Bill in East Texas writes: I enjoyed your column. As the operator of a small bakery/sandwich shop, I can identify with what you are saying. But here's the real problem. Young people are growing up with no accountability. Their parents don't hold them accountable and reward them anyway. The schools don't hold them accountable because they are mostly too lazy to care or can't hold them accountable because the parents don't support the notion of accountability — take your pick — and they promote them anyway. So when they arrive in the workforce, we are left to attempt to impart this philosophy to them with varying degrees of success. It's a shame and I truly admire those who enjoy the greatest success, but I really think it begins in hiring when you can perhaps glean some aptitude for such behavior. Makes you really worry about the large percentage of kids who just never get it and what the future holds for all of us.
Lois Bates writes: Thank you for writing this column! Poor customer service is something I have absolutely no tolerance for, maybe because when I was younger I worked in customer service and actually paid attention during training to how to treat your customers and how important a happy customer is, or perhaps it’s because I’ve been on the receiving end and know how it makes you feel. The thing is, it seems so prevalent these days. I could give you a few personal accounts and a few more where I had to step in to defend a friend/associate who was not only receiving mind-numbingly bad service but was also getting a really bad attitude from the employee to boot. What you said that really struck home is all the customer wants to hear is a “sorry” or an “It won’t happen again” or “we will correct the problem right away." But when your poor service is followed up with a negative attitude or a smirk, it is so very frustrating. I hope people in the service industry (especially the managers/resource specialist doing the hiring) read your column and learn from it.
Chuck R. writes: The waitress sounded busy and embarrassed about your table being cluttered with plates. She was trying to be nice by way of explanation. Keeping the place properly staffed isn't her job either. It sounds to me like you were just rude and full of yourself. Paying for a meal does not entitle you to be as snobbish as you please. Remember the manners that your mother taught you.
Jen Murphy writes: You are such a breath of fresh air every day!!! Thank you! One thing that makes me GRRRR is not only bad service but salespeople that insist on following one step behind you in a store. Never mind that you have told them once that you are "just browsing," they come back again and again and again. Do they really think that by stalking you it will make you more inclined to purchase something? I have now begun the practice of not only putting down whatever it was I would have purchased, but I also inform the manager of the store's annoying practice. I'm sure it will not change anything but at least they are made aware that not everyone enjoys being salesman stalked while they are shopping.
Obearden writes: Good story. I see the same thing today in most stores and restaurants. Not like it was 20 or 30 years ago. It’s as if we have been caught in a time warp or black hole where all the good workers and common sense have been swept away. What a world we live in today. Enjoy your writing.
Erin Kasaba writes: Granted, no one's perfect, but there are plenty of customers in the wrong, too. I work in sales for a wireless company and I can’t tell you how many people can’t comprehend that my job is SALES. They seem to be under the mistaken impression that my job is customer service, which it’s not, then get aggravated because I can’t do something which is not in my job description, like credit their account. Then you get the violent idiots who break their phones but somehow believe you should just give them another one, because they have no earthly idea how the screen cracked or the water got inside. Working with the public makes you HATE people, because too often, customers are rude, ungrateful or just outright ridiculous … and whatever happened to tips??? You get idiots who want you to program their entire phone lists or spend an hour showing them how to use a phone they didn’t buy from you and to give up your commission for that hour, yet they don’t tip you! Insane!
James Lowry writes: With wages that no one can survive on, is it any wonder the service is so bad? Those educated or motivated enough go elsewhere. Just taking a $3 an hour job is a philosophical statement (a hopeless one) in itself.
Joanne N. writes: You said it!! You took the words right out of my mouth! I am always on my soap box with this issue, constantly pointing it out to my children, 16 and 13. They roll their eyes when they hear ... now if you EVER have a job like this one ... but they see it, too. Hopefully they will understand the importance of a good work ethic and realize how lame all the excuses sound. They WILL be reading your fabulous column and please, keep up the good work. Your friend in GRRRRR!
Shelly in Texas writes: I agree that it’s hard to get good service, but I had to add an opposing but related GRRR … people who just look for reasons to complain about service. My college sophomore daughter is working as a waitress this summer and we are constantly amazed at the stories she comes home with. One party of seven ordered several appetizers and drinks from the bar in addition to their meals. She checked on them frequently and made sure they had everything they needed. Every time she went to their table, they said everything was fine. But she forgot to bring one of them extra ranch dressing. How easy would it have been to just say “Did you forget my dressing?” when she asked if they needed anything else. Instead, they asked a passing server for more dressing and gave him her tip! People show their ignorance when they belittle a server at a restaurant. Do they think waitresses are too dumb to deserve respect? The joke is on them — my daughter is on a full academic scholarship to a prestigious private college.
Brian VanderMey in Wolfeboro, N.H., writes: Mike, I totally agreed with you on most accounts, and was impressed with how you dealt with the situation at the sandwich shop. Apparently noting the girl's hourly status and preferring to take the frustration out on the owner, appropriately. But the comment to the server at the restaurant when your plates were "piling high," a bit of hyperbole I'm sure? Come on, Mike, you probably put a bit of a stain on that person's night. He/she (I forget the gender) was probably stressed enough that he/she hadn't gotten your plates up yet, so instead of callously picking them up and walking off like that's how it was supposed to be done, she/he offered an apology and unfortunately an excuse. But a comment like that would not have been taken well at all; jokes are rarely even taken well in such situations because everyone's thinking "I don't know them, are they really joking?" So ask for a manager, Mike, and explain your thoughts to him or her. Tell the poor server it's fine and get a manager. A good table absolutely makes a server’s night, regardless of tip.
Renee Macfarland in Houston writes: Your articles always make me laugh and I agree with you 100 percent on the things your write about. I'm glad you could take something that angers a lot of people and turn it into something we can all laugh about. Thanks!
Michael West writes: Perhaps the relationship between the United States and other nations would be better if our leaders made the simple effort to properly pronounce other nation’s names. It’s ear-ROCK, not eye-RACK; it’s ear-RAHN not eye-RAN; it’s ahf-HAHnee-stahn, not aaf-GAN-is-stan. And while it may seem like a little thing, to the citizens of those nations it’s a very powerful message that says, “I may not agree with your leader’s policies, but I respect your culture and you as a people.” It’s arrogant to think it doesn’t matter, that it doesn’t make the speaker sound ignorant or that it somehow shows support for that nation’s leaders and their policies. It’s just about simple respect and civility. It shows maturity, sensitivity to other cultures and absolutely does NOT diminish the speaker to any degree. After all ... if the leader of some other country called our president “President BUUH-sh or BOO-sh” or referred to us as “Aaa mer EE ka,” the chorus of “what an ignorant buffoon!” from our nation’s leaders and the media would be deafening.
Ted McIntyre in Phoenix, Ariz., writes: Mike, I flew for the first time ever this past weekend and I must say, I had a fairly decent experience. Oh sure, there was the baby that was crying (several in fact) and a couple of loud talkers, but you know what, all I did was put on my Bose QuietComfort 2 Acoustic Noise Canceling headphones and the world just disappeared. No more babies crying, no more loud talkers and no more airplane noises. The only sounds I heard were those coming from my MP3 player. I highly recommend these headphones, Mike. They are not cheap, but they definitely make flying a heck of a lot more enjoyable. Now, if only I could get more than one can of soda and bag of stale pretzels per flight I would be in heaven!