The 21st century has given birth to considerable dialogue on how to raise children. Back in the 70’s, parenting philosophy was the product of dope and Dr. Spock. Everyone’s parents had a copy of Dr. Spock, but other than my best friend’s mother, no one actually read more than the intro because they were too stoned. It seems strange to me that the children of the 70’s have become so bogged down with the psychology of parenting and have drifted so far from the “follow your instincts” Spock/reefer methods. Dr. Spock has been replaced by the Super Nanny, and passive dope smoking has been replaced by “The Naughty Step” (as in, Go sit on the naughty step and think about what you’ve done…). The fundamental message of it all is that bad behaviour should not be rewarded, tantrums are to be ignored, and, like terrorism, one should never give in to violence or threats of destruction. This is all well and good and yet, while we apply these rules to children, society somehow demands that we make an about turn when it comes to adults.
My biggest frustration with working in the service industry is that nice guys generally don’t win – even here in “paradise”.
Imagine the following scenario: The restaurant is unexpectedly busy, you are buzzing around like a blue-arsed fly, doing your best to keep everything moving. The “nice guy” guests will kindly acknowledge that you are getting an arse-whooping and patiently wait until their food arrives. After all, they’re on vacation, seated in front of a breathtaking view, they have nowhere else to be. 1 Margarita, 2 Margaritas, 3 Margaritas, 4… who’s counting?
Enter the arsehole. He sits down, typically with a group comprised of a wife he so obviously rarely sees, 3 kids (whose names he has yet to grasp), and some other associates. He orders, and not 5 minutes later, starts throwing a tantrum because his food hasn’t arrived yet. You apologise, explaining the very obvious situation that is going on – namely, that 75 people have turned up out of nowhere all at once, all wanting food of their own. This typically results in arm waving, threats of leaving at once if food doesn’t arrive immediately, Trip Advisor blackmailing, and astute observations that the table for two nearby have already received their garden salads faster than the pile of well-done meat he has ordered.
Now, if it were my restaurant, I’d Dr. Spock him with a dose of Super Nanny! I’d follow my instincts and tell him to give it a rest, just before telling him to take his arrogance and attitude to a Naughty Step elsewhere. Sadly, it isn’t my restaurant, and society dictates that said arsehole must be given a reward. A reward! We must absorb the insults and bad manners, kowtow to the unrealistic demands, and give this punk preferential treatment. We must give him a discount, offer him free drinks, tell the kitchen to cook his food before all others – all while making the “nice guys” on their 5th margarita wait a little longer for their food as they get bumped down the queue. Et voila – bad behaviour rewarded; we have given in to terrorism.
And the “nice guys”, now completely wrecked on margaritas? They get a mere winning smile and a mouthed thank you.
There was a notorious Irish restauranteur called Peter Langan, who owned a brasserie in Mayfair, London in the 1970’s (yes, we are back in the 70’s). He was famous for his no-bullshit attitude towards his guests. If a guest made a reservation for dinner and failed to show up, he would telephone them at 2am, demanding to know where they were, because in the absence of a courteous cancellation, he was still waiting to cook their f***ing dinner. And his business boomed! He was beloved for not being the usual service industry sycophant. To me, it is a shame that so few people have such bravado. If anything, the world would be a far more entertaining place.
Considering that tourism is one of the main industries on most of our rocks, and a significant number of rock dwellers work in the service industry in one way or another, I say we join forces. How about we all come together and have an annual “Peter Langan” day? A day when we can tell it how it is. A day where the good guys win. Now that’s the dream…