“Can I see your manager?”
When I worked in a restaurant these were words you never wanted to hear. Generally the request was followed by a complaint or some criticism. And who wants their boss getting an earful of “this guy stinks!”?
Sometimes the issue wasn’t about the service directly, but about the dining experience in general. Most times, it was about some screw up I had committed. In these cases, you already settled on foregoing any tip, but to call the management into things was to add insult to injury.
To be fair, there were many times I deserved any ill word spoken against me. Still, I dreaded every “I want to talk to the manager.”
With that in mind, I have begun asking for the manager when I’m out to eat.
Not to belittle or scold. Not to criticize or complain. Not to even make suggestions.
Instead, I have begun asking for the manager whenever I receive good service.
The servers get that “oh great, what did I screw up?” look and when the managers arrive there is a set to the shoulders and a stiffness to the mouth which says, “I’m ready for your negativity…I don’t want it, but let’s hear what the problem is this time.”
So when the bosses arrive, I take great delight in sharing how great my experience has been. How the server was excellent. I look for specific things to praise. “My water was never empty.” “She/he checked in with us regularly without being obnoxious.” “I asked for a suggestion from the menu and it was excellent.”
I also seek to compliment the food/atmosphere/support staff/cleanliness/etc. of the restaurant.
I know the most outspoken patrons are the complainers. I have started working to provide an offsetting voice.
And, I back up my words with a generous tip.
Words ring hollow when we they are all we leave behind. “I loved the service! Here’s a couple of dollars.” BOO! HISS!
I’m not even waiting for superb service. I want to reward and recognize good service. Even if it’s what we might expect in a restaurant, I want the server and their managers to know I appreciate the effort. I value the work done on my behalf. After all, these are people with lives. They come in with headaches and worries and stress and complications. And when they do their job, they need to be recognized and rewarded.
When they don’t do their job, I’m still going to tip well. I’ve been there and done that. Sometimes all it took for a horrible shift to turn around was one table who decided I was human and didn’t try beating me up when I dropped a plate in their lap or when I spilled their soda. Sometimes all it took was a smile and a reassuring word. And there are few feelings better than receiving the generous tip even when you were sure you’d be getting nothing.
Now, maybe I need to expand the compliments beyond servers at restaurants?
Could I ask for a manager at the hardware store when an associate helped me find the right thingamajig?
Could I compliment the convenience store clerk?
What about the librarian?
The school teacher?
What if everywhere I went I sought to spread a little more positive to counter the grumbling and the complaining and the negativity? What if I sought to enogourage and build up? What if I tried finding something to praise in everyone around me?
What if we all did?
Life is better together,