from a misguided kid to the confident young adult
I see nothing short of pure annoyance etched across her face. Opening and closing my mouth, my tongue can not find the right words. The sounds of shrieking phone calls, blaring voices, footsteps clicking above ceramic tiles, and steel spatulas scraping against old metal woks coalesce into a cacophony of deafening anxiety.
The first time a customer complained furiously about her food, all thoughts frantically escaped from my grasp. My eyes nervously darted up and down from my notepad as judging stares burned red against my skin. Keeping my eyes glued to the floor, I muttered a quick apology and scurried back to the kitchen.
Working in the restaurant, nobody cared about your grades in school or the numbers of awards you won. They only cared about the present-could you work hard and get things done? I felt unworthy without my achievements as a shield.
School gave me the time to learn how to solve problems before taking the test. However, the real world often does not allow you to prepare for the challenges you may face. Waitressing has issues that pop up quickly and need to be resolved instantly. For the first year, I struggled to resolve confrontations with angry customers.
Two years ago on Halloween, my parents traveled up to New York for a business trip. Predicting the business to be slow, they did not call in anyone else to work but me and the delivery person. During dinner time, people began pouring in, and the restaurant soon became packed. I ran back and forth from kitchen to the dining area, trying serve the food, answer the phone, and wait the tables all at once.
Before closing time, I received an angry call from a customer.
"I can't believe the delivery took this long! The food was almost cold!"
Panic bubbled within me but I pushed it down and tried my best to respond.
"I'm very sorry for what has happened ma'am, but it was very busy tonight," I explained despite my discomfort. "If there's anything I can do to make this situation better, please let me know."
Her voice a little less angry than before, she replied, "I would like a refund."
"I'm sorry ma'am but I can't provide you with a refund. However, I can give a discount next time you order."
She sighed: "I'm sorry about taking this out on you; I know you're not responsible for this mess but I want to let you know I wouldn't be ordering from here ever again."
"That's okay. Again, I am sorry about what has happened. Thank you. Goodnight."
After I placed down the the phone, tension slowly dissipated from my shoulders. Although the woman just told me she would never order from our restaurant again, I was smiling. It was the first time I successfully confronted a customer without the help of anyone else.
From apologizing to frustrated customers to creating compromises with them, I learned how to communicate with different people. I now understand the embarrassment I first experienced in the restaurant was not in vain; it taught me how to interact with others and how to maintain composure during difficult situations.
Walking towards the next table to take another order, I leave behind the misguided kid who hid herself with academic achievements, and step into a more confident young adult ready to persevere in the face of challenges.