Wednesday, June 9, 2010

On the Contrary

I'd like to change things up today. Contrary to what previous posts may have led you to believe, I like most of my customers. A vast majority of the people who walk in the door and place orders are polite, say "please" and "thank you," and don't give me problems. Most customers are forgettably pleasant and pleasantly forgettable, a fact that is easy to overlook when fuming about some asshole who ruined it all by complaining his 189-degree coffee was "lukewarm."

I particularly like the people whom I have gotten to know over the months since I started opening. Almost every restaurant has "regulars" - by my definition people who come in at least a couple times a week (some a couple times a day). I have the early morning regulars who stop in for bagels and coffee before work, the older retired regulars, the mid-morning-between-class bagel regulars, lunch regulars, and semi-regulars. I have scores of names and orders memorized, not counting the evening regulars I used to have when I closed.

I used to have a really hard time talking to customers. I don't want to make it sound like my job is super major hard, but for an introvert it can be very taxing to talk to people all day, every day. Sometimes it is still hard; on days when I'm feeling tired or moody the last thing I want to do is make small talk. It takes more effort to volley a conversation with someone on a casual level than with a good friend. There are rules: you can't be too short with them, but shouldn't go into too much detail either. You have to be personable, but not overly personal.

I've managed to achieve this balance with most of the people who come in in the morning, and now certain customers say hi to me even if another cashier takes their order. It's not much, but I'm proud of it because I never saw myself being good at that. I used to rarely converse with customers beyond what was absolutely necessary for the order; now a small group of them talk to me about their jobs, their exes, the weather, or whatever they feel like. And I talk back. In fact, my boyfriend of five months started off as one of my regulars, which means I must have been giving off enough warm vibes to make him want to slip me the post-it note with his phone number on it.

One woman started coming in and getting breakfast a couple of times a week. Before long I had memorized her name and her order. I was somewhat nervous around her; she was never unpleasant exactly, but she intimidated me because she had a strong presence and she didn't smile much - I didn't know how to read her. One day I was cashing her out and confirmed the name for the order, and she lit up. The following day she returned and told me that it had absolutely made her day when I said her name and order. Ever since, she makes a point to say hi to me and even calls me "sweetie." Things like this make customer service okay. Things like this make me think that, even though I'm crude and awkward as hell most of the time, I'm not a total weirdo.

Maybe it's because I'm always writing something nasty about certain customers and it's becoming tedious, or because I'm in a shitty mood and feeling exhausted and need to remember the good stuff in life, but I just felt like focusing on something that doesn't suck. Just this once. I promise I'll go back to spewing the hateful, malicious venom you're used to next time.

It is now 8 p.m. - bed time!

1 comment:

  1. As a former waitress of 4 years, I know what you mean by focusing on the negative. When you deal with people all day, every day, it's easy to get caught up in all the annoyances. I've often thought that maybe I was too hard on people- maybe they don't realize what they're doing or why it might be annoying, but I will say this... the complaining makes the job a whole lot more tolerable, and even a little more fun :)

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