Waiting vs Selling

I’ve worked in the support industry and the retail sales industry, but never did food service and I’ve never been a waiter.

I have a great respect for the people who work the counter at fast food places. It’s a hectic stressful job that I don’t think I’d do well at. It’s fast and furious and you’re often dealing with angry people who believe they’re in a hurry.

In my stint as a retail sales person, we had busy days, but for the most part, I got to take my time and spend a good amount of attention to each customer. This was good when the customer was nice, and horrid when the customer wasn’t. I had no escape.

Today I was lunching at a restaurant and discovered a mark advantage the waiter has in his job. He gets to just walk away. He can stay and talk if he chooses, but he also has the non guilt option to just leave. He can do it anytime. It is the waiters job description to walk away.

I noticed this in practice today as I made a poor pun based joke that didn’t go over. He got to nod, and then turn his back to me and walk away. It was a glorious out.

When I worked retail, if somebody made a joke, I had to stay there, facing them and fake a response.  I had to be polite.  Likewise, if I was the one making the comment, there was no escape. We just kept talking to each other.

My waiter didn’t have to return to me for 7 or 8 minutes, or longer if my beverage didn’t approach refill levels.

It made me remember some of my greatest irritating customers from years gone by. The smelly customers, the loud talkers, the whiners and all the angry ones. How wonderful it would have been to abandon them and pivot on my leg to walk away from them.

I understand it’s not total avoidance, and my waiter can’t run away and ignore the irritation forever, but time heals all, and even 2 minutes can change an irate or crazy person into a new mindset.

Maybe I could be a waiter.