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Author Topic: How to deal with pity from customers while working on Thanksgiving?  (Read 9929 times)

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Let Them Eat Cake

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I work at a restaurant waiting tables; this'll be my second year working Thanksgiving. (The deal is I work Thanksgiving and get Black Friday off. ;)) For the record, I have no problem with that whatsoever... I've never liked Thanksgiving to begin with, even when I was a child, and I see it as a golden opportunity to avoid all the family drama AND get paid for it, too. Not to mention work is like a second home to me and I genuinely enjoy my job.

The only downside is that, last year, I remember a lot of customers asking me things like, why am I not at home, and shouldn't I have somebody waiting on ME today, etc. And just a lot of general pitying remarks, probably due in part to the fact that I'm pretty young (18). I get that their hearts were in the right place, but it made me feel awkward and I honestly didn't quite know how to respond (politely, but also in a professional manner). I feel like if I say something like, "Oh, I'm not a Thanksgiving person", it'll just invite more questions and give off negative vibes.

How do you think I should respond to all this?
"Jan, a real friend likes you for who you are, not what's on your face. If you judge your friends for passing judgment on you, you're not only judging yourself you're judging your friends for judging you. And that would be using bad judgment." - Mike Brady, The Brady Bunch Movie

Black Delphinium

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Re: How to deal with pity from customers while working on Thanksgiving?
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2014, 10:47:44 AM »
"Someone has to be here to mind the store!" With a big smile, or "I'm happy to work it, I get tomorrow off to shop!" if you're okay with sharing. Non-committal and upbeat smooths out a lot of awkwardness.
When angels go bad, they go worse than anyone. Remember, Lucifer was an angel. ~The Marquis De Carabas

lowspark

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Re: How to deal with pity from customers while working on Thanksgiving?
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2014, 10:48:36 AM »
I think you just accept their comments and reply with no explanations. In other words you don't need to tell them you're not a TG person or that you're happy not to be with family or whatever. You just say, "you're kind to think of me!" or "thank you for your thoughts" or some other noncommittal reply. With a smile of course. And hope they tip extra big because of their concern.
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Hmmmmm

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Re: How to deal with pity from customers while working on Thanksgiving?
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2014, 10:50:57 AM »
Just respond with a huge smile. "Oh no, I volunteered to work on Thanksgiving. I get to enjoy visiting with lots of people not to mention the great tips! My family celebrates on a different day."

I think many are probably trying to assuage their guilt that they are "causing" restaurants to force employees to work that day. So helping them get past that guilt will increase your tip.

Tea Drinker

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Re: How to deal with pity from customers while working on Thanksgiving?
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2014, 10:51:30 AM »
Possible answers would include something about liking to serve people a holiday meal, or "I'll be having my turkey dinner tonight," or (if it's a regular and you're allowed to joke a little) "but then who would serve your Thanksgiving dinner?" or "this way I get tomorrow off, and I'm earning some money for my Black Friday shopping."
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TootsNYC

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Re: How to deal with pity from customers while working on Thanksgiving?
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2014, 10:55:26 AM »
Say, "I'm glad I could be here to make it possible for you to celebrate at our restaurant!"

Turn it around to be all about them, and how happy you are to be able to help people who aren't eating at home.

I'm sort of rolling my eyes at people who go out to eat (or shop) on T'giving, and then pity the people who have to be there to serve them.
   You're eating out on T'giving, and making work for other people--own it!

HannahGrace

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Re: How to deal with pity from customers while working on Thanksgiving?
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2014, 10:58:38 AM »
Say, "I'm glad I could be here to make it possible for you to celebrate at our restaurant!"

Turn it around to be all about them, and how happy you are to be able to help people who aren't eating at home.

I'm sort of rolling my eyes at people who go out to eat (or shop) on T'giving, and then pity the people who have to be there to serve them.
   You're eating out on T'giving, and making work for other people--own it!

Well, people might have reasons they have to go out and feel torn about it.  I've been there and I am someone who would make a comment to the server (although not anything like asking them why they are not at home...). 

OP, I would say something upbeat in response, like, "oh, I love my job and it's fun to be part of so many different people's holiday today!"  That will assuage any guilt that's being projected and keep things positive and hopefully shut down that line of questioning.

