There's a saying that goes something like "If you treat people who serve you like shit, you're a giant dickbag, even if you treat everyone else nicely." Well that's probably not the exact quote but you get the point. The vast majority of people have worked in restaurant or retail work at some point in their lives, including me. It's absolutely awful. If anyone needs to be treated nicely, it's these people, for multiple reasons. It's part of why I'm such a condescending bitch.
1) Their lives suck. Or at least this part of their life. The number of assholes you run across as a waiter or store clerk in just one month of work is enough to make you think the world is full of ungrateful shitheads. Which, now that I think about it, it probably is, but at least once you're past this point in your life you will be dealing with them from a different perspective, i.e. perhaps their boss, or their equal.
You may very well be the nicest person a server has seen all day. Seriously. The fact that they get one table out of 50 that doesn't complain about something and says "thank you" might literally be the one thing keeping them from running through a plate glass window into the middle of the street.
2) They're getting paid shit. Servers work on tips, and most retail clerks don't even get commission, so they have to put up with your bullshit without any bonus. They just do it because they need a job and they're 19 and at the moment that's all they're qualified to do.
When I was 19, I worked at Abercrombie for two months. This being my first job, I didn't ask how much the position paid in my interview, because I thought that was presumptuous, or rude, or showed I was only interested in money. I was, and the clothing discount, but I didn't want them to know that. My first paycheck came and it turned out I was making $5.25 an hour. One hour of work won't even buy me a combo at McDonald's.
People would ask me ridiculous things. They'd look at me and think "Oh, she's probably in control of this whole operation, I'm sure if I tell her my problem she can fix it." At the cash register, ironically my favorite spot, one woman came up with three XL men's shirts and asked me if we had any XXLs. I politely said that Abercrombie doesn't make XXLs and that I was sorry. She decided to tell me that "You guys need to start selling XXLs. You're losing out on a big part of the market. Why don't you make XXLs?"
Well, as the 19-year-old cashier at one single Abercrombie and Fitch store out of hundreds, I am absolutely able to make that change happen. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? Do I look like the CEO? Do I even look like the manager? Do you have any concept of how few fucks I give? I don't even care if you buy THAT shirt. I'm not making any more money. I don't care if Abercrombie gets a whole new market share with big boy shirts, they won't give any of that to me. I'm here to pass my time, take your money, give you change, and get your annoying ass out of here. People thought I was an intern when I was actually a full-fledged DA, do you think I looked any more important when I was 19??
I quit after two months because the pay wasn't enough to justify the ridiculousness. People complaining about their clothes falling apart when they exchanged them, as though I cared even as much as I cared about what color socks you're wearing. I became the sounding board for anyone who had problems. Eventually I just heard 3 words and said "let me call a manager." It's their job to deal with idiots who want to complain, and they don't get paid enough to deal with it either.
When I was 22, I was a hostess at California Pizza Kitchen. I never applied nor asked to be a waitress. The managers thought it was weird that I was about to go to law school yet I wanted to be a hostess instead of a waitress, and kept asking me if I wanted to train to be a server. I flat out told them that I'd get fired in one day, because I'm mean and I'm clumsy. They didn't ask after that.
The hostess is actually a pretty shitty job, especially in a new restaurant that has a wait list. You're keeping people from their tables, the one thing they want. You're the gatekeeper, and everyone hates the gatekeeper. Since this was the first and only CPK in Austin at the time, it was almost always on a wait. Some people were nice and just dealt with it. Others were giant douchebags.
In the back we had two-person booths. One day, on a particularly long wait, a woman came up and said she had a party of 6. I told her it would be about 30 minutes and she sighed loudly and gave me her name for the list. About three minutes later, a couple, as in two human beings, walked in and we happened to have a few two person booths in the back, so I grabbed menus and walked them back. When I returned to the hostess stand, the party of 6 woman was standing there.
"Why did you just seat them? They came in after us! We should've been seated first!"
In my most condescending voice, I pointed back to the two-tops and said "Ma'am, they were a party of two. You have a party of six. If you would like to try and fit your party of six in those two-person booths back there, you are welcome to, but I was under the impression you wanted six seats for six people."
She had no response, and huffed back outside.
Then there were the people who said we weren't "kid friendly" because the fire marshall wouldn't allow us to put high chairs at the ends of booths, only at a table in a chair's spot. "If I put you in that booth with the high chair, I will get fired. Not only that, but immediately after firing me, they will take the high chair, put it back, and you will be in the same position you are now."
Some of the stories I heard from the waiters made me wonder how they didn't pour drinks on people. Which is exactly why I never became a waitress.
So here's some advice - waiters have the power to do a lot of gross things to your food. If you're a dickhead about something where you could've easily been polite, they will likely adulterate your food somehow. At least I hope they do. The waiter did not cook your steak, make your pasta, bake your cake, or put too much spice in your food. He is also not allowed to taste-test it to make sure it matches your standards, so when it comes and doesn't taste right, he's not the person to yell at. Really you shouldn't yell at anyone at all, because mistakes happen and if you don't like your food that's likely your own personal opinion and not that of the hundreds of other people who order that same dish all the time.
You are not better than people in the service industry. Likely you were once there yourself, and if you weren't, consider yourself lucky. Obviously there are bad waiters and waitresses and people who don't listen or slack off, and those people are fair game. But most people just want to do their job without getting yelled at for putting too many beans on your burrito. It's not necessary to tell a restaurant they should "never run out" of something. Yeah, that's kind of a given, but likely they have little to no control over that. If everyone orders something one day, they'll run out. Shit happens. And it's EXTREMELY not necessary to drive back to a restaurant and yell at the manager because someone didn't fill your FREE SIDES OF SALSA all the way to the top of the container. Yes, that happened today while I was eating. I wanted to punch that woman in her throat.
So the lesson is simply "don't be a dickhead." Or at least, "wait til someone has been a dickhead to you, THEN you may be a dickhead back." I have in the past and will not hesitate to call someone out for being a dickhead to someone who is trying their hardest. So you might be humiliated in front of everyone AND get spit in your food. Have a nice day.