My job during college, one I don’t mind admitting to but alternately don’t take extraordinary pride in, was that of a Deli Clerk at a local grocery store. I was paid well and didn’t have to work too hard, but any job that isn’t on the short list of ideal work is going to slowly but surely create within a seething rage towards those that make it unenjoyable. And as is the case with any customer service job, in this case it was the customers.
I’m going to describe for you a few of the most common things you can do as a customer in a Deli, or any food service place for that matter than your servers will find rude, annoying, or downright infuriating. First off, as I’ve said in my articles about ordering at a restaurant and tipping, you’re visiting these people in their space, partaking of their services, and they’re getting paid none too well to wait on hand and foot for you. So, be polite.
1. The number one angering thing you can do when you walk into a deli or anywhere else for that matter is be on a cell phone. Scratch that. Be on your cell phone and get angry when you don’t get immediate service. No one wants to help you while you’re on your phone. First off, you ignore everything that’s said to you. Most people can’t absorb and carry on two conversations at once. Second, you’re rude on the phone. You point wildly and make gestures, then get angry when no one understands what your hand signed crescent moon is supposed to be. Hang up and call back.
2. Which leads to number two. Don’t point and gesture. Speak up and use the vocal chords given to you at birth to speak to your server and get your food. If you don’t speak, someone might think you’re def, and then you just make an ass out of everyone. Honestly though. Speak clearly, toward the server and read the sign in front of the item you want. If you point and say “that one” no one but you has any idea what exactly you’re pointing at. There’s no laser pointer bursting from your finger at the salad in the middle of the case. It’s the same as nodding yes to a question while on the phone. Who sees you do that? The person on the phone?
3. Be a little more specific than “some meat”. If you don’t know what you want don’t waste everyone’s time by standing there pointing and saying “I want turkey”. How much turkey? What kind of turkey, and most importantly, the turkey is over there. Other customers are waiting for help and you’re wasting their time. And if you stand in line waiting for three or four minutes, don’t spend the entire time eyeballing every employee who isn’t free to help you then standing their with your eyes rolled back in your head thinking when they finally offer their help. Figure out what you want first, then stare angrily. When someone gets over there after helping the three angry people ahead of you, they and everyone standing behind you in line would appreciate if you knew what you wanted.
4. Be decisive. I’ll reiterate this one. Know what you want. Don’t say things like, “I want a little bit of that.” If you don’t know how much you want, ask us to show you sizes and weights, but “a little bit” is completely useless. It doesn’t describe anything. And saying things like “regular” or “medium” which everyone does when they’re incapable of making an intelligent decision for themselves just wastes more time. Think about how many people are eating and figure it out on your own. We don’t know how much your family eats, so saying “enough for four people” doesn’t mean anything unless we know that those four people are all 6’4″ 300 pound wrestlers as opposed to 11 year old girls. And if you ever say “You pick” be prepared to get random weird stuff, because no one and I mean no one cares what you’re eating for lunch. Figure it out for yourself.
5. Don’t let your kids do stupid things around us. What are we supposed to do, chastise your child? If he runs behind our counter, it’s not our job to remove him. But he can’t be back there. And he can’t bang on the glass, or try to open the case, or throw things over the counter, or scream endlessly while you stare off into space imagining that tropical island you wish you were on with Rico or Ines. We love your kids, if you keep them at least half way relaxed.
These are things that no one should ever do in line. I’m not talking about changing your mind thirty times or asking for shaved ham, or 12 pounds of cheese with paper between every slice. Those things anger us just as much, but you’re allowed to ask for those things, because that’s the job. The job however doesn’t include reading your mind, ignoring other customers for you, or parenting your children. Show some common sense and you’ll have a pleasant and fun time in the deli. If not, go to McDonald’s. They’re all for getting crap from their customers.