Overcome the “Under Pressure”

Saturday night. Dinner at a bustling brewery restaurant in Philly. My friend and I are seated at a table in the main area of the dining room.

The waitress, looking extremely frustrated and overwhelmed approaches with a generic, “Hi I’m so and so and will be your waitress. Can I get you started with a drink?”

I order a beer and show my ID. She takes my friend’s ID and asks in an almost annoyed tone, “Do you want an alcoholic beverage too?”

So, we wait a while for our beer. By the time it gets to our table, we are ready to order an appetizer and our main courses. Done!

We’re enjoying the evening and out of no where, about 15 minutes later, the frazzled waitress approaches the table with papers in her hands.

“I’m so sorry, I know I took your order but I cannot seem to find it anywhere! What did you want?”

So, we re-place our order. Chicken appetizer. Ribs and scallops.

Then, close to 10 minutes later, she approaches again.

“So, we’re actually out of scallops. Is there anything else you’d like?”

I looked at the Menu again and ordered an alternative. She looks at me confused and says, “Thanks for being so nice about that…”

Finally, our appetizer arrives on the table. We finish and the waitress stops at a neighboring table. I ask her if I can have another beer. She looks at my friend and rudely says, “You again?” He laughs, shocked that this just happened, and says, “yes, please…”

Now, I know what it’s like to be frazzled. I know what it’s like to be in a busy environment, whether it be food service or a call center. When under pressure, these are some of your BEST opportunities to prove to customers that you have the strength to overcome the frustration. And while  being scatterbrained is something I am  no stranger to, there’s a way to be scatterbrained and empathetic than scatterbrained and annoyed.

So, our food arrives and we eat. Yum. Delicious. Nothing wrong there.

The check arrives and it seems a bit pricy. The “scallops” that we wanted but were not available were on the check. Now, the scallops were $15.50 and the plate I ended up getting (because nothing else sounded good) was $18. Maybe it’s just me, but I would have charged the customer with the lower dish to make up for the inconvenience. If she would have done this, my whole experience at this restaurant would have been corrected. Would that have done it for you too?

But, she’s running across the room to another table and I put my hand up to get her attention. She stops by and I point out that the scallops were on the check. She looks as if she doesn’t remember telling us that they were not even available. She asks, “Oh, just the scallops you want removed?” Then runs away to make the correction.

We pay and leave.

This situation taught me that even when I’m feeling overwhelmed, to remember that I am only  helping people and that there truly is no reason to sound or act frazzled. I may feel that way inside, but the person calling in doesn’t know that. Nor, do they care. They want help and to feel like they are valued. This poor waitress could have just used our table as a breather–we’re two pretty chill people just wanting a couple beers and some food. We cause no trouble and are not going to attack her. I suspect she was a newer waitress, and I totally  understand that it takes time to learn these strengths to deal with a busy Saturday night. It is my hope that she really does learn from it, though and overcome the “under pressure”!

[custom_author=jenny]

Jenny Dempsey is currently the the Social Media and Customer Experience Manager for NumberBarn.com. She has worked at tech startups since 2005. She's the co-founder and regular contributor over at CustomerServiceLife.com. She's a certified health coach, but not the kind that forces you to only eat cardboard and deprive yourself of ice cream. JennyDempseyWellness.com, the company she started, was designed to bring a new type of wellness into the workplace, one that gives you permission to look deeper into yourself, rather than just on the healthy snacks in the break room. She is the mother to a toothless rescue cat named Chompers. Avocados and veggie tacos are the way to her heart. She's also a Hanson fan for life.

2 comments

  • Wow that is unreal! I’m not even sure this behavior can be trained out of this lady. She simply doesn’t have what it takes to be a waitress. In some regards I think this restaurant just has the wrong employee on the bus.

  • Being a server can definitely an enjoyable experience. It gets really busy at restaurants and trying to keep everyone happy is really hard, no matter what you do. All you can do is do your best. Not every one is going to be completely satisfied with everything you do. All you can do is apologize for any mistakes that were made. It’s definitely trainable task, it takes some others more time to learn than others.

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