Sometimes people baffle me

I would like to tell you the story of my Sunday at work.

I work at a museum. We do grounds rentals for weddings and events, as well as tours and programming and my tea service. I serve Victorian Afternoon Tea on the lawn of the Estate and Sundays are always the busiest day.

Last Sunday we had a rental for a wedding and I had a reservation for 30 people, a local community group who wanted to do their AGM there. Usually we charge a rental fee for that kind of meeting, but they got away with just paying a set (heavily discounted) price for the tea service itself.

Anyway. They start to arrive and I put things together. They’re supposed to have a tour first, so I was standing at the front desk talking to my colleagues, waiting for the group to start their tour before I serve them tea. The leader of the group comes up to me.

“We would like to have tea now,” she says.
“Oh, I thought you were having a tour first,” I reply.
“No. We’re on a very tight deadline, we’d like to eat as soon as possible.” She’s using that condescending tone, drawing out her words as if I won’t understand her.
“Okay, but just so you know it does take a while to serve 30 people,” I say, weary of her tone.
“I know that. That’s why I would like you to start now,” and she turns and leaves. I blink, and then go back to my kitchen to prepare. Slowly. I sure as hell don’t move fast for people who insist on condescending to me.

The entire time the group was there, almost three hours, they were very rude to both me and D, my volunteer. When they needed something it was always, “Milk.” “More napkins!” Never please or thank you.

I worked in retail for several years, and I thought I knew the worst of people. But I didn’t know anything until I started working in food service. When I go out there as a waitress, people will talk down to me. If they happen to find out either that I’m actually the Tea Coordinator (as in, I do all of the baking, planning, preparing of the food I don’t just serve it) or that I’m a student, just finished my Bachelor and going on to my Master’s, their tone automatically changes. It’s like if I’m “just a waitress” I’m not worth their respect. I’m sorry, but “just a waitress” or not, I’m still a human being and you don’t treat people like that.

Anyway. So the kicker came about halfway into their reservation. They were sitting under the tent with the other two reservations, and I was talking to one of the other tables about something. One of the women raises her hand and motions at me. I go over.

“I need more milk,” she says.
“Okay,” I take her milk cup to refill.
“I can hardly hear the speaker over the other people talking,” she says. Speaking, of course, while the speaker is still talking.
“Well, everyone else here has a reservation too,” I reply, as politely as possible.
“When are they going to leave?” she demands.
“Whenever they want to. Just like you.” I say.
“Well I can’t hear anything.”
“I’m very sorry for that.”

Of course, this lovely day wouldn’t be complete without some interference from the rental.

Let me ask you, pets, do you ever walk into the kitchen of a restaurant, for any reason, other than that you’re working there?

We have a commercial kitchen, certified and all that jazz, that I use for the tea. People have a really bad habit of just strolling in and doing what they want, health codes be damned. But this one really takes the cake.

I was out serving a table, but apparently a man from the wedding came back with two jugs and asked D if he could fill them up. She said yes, and he walked over to the big sink to do so. To preface this, if you’re not familiar with kitchens, most commercial kitchens have at least two sinks - one for washing your hands and one for dishes, etc. The two aren’t supposed to be mixed. The dishes one is the one you can serve water from, it’s cleaner, etc.

Anyway, this guy fills up his water jugs. He places them on the counter beside him. He then bends over and sticks his head under the faucet, rinsing his entire head and hair in the dishes sink. He stands up and then shakes his head like a dog, water splashing everywhere.

By this point, shocked and appalled, the normally quiet and polite D is livid and yelling at him.

Who does that? Why would you ever wash your head in a kitchen sink anywhere, let alone in a place that serves food to the public? Needless to say, we had to throw out all the nearby food covered with water/sweat droplets. And if D could have, I bet she would have thrown him out, physically, too.


  • By David Steele, July 2, 2009 @ 9:59 am

    OMFG! Wow.

    I can empathize, somewhat. Starbucks is somewhere between retail and food service.

    I found it annoying as all hell that 9 times out of 10 it’s the donations that end up being the rudest pains in the ass.

    I remember one time we had a woman freak out cause we didn’t have her FREE coffee (worth about $150.00!) ready exactly on time…. she was late the three weeks before and had to remake it so we were darned if we were going to do it again. Either way, she shut up real quick when we reminded her that we owed her exactly NOTHING.

  • By Sebastian, July 2, 2009 @ 11:01 am

    He was probably drunk?

    But yeah, that’s why I should never work in any kind of service industry. I’m fairly polite, and definitely courteous, but if someone doesn’t return the gesture… well, I can be rather nasty :)

  • By Court, July 2, 2009 @ 1:35 pm


    I helped with tea once at Billings and it was a total nightmare. You get major props for putting up with those yahoos. They do make for good blog posts, though!

  • By Chris, July 2, 2009 @ 11:47 pm

    Wow, Jer and I feel so bad for you. We were commenting as we left that the reservation lady was a bitch to you. I promise to come on a quieter day next time.

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