Whatever happened to the saying “the customer is always right?” Lately, it seems the service industry has taken a nosedive, from that lofty statement of customer service and goodwill, straight down to “what do you want?!?”
Having worked in the industry for years (waitress, hostess, tour guide, cruise staff) I know full well that there’s a high burn-out rate — a point when you just cannot give of yourself any longer, especially when it’s not returned in kind. But that burn-out time is when someone working in service should take time to recover, a long weekend, or perhaps even switch jobs.
That would be the ideal. But with jobs scarce and money tight, many people don’t have the luxury to take a much needed rest.
So what happens? You get a slew of people supposedly working to make your life easier/better/ nicer, and instead they’re rude, insolent, impatient, and worst of all, uninterested.
Typical example: Recently, at a corporate-hosted private party, at a popular downtown restaurant/hot-spot, where the catering staff were hired to pass around hors d’oeuvres, one waiter was so full of attitude he seemed to completely forget why he was there.
He walked right past guests, including me, with his tray of food. When I called out to him, he continued on his way, flippantly replying, “There’s loads of food, relax.” Insulting and patronizing, to say the least. When he finally passed by me with a new tray, I asked about the food contents to which he shook his head, retreated and sniffed, “Beggars can’t be choosers.”
This, to a hungry pregnant woman wishing to know if the fish he was serving was raw, and therefore not advisable to eat!
As I mentioned, I know what it’s like to be on the other side of the serving platter, and very often clients can be condescending and haughty. It’s not right by any means, but they’re the paying customer or a host’s guests.
Here’s another example: Looking for assistance in a store, the salesperson is too busy on an obviously personal telephone call to acknowledge you. He or she may either look up blankly, or ignore you altogether.
Or, at the nail salon, your manicurist is too busy discussing her love life with a colleague and pays no attention to you.
What baffles me is why these surly service people choose jobs they despise, and also, how they get hired in the first place. A sunny disposition and friendly demeanour are priority qualities in most service-oriented jobs. From wait staff to shoe salesperson, if you don’t like dealing with the general public, why put yourself through the agony?
Try to remember this: in every industry, in every work place, there’ll be someone — whether it’s your boss, your partner, or a client — who rubs you the wrong way. Deal with that person as little as necessary and keep conversations neutral. In other words, get over it and move on!