Pretty frequently in my industry, I find myself face to face with some pretty big jerks. The kind of people who enter a restaurant with the idea in mind that their money is too good for us leads to a lot of bad showdowns with customers of various stripe. I’ve had my share of pretty bad encounters with customers, among my favorites are the times that people have openly called me slurs that don’t pertain to my ethnicity, or gender, or any other relatable orientation. Like a blind man taking shots in the dark, referring to me in whatever manner he thought would upset me didn’t work, so he just grew more vulgar. I’ve had a woman tell me that she knew the owners of an old restaurant I worked at and she would have me removed from the staff because we didn’t have the items for a dish she wanted. She spoke to the manager, who I also knew, and who promptly had her evacuate. I could tell you stories like this for hours upon hours without a break.
But all of this has taught me an important lesson.
While I still get frustrated with customers, the particularly difficult and brash ones especially, I don’t allow myself to get mad at them.
A long time ago, an old boss of mine, Rojo, gave me some information that I’ve thought about every day I’ve gone to serve a table since. He told me:
We are actors, our job is to give the customer whatever they need. Most of the time, they only need food and a bit of time to relax from whatever bullshit is going on at home, but sometimes you get those really big assholes that come in with one goal in mind, to ruin your day. So let them. Let them harp on you all they want to and remember that all of this is just a stage. They think it’s real, but it isn’t. Let them get that anger out. Cause at the end of the day, you win. It doesn’t hurt you nearly as much as it’ll hurt them.
I think about that all the time now, every table that starts to get frustrated with me, or the kitchen, or another table. I’ve been working in food service for a long time now. Nigh on a decade, and I’ve been able to take a lot of what I’ve learned there and bring it home. New lessons and new things to think about every day.
I don’t know what struggles my customer is going through, but I do know that we as humans really like to take our frustrations out on those around us that we don’t really know. We’re stressed around the holidays and we like to scream at retail workers for not having the latest 60” LCD Smart TV or whatever other things that Walmart didn’t stock cause all the rich guys got there first.
It’s the same in a restaurant. The lady who yelled at me for her undercooked steak could just be a big dick, but she’s also probably more complex than that.
Everybody is really complex, and we don’t like to consider each other’s complexities. We just like to yell.
Humans are really good at yelling.
Maybe she’s going through a divorce, or her kid got caught selling drugs, maybe it’s nothing big and it was just the collection of small moments in her day that didn’t quite up and the only way she could get it out was to call me a piece of shit in front of a family of five.
I can’t tell you why, but I can tell you what those experiences have taught me.
People like to bring their work home with them, and I’m no different. I try to bring it home in a positive way, and after a few tables freaking out over things out of my control I came to realize that we do this within our own relationships with friends and family as well.
There’s something going on at home, we are fighting with our spouse, we are struggling with bills, we are mad because our kitchen is never clean, and we don’t have time to clean it. Our parents are fighting or divorced, there’s someone in the family wondering why you still wear skinny jeans and they take every Friday night out with you to impose and question the reasoning behind your pants choices.
It changes with everyone. We all handle different stress differently, and when we bring it home, we tend to take it out on those around us.
I know a few guys in my own circle of friends who are bad about taking out our frustrations in a healthy way. I included. That’s where this lesson comes in. Pretty often I used to be the guy that everybody vented to. That was when I was much younger and much more capable of handling everyone else’s problems. I would walk them through it and try to fix it, but it ended up being unhealthy for me to carry all of those burdens.
So, I started spending time with friends less, and I started to go out less. Then I became unhappy myself.
So I started acting.
I don’t mean that to say that I pretended to care about the problems of my peers and my customers. I really did care, I still do. I just know that I can’t harbor everyone now. Instead, I’ve discovered that my industry has taught me an extremely valuable skill.
To forgive people within myself and let them beat on me some more. To let them get out that anger they harbor in a safe place, and then, when they’re all finished up, I can sit down with them and try to fix things. If only for the forty minutes, it takes them to finish a meal. Because the truth of the matter is, I don’t know what’s going on in your life. I don’t know why you are so angry today. But I want to help, if I can.
Anger doesn’t have to explode. It can fizzle out, under the right circumstances. Most times, that just means taking a step back and letting our pride get out of the way and accepting the anger of others for what it is.
It says nothing about you if someone else is angry. It screams songs about you if you respond to that anger with anger.
