An ode to UA’s food service employees

Kara Hemphill

For those readers who have never worked in food service, consider yourselves lucky. It is, in a word, tough.

However, it is also necessary. Students and staff at the The University of Akron are lucky in that we have many fabulous venues at which to quench our thirst and stave off hunger, as well as dedicated employees that make it all possible.

Sadly, I think people tend to take this for granted. Even other food service employees, who should by all rights be sympathetic, can turn into raging lunatics when faced with a long line at Starbucks.

A natural sense of competition in this individualistic society seems to drive us humans to want to be first in line for everything, regardless of whether we’re actually in a hurry or not. Most of the time I’d wager we could afford to wait for a bit, otherwise people wouldn’t even bother to get in line for coffee. And if you can’t afford to wait, the solution is simple: Don’t get in line for coffee, and leave a few minutes early next time.

Regardless of how angry you are at the long line in front of you, it’s important to remember that there’s really nothing the employees can do to improve the situation. Rest assured that they’re working as fast as they can to get food made and customers out the door. And that’s just about all that can be done.

Believe it or not, food service employees are not magical elves who can pull food and drink out of thin air and hand it to you on a beautiful silver platter in less time than it takes to blink. No matter how rude you are, it still takes the same amount of time to steam milk or toast a sandwich, and you have achieved nothing but putting everyone in a bad mood.

Now, if you’re a nice person, you probably don’t want to ruin anyone’s day. If you’re a mean person, it’s still bad to ruin someone’s day; you probably just don’t feel bad about it. But you should!

People who work in food service are paid minimum wage, or close to it, to deal with any number of irritable, rude or even borderline violent people for anywhere from four to 12 hours a day.

In other words, they are often paid the least amount possible to do a difficult and thankless job. Customers only have to deal with the line once – employees deal with it all day long and have very little to show for it.

I’m not saying everyone needs to be happy-go-lucky every second of the day (though anyone who works behind the counter of a restaurant is expected to do just that), but a little common courtesy goes a long way.

Restaurant employees are fellow students, and a lot of people seem to forget that. They earn our respect every day; we just need to remember to give it to them.

Also, if you make a scene about your order being wrong/late/disappointing, you can expect to enter the “bad customer” hall of fame and turn into a story that your server uses to entertain their family and friends for weeks to come: just saying.

Next time you’re in line for some form of sustenance or another, try to remember how hard the employees are working to get it to you. Like most people of college age, they’re students working hard to succeed, and they deserve to be treated like more than emotionless, food-delivering robots.