I believe the truest sign of refinement is how you treat those serving or working for you. This might be the barista at your local coffee shop, the cleaning ladies that whirl around your house every two weeks, or yes, even your Uber driver.
I worked in the hospitality industry for a long time and, while I came in contact with many gracious and kind patrons, I met many others who were quite rude and demeaning. I remember training at the front desk of the Fairmont San Francisco and being so shocked when someone talked to me like I was no better than the dirt on their shoe. I couldn’t believe that any mother would raise a child to treat others like that. (Although, I have to say, it was probably good for my Vanderbilt-educated ego to be put in my place a few times!)
Because we all want to do the right thing, here are some examples of ways you can be gracious and lovely to people in the hospitality industry. Perhaps some of these things you haven’t even thought of before:
Wait Staff at Restaurants
I remember as a child when eating out was a big deal and we were expected to use our best manners at all times. Today dining at restaurants is so common that there is little specialness about it and people often forget their manners and thoughtfulness.
Let me give you an example. A waiter friend told me the story of when two ladies were seated in his section during the busy weekend dinner shift. They ordered one order of nachos to share and two waters. They then lingered for several hours during the dinner rush – a time period when he could have turned the table 2-3 times -and then left him a modest 15% tip of about $2.00.
Now, I don’t think these ladies were trying to be rude. They were just enjoying good conversation and a night out, lingering as if they were at their own kitchen table. But they didn’t stop to think that this young man, who doesn’t even make minimum wage, is dependent on tips to make a living. If they sit at one of his assigned three tables without ordering much for the whole night, then that’s pretty much a wasted night for him.
I admit, and I am embarrassed to say, that I have done this same thing, totally oblivious to the hard-working waiter serving my friends and me as we chatted away. Now I know: If I am going to linger at a table without ordering anything else, I need to consider leaving a very nice tip or take my conversation elsewhere!
Another thing about waiters and waitresses: most take their profession seriously and want to be appreciated for it. My grandfather is a great example of how to treat wait staff. I noticed at a very young age that the first thing he does after being seated is ask the waiter his or her name (if it wasn’t already offered). He then always proceeds to have a mini conversation with the waiter about the day, the weather, the special, whatever. My grandfather makes eye contact with the person who is waiting on him, gives nice feedback, and always says please and thank you.
All these things are so easy to do, but unfortunately often get overlooked!
Housekeepers at Hotels
For some strange reason, people feel like it’s okay to leave their hotel rooms in total shambles when they check because they know the housekeeping crew is going to come clean up after them.
Yes, it is true, after you check out someone will come clean the bathroom and change the sheets. But it is not the housekeepers’ job to pick up every piece of trash that someone threw on the floor because he or she was too lazy to walk over the to trash can. Nor is it their job to scrape the gum that someone’s child smashed into the carpet and left for days. Or pick up dirty diapers left on the dresser. (Yes, it happens!)
Be considerate of how you leave your hotel room. You are not a king or queen with lowly housekeeping minions to clean up your messes! Show a little self-respect (and respect for others) by leaving the room in an acceptable manner for the housekeeping staff to clean.
Did you know that it is also proper to leave a tip for the housekeeping staff when you check out of a hotel, particularly if you have been there for an extended trip or a conference? I don’t think a lot of people know this, but you should consider it if you don’t already do this kind gesture. Just like you tip the bell boy for carrying your bags to the car, leave a tip, and maybe even a nice note of thanks, for the housekeeper who has been tidying up your room during your stay.
Similar to the restaurant industry, the respect for the hard-working members of the aviation industry has plummeted. We all remember the days when flying was a special occasion and the flight attendants (or stewardesses, as we called them!) were treated accordingly. Today flying seems to be all about miserable wait and cattle-cart lines. People are understandably grouchy about it all, but this doesn’t mean they should take out their frustrations on those guiding and serving us in the air!
I am continually amazed at the professionalism and self-control of flight attendants who deal with tacky or jerky people on a daily basis. I know my readers aren’t either of those, but I do want to mention this because we can be such an example to those sitting in the (very close!) seats to next to us. Thank your flight attendant, make eye contact, tell them they are doing a fine job despite the plane having to sit on the runway for two hours. Maybe you’ll even get an extra pack of pretzels for being so nice!
Are you in the hospitality industry? Tell us how we can show our gratitude below in the comments.
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