Friday, November 14, 2008

Some things just stick with you.

The restaurant I currently work at is one I worked at six years ago, for three months. I don't have a whole lot of specific memories of customers from then, but there was one specific table I will never forget. It was three soccer moms and their kids, between 6 and 9 years old. Two of my tables had been pulled together for them. It was during the afternoon, not the rush, so that part was fine. What wasn't so fine was the fact that the moms were at one end of the table, the kids at the other, and beyond ordering the food, the moms completely ignored their children.

At first, the four kids were just demolishing their own table. After sucking on sugar packets, sticking gum to the table, mashing macaroni on the table, squirting ketchup all over the place, ripping up every napkin they could find, make sugarwater soup on the table, and destroying all our promotional flyers ... these children got up and started grabbing things from OTHER tables to destroy. And the women sat there, chatting and laughing, paying zero attention. Not one of them said one word.

When they finally left, the kids had dirtied four tables. It took fifteen minutes or more to clean up. I had to vacuum the floor, in the middle of the day. I got $5 for my troubles. It was so bad that my only other table, a middle-aged couple, asked me, "I can't believe they let their kids act that way. Do people do that often?"

It makes me feel old to say it, but I would never, ever have been allowed to behave that way when I was a kid. My daddy would've slapped me into next week for acting that way in public--not that it would've been an option to me in the first place. I knew better.

That was the first time I'd really experienced that sort of thing (though not the last). I'd worked at a local family-owned restaurant for years, and I don't remember people there ever letting their kids get that out of control. Sure, we had some asshats sometimes, but the fact that it was small, local, and just slightly more upscale apparently kept the worst offenders away. But at nation-wide, corporate places? People don't give a fuck.

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