In the past, I have worked in the odd place where sometimes a customer seems to believe that the staff are there to cater to every whim and desire of said customer. In truth, there are usually any number of highly effective ways of reminding these types of customers that you are in fact, a real person, and really don’t need to put up with their shit. The quick evil glare tends to be quite effective, so long as you don’t let it linger on them for too long. Simply ignoring them is usually more entertaining than effective as it tends to enrage this type of customer so much that they throw a fit like a 5 year old who is denied a piece of candy. Once their anger is spent, they tend to pay and slink off quietly, knowing they just made an ass of themselves in a crowded restaurant full of reasonable adults. I could go on and on, but you get the point.
That said, I have never really run into anything like I experience every single day at my current place of work. Through careful observation of their behaviors, mannerisms, and utterances, I have determined that the clientele at our business actually perceive the staff as slaves. Unfortunately, not in the leather, rope, whips and riding crops type of slaves. They come from a social structure where anyone who is not of their race, or (worse yet) is female, is inferior. This is something they KNOW, just as humans know that we tend (in general) to be more intelligent than your average brick. As a consequence of this, they will do all manner of things that would be highly unacceptable anywhere in polite society. In a dive bar, many of these things would ensure that they got a quick lesson in manners that would end quite abruptly, probably in a very pointy and violent manner.
To these people, not bringing them water before they ask for it deserves a verbal tongue lashing. As does serving coffee that was made more than 5 minutes ago, putting too much ice in their drink, not putting their favorite type of music on the sound system, dealing with other customers when they decide they want something, and any number of other real or imagined slights. Other offenses such as calling last call, cutting someone off, or telling anyone that they can’t grope your co-workers usually results in three things.
1) They try to make a deal with you, in their own amusing way. “Yo, I’m a regular here, yo! Help me out, you know I tip ya good, bro!” (Average tip from these guys: 2-3%)
2) They then immediately call the owner and complain that you are harassing them and they want someone to come down and “straighten [me] the fuck out” because I “don’t know who they are.” (Actually, I do know, I don’t care, and the owners know better than to over rule me in most cases.)
3) When that fails, they start making random threats that they are going to “come over there and kill your ass,” and other such interesting things, most of them wholly improbable. Unfortunately, this is something I need to take very seriously. There are usually anywhere from 5-20 of these people in the general area who will “back [the asshole] up,” no matter that their friend is out of line, and so twisted on cocaine, alcohol, and who-knows-what-else that he can’t even see straight, let alone remember the imagined slight. I keep a sledgehammer behind the bar for a reason.
These usually follow in the order I’ve listed them, sometimes if the customer has enough cocaine in their system, they will actually go through the whole process two or even three times!
We have had stabbings, numerous fights, and on one occasion, handguns being waved around. No one’s been shot yet, but I’m sure it’s going to happen.