If you ever want to experience pure, unadulterated, social-related anxiety, take my grandad out for a meal. A proud, Welsh man in his 80s, Grandad Bill is the epitome of a terrible customer – and I say that with nothing but love.
The reason? Grandad used to be a “silver service trained” waiter for Barley’s Bank in London, and these three words “silver service trained” still fill me with dread today.
Picture this: my family and I at a chain pub in Surrey about to order, when our ill-fated waitress approaches us and utters the greeting that was to be her ultimate downfall:
“Hey guys! What can I get you?”
Time slowed to snail pace as we watched Grandad Bill’s face turn from a tomato-red to an aubergine purple, as he proclaimed, “Guys? Guys?! How. DARE. You!”
Moments of Irrationality
Putting embarrassing relatives to one side, it’s fair to say that as much as we don’t like to, every now and then we let our emotions dictate our actions, and sometimes these emotions can mar the facts of a given situation. I myself can recall ranting at staff for getting my breakfast wrong, when in fact that was exactly what I’d ordered.
The key is how we individually handle the slip-up. Some may instantly apologise with their tail in-between their legs, while others may continue ranting; bolstered onwards by the confusion that they couldn’t possibly be wrong.
It happens to the best of us. For whatever reason we’re emotionally charged, we take it out on staff; we put our foot in it and end up having to re-learn societal politeness that keeps us in check.
At the end of the day, what’s more important than unjustifiably going off at staff, is the way you recover. You can brush your public blunder to one side – in that moment when you realise you’re wrong, you need make amends.
Back-Pedalling To Save Face
Whenever Grandad Bill managed to spit the dummy over something ridiculous, my family and I would do everything we could to rectify the situation. During a public admonishing, we’d make sympathetic eye contact with the waitress and afterwards we’d privately apologise and dad would leave a generous, guilt-laden tip.
Grandad, however, saw no use in apologising as he saw himself completely in the right – he really did expect all hospitality staff to be silver-service trained. This is a perfect example of why the myth “The Customer is Always Right” needs to be busted: sometimes people are way off.
If you ever find yourself reigning down a scolding from a place of irrationality, here are a few steps to rectify your pride…
Step 1: Apologise, empathise and rationalise. Take that sheepish expression of yours and explain your oversight. The staff member will already know all this, but it helps to vocalise where you went wrong.
Step 2: Have a laugh! Laughing at yourself tends to soften the fact that you’ll be laughed at as soon as you walk away.
Step 3: Make an offer to make it better. This step will change depending on the gravity of your ranting – you can share your experience on their social media page to show how well the company handled it, or simply leave an apologetic tip.
There’s Nowt So Queer As Folk
Along with his strong belief that all service staff ought to be silver service trained, my grandad also doesn’t like “white food”, won’t drink tea out of a dark mug, and we once had to leave an establishment because they offered a caramelised onion and tomato tart – an exotic flavour combination that sent grandad into culinary turmoil.
Like Grandad Bill, we’re not all without our faults, and despite our efforts to remain in control, sometimes we let our emotions get the best of us. So if you ever find yourself at a heightened state, barking up the wrong tree, just remember to sincerely apologise, laugh at yourself and offer a token of your regret – or embarrassment.