Customer Service

Quitting in a Blaze of Glory, NYC Waitress Edition

A waitress’s open letter to the oh-so-seductive customer who manhandled her has gone viral. I should excerpt it but the whole thing is so fantastic, I’m reprinting it here in full:

Dear Brian, You came into the restaurant where I work and ordered a Stoli on the rocks. When I asked you and your companion if you’d be eating, or needing anything else from me, you put your hand – ever so gently – ON MY ASS and asked if you could take me “to go”. When I immediately stepped away and said “Sorry, what?” you probably gathered that I was and am not receptive of such advances from customers. We were in a family-friendly restaurant, around 6:30pm, and I was wearing a loose-fitting, long sleeve shirt, jeans, and no makeup…so I’m not sure where the confusion arose as to what kind of service you were being provided. You left soon after, leaving a signed credit card slip and a two dollar tip (see picture included!). Your name is Brian Lederman. I found you, instantly, via a quick Google search online. I looked at your face on Linked In, the World’s Largest Professional Network. You work at Swiss Performance Management and Truehand AG, in Investment Management. Of course you do. 

I work as a bartender, and have for more than five years now. I graduated NYU with honors, and have at some point held down every conceivable part time type job including but not limited to food service, administration, and even temp work at firms such as yours. So far, bartending allows me the most flexibility to pursue my artistic career, while comfortably covering my basic living expenses, including my outrageously high student loan payments. I have a good job that I’m grateful for. The environment is low key, I have incredibly supportive coworkers and managers, and – in general – the clientele is nice. But I still hate being a bartender. 

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Cleaning House With Jenny

As you may recall, I signed up to use a cleaning service thanks to a direct mailing and then blogged about it. I planned to cancel it when I read this comment but of course forgot to and then the woman who would be cleaning our apartment, Jenny, texted me a few days ago to introduce herself and confirm our appointment.

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Canadian Health Care Awesomeness: Is It As Awesome As It Seems?

We’re all jealous of the Canadian health care system, unless we’re Canadian ourselves, in which case we spend our time eating poutine and watching hockey and politely marveling at the idiocy of Americans. But is the universal, public, accessible, single-payer health care that folks north of the border enjoy REALLY as great as it seems? Jacobin investigates:

The two largest holes in Canada’s health care system are the lack of universal coverage for dental care and the inadequate defraying of optical and prescription drug costs. As of 2012, an estimated one in five Canadians — disproportionately women, the unemployed, and freelancers — did not have the supplementary private health insurance that foots the bill for these services.

Uh. 20% of Canadians might have to pay for some dental and vision out of pocket, and these are your biggest problems? Here is the world’s tiniest violin, and here is me smashing it with a hammer made out of solidified resentment.

Universal health care is not just being eroded via underfunding. The federal government has been unwilling to enforce the Canada Health Act, which makes funding contingent on meeting certain standards. The lax regulatory environment has led to a proliferation of private clinics across Canada and inequitable access to some medical services.

OK now we’re getting somewhere. Maybe. It’s still hard for me to get worked up over the kinks in what seems like, overall, still a vastly preferable system to the one we’re stuck with down here, but pain is relative. And it does suck that abortions are hard to come by on Prince Edward Island.

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Saying Yes to the Dress! (For Other People)

Shopping for and with other people is the absolute best. If I had my way, I’d be sitting on one of those funny little poufs in the dressing room saying encouraging things to a friend, while she looks appraisingly at herself in a three-way mirror, once a week.

A mother-of-the-groom asked if I would take her out earlier this summer, and in one short afternoon we perpetrated an entire outfit: a striking, classy, yet “appropriate” dress ($250), a beautiful bolero to go over it in case New Hampshire is cold on Labor Day (~$100), and a pair of sturdy but cute shoes to wear while walking down the aisle and then jumping with joy on the dance floor ($40). That made me happy. What made me happier still was when two different brides invited me to accompany them on the Holy Grail of retail excursions: Wedding Dress Shopping.

Twice I have been able to be all, “Yes, she said, yes, I will, yes” to the Dress.

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How the Other Half Lives

While I was in the middle of writing a long meditation on the moral obligations of the rich, I received the following email…

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Think Of The Money I Could Make By Simply Ruining My Life With Airbnb

My sister is in town, staying at an Airbnb in the neighborhood. Or the neighborhood-ish. The intolerable and overpriced part of the neighborhood, that is. PEAK WILLIAMSBURG.

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The Art of The “Next Time”

I come to you today happy to report that I just got next time’d! Which is when you forget your wallet or don’t have enough money and a store or cafe employee tells you to pay them “next time.” I consider this a truly great honor and/or a sign that they do a shoddy job of keeping track of inventory. Do I have a very honest face — I was trying to buy a bottle of HONEST Tea, after all — or do they just not care about losing $2.00? The world may never know.

There are gradations of triumph in the “next time” and this one was particularly triumphant. Factors include how loyally you patronize the establishment in question, whether it’s the total amount or just a partial I.O.U., the degree of rapport you have with the cashier, their seniority at said establishment, how badly you want the item in question and how far away from your apartment / an ATM / your next paycheck you happen to be.

Today’s Next Time Eval:

How Loyal of a Customer Am I: Not very! I go in there maybe once every week to two weeks. So in this case, “next time” could be quite awhile from now. Bold move, bodega clerk.

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When Waitressing Pays More Than Publishing

In the restaurant industry, “I’m so broke,” was a constant server/bartender lament. Frequently, I good-naturedly nodded my head in agreement. “I know,” I said, pretending to be worried about making rent or having enough money to fly home for the holidays. “Me too.”

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“I’ll Have a Venti Skim Half-Cap Frappucino and a BA, Please. No Foam.”

Amazon wants you to win you back. In addition to a new Prime Music Streaming service and a deafening whisper campaign about the super secret mystery Kindle smartphone it might have up its sleeve, it is also launching Smile, a program that allows you to choose a charity the store will support. Thanks, guys! But wouldn’t it be easier to treat authors, publishers, and maybe even employees a little better?

Starbucks, another massive corporation that has gotten flak for taking over the world and putting the little guy out of business, is trying to drum up some goodwill of its own in a very unusual, but more direct, way: subsidizing undergraduate education.

Starbucks will provide a free online college education to thousands of its workers, without requiring that they remain with the company, through an unusual arrangement with Arizona State University, the company and the university will announce on Monday. The program is open to any of the company’s 135,000 United States employees, provided they work at least 20 hours a week and have the grades and test scores to gain admission to Arizona State. For a barista with at least two years of college credit, the company will pay full tuition; for those with fewer credits it will pay part of the cost, but even for many of them, courses will be free, with government and university aid. …

Many employers offer tuition reimbursement. But those programs usually come with limitations like the full cost not being paid, new employees being excluded, requiring that workers stay for years afterward, or limiting reimbursement to work-related courses. Starbucks is, in effect, inviting its workers, from the day they join the company, to study whatever they like, and then leave whenever they like — knowing that many of them, degrees in hand, will leave for better-paying jobs.

Investing in your employees as a business strategy happens to be good PR. Win-win-win. Is Bezos taking notes?

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The Cost of Accidentally Dropping Your Phone

My iPhone once survived a 10-foot drop off of a subway train platform. I was holding the phone in my right and trying to push it into my coat pocket before exiting the subway car. When it slipped out of my hand, I grasped for it, but only managed to grab onto my headphones and phone case.

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