Good customers get good service

I am sure that you have read every article from adults who describe this generation’s sense of entitlement. According to dictionary.com, “entitled” means “to give (a person or thing) a title, right, or claim to something.” I do not like to believe the stereotype that some people have on this generation, as I am sure that you do not as well. But there’s a problem with arguing that a stereotype is not true when you continue to demonstrate that behavior.

Specifically, I am talking about the attitudes and behavior that many University of Indianapolis students demonstrate at Streets, the Sub Hub, Fiesta Grill and the Perk stations. I will be standing in line, waiting for my turn, and I hear the person in front of me give their order. The server always says, “Hello,” and honestly, the server is lucky to get a hello back from the student. The student gives the list of ingredients he or she wants. It’s literally a list.

“White wrap. Turkey. Ham. Lettuce. Swiss cheese.”

No “please.”

No “may I have…?”

No “thank you” or “have a nice day” after the food is handed out.

Nothing.

It disgusts me.

It disgusts me because the person on the other side of that counter is just that: a person. It does not matter if he or she is wearing an apron, plastic gloves or a name tag. Let’s remember the golden rule, an ideal that was taught to most of us at a young age. You treat people the way you want to be treated. It sickens me and makes me so ashamed of my fellow students that because they’re in such a hurry to get to class or whatever, they cannot spare two seconds to say “please” or “thank you” or even bother to offer a smile or courtesy nod to the worker.

As a former hostess, my job required waiting on people. I sat them at the appropriate tables and booths at the beginning of their experience at the restaurant, and I cashed them out at the end of it. I also occasionally took carry-out orders and would give guests refills or to-go-boxes. I took a lot of pride in my job, and I always made sure to leave the guests with a smile and a wave when they were seated or as they took their change and left the establishment.

Guests often complimented me to managers and co-workers and said how sweet I was and how many people loved my smile. Even though I don’t work at a restaurant anymore, I carry that lesson with me into my everyday life: People respond positively to a smile.

I always get amazing service when I am kind to people. At other restaurants, waiters and waitresses always make sure I am not neglected or go without a refill. If something goes wrong during the experience, it makes me happy to see the relief on a waiter’s or waitress’ face after I tell him or her, “It’s okay. It’s not a big deal.” Being kind and treating wait staff like fellow human beings—which, again, they are—makes me feel happy and good.

So, take this tip from a former hostess and restaurant worker: When you’re a poor customer, you get poor service. If you’re going to bark at me every time I bring you water, I am going to stop coming to your table frequently. If you’re not going to say “please” after your request for extra cheese, maybe I’ll put a pinch of cheese on it and just say it’s extra. If you make a fool of yourself by shouting or trying to cause a problem, you will become the story, the joke, that I tell all my friends as we’re swapping horror stories. I will laugh and say, “You think that’s bad? Wait till you hear about this guy.” You will be the joke.

Is that how you want to be remembered in your life? As the joke? If not, then keep this in mind. I remember every guest or customer who showed me kindness. I remember every person who told me he or she loved my hair. I remember the man who gave me a tip for holding the door open for him. I remember the dad who told me he brought his two kids to the restaurant every Tuesday night because they knew that’s when I was working, and they wanted to see me. I remember every guest who brought me gift cards, holiday cards, extra tips or books around Christmas. I remember the guests who smiled at me, and said “please,” “thank you,” “God bless you” or “have a nice day.”

Even if I didn’t know their names, even if I can’t tell you exactly what they were wearing, it doesn’t matter. The service industry can be grueling. Guests usually never see the million other things you have to do in the background or behind the counter. But every person who was kind to me, showed me courtesy and treated me like a person made my smile wider and my day brighter.

We are not entitled anything, except for air, water and other things that keep us alive. Stop feeding the stereotype of expecting things that you don’t deserve and that you did not earn. If you do not treat someone like a person, you do not deserve to be respected as one either.

Remember the golden rule. Treat people the way you want to be treated.

And remember my “silver rule.” Don’t mess with the people who mess with your food.