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Power Off, Rudeness On

A few years ago I booked a table at a local restaurant for my partner’s birthday. We hadn’t been there before, but I had heard very good things about it. It also appealed to me because there were lots of dishes to choose from- I live in a very pretty seaside town that is renowned for its fish and seafood so most of the local restaurants rely on it quite heavily, with only a few non-fishy things available- and neither of us like fish!

I digress. Anyway, I heard the evening we’d booked that there was a powercut along the seafront so I called the restaurant to check if they were open. The manager told me that they weren’t taking business off the street but they were honouring bookings, however we should expect a limited menu. We decided to go anyway. and saw it as a bit of an adventure.

We got to the restaurant to find it bathed in candlelight- rather romantic actually. There were five tables occupied including us. We British are supposedly famous for our make-do-and-mend spirit, and it was displayed that night. All the chef had were gas burners but he still managed to produce some wonderful food- perfectly done steak, pigeon breast, excellent vegetables, and apparently the fish was done to a turn. Everyone got complimentary drinks, and the owner circulated, making jokes and relaxing us all. The odd circumstances got everyone talking, and we all agreed that it was certainly a memorable night!

Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves except for one man who was dining with his wife. He had been told about the reduced menu, but it didn’t stop him complaining and moaning all night- first to his wife, and later to everyone within earshot. It turned out he wanted the crusted lamb, which was not available as it was a slow oven cooked dish, and the oven was electric, so no go. The waitress offered to give him an alternative main course for half price, but that didn’t help matters. The level of his voice rose and rose, choked with outrage that he couldn’t have what he wanted. He was absolutely vile to her- no bad language, but he really picked her apart- everything from her hair and clothes to the way she was standing, even speculating about her morals- and clearly enjoyed her distress. You would have thought she’d offered him poison and a kick up the arse the way he went on. This was a well dressed middle class man, who had apparently got to the age of fifty or so still believing that he should never be denied anything. I felt so sorry for his wife as she was obviously used to this behaviour- at first she was grabbing at his sleeve and telling him not to make a fuss, but gave up when he started shouting and just stared at her plate. I would gladly have contributed to a whip-round for divorce proceedings. He stomped off eventually, having availed himself amply of the complimentary wine, refusing to pay the bill. We all applauded as he left. 0801-12

Note to the waitress:   Never, ever show distress to a rude boor.  They win, you lose, at least temporarily.  Firm up the polite spine and cheerfully ignore the insults.

{ 56 comments… add one }
  • Ripple August 2, 2012, 8:27 am

    I’m surprised that the owner didn’t get involved, either on his own or from the waitress calling for him. If there were only five occupied tables and the owner was circulating, how did he let it get this far. When a customer starts complaining about every little thing, especially personal comments related to the server, that’s the time to get the person in charge.

  • CaffeineKatie August 2, 2012, 8:28 am

    This is a regular problem with so many of the postings on ET–where is the manager?!?! Dealing with this is the manager’s job; the minute this customer said ANYTHING nasty to the waitress, or started fussing so loudly that other customers could hear his temper tantrum, he should have been escorted out the door. Being a manager should mean more than just holding the keys to the front door. And that the owner was there, and allowed this to go on?!?!? Shame on him; regardless of his earlier actions, he failed miserably when he let this bully go on and on.

  • Aurora August 2, 2012, 8:31 am

    May I ask why the owner of the restaurant did not step in when this individual began abusing the waitress? I believe a firm “You may not speak to my employee in that manner, you will have to leave,” followed by an escort to the door was called for.

  • Bint August 2, 2012, 8:35 am

    Ahhhh, what a fine example of what we call ‘the miserable git’. A kick up the arse would be richly deserved!

  • Library Diva August 2, 2012, 8:35 am

    For my 19th birthday, I went with my parents, grandparents, great-grandfather and sister to an Italian restaurant near my grandparents’ home. In the middle of the meal, a storm kicked up and knocked out the power. We ate the rest of the delicious meal by candlelight (just dessert and coffee were left). As we were leaving, the power came back on and one of the waitstaff snapped a Polaroid (lol) of my great-grandfather and I. It’s hard to believe that was nearly 20 years ago, and that the older generations are no longer with us, but it’s still a much-cherished memory. I know this has absolutely nothing to do with the story, but I wanted to thank OP and admin of reminding me of that evening. A pleasant way to start my Thursday, for sure!

