Saturday, June 30, 2007

Lost!

Last night, things were really quiet here, and I decided to do something I haven't done for quite a while now. I went surfing! Not just regular surfing, but blog surfing. And not the blog surfing where you click the next button either. No sirreee! I decided I was going to try to click into the favorite blogs of some of my favorite bloggers.
This would have been fine and dandy except for one small thing. If you look at my list of favorites, the first blogger on my list belongs to a sweet lady out in Phoenix, Arizona - Debo Blue. I love reading her blog as she always has some nice things to say, lots of common sense things, humor, nifty photos too and a quiet humor that I really appreciate.
I clicked into almost all the blogs she has listed under her favorites, checked them out a bit by reading several posts and all was going swimmingly until ... I hit one called "Behind The Counter" and I really did get LOST there! Totally lost as a matter of fact for the rest of last night until about 3 in the morning. Then when I got up today, the first thing I did was to pick up reading where I left off last night. Every chance I had today, I was glued to the screen on the computer here, reading yet another post , and another and another. You get the picture. So far, I think I have read every post this blogger has made since October of 2006 until today and if I weren't about to go blind or cross-eyed soon, I'd still be glued to reading her writing right now too!
The writer of this blog is a customer support associate at a Wal-Mart in southern Florida and in her blog she writes of things that happened to her in her job behind that counter. If you've never worked in any type of a "customer service" position, it will definitely open your eyes. Hell, even if you've worked many different types of customer service jobs in your lifetime, it will still give you a big eye-opener as to the way the general public often treats people doing this type of work. It also shows how so many elements of society often try to take advantage of companies or the scams, games, thefts that people often try to perpetrate on companies too.
I've worked in customer service positions in the past - my most recent was back in 2002 when I worked part-time as a sales associate for a large store in Camp Hill, PA in the women's clothing department. And yes, sometimes we had to deal with people trying to scam or cheat the company or shoplifters and such, but not to the extent the CSA's at Wal-Mart have to cope with these things. Thankfully! If I'd had to deal with what she puts up with, I definitely would never have lasted the whole summer I worked at the store that employed me, that much I can say for sure!
But it brought back to my mind a lot of memories about other "customer service" work I've had over the years too. I worked for roughly 8-9 years as a waitress in two different truckstop restaurants and as assistant restaurant manager too in yet another truckstop restaurant near my home. And the things people will do in restaurants that I thought were obnoxious and rude (which often brought out the truly obnoxious and rude side of me too - not always a good thing when you are relying on those tips ya know) -well, bad as they were at times, they don't really hold a candle to what shoppers and scammers and thieves often try to do at many Wal-marts across the country but especially at the one where this blogger is employed.
On several occasions during my tenure in the food service industry, I wrote letters to either "Dear Abby" or "Ann Landers" to state issues waiters/waitresses often had to deal with on the job. I never had enough nerve to actually put those letters in the mail though and send them for fear that someone might realize I was writing and complaining about their actions and they'd turn around and go complain to my boss - who was not overly fond of me - and well, I really did need the work to feed, clothe, keep a roof over my kids and my heads during that time.
Today, as I think back on those days of running my fanny off just to barely make enough to scrape by - forget about vacations, any type of luxury, etc., - I don't remember all that many specifics now of events that really ticked me off. But there were a few here and there that do stand out in my mind.
I remember while working as the assistant manager, one Saturday in June in particular, when I came into work, found out I was going to be short-staffed and couldn't find anyone who would or could come in to cover so I had to run between trying to help out in the kitchen and being out on the floor actually working a section of the dining room. And during this, don't you just know, we got hit with a busload of tourists!
In most any restaurant, milkshake orders or the announcement that a busload of people just pulled in when you are super busy to begin with, both tend to create lots of panic with the help.
I got the folks who sat in my section set-up, orders turned into the kitchen, trying to get their side stuff out to them and who appears at the doorway to the waitress workway but the assistant manager of the fuel side of the truckstop in need of change. So I had to drop my waitress "hat" and run back to the main office, open the safe to get him change, only to learn we were short on change! We needed packs of one's desperately. But by that time of day, of course the bank was already closed so that was not an option.
I had to then try to call other establishments around to see if I could "buy" some change from them -and then, of course, it was up to me to also leave the facility, drive over to where ever I could locate a place that had enough change to sell some to me as well and this meant leaving the dining room floor, asking the other waitresses to please see to my customer's food order, etc. A great way to impress customers into returning when their waitress has to disappear completely from the building then for roughly 45 minutes time, isn' t it?
What caused this issue to begin with is that the general manager -who had been in there early that Saturday morning had not bothered to go to the bank and get an adequate supply of change to cover the fuel side and the restaurant side for the weekend. The asst. manager at the fuel side was alone and no way could he leave his post so that left me to do the running.
What really irked me about this whole situation was, after the fact, and because there were numerous complaints turned in by the bus people about the service, I ended up getting written up and was given a week off without pay because I hadn't seen to it that there was adequate change in the safe -even though I was not scheduled to come into work that day until about two hours after the banks had closed and it had been the general manager's responsibility to see to the change issues for the weekend. Talk about passing the buck, huh?
Another time, a family of six had piled into a booth barely large enough to accommodate four in the non-smoking area, in the very last booth in that section which just happened to be right beside the disabled ramp door -so that door was often being opened and shut. That, along with the fact the air conditioner wasn't working up to snuff either - par for the course - so the girls often would prop that door open a bit just to keep a little tiny bit of air moving through that section.
Now, what happens when you have a door open -and food around too?
You attract flys and other bugs, right? You also can't go around swatting these things, nor can you spray anything, or try to politely show the creatures the way out by which they entered in either so you're stuck with the little demons.
And don't you just know it but about five minutes after the waitress had served this family of six their meals, some little bug of some type, landed on the top of their booth and decided to walk across it, thus freaking every member of that family out. (I have to add here the family was from New Jersey and the mother had an extremely shrill voice, very, very thick "Joisey" accent too - also loud and she immediately began to scream for the manager (me) that there was a cockroach walking on the top of their tabletop.
