You know that moment where you go back over a situation, and really wish you said something, or did something, or even worse stood up to something or someone to defend a certain point? I’m living through this experience at the moment. It’s irked me so much, that it has occupied a lot of my brain space over the past week or so. I mean there are a lot of words bouncing around my brain but this particular train of thought, is something that I can’t seem to shake.
“Is this going to take long?”, the voice seemed to boom through the cafe, so much so, that my morning coffee ritual spent with my noise cancelling headphones was interrupted. I shook my head, squinted a little bit and then realised exactly what was going on. “I come here every morning,” she continued, now pacing slightly, “and every single morning you’re always so ridiculously slow, how hard is it. All you have to do is make my coffee…” And that’s the point where I internally snapped. I think I bent my pen in the process. Who was this woman, and what gave her the right to treat anyone, particularly someone who is providing her a service, that way?
Unfortunately, it’s a trend I’ve been noticing. Having experienced both sides of such a working environment. See, as well as having the wonderful opportunity to write the words for a living, I also have a job in hospitality. You could call it a day job I guess if you like, but I don’t really see it that way. The traditional career track has never appealed to me so I tend to distribute my professional time across a variety of baskets. It works for me, and also gives me the time and space to do the things I’m passionate about. My one pet hate, is this disgusting air of arrogance that some customers tend to put on, as though they are metaphorically placing themselves above the person serving them behind the counter.
I’m also starting to think that I am the only person who thinks it’s rude to talk on the phone whilst you’re ordering/deciding/interacting with someone else. Please don’t tell me it’s just me. Please. I think it’s only fair enough to refuse to serve someone whilst they are in the middle of a phone conversation? The best part about working in hospitality or retail is the interaction you receive from the customer you’re engaging with (most of the time). I know society is changing, and the whole world is getting a lot faster but… surely that’s something that we really need to hold onto. That human connection.
As with everything, there is always a counter argument. Some may say that retail/hospitality workers are grumpy and they appear as though they would much rather be elsewhere then stuck at work on a Saturday night. I’m not denying this can be the case, but it’s also the minority, and in some cases, almost justified. Someone said to me once, if you don’t like the hours, don’t work in hospitality. If you don’t like working on public holidays, don’t work in retail. Get a real job.
Get a real job?
I have a real job, and part of that real job is working in hospitality.
Back to the situation in the cafe. At the crux of everything, it isn’t really about the career path we choose at all. What it’s really about is the way choose to treat the people around us. Shouldn’t we each take a step back and decide on a mutual ground of respect, that no one person, regardless of profession, is any better or worse off, than us? Who gets to decide exactly who works harder, or whose job is more important? And since when does this give someone the right to treat someone without even a shred of respect?
So to the woman stuck in this scenario is say… next time, I’ll be ready. Next time I’ll be ready to step in and defend the hard work of the people in front of you, serving you coffee that will probably get you through your first (very official, very important) meeting. Because surely, if you really do expect speedy service with a smile, it really takes two. To connect, interact, and start the day off on the right foot.