Ever since the summer after I graduated from high school, I have worked three different food service jobs, all of which I've loved. To be honest, it's impossible for me to pick a favorite among the three since all have brought me enjoyable work environments, amazing coworkers, and the satisfaction of being productive and useful.
Even though blue-collar jobs like food service are often looked down on, I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunities I've had in this line of work. I've gained such an appreciation for how hard people with these jobs work, and it's helped me improve and modify my behavior when I'm a customer at a restaurant.
For instance, I know from personal experience as a customer that it's frustrating when your order is made incorrectly, the service is slow, or a seemingly simple task seems to take an eternity. However, now that I've worked in food service, I understand that the work is much more difficult than it looks. You're constantly rushing around to restock supplies and communicate with your coworkers, all while dealing with the stress of rushes at meal hours and of working in a noisy, often crowded environment. Now, whenever I'm ordering food somewhere, I try to be patient and give employees the benefit of the doubt because I know things can be tough even when you're doing your best.
Furthermore, my jobs in food service have helped me realize that a lot of things are beyond the control of the minimum wage employees working at the counter. When I'm a customer at a restaurant where prices have changed or a particular item is out of stock, I don't get upset with the person taking or making my order. As a restaurant employee myself, I know what it's like to be afraid that a customer will be upset because of a certain price or policy or because we ran out of something they want. I know that food service workers aren't trying to make things difficult for the customer. Most of the time, employees want to meet customers' needs but also have to deal with circumstances beyond their control, and I take this into consideration when I'm a customer.
Another thing I've learned is the value of simply being friendly and polite as a customer. The employees behind the counter are people too, and they have to deal with stressful situations and tough hours every day. Having a customer who smiles and says hello before ordering, instead of simply rattling off what he or she wants without a simple greeting, always makes my day. Furthermore, if we make a mistake on someone's order, it's such a relief when they aren't upset or snappy about it, but instead calmly and politely ask us to remake it. Whenever I'm a customer, I try to be as cheerful and friendly as I can to the person taking my order since I know how much that means to me when I'm in their shoes.
Of course, many employees are simply lazy, rude, or negligent, and such behavior is not acceptable. Workers need to practice the same tolerance and manners as customers do. Food service is a two-way street with employees and customers, and having people on both sides who respect each other and want to do their best makes the experience better for everyone involved.