Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Customer Who Just Didn't Know

I think everyone should hold a service industry job at least once in their life. That way, everyone would know what a service industry person has to go through on a regular basis. People would learn to be better customers and treat the people who serve them well.

With that said, I had a customer who came into the restaurant ten minutes before we were closing. I happily greeted him and took his drink order right away. It was a rather slow night, my bar was near being closed up and I had nothing else left to do for the evening. How long could one drink take, right?

The customer ordered a mixed drink and sat at the bar, staring at me. In addition to staring at me, the customer was constantly stirring the ice in his drink with his straw. Since it was only the customer and I in the bar, I could hear the ice being swirled around inside the glass loud and clear. I didn't know what was more annoying, the sound of the ice being stirred in the glass or the guy staring at me. I just tried my best to ignore him and the ice and continued on with cleaning up and closing down the bar.

After awhile, he tried to make small talk with me. He told me that he noticed everyone was clocking out and asked what time we closed. I told him we closed at 11, which would be in five minutes. Not catching on, he went back to stirring the ice in his drink.


Now if he had ordered dinner and some wine, then staying open past closing time would have been worthwhile. But this guy had one drink and instead of drinking it, he continued to stir the ice around and around inside the glass.

It was obvious that this guy was lonely and probably had a few drinks earlier in the evening. He told me twice that he had walked five miles. Wow! Five miles? Really? Like I cared. I had been working since 4:30 that night. I had to get up early in the morning for my other job. I didn't care. I just wanted to go home and go to bed.

I finally ran out of things to do behind the bar so all I had left to do was stand behind the bar and stare right back at him. It wasn't until then that the customer asked me if he was holding me up from going home. I told him (with a smile) that he was my last customer. Finally, he got the hint, slurped up the remainder of his drink, thanked me for serving him and left.

I thought it was really interesting that despite seeing all the employees clocking out, being told that the restaurant was to close in five minutes and seeing that he was the only customer in the place, the only thing that clued him in was me staring right back at him.

Here's a Good Customer tip: Good customers don't come into a bar or restaurant five minutes before closing. If you have ever worked in the service industry, you would know how freaking painful it is when customers do that and you wouldn't do it to anyone else. And if you did, you would make it worth that person's while by tipping extra and not taking your sweet time!

Some people just don't know.

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