobs that I ever had. Why? I was treated like I was a piece of dirt by the majority of customers that I served, who assumed that I was as thick as two short planks because of my place of employment. I was patronised, verbally abused and even threatened on a few occasions, all for the princely sum of £3.23 an hour. After this I worked at a cinema and then at a nightclub where I experienced similar issues, although I actually loved working at the nightclub because of the staff and the music. At university I worked in my local bar, sometimes doing up to 30 hours a week.
Here are some of the things that I learned:
1. Most service jobs are physically and mentally demanding. I was expected to run around for up to nine/ten hours straight without a proper break. While there are laws in place to prevent this, on extremely busy days almost every manager I have ever worked for ignored these.
2. Some people are never happy with anything. Regardless of the effort you make to please your customers, some will always find a reason to complain. The customer is certainly not always right.
3. Being paid the minimum wage does not entitle the general public to treat employees with minimum respect. If I had been given just 50p every time one of my customers had been rude, disrespectful or had left their manners at home I could have happily retired at the age of 25.
4. The policies of a company are not decided by the shop floor employees. If there is an issue with a policy, these should be taken to the management, not the 16 year old behind the till. They are simply following instructions set by their employers.
5. A job is a job and everybody lucky enough to be working should be applauded that they are doing so in such an unstable economy.
Of course, if an employee is deliberately rude or doesn’t provide you with the product you have paid for then you have every right to complain. However, you should only do so if you genuinely know you have justification to, not just because you are in a bad mood and should speak to the management.
Consequently, I go out of my way to be nice to all employees in the service industry. I’ve been there and I remember that a simple ‘thank you,’ a smile and a ‘have a lovely day’ made those shifts better. So, the next time you are having a bad day, remember your manners!
Have you ever had a job where you were treated badly by the customers?
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