5 Signs That You’ve Worked in the Service Industry (No Sniggers Please)


Here at DTSFT we’ve all worked in the “service industry”. I’m also including the retail industry in this set because there are numerous similarities when you get down to brass tacks. For people that have never worked in this kind of industry where you deal with the public for the majority of the time this will help you to treat people better. I’ve taught my Mum to treat retail workers better. True story. Simple but can make a world of difference.*

1. You’re polite when talking to staff members.

Now I’m not saying you have to be overly friendly. All I say is give a smile, don’t be rude straight off because you’ve had a bad day or you’re late for work/dinner/film/etc. Talking to customers all day is pretty exhausting and your patience as a server hits a fine line depending on the customer.

However, the server is sullen? Uninterested? Rude? Then you have my permission to give as good as you get.

2. You clear up after yourself.

We’ve all been there. You go to a coffee shop and find a few empty tables but they’re all covered in crap. The servers are all clearly busy and don’t have the time to clean at that time. What would make it easier? Before you leave you can just leave your cup or whatever on the counter. It’s very simple and causes no real trouble – and you’ll get great appreciation from the work staff. Also, got rubbish? Why not just throw it away like a normal, thoughtful human being? And no cinema workers appreciate finding used nappies in a screen. Be ashamed of yourself.

3. You are more aware of the appreciation for tips.

If you can tip and you had great service? Do it. We don’t have the same tipping culture as in America but it doesn’t mean that waiting staff don’t appreciate it. Just give it a second thought.

4. Staff are not personally responsible for technical faults, low staffing numbers or pricing.

Tills breaking down? Food overpriced? Short of staff? At what point do you think the minimum wage worker you’re talking to is responsible for this? And ending a rant with “I know it’s not your fault” is possibly the most unhelpful thing you could say. Just try to restrain your “anger” and put yourself in their position. Bad luck always happens at the worst time. Think about that.

5. Don’t make “hilarious” “original” “jokes”. (All quotations were necessary there.)

This was a requested inclusion via Helen. I’ve never personally experienced** this but Helen’s had it repeatedly.

Okay, this is Helen reporting in to set the record straight.  If it was up to me, this post would have been called ‘Hey Customers, So You Think You’re Funny? Ha Ha Not So Much’,  because in the several years that I’ve spent in customer service, I have experienced some of the worst site-specific humour you could imagine.

I’m not just talking about the general jokes that customers make.  You know what I’m talking about, and some of you have probably made those jokes yourselves and you should be ashamed if you have.  Like when you’re trying to scan a barcode that just can’t be read, and then ol’ Bill Hicks in front of you breaks out the classic line, “Ooh, does this mean it’s free?” with a smirk that tells you that they’ve said it to countless people before you, each time confident that no-one else has ever thought of it.

It gets worse when customers seem to think that they’re the first one to think of jokes relating to the business.  I once had a man at B&Q tell me that, after asking where the laminate floors were while standing right in front of the section, he “felt like a right plank”, then he winked and walked away. To this day, I am 100% sure that he did it on purpose, and I wish I’d taken the opportunity to set him on fire right there and then. It is one of my biggest regrets in life.  Then there are the patients coming in to the phlebotomy department to get blood taken for tests, asking if the vampires are in. Oh I get it, cos of the blood and the vampires and the hahaha NO.

But the bookshop is the worst for attracting shop-related ‘humour’.  Like the comedians who kept moving Tony Blair’s biography into the ‘Crime’ section. Haha, you guys!  Classic!  CLASSIC!  Or how about customers with their author or title based comedy?

“Ooh, it’s called Wreck This Journal – does that mean after I’ve bought it or can I do it before, haha?”

 Well, try the latter, sir.  See how that works out for you.

“I thought it was called ‘Game of Thorns’, and I thought ooh better be careful picking that up!”

Shut up, sir.

*Holding a copy of Karen Slaughters’ ‘Broken’*

“Have you got a copy that isn’t?”


“One that isn’t.” *nods at book smugly* “Broken.”

*Buying ‘Booky Wook 2’*

“They should have called it ‘Twooky Wook’

And perhaps my favourite because of its banality:

*Customer sees me putting stickers on copies of ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy*

“Is that about the M6? Haha” *walks off chucking to himself*

When will you people learn? You sicken me.

Anyone else had these experiences? Or can add to them?

S x

*not a world but, you know, a bit.

** actually I remember being told (with a wink) that I must have strong wrists because I was scooping ice cream.



One thought on “5 Signs That You’ve Worked in the Service Industry (No Sniggers Please)

  1. Having managed restaurants, I have to get god-awful service to just leave an average tip. Average service gets a good tip, better than that gets a great tip.

    As far as number 4, it isn’t their fault, but they are the face of their company to the customer. I’ll make allowances for a kitchen/back end thats gone off the rails, but at a certain point the, front of the house person needs to grab their manager and get it sorted.
    Because their job is to earn their gratuity and make the customer happy.
    And again, they’re the fce of the company to that customer.

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