  • Calliope August 2, 2012, 8:40 am

    Ideally, someone in a service position can “cheerfully ignore” a tirade of insults from a rude customer, but, well, we’re human, and humans’ feelings aren’t always possible to conceal. There’s nothing worse than feeling the hurt and anger register on your face when it’s clearly making your tormentor happy to see it. If the customer was really being that loud and that vile, the owner should have given him the boot. He shouldn’t have been allowed to sit there and berate an employee like that.

  • Jenny August 2, 2012, 8:42 am

    Wow, honestly the manager should have kicked that guy out. You don’t let someone verbally abuse your staff (her MORALS?).

  • Cherry August 2, 2012, 8:48 am

    Stories like this make me so glad that my old job serving food gave us permission to refuse service to rude customers. I only used it twice in the three times that I was working there, but it was a real relief to know there was a point where I could declare I had suffered enough.

    In this case, where was the manager? The establishment had made it quite clear what they could and couldn’t serve, but they let this poor waitress suffer on for ages without any form of intervention? This man wasn’t just rude, he was verbally abusive. I pity his wife.

  • GroceryGirl August 2, 2012, 9:10 am

    “Never, ever show distress to a rude boor. They win, you lose, at least temporarily. Firm up the polite spine and cheerfully ignore the insults.”

    So, so, SO true. People like that are just trying to bring you down and make you as miserable as they are. Never give them the satisfaction. Plus, I’ve noticed that when your spirit is unflaggingly cheerful, it usually helps to shut them up faster.

  • Hemi August 2, 2012, 9:14 am

    What did the owner allow the lamb man to verbally assualt the waitress? He was told before-hand the menu was limited so he should have either ordered something that was available or requested to change his reservation to a night when power was restored. The waitress could not help the power was out! I was have escorted him to the door or called the police to help

    To use OP’s term- What an arse! Is it any wonder there is such high turnover in the waitressing profession with rude boors such as the lamb man?

  • Cat August 2, 2012, 9:16 am

    I know exactly how this feels. My older brother loved to act like a two year-old who had not had a nap whenever we tried to go out to eat. He’d scream and make demands and run out of the restaurant. I was amazed that we were never asked to leave, especially as he got into his late teens. I refused to go out to eat with my family when I graduated from university because I was not going to allow him to ruin my graduation day. We had KFC at home.
    No job requires you to be a victim. No waitstaff has to stand there and allow a customer to make comments on her morals. Any complaints about her dress should be directed to the manager.
    Had I been a customer, I would have summonded the manager and demanded that he provide me with a pleasant dining experience by giving this boor the boot. Refusing to pay is defrauding the innkeeper and is grounds for arrest. I should have enjoyed seeing that too.

  • Cherry August 2, 2012, 9:25 am

    Sorry, three YEARS. not times!

  • JD August 2, 2012, 9:53 am

    Yes, why was the manager not stepping up? Thanks to the OP for seeing the fun of the situation, rather than complaining.
    Recently, a friend of ours was eating with her spouse and another couple in a fancy restaurant when the power went out due to a bad storm. It was out for almost an hour, but the bar stayed open, so they just kept ordering cocktails and conversing cheerfully. The waiter apologized each time he brought a round of drinks to them, but they assured him they understood, and that they were content to wait and see if the power returned. Meanwhile, another couple complained loudly and angrily, as though anything could be done about it a power outage. The manager came out and tried to deal with them but the couple refused to settle down and finally left. When the power came back on, the waiter told our friend and her table mates that the manager greatly appreciated their quiet, calm cheerfulness, and everything would be on the house, bar tab included. They were given the ticket for their meal, but it was marked “paid”. To their astonishment, they discovered they had run up a bar tab of over $200! But their good manners had paid off- they only needed to leave a tip. You can bet they tipped generously.

  • lkb August 2, 2012, 10:27 am

    “We all applauded as he left.”

    I guess I don’t understand why. It seems to me the rude customer would have thought it meant everyone approved of what he’d done.

