As a kid, I am sure we were all taught “stranger danger” as in, don’t follow people you don’t know. Our parents stressed the importance of that and schools would have assemblies with the topic of “stranger danger”.
Now fast forward to today where we are in a pandemic. I find that the term sits right into the social distancing topic. If they are a stranger and not part of your close circle, they could potentially be a risk or danger to you!
Interacting with customers at work is something I cannot avoid being a server. These days, we try to limit our interactions as well as our distance in order to minimize our risk to exposure. Our way of interactions have definitely changed drastically and it has become our new normal that we must be accustomed to.
I put my mask on at work, and stand behind the cashier counter, hoping that they pay by card. I keep my distance but sometimes, reminders are needed and that is ok. What is not ok is that despite the concern we show and the times we remind them of social distancing and the government rules that have been implemented, some guests still remain to act rude, entitled, and as if restaurant workers have a say in these restrictions.
One example is the collection of contact information that must be done when dining at a restaurant. Government requires establishments to collect a full name and phone number or email in case exposure happens and people have to be contacted. I was told by one customer: “You are not allowed to collect my private information, it is illegal and I should be able to dine here without being intruded”. At the moment, I was unsure as to how to act so I immediately said: “Ok, you may order take out if you do not wish to provide information”. The customer replied with “No. Why should I be told how I have my dinner?” all while getting closer and closer into my personal space. This back and forth went by for a couple of minutes before the customer finally realized that there were people in line staring at how entitled he/she was acting. In order to protect her image and ego, he/she quickly stepped out of the way and demanded I place the order for take out and then insisted that I allow he/she to use the washroom. Again, I said: “Unfortunately, if you would like to enter inside and use the washroom, I will need your contact information as I cannot put my co-workers, other guests, and myself or you at risk.”. In the end, a very unhappy and entitled individual waited outside for their food and told other guests in line about this “ridiculous information stealing system”.
This interaction was unfortunately something that passed through my head for the rest of my shift. I understand the importance and privacy of personal information but a name and phone number is something you would give when making a reservation. This system is not only required by the government but as well as a way for us to protect our guests.
This whole pandemic has really showed me some true colours of some people. The individuals in the service industry are risking their health at work to serve so that everyone can have a restaurant experience and dine out despite the pandemic happening. I hope that people can understand that and be a little nicer next time they dine. This does not mean that we servers are asking for a big tip or any form of money but more so changing the attitude and being understanding of new rules and mistakes that may happen.
We are all adjusting to this new normal, lets be understanding and support each other in all different industries during these changing times!