Friday, 24 August 2012

Stuff Customers Like

Customers! Those mysterious creatures: so enigmatic, so powerful, so hard to please. The hospo novice may at first be overwhelmed trying to understand elusive customer behaviour, and the hospo veteran may spend a lifetime trying to figure them out. To help us better comprehend these beings, here is a guide to common customer quirks and foibles. Familiarise yourself with these charming customer habits, my hospo brothers and sisters, and some of the mystery may well evaporate.

Making up arbitrary blocks of time
“I’ve been waiting for an hour!” exclaims the irate businesswoman whose corned beef order docket is dated seventeen minutes previous.

“Our entrées have been finished for twenty minutes and our mains haven’t arrived yet!” barks the fashion-challenged gentleman, whose wife is still eating her charcuterie plate.

We’ve all been there – exaggerating minor details to make your trivial dilemma seem like a catastrophe on par with the BP oil spill. Ok, so you didn’t have your aquatic home devastated by tonnes of crude oil being spilled into the ocean, but your well-done sirloin didn’t arrive the second you ordered it and you’re hungry now! Naturally, after whining, the well-discerning customer will turn to the classic Making up an Arbitrary Block of Time. Arbitrary blocks of time tend to be surprisingly well-rounded, suggesting a possible lack of attention to detail, or (more likely) a self-serving hallucination.

Grabbing hold of their drink when you walk past
You trust me to take your order correctly, identify your beverage at the bar, return with it, and serve it to you without incident, but when I’m drifting past your table to check the football scores on the TV you clutch your half-finished pint like I just tried to wrench your first-born child away. Unclench, dear customers – most intelligent hospitality staff can identify a drink that is still on the go.

The Cutlery Hover
A timeless classic. With an almost primitive instinct, you detect a waiter lurking dangerously close to your meal. You’re full, but there are still some breadcrumbs and garnish on the plate and you might want to eat them at some later point! Cunningly, you pick up your fork and hold it poised over your not-quite-empty plate, always hovering, never actually touching down. The waiter sees this modern incarnation of the bared tooth signal and backs away.

Twenty minutes later the exact same pile of debris is still sitting on your plate. You’re not going to finish it. Just let go.

Highly unoriginal jokes
Contrary to popular belief, you aren’t the first person to make this joke, nor does it get funnier the more I hear it.

“Um, it’s a screw-top wine; I don’t think that it’s corked!” Much like the father-giving-away-the-bride schtick, presenting and tasting wine is now an outdated and pointless ceremony that just seems to stick because it’s “nice”. The fact that your waiter is offering you a taste of your wine before serving it is called being polite. You should try it sometime – it might prevent the waiter accidentally pouring the rest of your 2003 Shiraz into her own glass behind the station.

“What were you doing, killing the cow?” Sorry, ordering a hit on your mother incurs a surcharge.

Asking for another last drink long after they’ve been served last drinks


  1. Customer (to Squidward, through the closed glass front door of the Krusty Krab on which the CLOSED sign is prominently displayed): "Are you open?"

    Squidward: "Read the sign!"

    Customer: "I'll have a Krabby Patty with..."

  2. The real experiment would presumably be a customer who has half finished their drink, but has almost entirely (but not completely) finished their meal. The scene is set: all you need is for a waiter or waitress to walk past. There isn't enough time to think it over. Does the drink grab or cutlery hover take precedence? Both together? Is such a thing possible?! Just pray that they don't have both wine & water glasses to protect,or both the main plate & sides over which to hover...