  • Cat Whisperer August 2, 2012, 10:33 am

    Here in the USA, you find a discreet sign in a lot of restaurants: “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.”

    I would have thought that the management of this restaurant would have refused service to this diner when he started getting rude to the waitress. It was obvious that he wasn’t going to be happy, no matter what; and under those circumstances, the manager would have been justified in telling the man that they were going to ask him to leave. IMO that’s what should have happened.

  • --Lia August 2, 2012, 10:34 am

    In a situation like that one, I figure that if the man is talking loudly enough for everyone to hear him, he must want everyone to join in the conversation. (Please realize that I know this is a very special circumstance. Normally, what goes on at the next table is none of my business.) But the moment I noticed that the waitress was getting rattled, I might have said a few choice words in her defense. When he was demanding complimentary food on a slim excuse, I might have piped in with how I was sure it was not necessary. And surely, when he walked out without paying, the manager had a responsibility to call the local police the same as any store owner would do with any shoplifter.

  • girl_with_all_the_yarn August 2, 2012, 10:56 am

    Sadly, there are too many restaurant owners who simply do not want to lose business, so they don’t kick the boors out. When I still worked in fancy restaurants, I’d have men come over to me and ask how much my “services” were worth. Now, this place had a dress code that I followed – my clothes were not in any way suggestive or revealing. However, apparently the fact that I wore a skirt to do my job apparently made okay for some men to proposition me.

    While the manager did nothing, the bartender had my back. They’d suddenly find themselves cut off from further alcohol.

  • ferretrick August 2, 2012, 11:16 am

    I agree with everyone else, the manager and/or owner should have put a stop to this. And if I had been there I would not have hesitated to tell him that his failure to protect his employees from verbal abuse had cost him MY future business.

  • Phoebe161 August 2, 2012, 11:25 am

    For the life of me, I cannot understand how or why a manager would allow a customer to abuse his staff. Where was the manager’s “polite spine?” The reason bullies get away with many of their abusive tactics is because someone refuses to stand up to what is right. Shame on the manager! And, please, don’t be so harsh on the poor server; she’s human too & even the best of us occasionally have trouble dealing with such prolonged abusive, degrading behavior.

  • Justin August 2, 2012, 11:33 am

    I agree that the manager should have gotten involved. While kicking out a patron results in an undesirable customer who will likely never return, letting them stay dampens the enjoyment of four customers in this case who are actually good customers who may choose not to return based on what they saw.

    In my current job I am an IT manager, the helpdesk has instructions to send any upset customers to me if they become verbally abusive in any way as their job description does not include being yelled at or degraded.

    In a former life when I did freelance consulting I would regularly fire customers who did not pay without hassle or who engaged in behaviour that made them difficult such as being verbally abusive, overly demanding, or non-communicative.

    From a management standpoint it is far better to lose the business of a few bad customers and focus on providing exceptional service to the good customers than it is letting staff be monopolized by non-productive rants and tantrums instead of helping the people who can behave like adults.

  • Enna August 2, 2012, 11:36 am

    Where was the manager? Admin I disagree, if someone is being very very nasty to you it is very hard not to look distressed whether that’s a little or a lot. Maybe this wairess had never seen this before so was gobsmacked – she might learn from this and deal with the next idiot more efficetnly.

    Surely it’s a criminal offence to leave a restruant without paying? I think any decent manager worth his or her salt would have told that man to leave, not to harrases the staff and that he is now banned.

    Where I work if someone was rude like that to me the Dr and Manager would know about it and the offending person would be told to find a new drs.

  • Another Alice August 2, 2012, 11:44 am

    Hear hear, I say, to those wondering where the manager is. We all bemoan the lack of manners of people, but I really think a lot of it is the rest of us not standing up for each other. One’s place of work, regardless of what they do, should be a “safe space,” in that they should be free from harassment. I completely understand that many feel that working in the service industry is opening one’s self up to the yuckiest of society, but there’s always a line that shouldn’t be crossed. This isn’t simply someone being rather grumpy or leaving a bad tip, or even sending back food; a tirade should not be tolerated. The manager should have been notified (ideally, should have witnessed it to start but obviously this was a strange night wherein he/she would have been busy with many things), and said to the offending party, “Excuse me sir, but I cannot allow you to speak to my employee in this manner. You are welcome to stay and enjoy your meal, but if you choose to continue talking to her like that, I need to ask you to leave immediately.” I actually think it’s even more necessary “in this day and age” because no one seems worried about looking like a nut-job any more, and what if he followed her outside or came back later to add some extra insults? It isn’t likely, but a simple, firm word could stop any possible escalations of rude behavior.

