(Click on the Image to Make it Lager!)
Oof. That last post stressed me out!
I was inspired to write a post in the style of a short story instead of a blog post, and for some dumb reason I decided to write about being in the weeds. Well, it was like I was reliving being in the weeds, and the customers were real! Even the guy who tugged on my apron was a real person and I can see his face now! Argh! That is one of the challenging things about this project: I am forced to think about work while not physically at work. One of my favorite parts about being a server and bartender is that when you leave the job, it doesn't go home with you. I don't ever have to work from home. If I am not at the restaurant, I don't have to serve people. It really is a great thing. However, with this project, a little bit of the restaurant is with me all the time here on my computer. I am sure I have mentioned that I rarely draw people I know on these pictures because I don't want to have to think about them when I am at home. Don't get me wrong, Tim and I have inadvertently drawn customers and friends on these drawings before and probably will again, I am just saying that I don't usually do it on purpose. I would feel bad if I drew someone I like on one of these drawings and then all of a sudden, the drawing progresses and that person that I like finds themselves in some crazy scene like the one pictured above. On the other hand, if we draw someone who we don't like very much or who is a difficult customer, then I have to see them, color them in, and make them fit into the crazy scene like the one featured above. That means that I have to spend time with them that I usually would not do. I try to avoid difficult customers. I do not want to hang out with them in my own home in my free time, and they probably feel the same way about me.
When we do get difficult regular customers at the restaurant, we usually will trade them out. For instance, if you are a problem customer for me, but Mike doesn't mind you, then you will usually have Mike as your server even if you are not sitting in Mike's section. The same goes with me. I will take Edie's problem customers and vice versa and on and on, amen. This makes the night better for everyone, including you. I mean, you don't think that you are a problem customer! You think that you are Cafe Loup's best regular and life of the party! But I am here to tell you that you are someone's problem customer. I think that I am probably someone's problem customer. I walk into a certain bar on a certain night with a certain someone behind the bar and they roll their eyes and say, "darn, that guy is back! Why can't he come in here on my night off?"
It's just part of life. You think you are a good person, a generous person, and a person who is liked by all people and babies and small animals. But you're not. Someone thinks you suck. And I think this happens a lot in restaurants because people who are problem customers don't know that they are being obnoxious a lot of the time. Sometimes it's the alcohol that makes them difficult. Maybe that one night they had a couple too many and started talking crazy to their server. Maybe they were just really hungry that one night and weren't in the mood to small talk and so they got a little snippy with the waitress. Well, whatever it was, your server remembers.
Being a server is a hard enough job as it is without difficult customers. When I have a full section, which is 12 tables with up to 36 people in my section AT THE SAME TIME, I do not have time to have difficult people. That is 36 people all needing something and all at different times, so I am trying to figure out the timing of getting 36 people one thing at a time. A lot of the time, I have half of those 36 people being regulars who know me, and see that if I do have a full section, they'll be more patient than usual. And yet, with 18 people on my side, all it takes to throw the whole night off is one problem customer. Since the job is all about timing, and making sure everything is landing in the right place, one person making crazy demands or keeping me at the table longer than necessary is a formula for throwing off the entire night. On the other hand, if I mess things up on my end, the same is true. There is a very delicate balance and if as little as one thing disrupts that balance, a good night can turn into a bad night in a matter of literal seconds.
That is why when you are a problem customer, your server will never forget you. There are people who have been coming to the restaurant for years whose face gives me a visceral reaction of dread and yet I can't even remember how they spited me. They may have done something 10 years ago, and yet, when I see them, I hand them over to Mike or Edie. Yet, even as I say that, I am looking down the pike at future T&J drawings and see more and more real life people making their way into the drawings. However, as you will see in future blog posts, the people who do make it into the drawings come with an interesting story. So, even though they might be awful, at least their story is interesting. Maybe it will be about YOU!