I’ve worked in hospitality. Which is a posh way of saying I’ve been a waitress. I meet loads of lovely waiting staff but have very little patience with awkward ones. Yes it’s tiring being on your feet but it is not a difficult job. Nor is retail (which I’ve done even more of) and I’m firmly of the mindset that smiling and being pleasant makes the job easier.

On Tuesday night we ate at The Queens Head in Longford. It was our second visit and overall I really rate the food. It’s just the whiney justification for their practises I don’t like. I hadn’t read the website before I went and nor did I scrutinise the menu when I arrived. I missed the statement that they do not serve starters only. I had the audacity to try and order a starter for my main as I couldn’t eat much (baby seemed lost and intent on occupying my stomach). I was told no.

I appreciate it’s their policy but I’m not very good at being told no by a waitress. I also found it a bit unreasonable as we were a party of five with everyone else ordering expensive mains. But I asked to look at the menu again resigned to skipping starter and having just a main. The only thing I fancied cost less than the two starters. Which seemed ridiculous. I headed to the bar (my inlaws are terrified of confrontation which means that fate dictates that the only time I ever have a problem at a restaurant is when I’m with them) to make my case.

I politely pointed out the logic of letting me have two starters and asked the waitress to be reasonable. She retorted that she didn’t feel she was being unreasonable (which is all very well but she was a stranger to me and I wasn’t terribly interested in her feelings). I sighed and waited. This is a great tactic as most people are really freaked out by eye contact and silence. Also, I had nothing to add. They could make more money out of me by giving me what I wanted, win-win.

She blathered on for a while about profit margins and her feelings. I wasn’t really listening at this point as it wasn’t very interesting. Finally she huffed and puffed and said fine. I gave her a wide smile and thanked her. I returned to my seat. A raised eyebrow from my mother in law and I just said I’d got her to give me what I wanted. This may be why my mother in law sometimes seems a bit scared of me.

I am an obnoxious bint. I fully admit that but whatever happened to the customer being right?

But I can’t complain too much as I spend a fair bit of time telling my customers what is right. In fairness that’s why they hire me – I don’t just supply marketing content, I plan and strategise it. I create solutions with it and help my clients to personalise it. When they want something I don’t want to do, I pitch preferable alternatives. When a potential client wanted copy without any strategy I refused to work for him. Just as the waitress tried to refuse to serve me.

It’s not nice being on the other side. I can empathise with the waitress having been in a similar situation myself. Naturally I had my way both times but it was really tough when the potential client rang me to make his case. There’s a phrase from Mumsnet that I love, No is a complete sentence, but it would have been a bit cheeky in a business context even from me. Yet my defence was rather like my attack in that after making my point I kept my silence. Ultimately, I do not believe I have to justify myself very often.*

I quite like people which is odd as the husband (who dislikes most people) is perceived to be a far more affable person (don’t let him fool you – beneath the polite manner he is judging you). I do try to be nice and assume niceness in others. It’s just that I qualify people before I care what they think. I suppose it’s a defence mechanism but I also think it’s efficient. Why waste time worrying what people think unless those opinions are likely to affect you?

Sure, I’d prefer it if the waitress at The Queens Head held me in neutral disregard rather than dislike me but it doesn’t really make much difference either way does it? Seems an odd thing to compromise what you want to win the approval of someone you’ll probably never see again. I cared more about the potential client as we continue to move in the same circles but again, not enough to actually do something I didn’t want to do.

I guess it’s not about the customer, it’s about me. I’m not saying I’m always right (though it’s easier when the husband doesn’t try to ague) but we are each the centre of our universe and what does denying that fact achieve? All experience is subjective after all.

And it’s not as though I didn’t tip.

* I count the husband among people I’m answerable to. Much as my mother in law often seems to believe otherwise I hold him in great respect – he had the balls to marry me after all!

The Husband
9/6/2012 07:03:06 am

I'm not judging people. I've judged them in advance. It saves time later and occasionally, just occasionally, I'm pleasantly surprised..

But usually, I'm not.

9/6/2012 07:04:43 am

I love you for your efficiency :)

10/18/2012 08:48:20 am

You have nothing to be ashamed off with regards to your experiences at the queens head. They have the most rude landlord that embodies everything that's wrong with service.

I have seen the way he shouts at his customers and attempts to intimidate people. With that as a role model, who can blame the waitress for having a bad attitude.

The food is okay, but certainly not worth the bitter taste left in your mouth when confronted with such undeserved arrogance.

You only have to read the review sites to see I am not alone in my view. The more telling is the response from the landlord to any comment that isn't positive. It appears that all positive comments are agreed with, but anything negative and it's the reviewers fault.

Next time, give them both barrels and throw your drink in their face and storm out! They don't deserve your business anyway!


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