    As for the waitress stealing herself, I understand that lesson. Much easier said than done in the moment, but it’s something we all learn eventually, mostly from events like these. It took me several years of working before I felt truly comfortable navigating customers/coworkers/bosses’ attitudes and changing moods. The thing for the waitress to remember would be that this happens to everyone, and it isn’t anything personal toward her. In fact, if I were the OP, I would probably say that to her once the couple was out of earshot. If it’s gossiping, so be it, but we all need a boost once in awhile and I think the need for that boost outweighs any etiquette surrounding talking about others. 😉

  • Wendy August 2, 2012, 12:17 pm

    I agree with the question of “where was the manager?” but I have an even bigger question: Where were the other patrons? I think, if it reaches a point where everyone in the restaurant is affected, the other patrons have a right to turn to Mr. Boor and demand he either shape up or ship out. In fact, since he was being so abusive to the waitress, even under normal circumstances it would have been nice if someone, anyone!, had become her knight in shining armor.

  • Calli Arcale August 2, 2012, 12:24 pm

    If I were the manager, I too would have booted this fellow. It would likely cost them any return visits by the gentleman, but that’s actually a bonus in this case.

    You can definitely tell the quality of a restaurant by how it copes with adversity. This restaurant performed admirably (apart from not booting the boor more quickly; I can only hope he actually wasn’t there very long, and that his stay seemed longer because of its obnoxiousness). A local French hotel here in the Twin Cities hosted an event for all WWII European-theater vets who could come, because the manager had been a young boy in Normandy during the war and wanted to finally thank them personally now that he was in a position to do so with style. It was a grand event, but became rather more exciting when a severe thunderstorm rolled through. Everybody in the hotel had to pack into the ballroom, which was in the basement, due to tornado hazards. (This storm did end up producing a tornado, but fortunately out in the countryside and no one was hurt.) It became very hot, and then the power went out, but the staff worked together to make sure there was emergency lighting, and to take care of everyone. It became a fun adventure rather than a trial, and the festivities resumed once the danger had passed. He still talks about it to this day, and that was about fifteen years ago.

  • Jo August 2, 2012, 12:29 pm

    @ lkb – I also picked up on the “We all applauded as he left.” I mean, I’m not saying the OP is lying, but I’m thinking that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I can’t imagine that happening.

  • Val August 2, 2012, 12:45 pm

    As an ex-server, I can safely say that anytime an owner or manager sticks up for his/her staff by refusing to let a ridiculous tantrum to go on, they send the message that their servers are important to them and are valued members of the team. This in turn inspires loyalty and makes the servers want to ensure that guests have the best possible experience while in the restaurant, not just for their own bottom line (since great service = great tips), but because they want their bosses to succeed as well. If a manager had watched me get torn to pieces for something clearly out of my control (since when do restaurant servers have access to city powergrids anyway?), and had nothing better to say than “Here’s some wine on the house”, I might have started to think that it’s time to look for a new job. I can understand trying to turn a bad situation around to put money in the register, especially as that restaurant wasn’t going to be making much that night, but by giving that bully free reign, the owner lost money on wine, let other guests’ evenings be ruined, most likely lost the respect of his staff (servers talk to each other, you know), and didn’t even get money for the bill, since the boor walked out without paying. Hope it was worth it, and that he got himself a brand new loyal customer that will come any chance he gets to have some more free food!

  • June First August 2, 2012, 1:07 pm

    Agreed, Wendy. If I was a patron in that restaurant, I hope I would either summon the manager or speak up to the boor. I know it’s a risk that could lead to confrontation, but the waitress deserved some back-up. Maybe if you approached him in a joking way, “Hey, now. I know we are disappointed they have a limited selection tonight, but at least we get to eat here. The servers don’t control the electricity, so let’s just make the best of it and eat our dinners.”