TootsNYC

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Re: How to deal with pity from customers while working on Thanksgiving?
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2014, 10:58:45 AM »
I also might try to not let that become "a conversation." Just say, "Oh, I don't mind," and move right away into, "what else can I get you?" or "did you want fries with that?"

Be very un-animated when the conversation is about you, and Thanksgiving, and be very yes-animated when you segue into, "Is there anything else?" "Did you want dessert?"

You could even just omit an answer to the question, and only talk about "work" instead of your own emotions. (because in a way, it's over a boundary to ask you that)

Oh Joy

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Re: How to deal with pity from customers while working on Thanksgiving?
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2014, 02:06:06 PM »
Welcome to the forum!

A genuine "I'm glad to be here," will suit just fine since it's the truth.  Then move on to business.

(I used to choose to work lots of holidays.)

z_squared82

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Re: How to deal with pity from customers while working on Thanksgiving?
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2014, 02:10:08 PM »
How about, "Oh, I get tomorrow off, and that's what I prefer."

I had a coworker who volunteered to work every Christmas Eve, Christmas and Easter. People would come in and comment about how awful it must be to work those holidays (although if they really felt that way, I don't know why they were patronizing us, a video store, on those days). His response was always, "I'm Jewish. It's just another day to me, so I'll take the holiday pay, thank you very much!"

Outdoor Girl

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Re: How to deal with pity from customers while working on Thanksgiving?
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2014, 02:27:40 PM »
How about, 'But then I wouldn't be here to take care of you, would I?'  with a big smile.  And then, 'What (else) can I get for you?'
After cleaning out my Dad's house, I have this advice:  If you haven't used it in a year, throw it out!!!!.
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JenJay

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Re: How to deal with pity from customers while working on Thanksgiving?
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2014, 02:44:11 PM »
I never minded working holidays because I was always off by 2pm anyway. What I did mind were those people who'd make comments about how sad it was. Hello, do they not realize that the reason why we "have" to work is because people like them want to be served?  ::)

We'd say "Customers like us to be open, so somebody needs to be here to run the place." with a smile, no sarcasm.

mime

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Re: How to deal with pity from customers while working on Thanksgiving?
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2014, 04:19:17 PM »
My cousin and her husband are both nurses. Cousin has a 'business-hours' job, so Thanksgiving is always a day off, but her husband is at a hospital so his schedule works differently.

He has always volunteered to work on Thanksgiving. His extended family is happy to celebrate with him on Friday or Saturday instead. This allows him to volunteer as a kindness for his coworkers who don't have as much flexibility with their families for the holiday.

If you're working and don't mind being there, you can always say something to that effect: "I get to free-up some of the other staff to have the day off, and it is way more important to them than it is to me". Because surely, you have some coworkers who are very grateful to get Thanksgiving off.

MrTango

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Re: How to deal with pity from customers while working on Thanksgiving?
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2014, 12:01:20 PM »
As someone who has worked retail on Thanksgiving, my response to anyone who complains about stores being open on Thanksgiving is to tell them that if they have a problem with stores being open at a specific time, the best thing to do is to refuse to shop during that time.

With some people, I know, that inevitably is met with "But they sales are sooooooo good!"

To which I respond, "Then you are part of the problem."

turtleIScream

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Re: How to deal with pity from customers while working on Thanksgiving?
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2014, 12:03:25 PM »
My cousin and her husband are both nurses. Cousin has a 'business-hours' job, so Thanksgiving is always a day off, but her husband is at a hospital so his schedule works differently.

He has always volunteered to work on Thanksgiving. His extended family is happy to celebrate with him on Friday or Saturday instead. This allows him to volunteer as a kindness for his coworkers who don't have as much flexibility with their families for the holiday.

If you're working and don't mind being there, you can always say something to that effect: "I get to free-up some of the other staff to have the day off, and it is way more important to them than it is to me". Because surely, you have some coworkers who are very grateful to get Thanksgiving off.

I like this answer. It doesn't chastise the customer, and gives off a generally cheerful vibe.
Life happens wherever you are, whether you make it or not. - Uncle Iroh