Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Rude Patrons

After reading the recent great post at Orthonomics about tipping for religious services, I'm going to post about an arena where tipping is more traditionally expected. Restaurants.

Now, it has been quite some time since we've been to a restaurant, and even longer than that since we've been to one with our kids. RaggedyDad and I probably eat out an average of about 3 to 4 times a year, though there's no shortage of kosher places in the NY metro area.

I'm also not a big fan of taking small children (ours are 3.5 and almost 1.5 years old) out to restaurants. It's usually not fun for the parents, the kids themselves, and the kidless patrons, who usually don't need any more fuel for the kid-hating fire that burns within :)

But, yesterday we were urged to join in on a last-minute family celebration. My brother and sister-in-law (with 3 young-ish kids of their own) wanted very much to take my parents out to celebrate their birthdays. My parents' birthdays fell out last week, and are within three days of one another. How I managed to survive being brought up with two Aquariuses as parents really baffles the mind, but I digress.

My parents are also going away for about 2 weeks in a couple of days, and this was an opportunity for us all to see them. The restaurant was very nearby. And the reservation was not particularly late. So off we went.

Overall, it was a lot of fun. We had a great time, and it was more or less a family-oriented place (hey, this is Queens, not Manhattan!) so there were no issues as far as having the kids there. Six adults and five relatively calm kids. It was fine.

But one thing really irked me, and still does. At a table next to us sat a middle-aged couple who just had this angry, farbissiner (bitter) look on their faces the whole time. If a comment about our (quiet) kids had been made, it would have come from them, and I sort of braced myself for the possibility.

Instead, the husband of this couple chose to trounce on the waitress. You see, the owners and staff of this restaurant are Israeli. The couple in question were not. The husband apparently asked for black coffee with (for?) dessert, and the waitress misunderstood. She came back saying it was not something they serve, and suggested espresso, capuccino, or whatever instead. It seems like in her mind, she translated to 'cafe shachor' which might be something else in Israel.

Whatever the mixup was, the man obviously thought it was ridiculous that he couldn't just get a cup of black coffee, and made a fuss about it. He explained what he wanted in a haughty way, and the waitress apologetically said, "I'm sorry, I don't think I understood what you were asking for."

At that point, the man coolly replied, "Well, understand this. You're in this country now."

The waitress took it like a pro, and left to get the man his coffee. But I was so appalled by what he said, having heard the whole exchange directly to my right (crowded place).

This type of rudeness to a service person is so low and base because he knew full well that he could get away with it. She was not about to risk her job and answer back over something so trivial. But it was so condescending, so nasty, and so upsetting to me. I knew that if I didn't say something to the waitress it would bother me later on. I've worked in food service, and gotten my fair share of nasty remarks. But a kind word from someone who sees it your way can help.

Soon afterward, as we were leaving, I discreetly approached the waitress to tell her, derech agav (by the way), that I thought it was totally rude and wrong the way that the man had spoken to her. She kind of shrugged it off, and made light of the incident (I realized she was thicker-skinned than I am!), but still gave me an appreciative smile.

Let's hope I don't come across Mr. and Mrs. Rude again around here anytime soon. Ugh!


Ezzie said...

I always liked what a friend of mine did in Annie's Kitchen once - he grabbed the waiter for a minute, asked if he could talk to him, and then told him: "Hey, thanks. You're a really great waiter - I appreciate that. You've done an awesome job." - then let him go.

I'm sure that made the waiter's day more than the (good) tip we left him.

Hila said...

What a rude man! Makes me sad...I've been there, too, RM! I was a waitress at a Country Club and the people were as sweet as can be to me. Then I worked at the restaurant of a local resort, and boy did things change. One woman really ripped me apart on my first day, and it really got to me. I held it together in front of the guests but when I went back into the kitchen I lost it. Fortunately my manager saw me and asked what had happened, when I explained the situation and what I offered to do to make up for it, he said "Don't worry about it, I'll take care of it." He marched right out there and proceeded to tell the nasty woman that if she wanted to speak like that to his staff she was not welcome back in the restaurant.

Being in the service industry sure is interesting!

Jack's Shack said...

Some people have no class.

tnspr569 said...

Ugh! Some people could do with a good smack upside the head for such behavior.

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

That is disturbing but glad you guys had fun.

Mother of Israel said...

Glad that you said something to them, I would have too! btw Our kids are the same ages! we occasionally take them out and one thing that i find helpful is that on the day of I go to Winners or some other store and find a little toy for under $5 then save it for during dinner, if they are being okay and need something else to help them stay being good.

Glad you had a good family night out!

SaraK said...

That is unbelievably rude! I can't believe a person would say such a thing! Glad your kids behaved and that you enjoyed :)

PsychoToddler said...

That was horrible. BTW I observed some really atrocious behavior at Annie's Kitchen when I went there with my folks a few years back. People cutting ahead in line, talking loudly, complaining about everything. All frummies, every last one of them.

Maybe that's why I'm so bitter.

It's nice what you did. But you probably need a REALLY thick skin to work at one of those Main Street places.

RaggedyMom said...

Hey, locals! This wasn't on Main Street - it was on Union Turnpike!

Ezzie - That's a good approach. I remember once calling a customer service # to let them know that a particular rep, who I'd spoken to earlier, did a particularly good job trying her best to help me straighten something out. Knowing that she was getting some kind of commendation for it made me feel better about all those times I've complained to managers about bad reps!

Hila - There's nothing better than a boss who's not afraid to stand up for an employee. People who are rude to food servers are not only obnoxious, they're also stupid! [Ever been tempted to spit in any food? ;) kidding!]

Jack - Absolutely, and that guy sure let it show.

tnspr - I was waiting for him to make a remark about my kids for me to wield the big guns. Although when people get annoyed by loud, wild kids at a restaurant - I totally understand that.

SWFM - Thanks, we did.

Mother of Israel - Since our kids are parallel ages, I'm sure you understand why I almost never take my kids to non-kid-friendly places. But a little tchotchka toy sure can go a long way when you need it!

SaraK - I know! I think I needed to get over the initial shock to give me time to formulate a response to the waitress.

PT - It's amazing how they weed out all the rude people in the Midwest and send them back to us :)

I'm finding with time that I'm becoming that crotchety lady who tells people off - in the past few weeks alone, I yelled at some driver who went through a red light when I saw him on the next block, and I totally gave it to some kid riding his bike like a wild maniac on the sidewalk. I'm well on my way to mortifying my kids and/or getting stabbed by someone's switchblade.

PsychoToddler said...

Oh, Union turnpike, that's like a different time zone or something right?

BTW my grandpa used to call it "Union Turnpipe."

he was lituanian, not polish.

SephardiLady said...

We went to the Annie's Kitchen on Union Turnpike and baruch Hashem had fabulous behavior from ours.

What a terrible scene to witness. I've seen similiar and it just isn't nice.

Jacob Da Jew said...

I've been in the service industry my whole career (retail, restaurants). This kind of behavior is pretty common. People bring their nastiness and proceed to lovingly share it. I usually give them a long look filled with lots of "love" right back.

Or if they really tick me off, I'll rip right back (got me in trouble a few times).