  • Library Diva August 2, 2012, 1:37 pm

    I remember reading the memoirs of someone who had worked in the Los Angeles public library system for over a decade. Since the library is a public space, he had to swallow a lot more than one might at a restaurant or shop that’s private property. He was only permitted to flat-out kick people out if they were engaging in harmful or illegal conduct. People could, and did, get away with behaving towards him like the man in the story behaved towards the waitress, and he was duty-bound to take it and not be rude back. What he used to do was to turn his forced calm and politeness almost into a weapon of its own. He said in his memoir that the louder and ruder someone got towards him, the more he’d pour it on with the “sirs” and the “ma’ams”. Not sure if this is necessarily e-hell approved, but he said that not only did this seem to make the rude people boil inside more than if he’d used expletives, but over time he came to find it equally as satisfying.

  • Puzzled August 2, 2012, 1:48 pm

    How grateful I am that the gentleman I worked for in food service would never have put up with this. When I had to call him over a pretty scary situation his response was, “I don’t pay you to put up with ____ like that. Call the police and have them get her out of there.” I found out later that it was the wife of the man who printed their ads. When he called the owner to complain, that wonderful man told him he didn’t feel the need to give him his business anymore, and went to another company for his ad work. Hooray for him!

  • Cat August 2, 2012, 1:52 pm

    The person who could have acted and did nothing was his wife. She could have said, “If you are going to behave like this, I will not sit here and watch you. I am leaving.”
    She is probably beaten down and abused herself. Perhaps she was afraid of what he would do to her once he got her alone, but, if she was not abused herself, she could have, should have, stepped in.
    As I said in my post, my brother would not behave when in a public restaurant so I simply refused to go out with my family if he was going to be allowed to go. I set the limits as to the behaviors I will accept and those I will not accept.

  • Shalamar August 2, 2012, 1:55 pm

    I agree that in a perfect world the waitress should have not let the boor’s comments get to her, but this isn’t a perfect world. Maybe she was very young and had never encountered such a horrible person before. When my then 15-year-old daughter was working at an ice cream place, she came home in tears one day because a customer had berated her for making his sundae “wrong”. (She hadn’t. She’d made it exactly the way she’d been shown, exactly the way she’d made all the other sundaes like it, and he was the only one to complain.) I was absolutely furious that some jerk had taken it upon himself to throw his weight around and make a young girl cry – and over something as stupid as ice cream, no less.

  • barb August 2, 2012, 2:03 pm

    I just experienced an “I want it and can’t have it” meltdown a few days ago – it was my 4 year old GS. Hard to imagine a grown man behaving like that. I think I would been up for a few “STFU” remarks.

  • GroceryGirl August 2, 2012, 2:22 pm

    A lot of people on here have raised an interesting point: how much is too much to take? Where is the line between good customer service and allowing someone to walk all over you?

    I’d love some takes on this story: one of the guys I work with has the nickname “King”. One day a customer called in to complain that they had overheard someone addressing him by his nickname and felt insulted, as though he was better than them and they felt beneath him. There was nothing inappropriate about the conversation they heard, it was something like “Hey King, bring out more bananas!” AND one of the other guys we work with is named Prince, as in his real, actual, legal name. My boss took this complaint and told all of us that we couldn’t call him King anymore. I always felt that this was a wildly unfair example of classism and I think our boss should have stood up for him. What do y’all think?

  • Yertle Turtle August 2, 2012, 6:58 pm

    Grocery Girl – the complaining customer needs to get a life. That or the staff need to start addressing all customers as ‘uber magnificent president of the universe’ – you know – so they don’t feel inferior. Pfft.

