People Who Work in the Service Industry Have Feelings, Too.


Story by Jennifer Sandy

I want to start this out by saying that I normally don’t post about things that happen at work anywhere on the internet. It’s unprofessional, and frankly, nobody’s business but mine. But, I have something that I feel needs to be said, and if I can save one person the pain and humiliation I went through today, then it’s worth it.

I’m a barista at a local coffee shop by day, journalist/blogger by night. I like my job as a barista. I like the people that I work with and most of the customers I serve. I already wasn’t feeling like myself this morning, but I pushed through as we got busy. I left my post at the register to put a bagel in the toaster for a customer, and politely told the next customer in line that I’d be right with her.

I came back to the register, smiled, and said “Hi, what can I get for you?” This particular customer is a regular- I already knew what she wanted, but asked anyway. She proceeded to berate me in front of everyone in the store (luckily, there weren’t that many at this point) asked me why I was always rude to her, and then told me I was a “terrible server.” I was taken aback, and I didn’t really know what to say except “I’m sorry, that was never my intention,” as I fought back tears because I was so humiliated. I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of seeing me cry, but as the next customer came up to place his order, the tears started rolling and I excused myself to go to the back room where I completely broke down.

I know this may come as shocking to some, but people in the service industry are people, too. We deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. We’re not doormats for you to take out your anger on just because you’re having a bad day.

Normally, rude customers don’t bother me. But this was so completely uncalled for and hurtful that it really got to me. I’m never intentionally rude to customers; in fact, customers tell me all the time how nice and helpful I am. I really have no idea where this customer’s verbal rampage came from. Also, I’m aware my last post was titled, “‘You know, you can be a real bitch sometimes.’ I know, thanks.” This is different. I’m in a position of leadership in the newsroom and with that comes sometimes needing to be, well, a leader. Leaders aren’t always popular with everyone 100 percent of the time. But, at the coffee shop, I’m not wearing my journalist hat. I’m different in the newsroom versus how I am at work.

But honestly, even if I had been rude to her before, there’s no excuse in the world to speak to someone the way that she spoke to me. Yes, I’m there to serve the customer — but I am human, too.

I think people sometimes forget that people who do seemingly inane and unimportant tasks for them — their barista, their waiter, the cashier at the store- are just as capable of being hurt by their words as those they love.

Is it possible that the customer I wrote about will read this post? Definitely. Will she know that it’s about her? No, probably not. People like her don’t usually tend to reflect on their actions enough to know that they can actually affect others.

So please, the next time you get angry at the girl behind the check out counter, or are just having a bad day, remember that she has feelings, too. Her name tag isn’t a kick me sign. She is just as deserving of basic human decency as anyone else, and if there really is a problem with the service you’ve been given, there are nice and respectful ways of getting your point across.

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Originally published at on June 15, 2015.

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