This morning’s brunch served as a reminder.
Eating at one of our favorite local spots, my husband and I were reminded how one person’s attitude–good or bad–can make a difference.
When we went into our cafe, we noticed some gritty spots and goo on the table. Prior to ordering, I asked, with a smile, if someone could clean it for us.
Ten minutes later, as an unfamiliar server took our order, we asked again.
Turning to my husband, about ten minutes after that, I threatened to request a sponge and clean the table myself if we had to ask a third time. When our food came, though, my husband had a better idea.
Picking up the plate before it could touch the gooey table, he told our waitress (heretofore known as “Ms. A.”, for “attitude”) that we would hold our plates until the table was clean.
Well, Ms. A. was clearly not thrilled.She did come back with a cloth, gave the table several swipes in front of my husband (um, I was there, too?), then left. For the remainder of our meal, her behavior indicated that she would be glad to see the backs of us. She failied to ask the customary, “Is everything all right?” after we’d started eating. Nor did she return with straws for our beverages. She did make two reappearances–once, to slam my husband’s order of toast down without a word, and once, as we finished eating, to ask, “Do you guys need anything else?”
(I translated that to mean, “Get out of my sight!”)
We were glad to comply–after leaving less than our normal twenty-percent tip. Attitude is expensive! My husband said Ms. A.’s perfunctory cleaning of the table still left grit and goo where he was sitting, and he had to bite back a, “Seriously?!?”
Both my husband and I have worked in customer-service capacities. We can appreciate the frustrations of dealing with the public–as well as the fact that Ms. A. had to work a full shift on a beautiful, sunny Sunday, while we could linger over breakfast. Been there, done that!But–while each of us was “being there and doing that”, we had to keep one thing in mind. While the customer may not “always be right”, reasonable requests and complaints aren’t the same as a personal affront.
Ms. A.’s put-upon attitude came in sharp contrast to a great customer-service experience I had, about a year ago in San Francisco. Taking an early flight, I arrived at my hotel hours prior to their official check-in time. The desk clerk would have been entirely reasonable to have said, “Sorry, ma’am, check-in is four hours from now.”
Instead, he checked me right in with a smile–and proved an invaluable resource, for the rest of my stay, with information about great restaurants in the Mission District and areas in which walking would be safe–or not. His kindness and willingness to “go the extra mile” not only made my day, but set the tone for a fantastic trip
We’ll come back to our cafe, where our regular server always makes us feel welcome, with a smile and the sense that he enjoys working with us. (We’re not complete curmudgeons, after all!) We’ll also remember the lesson Ms. A. unwittingly taught. Her snarky attitude changed a normally-pleasant experience into one where we couldn’t wait to leave.
Somehow, we suspect we may not be seeing much more of Ms. A. in the future.