Why you should be kind to service workers now more than ever during these trying times.
Now that restaurants have been open for a while now, it’s important to understand the changes they’ve made. No matter if your town is functioning at full capacity or still on patio only, there have been alterations that take some getting used to. In order for us to get through this pandemic sane, we must treat each other with the understanding that we’re all in this together.
My history is that I’ve been working in the restaurant industry for over 5 years, when the pandemic started I was out of a job for 4 months. When I was working again I began to notice a shift in people's attitudes, sadly for the worse. I began asking coworkers how their experiences working lately have been and they all noticed things were more stressful and that working no longer brings joy that it used to. I have a few stories from myself and previous coworkers to share to shed some light on this issue of the extreme mistreatment of guests upon restaurant workers at this time.
+ It was a busy Saturday night and we were on about a 2 hour wait for a table, the host told this family of 8 people that it’ll be 2 and a half hours wait. Once they came in I showed them to their table and they were immediately not happy, I tried to move things around to their liking but they weren’t satisfied so I got a manager. They came back to the front desk and I heard them tell the manager how they had to wait a long time for their table and that I wasn’t doing my job correctly. As the manager tried to calm them down they began to scream at her that she was a terrible manager and that they wanted to speak with the general manager. The situation was so tense I called on the radio for another manager to come help diffuse the situation. Everyone involved felt terrible and was only trying to make things right.
+ I was taking a guest back to his table until he stopped and began cursing at me because his wait time was too long. The host had written down his phone number incorrectly so he wasn’t aware that the table was ready. He called me names and I was so confused, all I could do was radio for a manager. When I walked away I was shaking and almost started to cry because no one has ever talked to me this way before.
+ Over the summer on a hot day a family of 6 people wanted to sit on the patio, I told them the tables didn’t move so they would have to sit separately. They didn’t like this answer and weren't willing to sit inside. There was nothing more I could do to help them but repeat the information that were the facts of this situation. The whole family stood up and surrounded me (I’m a pretty small lady). They told me that I was the worst and that I ruined their daughter's birthday. I felt so bad and defeated, I told them I would grab a manager; he came and they finally sat down and ate their meal. After they left the manager came and informed me that they said some not so nice things about me to him.
Times are rough, but we must be respectful to those around us. Here are ways you can support restaurants and their workers in a mindful way.
Be patient: There might be longer wait times because of limited people allowed in the restaurant and there not having as much staff.
Be understanding: of the regulations we have to follow and that we’re human working during a pandemic. Service workers have been at the frontline of the pandemic since the beginning.
Tip: Many places aren’t at capacity so people aren’t getting as much work and it’ll show your appreciation for their sacrifice.
What needs to change?: Let us know what could be done better (in a constructive way). Things are constantly changing, we need to know how we can better adapt to our situation.
Maybe just stay home: Especially if you know it's difficult for you to do any of the suggestions above and that's ok.
Asha Noble is an outgoing writer, musician, and traveler. She graduated from Seattle Central College with her Associates in Arts with an Emphasis in Global Studies and Communication. She is currently attending University of Washington Tacoma for her Bachelors in Arts Media and Culture.