  • Stacey Frith-Smith August 2, 2012, 10:14 pm

    One thing you can do when people make outrageous demands is simply to agree enthusiastically with each and every ridiculous utterance that passes their lips. It can be quite entertaining, and the part can be played quite broadly. After all, one is merely supporting the customer. “Indeed, sir. It is an outrage! Sadly, it cannot be remedied. Of course, you are Quite Right. I’m appalled that we are in this condition. Why, when I consider the many nights we’ve served our clients that wonderful dish… Not to have it tonight of all nights… it’s is really shocking! My uniform? Why, yes. It’s a disaster. That ridiculous wind almost knocked me over as I came through the storm to work. Don’t even get me started on my hairdresser! Oh, this awful storm. It is really getting on my nerves. Would Sir care for a glass of wine while we see what we can scrounge together? As it isn’t to be a civilized meal, might as well do our best, though heaven only knows what that will be”. And on and on and on and on, all agreeably and unremittingly outraged on customer’s behalf, in the most discrete and soft voice possible. It may not work entirely, but one can hardly be faulted (much) for agreeing with the client.

  • Library Diva August 2, 2012, 11:23 pm

    Grocery Girl, that’s an unbelieveably petty complaint, and your boss sucks for taking it seriously. I read these two great books that are an “unauthorized” history of Disneyland told mostly by employees. One woman who worked in guest services had an awesome solution for petty complaints of that manner. She’d simplyy tell the complaining guest that the employee in question would be fired. As soon as they were gone, she’d tear up the complaint. She said it worked on all levels: she protected her co-workers from the cranky, entitled jerks of the world, and said jerks generally left satisfied.

  • amyasleigh August 2, 2012, 11:53 pm

    On reading the OP, my first reaction was outrage and disgust at the man’s behaviour. On a little reflection, though, it occurred to me that on occasions in the past, I have been in situations of frustration about finding service very unsatisfactory (never, in my case, in a restaurant; but in some other contexts); and have lashed out in a similar way, at whatever person representing that “service” was at hand — regardless of whether it was their personal fault.

    This anecdote thus gave me a “Matthew 7, 3 – 5” moment. And I can’t be certain that, under provocation, I will never behave in that way again; though would hope that my having discovered Ehell might have a restraining effect.

  • Kate August 2, 2012, 11:57 pm

    I agree with those calling for intervention by the manager. No staff member should have to put up with rampant personal abuse.
    I work a phone-based customer service job, and my manager always tells us to first give abusive customers a warning, and to then hang up if they continue to abuse us. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen too often.

  • Willa August 3, 2012, 4:52 am

    What shameful behaviour on the boorish diner’s part. This reminds me of the old addage (which Ive found to be very true)- the way a person treats anyone attending them – whether it be waitstaff, gas station attendee, retail assistant or tradesperson- shows the persons true character. People like this man have inflated self importance while also believing waitstaff are lesser human beings, who he’s entitled to treat so appallingly. Dont ya just know it makes his night to throw his weight around verbally and make a show of his demands. Of course everyone witnessing such horridness sees him for the bully he is. No waitstaff should have to take such treatment and I agree the manager should have intervened on their behalf. No one’s custom is worth having when they degrade employees just trying to do a decent job.

  • Green123 August 3, 2012, 4:56 am

    A good way of a patron dealing with this (if they didn’t feel able to confront the rude customer themselves) might be to call the manager over and ‘complain’ that the rude customer is ruining their evenning / disturbing their dining experience etc., and ask the manager to have the rude customer removed. That way the manager is involved, the waitress doesn’t have to get any more upset and the customer is removed by a reasonable method.

  • Elizabeth August 3, 2012, 8:22 am

    Very sad that management chose not to intervene. Too afraid of offending? Similar to badly behaved children in high end restaurants … management is too afraid to intervene and we all have to put up with an over-tired 3-year old that should not be in a white table cloth restaurant at 9pm.

  • Angela August 3, 2012, 8:28 am

    Not only would the owner have been justified in removing the boor because of his treatment of the waitress, but also because he was ruining the other patrons’ dining experience.

  • Ann August 3, 2012, 11:10 am

    I am astounded that the management allowed the other patrons to be exposed to this. The man should have been asked to leave.

    Actually — a question for everyone — could a guest have asked management to ask the man to leave, or to cease and desist?

