Over the summer I had my first experience in the hospitality business as a server/waitress. In what I think is a very short amount of time, I have learned so many life lessons that I will never forget, and never want to repeat:
People look for the easy way out.
Hold people accountable and make sure they do their job. In this case, I am referring to my managers who were quick to let me take the financial fall when a disgruntled customer have a few choice words about a mix up in the bill he received. I made the [not so smart] suggestion that he could charge me for the $75 difference that remained on the bill because the customer thought that the bill was supposed to be $40 [even though the 3 men and 1 women party ordered drinks that would alone breach the $40 gap]. Instead I should have held my manager accountable and ensured that he did everything in his power to make the customer pay for what he ate. At the end of the day the 4 people had nice drinks, a full stomach and a good time on my budget and if there is one thing I can promise, that won’t be happening again on my watch.
People will only get away with what you allow.
In the beginning I let customers walk all over me and I would acquiesce to their every request. Over-time I realized and reflected on the fact that customers, like children, will only act out if you allow it, however if you stand your ground and state your piece with a calm and level head, conflict can be avoided. This also can be applied to co-workers. It would be nice to pre-bus other people’s plates and help them out but in reality will they ever return the favor? People are quick to forget when you helped them and more times than not, will not return the favor. If the help won’t be reciprocated don’t kill yourself to please others, that way no one is taking advantage of you.
Trust is earned.
Just because that could who walked in looks well-off doesn’t meant that they’ll pay their bill. Those elderly women who seem so kind and gentle, they could walk out too. The latter two scenarios were errors in my judgment where I took people for face-value and drank the Kool-Aid. Oh was I wrong. People, young, old, men, women, LGBTQ, Asian, Southern Pacific or whatever else are just that, people. You don’t know their intentions, life, or anything about them period for that matter. Don’t always assume that people have good intentions otherwise you’ll be left disappointed and with a walk-out.
Don’t assume that just because something “should” be one way, it will be. Whether it be on a table that looks like it can pay, when you’re inputting numbers into a register or even writing an informal text to someone, get into he habit of double-checking whatever it is. I made the mistake of presenting a customer with a $40 signed credit card check instead of the $122 check that belonged to them. They took advantage of the situation and accused me of lying and cheating them out of money. I had to pay for that mistake in the $75 financial fiasco that I mentioned earlier.
Karma is a bitch that bites hard.
A day prior to my $75 loss, I went to an eating establishment’s drive-through window and the window attendant mistakenly gave us a milkshake, which I kept. I knew it was a mix-up but I didn’t want to ask questions since I was getting something out of the deal. The same thing happened when I presented my table with a $40 SIGNED credit card check instead of the BLANK $122 that belonged to them. They knew what they were doing because it was signed under someone else’s name and card number however they took advantage of the situation and used my mix-up to get free drinks and food on me.
Sometimes you just need to shut up.
Maybe people don’t get your sarcasm. Maybe you should just keep some jokes to yourself. The one particular incident that made this very clear to me was when my sarcasm was taken in offense and the customer corrected me in a very authoritative and upset manner. What I said was meant to be playful but was taken in the exact opposite manner. Remember that just because you have something to say doesn’t mean that you need to say it. K(eep) I(t) S(imple) S(illy) and shut it up!