For the last couple of years since abandoning a career in audio, I have chosen to work in the service industry. I haven’t found myself forced to do so and I sure don’t do it for the money. I do it because I am constantly, genuinely excited by food and drink, surprised that I can get paid for being excited about food and drink, and most of all, I love to facilitate the good times for people. Whatever it is that people do outside the establishment in which I work, where they contribute to some other small section of the society in which we live, they can stop doing it, come in to see my friends and I, and we will look after them for a few hours before ejecting them back into the rat race to have another go.
Most of the time I’m pretty good at cheering up even those who have had the shittiest of days. Some people are proper, born and raised, full-on c*nts though. And it isn’t cool. It is not OK. It is does not need to be an occupational hazard. Sometimes, it would be nice if people took into consideration that we have lives, and we might have had a shitty day as well. So this is my open letter (since they are in vogue at the moment) to the woman who ruined a whole host of peoples days today, but is relevant to everyone who has ever spat hospitality back in the face of my peers or I…
I am sorry that it took 25 minutes for you to get your toasted sandwich. I hope that I can go some way to explaining why you had such a horrible experience, worse in fact (as you explained, very clearly) than anything you’ve experienced in your entire life, and possibly worse than anything anyone else has experienced in their lives also.
First of all, there was a decision taken when the shop opened (which I was not present for and cannot be certain why exactly), that it would be in everyones interest whilst in the shop, to use ‘earth-minutes’. As such, my watch, which is very reliable, said you were waiting just 14 earth-minutes. I hope you will understand it was these minutes I was referring to when I said “I’m really sorry, we’ve just taken quite a few sandwich orders at once and there’s a 10-15 minute wait at the moment.” . As a result of your experience we will be training staff to say ‘earth-minutes’ for our inter-planetary guests as well as those who regularly come a cropper of temporal anomalies.
Second, I’m afraid a queue of four people does not constitute us ‘needing an extra person on’. Although I appreciate your vast experience in the managing various kinds of service outlets, as well as all those years in HR, we are still finding that customers just won’t do what they’re told and spread their lunch orders evenly at 10 minute intervals over the course of the day. As such, I ‘need an extra person on’ for a half an hour at lunch.
Unfortunately, despite you explaining you can do the job my staff do better (sorry we’re not hiring at the moment, drop us a CV though, we’ll let you know) I believe them to be some of the most hard-working human beings on the planet. A lot of them do other things with their lives, work between 6 and 8 days a week and up to 26 hours a day including their other jobs/studies/creative outlets and they work with us to support themselves on the meagre wage we can afford for them. To ask someone to work for half an hour in the middle of every day, is not something that can support anybody’s lifestyle.
Granted, I’m sure someone would appreciate a four hour shift and I could find them something to do. That brings me to my third point though.
No. £4.55 for a sandwich is not extortion, neither are you looking at anybody over the counter sitting pretty on a mountain of cash. And you are looking at the entire corporation over the counter. From the bottom to the top. If the owner of this business was a millionaire, he wouldn’t be able to spend the money on fast cars and worldwide travel because if you hadn’t noticed, we’re open 6 days a week 50 weeks a year, and he’s always here.
The ingredients in your sandwich are the best quality available to humankind. That is the best freaking cheese available this side of Borough Market. That pig was hand-reared and slept on satin freakin’ sheets so that you can justify your mis-placed morals. And that bread was baked locally. Last night. And delivered here at 6am, so you could have a meat and cheese freakin’ sandwich for lunch. On top of that it’s enormous. £4.55 barely covers the ingredients, let alone the overheads, and paying us poor fuckers at barely above minimum wage to spend our day listening to how shit you think we are. Frankly, I force enough people to stand here for you to use for target practice, without paying someone else for four hours, and putting the prices up to boot. It wouldn’t be fair. I can handle you, my boss can handle you, but I’m ashamed every time I ask some poor, over-worked member of staff to serve you and your wannabe-posh-ass friends. Because the people I work with work hard, they’re some of the greatest human beings who have ever been created, and they are humble too, and a pleasure to exist with. And it isn’t OK that they get put up against you.
Lastly, no, you are not a regular customer. You come in once every two weeks to buy a toasted sandwich. You don’t even buy a coffee. This business is not teetering dangerously on the fulcrum of your two pound average weekly spend. Moreover, my friends and I here don’t give a crap. If you come in here with a smile, once a year and spend 5p, you will make our lives genuinely better. Do you know why, because we love you to be happy whoever you are and whatever you want, we go out of our way to try and make it happen, and that smile makes us think we’re doing a good job. You can spend a million pounds, everyday, and however rich you are, you cannot buy the right to treat another human being the way you did today. And you don’t have to. As I keep saying, we’re human beings and we do make mistakes. If we mess up your sandwich or your coffee order, you know what, we feel like douche bags already, you don’t need to go out of your way to make us feel worse. We would like to, as soon as possible, put things right for you. We are not dogs who need you to make us feel like dicks, so we learn. It’s only a freaking sandwich. We just don’t need that. And this is a life lesson, which may be a bit forward but hear me out, actually no one needs that, and it won’t get you anywhere.
So I’ve attached a £1 Sainsbury’s voucher in the hope that that will go some way to compensating you for your experience. And I know you love Sainsbury’s, you said such good things about how inexpensive their sandwiches were. I’ll be sure to check them out.