  • Whatcha Gonna Do When They Come for You August 3, 2012, 12:19 pm

    As a police officer, I have had an off-duty meal or two ruined or at least interrupted by people like this; on the flip-side, I have a few more tools at my disposal to deal with people like this. In one instance while out to dinner with my then-girlfriend (now wife), a customer with, in my non-expert opinion, severe entitlement issues was complaining about something incredibly petty and throwing out some pretty vile insults towards the waitstaff and management. Once he told a customer with kids at the table to “f… off and mind his own f…ing business” when asked to clean up his language in front of the kids, I felt I let this go for way too long; in my home state, a cop is technically always on duty and must leave his or her home with his or her badge and sidearm. After speaking to a manager, I went over to the table, put my badge in his face and told him to tone it down and that the next profane word would get him a citation for disorderly conduct and a $250 fine. Luckily, the fool asked for the check and left soon afterwards so I didn’t spend a date night doing paperwork.

  • Cat August 4, 2012, 5:03 am

    Whatcha: I was in a government office where one goes to pay traffic fines and watched a man berate and villify the lady whose job it was to collect the fines. She was seated behind a glass wall and the man was threatening to break the glass at the top of his lungs.

    Knowing there was a police station in the same building, I was waiting for what I knew was going to happen. An officer walked into the office and stood behind the man who, oblivious to his new audience, continued with his threats. The officer had heard enough. He walked over and made his presence known. There was a remarkable change of attitude.

  • Whatcha Gonna Do When They Come for You August 4, 2012, 11:29 pm

    Cat, I actually met my wife when I was working an off-duty security job at a supermarket where she was working her way through college as a deli clerk. It saddens me that there are people in this world who regard retail clerks, waitpersons and other service workers as if they don’t count as human beings. I have way too many stories of customers berating and demeaning workers for circumstances way beyond their control or just being plain condescending because they don’t bother to take the time to understand that many of these folks are working these jobs to pay for their education.

  • michelle August 5, 2012, 2:28 am

    What a vile man. The manager should have stepped in instead of the poor waitress having to deal with the rude behaviour

  • Mabel August 5, 2012, 11:07 am

    What a jerk. Managers need to realize that by kicking people like this out of their establishments, they will make good customers happy. In fact, they will retain, and even ADD, via word of mouth, good customers who will then spend more money. There is no economic benefit to putting up with this crap. “The customer is always right” is the worst phrase anyone ever said, and the way people are lately, the biggest falsehood.

  • --Lia August 6, 2012, 8:26 am

    Ann– In my opinion, yes. I’ve often thought about this. From time to time I’ve seen a manager do all sorts of placating to a jerk of a customer. They’ve broken rules and given away merchandise. One time the store was going out of business and was plastered with large posters declaring that all sales were final, no refunds, nothing could be returned. The manager repeated that to everyone. Some of them might have had legitimate beefs, but the rule was solid. Then, in my earshot, one lady came up and made enough noise that she got her money back for something she’d bought at the close-out sale but didn’t like. I was bothered by this, but it’s not like I could be mad enough to swear I’d never shop there again given that the store wasn’t going to exist after a week.

    Other times, I’ve seen a manager give comps to the person who was complaining the loudest. The jerk in the original letter might have gone in knowing that he was going to get a free meal that way. He may have learned from long experience that he goes in, is perfectly satisfied, complains, and walks away without paying. He may think of it as just a way to get a bargain, no different from the way I always look at the rack with the sale clothes first to see if they have anything in my size. The manager probably thinks he’s doing more to increase business by making sure the customer goes away satisfied, but I’ve thought of standing up and saying “if you comp his meal, you’ll never get any more business from me. I wish you’d just throw him out if he doesn’t shut up.” I’ve never done it, but I like to think the manager would have to understand that he’s not making everyone happy; he’s choosing which person to make happy, and he’s making the wrong choice.

  • avodah August 6, 2012, 1:10 pm

    I strongly, strongly disagree with the Site Admin. here. It is *never*, ever, ever anyone’s responsibility to take verbal abuse, harassment and/or personal insults. It is one thing for a customer to declare “What lousy service!” or “Terrible food!”. It is another matter entirely to insult someone’s hair, dress, physical appearance, etc. The waitress was well within her rights to say “I will not tolerate being verbally abused. Let me find my manager or another staff member.” Furthermore, everyone in the restaurant should have stood up to the troll who was harassing the waitress.

    Let me repeat: it is never your job to be the victim of verbal abuse or harassment.

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