‘Never date anyone who’s rude to the waiter.’
It’s advice that’s almost as old as dating itself, passed down from generation to generation through excruciating parental chats and last-minute advice before you head out to meet your latest Tinder conquest.
As time goes on, though – as with most helpful advice we’re given by our parents – we forget. Heaven forbid, more than a few of us are even guilty of rolling our eyes at a scatterbrained waiter, or getting increasingly irritated as a barman seemingly deliberately avoids us (pro tip: unless you’re being a prat, they’re definitely not doing it on purpose).
Last week’s ‘McStrike’ brought these discussions back to the fore. Workers for the fast food giant staged a huge walk-out last Monday, citing poor working conditions and even worse pay as their reasons for standing up to Ronald McDonald and his cronies.
While they picketed local branches, joined by many non-McDonalds workers in a show of solidarity, photos emerged of the horrific scars and injuries the workers have sustained, from scars from spitting oil, to griddle lines of the grill leaving permanent marks on their hands and arms.
Sadly, that didn’t stop the stupid opinions from tumbling forth.
YouTuber Suzy Lu took the opportunity to lambaste McDonalds workers for ‘expectig handouts’, telling them to ‘go get an actual decent job’.
She neglected to mention that she has a Patreon account – a crowd-sourcing site where creatives can, er, receive financial handouts from their fans. Ho-hum.
It’s a viewpoint that’s all too prevalent. Those very same people who are too ‘lazy’ to cook their own dinner will often gladly punch downwards at the very people who are cooking it for them.
There’s a level of expectation and superiority in these reactions which goes far beyond a simple lack of manners – there’s an ingrained belief that these people are somehow worse than those they’re serving, as if cooking and packaging up a burger and chips (that you don’t even get to eat!), in a searingly hot kitchen, is something that deserves scorn.
What’s more, it can be found everywhere, not just in your local Maccies.
Bar staff are often harangued by drunken pillocks, waiters get tutted and whinged at by entitled diners. From chefs to glass collectors, hotel maids to shop floor workers, the hospitality industry is rife with people who are constantly harangued, belittled, sneered at and mocked. And it needs to stop.
Which brings us back to those all-important ‘mum chats’.
‘Never judge a person ’til you’ve walked a mile in their shoes’, they say, their voices rattling round our heads.
One again – as always – they’re right.
Working a bar job in uni taught me an awful lot about something I foolishly thought I’d got sussed. I’ve spent more time than I’d care to admit in pubs and bars across this country and others, but it wasn’t until I hopped over to the other side of the bar that I really saw just how much effort it takes to keep those taps flowing, and keep the customers drinking.
You’re juggling plates of food, people’s drinks, other people’s orders, more people’s money, a card machine, a new barrel or crate, and countless other things, and all the while trying to remain upbeat and smiling, so you don’t get accused of being miserable by some drunk old bloke.
And that’s before some plonker walks up and demands you make 10 long island iced teas at once. And then starts complaining when – surprise! – it takes a while.
If you’re that guy, please just stop.
It’s a relatively thankless job, too – more often than not you’re on minimum wage, and tipping culture in Britain is a shambles. People get especially stroppy after a few drinks too – I’ve had friends threatened with violence for simply taking a while to serve one particular customer at a packed bar.
Which is why these jobs should be compulsory.
In days gone by, we made it mandatory for people to serve in the armed forces, putting their lives at immediate risk and their mental health at the hands of potentially long-term problems. So why not swap guns for beer pumps, and helmets for hair nets?
It’d give back to the economy, ensuring that young people are in work rather than relying on the bank of mum and dad. It’d teach everyone valuable life skills too, both practical and social.
Better yet, it would raise a society of people who understand just how difficult these jobs can be – one where the idea of getting ‘an actual decent job’ is stamped out by shared experience.
Some people are completely unable to view things from the perspective of others – forcing them to experience that world they so vehemently despise would surely even the playing field.
It shouldn’t be seen as a punishment, either – hospitality jobs have a huge number of upsides, from the sociable aspect, to the exercise, to the ability it gives you to value both time and money. But being able to think back to when you were in those smart black shoes, behind your own packed-out bar of punters, might just stop the selfish prats of the world from acting out too much, or feeling like they’re somehow ‘better’ than those who are doing the jobs they’re too lazy to do.
Fewer snarky customers, fewer superiority complexes, and more appreciation for the work that goes into your every convenience.
Sign me (and everyone else) up.