Who would want to kick this little guy?

Let me begin this post with a story:

An animal rights activist was driving down the highway in his VW Microbus.  He was happily thinking about what a beautiful day it was.  He was so caught up in these thoughts that he didn’t notice when he drifted into the next lane and cut off a CEO on his way back from a long lunch.  The CEO was instantly irate.  He ranted at the car in front of him until he made it back to the office.  Once he arrived he called into his office the first middle manager he saw and asked the manager about a report he had assigned to him.  The manager explained that he was making progress and that it would be finished next week as requested.  The CEO proceeded to yell at him for not having it done early to vent his frustrations.  The middle manager returned to his office and called in his assistant.  He asked her why she had not finished the research that he had asked her for.  She explained that it would be finished by the end of the week as he requested.  He proceeded to yell at her about doing only the minimum.  She left work frustrated and returned home.  When she arrived at her house, she found her young son sitting on the couch watching television.  She asked him if his homework was done.  He replied that he was going to do it after he finished watching cartoons.  She yelled at him for procrastinating and told him to go to his room until it was finished.  He stomped into the room and nearly tripped over his cat.  He yelled at the cat for being lazy and laying around all day.  When the cat didn’t respond, he kicked the cat.  The cat walked away wondering what that was all about.

This is how the animal rights activist kicked the cat.

I use this story to explain the impact that a server can have on the days of their guests.  Your guests come into your restaurant from a world with their own frustrations.  This means that they have their own stress that they bring into your restaurant.  They know it is wrong to take this stress out on you.  Most of them do not know they are doing it when it occurs.  Unfortunately, it still is a daily part of the job as a server.

It also presents you with a tremendous opportunity.  You have the ability to end this cycle.  If any of the people in the previous story had decided to not take out their stress on someone else, the cat would have enjoyed a relaxing nap.  The reason the story proceeded down the route it did is that no one took responsibility for ending the cycle.    You will often face the brunt of guests’ frustrations that you did nothing to cause.  Continuing to be nice in spite of this has the potential to turn their day around. 

More importantly, you have the opportunity to not continue the cycle.  Servers come in contact with significantly more people during the course of a day than those in most professions.  This means that you have the ability to impact the attitude of many people.  If you choose to take your frustrations out on your co-workers and future guests, you are capable of kicking herds of cats.  When you leave work and take this frustration home, you can start the cycle amongst your friends and family.  This can have a devastating impact on your life both at work and at home.

Dealing with the public as a server presents a tremendous opportunity, but also an accompanying responsibility.  You have the ability to save or kick a great number of cats.  You can have a major impact on the attitude of your guests.  This all begins with keeping your attitude in check.  Take pride in the fact that you will go out and try to save cats every shift.  Try to make a positive impact on the lives of your guests.  When you focus on this the rewards can extend far beyond your tip.

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