She threw one royal fit at me about this situation and I immediately took their bill, voided the entire meal - although said bug never had landed on anyone's plates or anything and she still screamed at me the entire time I was doing this, as she was herding up her lovely children and husband and as they stomped through the non-smoking and the smoking sections of the dining room.
I still don't know what more she expected me to do for them! Considering I had offered to get them other meals - no, didn't want that -and when I took the check and voided it completely, she was still angry at me because of one stupid little insect's ill-timed walk.
I've had customers come in the dining rooms with children from little toddlers to kids old enough to be disciplined, who should be the ages of 6-10 years know enough, have adequate manners to realize you shouldn't be running, playing games of tag or hide 'n' seek etc., while waitresses are trying to manuever around carrying big trays of hot foods or pots of coffee. Had any of these little so-and-so's ever tripped a waitress and been burned by the hot coffee or food, you do know of course, the parents would have been on the horn before they got out of the establishment to their attorney drawing up a lawsuit, don't you?
I've had families come in too and allow their children to take food and throw it on the floor and never move a single muscle to try to clean one speck of this mess up before they leave too. I've even had a co-worker - a fellow waitress - bring her husband and three small children into the place were we worked and allowed their children to make one really nasty big mess all over the floor around their table too and get up and walk away from it and leave that for their own co-workers to have to contend with as well. There's compassion for your co-workers isn't it?
I've cleaned up just about any kind of mess you can think of left behind by restaurant customers - kids' vomit; adults too. Little kids often have other issues too -one reason ya know why they generally wear diapers - and had to clean that up as well - and even have had to clean that same commodity up too after adults who, when that happened, generally it was because they were too darned drunk to have a clue what they'd just done too! (Yeah, I worked the midnight shift as a waitress for several years and there is nothing like a full moon to bring out the worst drinkers in the whole world who HAVE to go have breakfast after having been drinking the whole night -probably even the better part of the day light hours away too.)
For the most part, when I waitressed at the one truckstop, I usually got along relatively well with most of the truckers though. I used to grump a lot to them and my favorite line was that I hated to wait on women - usually they tend to be cheap tippers; I disliked waiting on families, especially those who complimented me profusely on the food, the service, etc., because I learned the more they complimented added up almost always to a much lower tip -if there was one at all. I didn't like to wait on teenagers or college kids either -as they tended not to have enough money left over to tip. And I made no bones about the fact I HATED, absolutely LOATHED, ABHORRED and DESPISED waiting on drunks!
Now the truckers who know me used to question me about the latter aspect there because they also knew I liked as much as the next one to have a drink or two - or five, whatever! I always told them drunks just never impressed me and when they would point out my liking to toss a few back and hadn't I ever done anything to get more than a little toasted I would tell them "Yes, and sometimes I don't necessarily impress myself either!"
[ There were many, many times though when I waitressed that much as I hated going into work, I also hated NOT to be there too simply because some of the truckers I met -no, not some, most of them - were such great people, even really good friends, that I wanted to be there for my shift simply to see this or that driver if he came in that day and be able to talk to the guys, joke with them, play lots and lots of practical jokes on each other too much of the time.
I almost always had a bunch of jokes that I'd heard and memorized to share with these gusy and they used to tell me all kinds of funny stories of things that happened to them or to other drivers on the road too. Rarely was there ever a dull moment while I worked at that place!
Sometimes now, I will have dreams that I am back at that particular restaurant, waitressing. The customers will often be the same folks I waited on back then -some who could be pretty demanding too at times - but it would be me, as I am today, trying to run around and keep track of orders, keeping coffee cups refilled, serving meals and such at the pace I used to move at twenty some years ago but with knees and ankles often very swollen and stiff as they tend to be now, with a back that doesn't like to allow legs to move much beyond a snail's pace and customers getting really, really ticked at me because I definitely can't be everything to everyone all at once now. Not that I could then but I had a better chance at trying and surviving doing that back then.
And when I worked in food service, frequently, just as the writer of this blog does now, I ranted and raved and bitched and complained about the customers, about management, oh yes, did I ever complain about management, but in honestly, I never really hated the waitressing end of food service. I can't honestly say the same about working as quasi-management though as I really did HATE that job! Mainly though that was because of the lunacy that persisted thanks so very much to the upper level of management above me!
Food service is hard, sometimes very, very hard physical work! Don't believe me, you try it sometime and you'll see what I mean. It is also difficult work mentally too because you have to be very good at "multi-tasking." You have to keep track of each of the tables in your particular section - people coming in, leaving; set up new customers, take their orders, prepare certain segments of their orders yourself at times; make sure to keep tabs on how soon this table or that table's order is due to come out; check back if they have everything they need/want, keep the drinks flowing properly, check for dessert orders, hand out bills and all the while trying to bus tables as you go so when the people actually do leave, you have things down to only having maybe a water glass and a coffee cup and saucer and teaspoon left to clear off the table before clearing it off and resetting it for the next group.
Which reminds me too of something else I always did hate about restaurant customers in an establishment where people "seat themselves" - why is it if you have ten tables all cleared off and reset and one table that has been slow to finish and you don't have it bussed off yet, if a someone comes in, guess which table they will automatically head to? If you picked the dirty table, you win the big prize - a free cup of coffee on me - provided you can find me to get it for you now! What is it about a dirty table that is soooo darned enticing when there can be at least one or two - maybe a lot more clean and reset tables right beside it but people just gravitate to the dirty one and then, get mad at the waitress because they can't get their coffee and ice water immediately! I never could figure the logic out on that one!
Now, go over - if you haven't already discovered this blog and check it out but, if you are like me, be prepared to quickly become addicted to reading her words and wanting to keep reading more and more and more of the things that happen to her in the store where she puts her time in!
Just make sure you come up for air, food, a beverage, etc., and don't get so engrossed that you get lost like I did! I'd be going back there right now if I could still see without my eyes going crossed on me tonight from having spent so many hours last night and today glued to reading that blog on my computer screen.

