The Holidays and Tips from your Friendly Local Service Industry Professionals

December is upon us, we’ve survived Thanksgiving weekend and the Black Friday-Cyber Monday mayhem that ensued.  I didn’t hear any stories about people getting trampled to death at Wal-Marts this year, but that just might be because I was working Fri-Sun and not watching the news.

To do my part to keep this month as harmonious and happy as possible, I’ve collected some tips and tricks from my own experience and from various individuals and places around the internet.  Read these, learn them, and you’ll find that your shopping, dining, and general interactions with people will go better for the rest of the year and possibly into the next one.

1) Have a question for that person behind the counter? STOP

The chances are good that the answer you need, (where’s the bathroom/ATM/exit/widget dispenser?) is actually right in front of you.  If you actually stop and take a look around the chances are good that there is a sign or map telling you exactly what you need to know.  Bonus: You won’t have to wait in line to ask the person behind the counter where to go and you’ll look like a pro to the rest of your family.

2) “Do I really have to wait in line?  My question will only take a sec, nobody will mind if I cut right over here…”

Unless you are on fire as you stand there, everyone in line will mind as will the person you are forcing to either studiously ignore you or who will have to stop working with the customer in front of them to answer your question, which always takes more than a second.  Lines are for everyone.  If you see one and you know you have to wait in it, guess what, be prepared to wait.  Patiently.  The person behind the counter is working as fast as they can while doing everything they can for the person in front of them.  Eventually the person in front of them will be you.  Never cut the line.  Bonus: You look like a super patient saint to your family.

3) “I’m never coming back here, I don’t need to leave a tip.  Everyone else will tip.”

NOPE.  That is a full stop FAIL.  If you’re at a restaurant and you don’t tip, at least in the US, you’re costing your server money.  They end up paying to serve you and that is flat-out unfair and un-American.  The minimum wage in the US for tipped positions is $2.13/hr.  You can thank the restaurant industry for that.  Servers actually live off of their tips.  We can argue another time over whether or not it’s a good or bad system, but right now it is the system we have.  If you don’t like your service or have a problem, ask, politely, to speak with a manager.  If your service is average, tip 20%, if it is stellar, tip more.  Leaving a religious tract/KKK card/political pamphlet is not acceptable.  Ever.  Bonus:  Being super generous might make you an internet sensation.

4) “Little Johnny needs to pee/soiled his diaper. I’m too tired to take him to the bathroom so I’m going to change him right here/let him pee into a cup/soda bottle.”

NO, NOPE, NEIN, NICHT, NON.  Every single place you go is someone else’s workspace.  Even when you’re in the park, someone works to keep it clean.  Leaving dirty diapers, soda cups full of pee, bottles full of pee, or (my personal fave) Ziploc bags full of pee, anywhere other than in a trash bin in a restroom is unacceptable.  Worse is allowing any small child or animal in your charge to relieve themselves in an inappropriate place.  Even worse is thinking it acceptable to change your child’s diaper on the table of a restaurant or bringing along training toilets when going out to eat so the kids don’t have to get up and go when they have to, um, get up and go.  There’s no bonus on this one.  Be a considerate human being and you won’t end up being mentioned in a list like this one, all of which are TRUE stories which I’ve either witnessed first hand or heard/seen the first hand accounts of.

5) “That person is wearing a badge and she’s carrying some stuff, let’s stop her and ask some questions!”  STOP

You may have just spotted a customer service employee in the wild!  You may have even spotted one who can help you when you have failed to read a map, have studiously avoided the large 3 sided glowing directory immediately to your right, or have walked past the ATM/restroom/Dunks 4 times without seeing it.  But!  If said tagged employee is carrying something that looks suspiciously like lunch, please find someone else.  Most people who work in customer service get a half hour, unpaid, for their lunches.  Some get a measly 15 minutes.  Stopping to help you when we’re carrying our food in our arms is counted as a part of that time.  If we beg off, don’t get indignant.  You’re wasting our time, our precious off the clock and off the floor time, because you can’t recognize someone carrying her lunch when you see it.  Bonus: Try reading your map or looking for a desk or kiosk labeled INFORMATION or with a big I.  You’ll be amazed at how helpful and well-informed the people and computers there are.

6) “Oh, they’re closing in 10 mins? I’m sure they still have time to feed us/let me try on 15 things/take a look around/let me in for free.”  STOP

If you are going to a place that requires an entry fee and there’s not much time left, showing up when security had already started to announce closing and expecting to get in for free/a discount if it isn’t posted is just rude.  Don’t do it.  If you show up at a restaurant 10 minutes before closing and expect to be served a full meal you have two choices, tip REALLY well, like 40%, or go someplace else.  If you walk into a retail store 10 minutes before closing now is not the time to browse and try on 15 things.  People who work in the service industry have a home to go to, errands to run, and places to go.  They also have work to do after the restaurant/store/museum/library/mall closes as well.  If you make us late, that makes you a jerk.  Especially if you make us late and don’t buy anything or don’t actually appreciate the fact that you’re making us late.  Bonus: Acknowledge that you’re walking into a closing venue, ask what the regular hours are, wish everyone a good night, and go.  You’ll look like a human being who’s aware that others exist and we will all get to go home on time, or close to it.

General Tips:

  • No, your map does not have GPS in it to show you where you are standing now.  It’s made of paper.  Please learn how to read a map.
  • Yes, that really is the only ATM in the building.
  • Please exit through the door that says USE THIS DOOR.  The big sign.  Yes, that one.
  • Yes, we really do close in 5 minutes.  For everyone.
  • I’m afraid I can’t charge anything to your transit card, but we do take cash, Amex, Visa, Master Card, and Discover.
  • No, I can’t make change for $100, it’s 9:02am.
  • Yes, your 4-year-old does have to wear shoes in here.  Yes, even if she doesn’t like them.
  • The admission price is not a suggestion.
  • If you forgot your member/library card then I’ll need to see some ID.

I could go on, but I’ll stop there.  Common sense + reading + awareness of others = a happy holiday season.

This message has been brought to you by your local over worked, underpaid, and underappreciated Service Industry Workers.  Have a nice day.




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