Unacceptable

May 10th 2016

Today the manager of Harrods told me that I was the worst waiter she’d ever experienced.

But let me start from the beginning.

My interaction with this lady, and her husband, started when they walked into my restaurant and announced themselves. “HELLO, IS ANYONE HOME?” the husband said, with his hands raised high above his head. “WE WOULD LIKE A TABLE.” At this point I was taking a table’s order over the other side of the restaurant. Every head on every table turned to look towards the door.

Eventually, I finished what I was doing and walked over to them. “There is these ladies, and then us,” the wife said, and she pointed to two ladies in front of them at the queue.

“Okay,” I said. “Let me take these ladies over to a table, and then I’ll come back to you.” We – obviously – operate on a system that means that whomever arrived in the restaurant first gets sat first. This – obviously – was not acceptable for the couple,  she muttered “Well that is not acceptable,” she muttered, for the first of time. “We’ve already been made to wait once.”

I ignored her because it didn’t sound like she was talking to me, more talking at me. I took the ladies off to their table and, as promised, came back for the couple. I sat them down on the table directly behind the two ladies.

So far, so good. Yeah.

First, they demanded for their order to be taken before the two ladies, even though the ladies were sat before them. But, as we’ve established; the concept of ‘queueing and waiting your turn’ was lost on this couple.

The next fun bit came when they ordered a bottle of wine (and – ironically – butchered the pronunciation.

“We will have a bottle of Pee-knot Gregg-e-o,” the wife said.

“That’s fine, of course,” I said. “But I do have to tell you that if you order a bottle of wine, then you have to finish it in the restaurant. Because our license does not allow for the distribution of alcohol. I’m sure you’ll be able to manage it all, though!” I even tacked on some light-hearted bants to diffuse the tension a little bit.

Didn’t work.

“Well that is unacceptable,” she said, for the second time. “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.” Clearly she’s never seen Twilight. A sparkly vampire impregnating a human? I mean come on.

Here are the four things that could happen if I allow that couple to take their bottle home with them.

  1. I lose my job.
  2. The restaurant loses it’s liquor license.
  3. The restaurant closes because who wants to go to a restaurant that can’t serve alcohol.
  4. Everyone else loses their job.

But what does that matter, as long as you’re happy you entitled, privileged arse.

I managed to convince them to just have a large glass of Peeknot Greggeo each, they order a small pizza and both helped them self to the salad bar. I didn’t have the courage to tell them that with a small pizza they only get one free salad bowl.

The next event came 15 minutes later. “I want you to go get my Pizza, NOW!” said the husband. I wanted to tell him that I’d bring it over as long as he didn’t mind it still being raw, but, again, no courage. For what it’s worth, it was a busy Tuesday night, and on a quiet day our ‘goal average prep time’ is between 15 and 18 minutes. On bust shifts like tonight we aim for 18-25. 19 minutes after he ordered he got his food. I didn’t bother asking if he wanted anything else.

The same gig happened after he ordered a hot dessert. 8 minutes after he’d ordered I brought it over to the table he said “I’ve been waiting 15 minutes for this dessert, that is not acceptable,” he said. “Just get me the bill and we’re going to go.” I began to walk away with the dessert but he said “You can jolly well leave that there.” I’d like to point out that on my order screens it tells us exactly how many minutes it has been since the order was placed. And it was eight.

I brought him the bill and the fun began.

The wife started. For the sake of storytelling I’ve paraphrased and combined some of this.

“Never in my life have I had such bad service,” she said. “We were made to wait for ten minutes at the door, we were made to wait for food, and for desserts!”

 

I took offence to the fact that they seemed to have a fundamental misunderstanding of how ovens work.

“Your dessert took eight minutes, that’s because one pass through the oven is seven minutes. That’s how long it takes, and then I have to put ice cream on it and bring it here. Eight minutes. That’s how long it takes to go through the oven, I can’t change that. Eight minutes. I can’t change. Oven. Pass.” It felt like I was rambling and repeating myself, but in reality I was probably overly polite and apologetic because I’m supposed to be even though I wanted to scream at the stupid bitch.

Then she pulled rank.

“I have managed at {place name I don’t know, but feel I was supposed to}, {place name I don’t know, but feel I was supposed to} and I managed Harrod’s for 32 years. I know how to manage in retail, and how this place is managed is unacceptable.” (The ‘unacceptable’ count is now at 5, if you’re wondering) 

And then for some reason her husband just repeated everything she had just said.

“You are talking to someone who managed at {place name I don’t know, but feel I was supposed to}, {place name I don’t know, but feel I was supposed to} and managed Harrod’s for 32 years. She knows how to manage in retail, and how this place is managed is unacceptable.” (The ‘unacceptable’ count is now at 6, if you’re wondering) 

They moaned about the wine again, they moaned about the pace, they moaned about me. They said ‘Thanks for ruining our evening’, they begrudgingly paid, I told them where they could file a complaint, and they went home.

I know that I am good at my job, I know that. I don’t need validation or reassurance, I know. Her telling me that it was the worst service she’d ever received says more about her than it does about me.

Because, with a 32 year tenure at Harrod’s, she’s more used to silver spoon dining at the Ritz Carlton than Pizza Hut, Swindon. But just because she’s a posh, rich, upherself, entitled and privileged socialite she thinks that all the rules should change for her. (yes I know I already used privileged and entitled) 

I don’t care who you are, it’s not worth it for me to let you take alcohol with you. It’s against the law, and it’s against the rules, so no, princess, sorry.

I will maintain that the food was on time considering the business of the restaurant, but we, of course, should’ve put their order in before anyone elses. Oversight on our part, there.

My one fault was that I didn’t stick up for myself more. I could’ve been ruthless and made all the comments that you’ve just read, but of course I didn’t, because firstly I’m better than that and second I don’t wanna get fired.

I hate people like that.

Until tomorrow, I can’t wait to read the complaint letter.

Jacn

 

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