I’m not asking for much. After a particular grueling week of work, house cleaning, homework, yard work, cooking and not having an SUV for errands I just wanted a little sushi. Take that back, I was looking for copious amounts of sushi, my mother wanted noodles and Samantha wanted yellowtail, rice, tuna, miso soup, and soybeans. We were not what you would call an ornery group, well, not until it was all over at least.
When we were ushered immediately to the sushi bar upon our arrival our hopes were up. But within minutes we had time to feel the opposite. And in ten minutes of watching everyone else’s glistening raw fish handed over the bar, none of it ours, we got anxious. I called over a busboy and explained we needed a waitress. You see, for those of you sushi novices, you cannot even think of beginning the ordering process unless you have three things: a hot moist towel to wash you hands, wasabe and ginger, (The first too prepare your soy sauce and the second to prepare your palate) and ice water to accompany your meal. A little hot sake, a bowl of rice and miso soup couldn’t be ordered until we had received our first hello. We knew the rules.
Where was she? Samantha got the water, I got the wasabe and my mom got one of the two hot towels. We were confused but undaunted. We began ordering our sushi from the attentive chef. When we called the waitress over again to get the items we were missing and order Samantha’s rice she didn’t apologize, smile, or…say anything. I was a bit surprised, assuming we caught her on an off day, and sat it out.
But when Samantha was beating me to more fish I realized that her rice and soup had never come. When Sam had finished dessert I cancelled the rice/soup order with the waitress, still without an audible response from her, and asked for the check. Guess what now? It was wrong.
Frankly, at this point I was afraid of trying to deal with her again. A man, I assumed to be the manager, was hanging out with the bus boys directly behind my mother so I called him over. I asked the sushi chef to explain that none of us had had a hand roll. The manager called the waitress over. I was surprised to see that she gave him the same non-committal response she had used on us all night long. When he looked back over to us, obviously embarrassed, I explained that was the same thing we had been experiencing with her all night long. (I was relieved to see that we weren’t the only ones.) All he could do was apologize, profusely.
But we were left to wonder what had happened. We hadn’t done anything wrong. We never addressed her rudely, and quite frankly felt pretty dumfounded by her response to our requests. It left us frustrated, bewildered and wondering if we dared return to that particular sushi bar again. We certainly didn’t want to go through that again. It would have helped tremendously to have some kind of an explanation from her, instead we were left feeling…well…left.
The service field can sometimes really be tough. I’ve been in it my entire adult life. I cannot count how many times I’ve bitten my tongue when feeling particularly tortured by a client. I’ve come to the conclusion that some people enjoy being on the other end because it’s the one time they can be assured of receiving respect. No discussion of who’s right or wrong, like in a mutual relationship, just unadulterated acceptance of their views.
I’ve been accused of stealing, making billing mistakes, giving out the wrong times for appointments, saying the opposite of what I should have, keeping people waiting and putting out too many free pens! Sometimes I use my unwavering sense of humor and other times, when accused of something like stealing, I cry it out in the bathroom.
The tell its on The Signal’s website accuse me of being an SUV SCV mom with nothing to do but get up at five AM to write a column, having completely no sense of humor, a whiner, a lousy mother, a terrible wife and a royal pain in the collective tush of Signal subscribers.
But here I am still plugging away at the keyboard, trying to show the same face to the world that they’re paying for. Undaunted or embarrassed. Made of the real hardy stuff. Ready to take the challenge. What of this waitress then? Bad day? Kimono wrapped too tight? Bobby pin piercing her scalp? Too much wasabe on her lunch? How did she get through it the next night? Or the next after that? Did she? She may have found that the service industry isn’t for everyone and, good luck, is looking for another job out there that doesn’t involve showing respect for a client.
So one day she can criticize out loud instead of holding her tongue. Let’s hope she isn’t just restricted to the tell its of The Mighty Signal.