I go to pubs and bars far less than a lot of you. There are five kids in my house and I am 48 living in Canada. Why wouldn't that be the case? Yet when I read about the beer experiences of others like this one reported by Pete it makes me think about what I experience when I do go out - and also what I see around me:
She did this a few weeks ago when she walked into a pub in east London with a (female) friend. Like an ever increasing number of pubs, the bar featured a bank of five cask ale handpumps among the silvery, glistening lager fonts, so when she came to be served she asked, ‘could you tell me which of these beers is the hoppiest?’ The barmaid stared at her incredulously, said ‘no,’ in the tone of voice you might reserve for someone who’s just asked you if you fancy committing an indecent act with an animal, and went back to arranging bottles in the fridge.
Me? Me, I come from retail. Yesterday, when there were those always slightly odd references to Valentine's Day at work, I just mentioned that my mother was a very good florist so, no, I knew enough to not buy flowers when the soak was on. February 14th and the days before were just days I watched her and her staff work their butts off and put up with a lot of crap with very little thanks. I worked the shop, too, and learned from my own path the code of how to treat the good customer one way and the irritating one another. I tended bar as well and it carried over. So, when I read about strong reactions to poor service it makes me wonder why. And it doesn't start with the staff.
While there is no place for straight up rudeness which may well be what was faced on the day Pete writes about, I find that it is rarely the case. If you are facing tired, irritated, new or under-trained wait staff I usually do not think their level of service is primarily their own fault. It might be the last customer or the arsehole an hour ago. It might be their idiot boss who never trained them. It might be the sick cat or child at home causing a worry. It could be the low wages, long hours of split shifts and lack of respect or career path. You are looking across the bar at a person, not a robot. As if my 75 cent or ten dollar tip earns me a personal man servant for the hour I am there. Not that I am suggesting Pete is blowing something out of proportion but if that is all it takes to complain to management, well, life must be pretty easy for some. Likely not the waiter.