How big of a slice would you like? (Be nice to the food workers!)

Now, I’m not usually one to go off on a rant about my jobs in a blog, but I can’t help it.

I’ve been working in the food industry for about 3 years now. I first started at the Windsor Dining Court on the Purdue University campus. Not too bad of a job, really, but I digress… My big problem is with my summer/winter job at a riverboat casino buffet aptly named “Riverview Buffet.”

One recurring theme I hear about in this type of work concentration is the onslaught of horrible customers who seem to have never lived one happy moment in their entire wretched lives, and whose sole purpose is to make others miserable.

I know that waiters and waitresses tend to get the short end of the stick, but I’d like to discuss the other workers that make up a restaurant- the cooks and the attendants (mainly times, people are both). I, myself, am an attendant/cook. At Windsor, I am officially a “student cook” in which I have to know how to properly cook most foods, temperatures all the foods are supposed to be at, proper storage of food and drinks, proper uses of sanitation, the correct way to cut certain foods, how to properly use all cooking machines, how to properly clean all cooking machines, among other things- with little to no training. At Riverview, I am expected to know how to properly cook food, where the food is stored, how long to cook certain foods, when to replace food, the correct temperatures of food, if the food contains ingredients that may make the food spicy, et cetera- all with, once again, little to no training.

On top of all of this knowledge that you have to learn yourself are customers that think you should know everything about the food and whatnot, and that think you are the sole person in charge of their meal. Let’s not forget that the majority of these people are assholes that are looking to find your one flaw and exploit that to get a free meal.

If you think about it- food service people are the low of the low. They are some of the lowest paid workers doing some of the most rigorous, exhausting, stressful jobs out there. They have to make sure the food is perfect, if not, it gets back to the supervisors who will make your life a living hell for making them have a bad day. On top of that are the bitchy customers.

So, what’s my point? Be nice to the people that are working with your food. Here are some tips that would really make my life, as well as other food worker lives, easier:

1.If you are getting some food, and you notice that the tong/spoon is missing from the pan of food, please do NOT grab a tong/spoon from another food’s pan. That’s cross-contamination, and is unhealthy for most people. Chances are, the food is about ready to be replaced or someone else dropped the utensil on the floor. Please get a worker to get a new utensil, or wait a few damn seconds until the worker finishes re-filling the pan.

2.Don’t assume that EVERYTHING is made from scratch. Most of the time, the food is shipped in boxes and stored in a freezer. Prep cookers take it out, cook it, and add a little garnish. So, don’t bother asking for something to be made differently. Just take it as it is.

3.Do not take food you don’t want and put it somewhere else. Once it’s on your plate- leave it there. Grabbing a piece of pizza and realizing you grabbed the wrong slice is no excuse to put the piece you already got back on the plate. That contaminates the food, and then the entire pizza has to be thrown away.

4.If the desserts are wrapped, take the wrapping with you. We are not trash collectors.

5.Just because we’re cooking omelets doesn’t mean that we know what a “New Yorker with blood” or whatever means. (By the way, I don’t believe there really is an omelet called that…) With this, don’t assume that we’re going to cook something exactly how you would cook it at home. If you want an omelet, you’re getting a fucking omelet… none of this weird, scrambled egg with ham shit.

6.Scrambled eggs in the pan ARE REAL EGGS.

7.If you don’t see it, we don’t have it.

8.If we’re busy with another customer- don’t interrupt.

9.Just because you’ve worked in a similar place doesn’t mean that all places run the same way. Trust me, I work in two different food service jobs, and both are completely different.

10.Don’t be an asshole. Chances are, the person you’re bitching really doesn’t want to be there, and is probably already upset at the other 10 million people that have yelled at him/her that day. With this, don’t act like you’re better than us- we’re all human.

11.If your food is cold, make sure you didn’t walk around the buffet for ten minutes looking for butter- chances are that’s why your food is cold.

12.Don’t come in when the place is going to close down in five minutes. No, we’re not going to have all the food, and we’re not going to make you more, either.

13.Don’t tell us your life story. We’d love to chat with you, but we have work to do.

14.Don’t complain about it being too cold- try standing by 500-degree ovens for 8 hours with no air conditioning and THEN we'll talk about the buffet being "too cold."

15.Don’t ask if we love our jobs when we look exasperated and tired. You already know the answer.

16.Compliments make each moment a little more bearable.

17.Speak up when you’re talking to an employee by a grill. Chances are there’s a venting system above them that makes it really hard to hear you.

18.Just assume that NOTHING is vegan/vegetarian safe. Even if it doesn’t have meat in it, meat probably touched it at one point.

19.Bring your plate to the food, not the other way around. Doing so will result in less amounts of food accidentally being spilled on the counters.

20.Remember that we’re all humans that are fallible. Sometimes, mistakes happen.

I’m not saying that my jobs are the hardest jobs in the world; I know they’re not. But I just want to bring it to attention that these are difficult jobs that require you to know quite a bit of information without any training on the matter. I believe that if you keep my 20 tips in mind- your dining experiences will be so much better and more enjoyable. Not only that, but you’ll be making the job a little more bearable for the underpaid and overworked employee.

And trust me, we’ll be thankful for your kindness. I remember every single rude thing that’s been said to me, but not the person themselves, however; I remember every single kind person.
Posted on June 1st, 2007 at 01:44am

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