EDITORIAL: They’re servers, not servants. You don’t need to show superiority to receive your order

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Patrons eat at a restaurant in downtown Riverside after being closed for months due to the pandemic April 5, 2021.
By the Viewpoints editorial board

We’ve all heard stories about altercations involving food service employees and customers, some of which even have resulted in deaths. 

A restaurant job isn’t the only part of these people’s lives, but no, the customer isn’t always right. 

Nonetheless, workers try.  Unfortunately, as students, school is not our only obligation. Many of us either start or end our days as restaurant or fast food workers.

It’s understood the employee’s job is to provide each customer with three key things: satisfactory service, a good meal and your money’s worth. 

As difficult as it may be to juggle work, life and school schedules, part of the job is leaving personal problems at the door and putting a happy smile on for the customers. But how long can one keep that smile while being belittled by a customer whose crispy chicken sandwich wasn’t to their liking? 

Yes, that is directed at the hungry man who yelled at the new hostess during the tenth hour of her double shift. And to the biker who threw a plate full of food back at his server because it wasn’t hot enough. 

Again, it’s understood food service workers are there to provide customers with exceptional service. Still, nothing warrants mistreatment to the extent that they endure. 

If you’ve worked in the industry long enough, you know that sometimes going above and  beyond for customers is the only way for someone’s shift to run smoothly. Even the most ridiculous requests are met with a positive attitude. 

But, is it really necessary to hand-squeeze four limes into someone’s margarita by demand when there’s a squeezer at hand?

Aside from customer ordeals, being overworked and underpaid doesn’t fall short on the list of things workers must face. 

Any restaurant employee can tell you that getting a weekend off is nearly impossible unless they’re fortunate enough to work for an employer who is flexible to their needs. Also  nearly impossible. 

Some go directly to work from campus for a closing shift until nearly midnight and either open the restaurant the following morning, or head to class bright and early. Homework and rest can be an afterthought. 

Workers miss out on countless birthdays and just about every significant holiday with loved ones because those are the busiest days for the industry. 

Sure, the money earned on those days makes it easier to justify walking into work with the mindset that all those missed memories will be worth it in the long run. That’s not the case when they pick up the signed check with a giant ‘0’ on the tip line.

That’s not to say a tip is mandatory when dining out but after excessive drink refills, eye-rolls and the occasional unwarranted sexual remark, a couple bucks shouldn’t hurt. 

Humility and entitlement are two words anyone in customer service knows better than anyone.

They master the concepts from the never-ending cycle of an angry, entitled customer that humbles them into realizing “I need my job,” before reacting to the mistreatment. 

With graduation, weddings and a few national holidays approaching, we ask as underpaid, overworked and mentally strained working students — have compassion and be kind.

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