And now - in anticipation of the lovely weekend - which I do wish each and everyone of you has - a lovely one that is - here's this weekend's Bushism supply.
Saturday and Sunday - June 30 and July 1st, 2007
"Those who enter the country illegally violate the law." - Tucson, Arizona; November 28, 2005.

Now there's a really brilliant deduction, don't 'cha think?

4 comments:

Paige said...

You have been tagged. Drop by and find out...
I double dog dare ya

Smalltown RN said...

The "Service" industry....even health care is a service industry. In jobs like this we meet all kinds..the saying..it takes all kinds to make this world turn around....and yes we see them....some people will try and get away with anything....in the hospital for example....they don't have to pay for kleenex boxes, shampoo, tooth brush, toothpaste, combs or any personal hygeine items for that matter...it is all covered by the public health care system....some patients I swear hord the stuff to take home...it always amazes me when people get something for free they think they can take it by the case lot.

When I was a teenager I worked as a car hop for A&W....I can remember some very rude customers...then I worked briefly for a catering company....that was hard work....I realized that I could never work as a waitress...I just don't have what it takes....I have low tolerance for bad manners....my daughters work at a very popular restaruant that has lineups outside the door every night...they are run off their feet...not only do the customers take advantage of them...so does their employer...I keep telling them to speak up...and they have in many occassions and it has made a difference in some areas...

As for you..that situation that you mention they laid you off for a week....that was so very wrong..and shame of them...shame on the manager...that just exemplifies that they had no idea how to manage...I wouldn't have been able to stay at a place like that...I would have handed in my apron and told them I would see them at the labour tribunal....

I can't stand it when I hear of stories of bad employers..it just burns my twizzlers...but I guess we live and learn.....

Gene Bach said...

I have worked in the fire service for the last 22 years. I can not begin to tell about all the criminally stupid people I have dealt with during that time. Sometimes it has to make you wonder if everybody is really born with a brain. LOL!

Shelby said...

wow - that's alot of stuff you had to put up with. I couldn't do it.
Well, I guess I could, but glad I am not having to do it.
I've learned never to say never tho I guess.
Great post. Now go to sleep. :)