Stories from the W Files

Night and day women and men across the world bravely serve the general public and suffer in order to make an honest living.  They meet people from every walk of life and every interaction is a story.  Some of the stories, like the individuals they meet are sweet, others are angering and some are just plain weird.  This is one of those stories.  This is a story from the W files.

I work at a Mexican restaurant that offers a Create Your Own Combo meal.  You get to choose two, three or four items from a specific list of dishes.  I served a table today and a woman asked for the Combo Two.  She said she wanted fish tacos and a bowl of soup.  I asked her if she meant the combo three.  She got frustrated and said she wanted the Combo Two.  I said, “OK, so you want one taco and a bowl of soup?”  She snottily replied, “Yeah whatever this is and pointed to the words fish taco on the menu.”

This customer had a Midwestern American accent which implies that she is a native English speaker.  She was an adult so I assume she completed her compulsory education.  But she didn’t seem to understand that an s on the end of a noun typically makes it plural which means more than one.  If you want more than one taco plus a bowl of soup I can not charge you for two items when you at least want three items. DUUUUUH!  Elementary school grammar was confusing for this woman.  Or perhaps pre school level math was her problem.  I’m unsure but the matter was resolved through my patience, diligence and customer service skills.  I’m a soldier.

The moral of this story is that grammar matters and words have meaning.  Grammar gives sentences meaning and makes language easier to understand.  Numbers also have meaning.  You can’t just say whatever the heck you want and expect someone that doesn’t know you from a hole in the ground to understand what you mean.  And please don’t talk down to the person that you confused with your ignorance as if there is something wrong with them because they don’t understand your personal version of the English language.  Apply some thought and critical thinking skills to your words and take responsibility for your communication skills.

Furthermore, attitude matters.  Everyone that has ever worked a customer service related job has stories about irritating and confused customers.  I really don’t mind giving a customer a extra attention.  It’s my job.  Heck, sometimes I need extra attention.  If the woman was not so snotty and arrogant there would not have been a real problem.  Mean, stupid and arrogant is a bad combination.

This has been a story from the W files.




Waitressing While Black – Shannon in Kansas City

I have had several customer service jobs in my life.  My career has mostly consisted of working in retail and I have had restaurant jobs as well.  I have learned a lot about the human race while working as a public servant.  Some of it is good.  Some is just matter of fact.  Much of what I’ve learned is disappointing.

I am a Black woman and I’ve noticed that some customers treat me differently than my non Black counterparts.  I have had retail sales jobs where I greeted a customer and asked them if I can help them find anything.  They would coldly tell me that they were just looking and barely make eye contact.  A non Black store employee would approach them a minute later and the customer’s entire demeanor would change and they gladly let the non Black store associate assist them.  I have witnessed this scenario time and time again.

The world has a coldness and condescending attitude towards Blacks.  I have often felt that a lot of non Black people have a hard time interacting with Black people without trying to correct or dominate them in some way.  A lot of non Black people feel like it is their right to dominate any interaction with a Black person.  Sometimes they try to dominate through subtle hints which express disdain for the Black party and sometimes they are more aggressive.

I currently work as a server at a chain restaurant that is popular across the U.S.  I had a string of customers over the weekend that were very course and rude over the weekend.  Now I’m sure you’re saying all servers have dealt with rude customers and you would be right.  But I’ve been Black a long enough to know when I’m dealing with the passive aggressive “You ain’t shit nigger” type of rudeness which is pervasive throughout America.

These particular customers had harshness in their eyes and were very coarse with their words.  If I said something to clarify their order they would snap back in a snotty way in order to imply that I was stupid.  Some of them avoided eye contact all together when speaking and talked down into their plates.  They were very cold, distant, dismissive and rude.  This type of behavior is common in Missouri.  I’ve never thought that people here are very nice.

People love to find and excuse for racist behavior so I want to say that these particular customers had nasty attitudes as soon as I approached their table so I know it was nothing I did.  It was the way I looked that made them so hateful.  Some may tell me to just suck it up sister.  Believe me I have.  Sucking it up and toughing it out gets tiring.  So I’m writing about my experiences as a creative outlet and to let my voice be heard among the handful of people that read this blog. (Thank you)

I want to encourage any other Black public servants out there to keep your head up and be professional.  It’s not your problem my friend it’s theirs.  Keep working hard.  Don’t let the prejudice and hatred on someone else’s heart affect you in anyway.  Like Beyoncé said “Always be gracious your best revenge is your paper”.