Dealing with rude staff in your organization
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Are your staff rude to customers? If so, this may be a good thing. A report about surly flight attendants on Japan’s Skymark Airlines triggered much interest among readers, several of whom provided examples of organizations which became famous for the grumpiness of their staff.
The Sam Wo, a San Francisco Chinese restaurant which recently closed down, was legendary for its outrageous waiters, said reader Chris Huber of Hong Kong. The rudest was a waiter named Edsel Ford Fung who would tell the customers how fat they were, criticize their menu choices and clear tables before diners had finished eating. At the end he would remind them to leave him a tip. Fung died in 1984 but we’re still talking about him now.
Catherine Carlton wrote to remind me of the famous Wong Kei restaurant in London’s Chinatown. You go in, and the waiter barks: “Sit there.” One minute later he is at the side of your table. “Order now.” And when you have just taken your last mouthful, he’s there with the bill: “You go now.” If you don’t obey, you feel he may go get his cleaver.
Other readers mentioned the American Peking Restaurant and the Lok Yu Teahouse, both in Hong Kong. Legend has it that a séance was once held at the Luk Yu Teahouse to get in touch with the spirit of a grumpy old waiter who had died. “Are you there, Mr Wong?” asked the psychic. Silence. “Are you there Mr Wong?” the psychic repeated. Silence. Then a grumpy spirit voice was heard from the other side of the room. “That’s not my table.”
The letters about rude staff were inspired by a report about Skymark, the budget airline which warned passengers in writing that they should not expect flight attendants to be polite or help with luggage.
Readers Otis Schindler and Wendy Tong even started composing a phrasebook Skymark stewardesses can use.
When a passenger enters the plane and approaches the stewardess for help finding his seat: “What you lookin’ at, punk?”
When a passenger sits in the wrong seat: “If you can’t work out that 48A comes before 49B, you’re too stupid to fly.”
When the safety video plays: “Passengers who don’t watch the video will get boiling hot tea poured into their laps.”
When meals are served: “Eat your @#$%ing veggies. And when you finish bring your dish to the kitchen area.”
When the destination is reached: “To save on landing fees, we’ll swoop down as low as we can and switch the doors to manual. Jump out whenever you like.”
A man named Kenneth Lee Sanders was stopped by police on June 18 in the US town of Fort Walton Beach and said: “Go ahead and search me.” They did, and found illegal drugs on him, police said. This incident sets a new high for “saying stuff you regret later”.
President Patibha Patil of India last month commuted the death sentence of convict Bandu Tidke in a show of mercy, only to be told that that he’d been dead for five years. Oh well, it’s the thought that counts.
New definition of the world “nervous”: “Like Arnold Schwarzenegger on father’s day.”
The writer is a columnist and journalist.