A Love Letter to Post-Covid Restaurant Patrons.

Food rant, inspired by one too many CNN stories about the restaurant industry.

Been out for a meal lately?

Notice that it takes longer to get service? Food? Get seated, even though there are plenty of tables?

Getting pissed? You waited all this time for a nice meal at your favorite place and THIS is how you’re rewarded?

Whatcha doing about it, Skeezix?

Abusing your servers, punishing them with fewer tips?

Screaming at them in front of all the patrons until they cry?

Calling the manager over to abuse them in front of everyone because your salad was missing a lettuce leaf?

Photo by daan evers on Unsplash

Putting on my Mommy hat:

Get out of the fucking restaurants, you selfish assholes, and go to bed without dinner.

Just saying.

In case you have had your head up your ass lately, and plenty of people have, self-righteous, entitled restaurant-goers are not only abusing the few staff who are willing to show up to deal with their shit, but staff are also walking off the job BECAUSE of their shit, putting more pressure on those who are left.

'People are just walking out in the middle of shifts': What it's like to work in a restaurant right…
Workers interviewed by CNN Business said they're struggling in the short-staffed environment.

From the article:

“People are just walking out in the middle of shifts,” Morton said. “[Hostesses who] seat the tables, the dishwashers, the bussers … they’ll walk out,” he said.

Morton understands why people might quit. After waiting to be seated, customers arrive at their tables “already angry, already wanting to complain about things,” he said. A few weeks ago one employee started to cry because a customer was so mean to her. (author bolded)

Pardon me, but.

Jessica Wildfire has written a lot about the service economy and what it takes to survive (not survive, more like). Here’s where I stand on this. I was out of work for a good long chunk of time in my thirties. Tried waitressing.

I SUCKED at it.

Lemme say that again. I SUCKED at it. I constantly got stiffed. I couldn’t pay my bills and endured endless abuse. Multiply that, which was three decades ago, by a factor of a million, and then add steroid-induced rage from the Clueless Masses who aren’t attending the goddamned news.

People who are in such a level of denial that they honestly believe that ALL restaurants are back to FULL capacity and that every single aspect of pre-Covid service should be expected.

What planet are you inhabiting? Oh. Fox News.

Here’s a newsflash: people don’t make enough in the first place, Sparky. Restaurants can’t hire, they aren’t making enough to pay more, and shitheels who come in and abuse the staff are forcing more to walk out for their own sanity.

How kind of you, really. It kind of puts a brand new Kleig light on “the customer is always right.”

More like, the customer is a righteous asshole, in these cases, and needs to be shown “right this way”: out the front door.

Here’s my rant: grow the fuck up. Learn some manners. Patience. Pay attention to the news. The restaurants around here where my real estate agent and I used to go for lunch can’t find staff. They’re open three days a week and on reduced hours, at best. Or closed. Maybe forever.

I hardly think that barking my beef at the server is 1) going to get food out of the kitchen any faster when three walkouts mean that all the servers have to get into food prep AND bussing AND cleanup AND hostessing and prepping all the takeout orders 2) the place isn’t going to stay open very long when they are down to two people, including the manager.

Said manager- and here I am largely addressing the little local hole-in-the-wall places, the family-supported one-offs- still has to pay for the building rent or mortgage, all the food costs, all the lost food when it’s tossed because widdle Willie doesn’t like his macaroni. Said manager still has to fill in for every single job that a walkout left undone, including scrubbing the toilets at days’ end.

But it’s not just that. At one point, because of a host of factors, line cooks were at the highest risk of mortality for Covid.

'We Want to Work, But We Also Want to Be Treated Like Human Beings'
After eight years in the restaurant industry, Estefanía decided she'd had enough. Last summer, she quit her job at a…

From the article:

A February study from researchers at the University of California, San Francisco found that line cooks had the highest mortality rate during the height of the pandemic in the U.S. Even when cities were under “lockdown,” plenty of restaurants were open for takeout and delivery, and back-of-house staff were bearing the brunt of the labor and the risk.

The service industry, and restaurants, in particular, are in terrible shape. It’s chaotic. Maybe some will survive. Maybe they won’t. But one thing I do know, they will not survive the rising tide of jerks who do not, will not, or refuse to understand realities for those places of business.

We are not now, and never were “all in this together.” Not in a million years, those divides getting wider by the day. Un-vaccinated folks marching into places of business and screeching about what they deserve and what they are owed, while possibly exposing folks who can’t afford NOT to work to their cooties. As it has been from the beginning.

We are not in this together. And some of those folks are not willing to put up with customer crap on top of abuse from managers, landlords, and credit card companies, and god knows who else.

For some odd reason, folks just don’t want to sign up for ugliness either in the back kitchen or the front of the house, or both. Nor do they want to sign up for work which is dangerous to their health, and patrons who have the manners of a warthog with diarrhea. Of the mouth.

Photo by Krisztina Papp on Unsplash

I had a stir fry for lunch this past Wednesday at one of the few places open. I am so damned grateful for the fact that they ARE open. When it took a very long time for the food to arrive, I figured that they are likely short-staffed. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been a waitress. Been abused and stiffed. Been unable to get a job and pay my bills for a good long time and that was all I could find, and as I said, I fucking SUCKED at it.

There is nothing but nothing like having had to live that life for a while to have deep empathy for service employees. Gone are all the “thank our hero” signs. We’re back to being abusive assholes to people trying very hard to make sure they don’t lose their apartments this fall. Can buy diapers and medicine and pay school bills.

Can’t behave like an adult? Go to bed without dinner. Come back when you can adult. Or even better, stay home. I don’t want to have to sit next to you and your screaming family. You might end up wearing the stir fry I waited so patiently for. It’d be worth the trip to the police station. Just saying.

Even better, here’s a thought. A mean one, but what the hey:

Perhaps it’s best if you can’t find work yourself. Nobody wants to hire you. Suddenly the only viable option for you (and your partner, whatever) is multiple service jobs, mostly in service industries, where you get to be treated with remarkable disdain by folks Just. Like. You. Waiting tables, delivering pizzas to dangerous drunks, bussing, scrubbing toilets.

It’s wondrous how much empathy can be found at the base of a toilet bowl.

As for our lunch? The food was fabulous. I left twice my normal tip. I do that now.

You don’t have to. Not at all.

But I can guarantee you that this place will be very glad to see us back.

Rant over. Enjoy your meal. If you get one.

Photo by @shawnanggg on Unsplash