They Already Got It Rough Enough

Having experienced the world of food service in New York, it’s become more than obvious that I’m not cut out for it. Reason being: I’m just too indignant. I couldn’t leave it all at the door; so much so that I’m still schlepping this fucking baboon around. In the spirit of releasing him back into the wild, here’s my list of food-service customer dos and don’ts.

  1. Do not argue about the prices of the food. No one who’s helping you can change them. “Not even **for me??**” No. We literally can’t.
  2. Please stop making stupid jokes. I know you’re doing it in the spirit of engagement, and that you think you’re being charming, but you don’t realize that we’ve already heard that joke 15 times today. “It’s free if it doesn’t scan!” And you’re annoying me if you’re saying that!
  3. “Are you giving away anything for free?” Not to you!
  4. For the love of all that is good and holy, do not ask me if something is “good”. I understand you’re not asking this in a concretely literal sense, but ask yourself if there is any world in which I’d be able to say, “No, it’s actually bland af, idk why we still sell it.”
  5. “What’s the best thing here?” Everyone who asked me this during my tenure at *unnamed NYC food establishment* got the same response: an ever so slightly judgmentally tinged, “It depends on what you’re looking for.” Articulate your goddamn thoughts.
  6. Possibly the most chronically wall-bash inducing question was, “Do you have a restroom?” Just typing that out made my head fill with the hot jello that is realizing how stupid 80% of the population is. GO LOOK FOR IT, before you waste your time and mine. This is not a foreign concept: it’s going to be somewhere in the back of the store. Walk your little feeties back there and find it.
  7. Don’t come to the counter with your headphones in. I’m always going to assume they’re on, even if you’ve convinced yourself you’ve done me the mitzvah of my day and paused your music. It’s an unspoken rule that the staff is going to fuck with you, aka speak extra loudly at you and make you repeat everything you say at least twice.
  8. This should really be an obvious one for every partially/semi-normal hum out there, but don’t treat us like we’re idiots because of where we work. Especially do not literally make fun of us for it. No shitting, I had someone tell me once that he bet my “mommy and daddy are so proud” of me for working in the food service industry. Of course, he wasn’t nearly as confident in his douchebaggery once I lied and told him that both my parents had died in a car crash.
  9. Please don’t let your children rub their grubby hands all over everything and/or reach for the cookie we’re not going to gift them. Please also do not sit your child on the counter.
  10. Don’t reach around the sneeze-guards to point to the item you want. There’s a reason why those 2-foot high squares of plexiglass are there, and it’s not to test your loyalty to the food behind them.
  11. Specify. Your. Goddamn. Preference. I can’t tell you how many times I got orders for a “coffee”. Sometimes they’d do me the favor of saying “regular coffee” as if that was any more helpful. What size. Iced or hot. Milk. Sugar. All things I’m going to have to chase you down the counter and ask you about individually, and all things that are going to waste everyone’s time.
  12. Do not bring your animals into the store. Do not argue with me when I tell you that nope, it doesn’t matter to me, my boss, or the DOH if you were “just getting a muffin to go”. Do not try to hide your dog in your bag for the 4th time that week. Do not pretend it’s a service dog and then get mad at me when I ask to see the tags.
  13. If you’re getting a gigantic order, CALL AHEAD. Please do not come in and ask for “oh, just like 30 assorted pastries!” If we even have that many, we’re going to be completely wiped out and the counter is going to look like shit after we pack them all up for you. If you’re getting more than 10 things, call ahead. Seriously, we’re not mad about the amount. Just give us like 30 minutes notice and everything will go much nicer for you. We’ll probably even throw in some extras for you!
  14. Finally, tip the goddamn help. We work our asses off. Some of us even actually care about doing a great job. Unless someone spit in your actual face, or made you the wrong thing more than once, leave a tip. Chances are that we are super poor, and it’s really frustrating and deflating when we see you pour the 27 cents of change you got into your Prada wallet, which you then place in your Givenchy/Chloé/Chanel bag.

I know that all of the above makes me sound like a real people-hatin grinch. It was actually the total opposite; I adored my job. My favorite thing about it was getting to meet all the awesome people I did. I even had 30–40 regulars who made my day every time I saw them. Ranging from models and dancers to janitors in the building over, to English painters to celebrities who were way nicer than anyone gives them credit for, I learned a ton of fantastic tidbits and cultural snippets from all of them. I loved the looks on their faces when their orders were waiting for them before they’d even made it into the store, just because of how well we knew their schedules. It was so fulfilling to make people so happy, and so warming to get love and appreciation back from them. I never realized just how large a part of each others lives we were until I was gone, and I really do miss them. That being said, there are easy ways to be just as awesome as they all were.

  1. Be kind, be open, be warm. Especially when we’ve seen you enough to recognize you, we want to get to know you. If we see those vibes in you too, we’ll go above and beyond to get you everything you need, and throw in extras, too.
  2. Joke around with us. Once you know us, tease us. It makes everyone happy when we see each other as friends, not just employees and customers.
  3. Let the free stuff come to you. We will literally throw it at you if we’re at the right level of friendship. For your boss! For your friend who was sick last week! For you, you deserve it!
  4. Yeah, if you’re super nice and friendly and generally awesome with us in the evenings, we’ll give you tons of free stuff that we’d otherwise be getting rid of. Shhhhh.
  5. It’s fine if you don’t want to be friends with us, it’s fine if you’re not the joking type, just be kind. Thank us when we hand you your stuff, and mumble “you too” at us when we wish you a good day. That’s all!

The food industry, especially in New York, is rougher than you think. I have so much respect for anyone who deals with the general public on a daily basis. Just you try describing the texture of a chocolate chip cookie 25 times a day.

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