By Cameron Enomoto | Staff Writer

At some point in your life, you have probably had another person tell you to work a job in the service industry, whether it be retail or food service. I took that advice and got a job as a restaurant hostess after working in fast food for two years. While the work itself isn’t difficult, dealing with rude and entitled customers makes my job stressful. With more shoppers back in stores and eateries, it is important to remember that service workers are human too and deserve to be treated as such.

Since the pandemic began, businesses have been impacted heavily and most have been operating at delayed speeds. As someone who has worked in food service during the beginning of the pandemic, a little compassion and understanding from customers would be nice. Most people fail to acknowledge the fact that employees spend half, if not almost the whole day working, and making pointless complaints makes their job harder.

When I worked at Subway, I had a customer yell at me for five minutes because we ran out of salami. By choosing to yell at a service worker for something they have no control over, you are not only stressing out the employee you are also embarrassing yourself. In the end, this wasted time and did not solve the problem because salami, unfortunately, does not magically reappear when someone decides to throw a tantrum. 

In addition to the negative effects of the pandemic, businesses are also struggling with being understaffed. Especially in restaurants, having a full team can mean the difference between a good shift or a horrible one. Fewer front-of-house employees and kitchen crew mean that guests will have to wait longer until they are able to be served and some people just don’t seem to care.

Recently I had a guest come into the restaurant I work at to ask how long our wait time was. On weekend nights we are usually the busiest, and I made sure to let them know this when explaining that the wait time would be about an hour. This guest in particular did not take that well and demanded to be seated immediately before hurling a slur of insults at me. Keep in mind that employees do not get paid to deal with verbal abuse from customers, and it’s very disappointing that these kinds of interactions are not uncommon.

Instead of reacting in a disrespectful manner, we should prioritize finding ways to support each other, especially with the ongoing pandemic. Tipping is one way that people choose to show their gratitude, though not everyone is able to do so which is okay. Treating employees with respect and using basic etiquette also works wonders. Service workers will gladly go above and beyond for their guests to ensure they have a good experience, and small things really do go a long way. Just saying something as simple as thank you can make someone’s day. 

Practicing compassion is another way for people to show gratitude and support for service workers. Outside of work, everyone has their own hardships to face and being treated poorly while on the job only makes things more challenging.

Lastly, “treat others the way you want to be treated” is a saying that I’m sure most people have heard. With that in mind, please be kind to service workers. We are always in control of the way we treat others and showing a little kindness can make a huge difference.