It doesn’t always have to comedown to an argument. It especially doesn’t have to come to a head and explode in front of the whole world. Our problems could be solved if we all behaved with a bit more compassion. The compassion I show you, I don’t expect to return. Instead, I want you to take that compassion and go elsewhere. I want people to be kind to one another because that is all there is to do in this world.
We can write great books and make great money, but in the end of it all if we refuse to be great to one another when they need it most…
What are we?
Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day to spend with me. I’ve had a great time writing for you this year and there isn’t a whole lot left. The rest of December is going to be wonderful, for both of us.
Tell me, do you bottle up your anger or do you let it out? Is there a different way you handle the negative things that strike up in your life? Let’s talk about it.
These Holidays are Awfully Mean
Starting December 11 + going until the 24th, I will be starting Mean for the Holidays. A yearly tradition that until this year, I haven’t actually completed. (oops.)
As such, every day from Dec. 11th until Christmas Eve I will be releasing new content in celebration of another year that we’ve all won, and in preparation for the new year. To give you something to ring in your 2018 with, and it’s going to be a great time. I can’t wait till you get to see everything I’ve made.
For a condensed Schedule of the releases, go check out the website and see when what is coming out. Until then, consider checking out a past blog post and catching up on one you may have missed.
To keep with everything else Salt + Iron as well as the many hats I wear, follow me on
Recently I’ve begun the process of upgrading Gravity, My Enemy for the future, and as I’ve explained it so far I’d imagine that means relatively nothing to you so allow me to explain.
I’m doing a handful of things with the blog in the coming months, using a conceptual teaser I’ve developed called Firesoul. I’ve listed the upcoming changes below for clarity and for understanding.
- I will begin releasing new content on the blog, under a new tag. “Loremasters” content will be exclusively short stories and concept pieces I have been and will be working on in the future, to give you an in-universe look at some of the other aspects of my writing.
- I will be making the blog a bit more user-friendly. Meaning that ideally, fewer clicks for you to see the content that I’m releasing and a simpler way to view said content.
- I’m cleaning up my backlog quite a bit, and adjusting how you find old content. Searching for the tags of the previous movements, you’ll now be able to find all of the blog posts from that year. (i.e. if you search “Noose Ends” in the future, all of the poems and related blog posts will show up for you, hassle-free.)
- I’m changing the style and the content of the main blog to make it more time friendly. I am a long winded person by nature, and that is clear in my blog posts. I have found a style through the years of writing that is specific to me, but at times that long-winded style should be reserved for more important and pressing matters. (Like explaining why I am no longer releasing long-winded blog posts. Now, having used the term long-winded far more times than necessary, I’ll explain that the blog posts will be shorter on average than they used to. Meaning that you will not have to delegate as much time to read. This change comes coupled with the next change.
- My blog topics tend to vary dramatically, as such, it’s hard to pin down what I will be talking about each week. I’ve always hated the concept of gimmicky clickbait titles, but I’ve had to give in to some degree. Now, on the title of the blog post itself, I will be posting a small synopsis of what the blog post itself is about. (ex. Our 150 (What do I do about all these friend requests?) This will serve as a method for definitively distinguishing the blog posts from the poetry + from the Loremasters content I am preparing to release.
- I am also adjusting the content release schedule. For the last 8 months or so, you could find a calendar on my website detailing all of my blog posts and poetry and their release dates. For the time being, I’ve disabled this feature because, to be honest, it was unnecessary to do. I would spend a good thirty minutes every week scheduling the images on the calendar because I’m a neat freak and want things to look as nice as possible, but those thirty minutes could have been better spent editing or reviewing the things I’ve written.
- I am going to be including a (much shorter) post-text to the blog posts after this campaign ends, for now, it will be included at the bottom for those interested in what the Firesoul is all about. In essence, I want to use this blog as a method of communication. I am great at standing on a soapbox and talking to you about all these things I think I know, but I want to hear the other side as well.
- I will be posing some questions after each blog post, just to see what my readership feels like in regards to what I’ve stated. This will not likely happen on every post, but a fair share of them (specifically ones I would love to talk with you about) will include these questions.
- There will be a handful of other, smaller changes to the blog. All of them meant to assist you, the reader in navigating the site and having more to engage with regarding Gravity, My Enemy as a whole.
- Bonus: I’ll be linking the URL for the compilation volumes on the blog pages itself, and soon all of the books will be made quite a bit cheaper than they are right now.
Thank you so much once again. I’m excited to hear from you, and I’m extra excited for next week when Mean for the Holidays kicks off (officially) for the first time ever.
Life is not meant to be awful.
Categories: Umbral Dawning