I hate consumers.
I don't mean I hate consumers in a hippie, off the grid, anti-Western ideology type thing. I freely admit to spending my free time yelling at my Xbox, piddling on my iPhone, watching the 3-hour long advertisement we call American football and generally craving a litany of other products I would be terribly lost without – Cookout, you already know.
I mean I hate actual consumers.
Think about what you do when you go to eat at a restaurant. You wait for the staff to clean your table to immaculate condition, wait for them to assign their staff to you so they may serve you in a timely and effective manner and demand drinks, appetizers and entrees be brought directly into your lap and prepared to your exact specifications. The only thing you don't ask of these people is to cram this food directly into your unappreciative face and fan you with a palm leaf.
If any of the aforementioned isn't met to your exact criteria, you refuse gratuity and your server goes home with the measly $2.13 minimum wage Tennessee law affords them and cleans up your slop you left behind anyway.
I realize the service industry is indeed what its name implies, a service, and if that service is less than satisfactory than there is a reason to complain.
However, there are droves of you who are set off by the smallest hitch in your meal, scrambling for an excuse not to tip your server because he or she forgot your extra side of ranch to go with your not perfectly pink five-dollar burger. How incompetent could they be?
In spite of your constant need to have your every whim catered to, Miserus Caesar, when you sit down for your respective sub-$10 meal, there are at least five other tables with equally demanding and equally as ludicrous requests as yours.
You do the math. Anywhere between four to 10 people spread across six tables order at least a drink and an entrée and split the bill to ridiculous proportions because one of the friends couldn't afford their eighth drink at The Hill last Thursday. If someone has a severe food allergy, they could be leaving the restaurant in an ambulance if their order isn't followed correctly.
Suffice it to say; no one cares about your extra side of kickback sauce. No one cares your drink isn't being filled as soon as you gulp the entire glass down because your mouth is Saharan from your hangover. No one actually cares about any of the innumerable asinine hoops you try to make your server jump through for a tip of more pocket lint than change.
It is true there are terrible servers. But, more often than not, you'll find a terrible customer much easier than you will a terrible server. I don't know where the empathy has gone from a lot of us who seek out every excuse not to pay our servers, but they are human beings, not robots built to coddle.
Understand these people have tuition, car payments and even personal well-being to pay for with money that comes largely from your tip – that tip shouldn't depend on whether she fills your drink seven times instead of eight. Give them the benefit of the doubt, find some empathy in you, and enjoy Knoxville's fine establishments without looking for an excuse to look down on your servers because you don't want to cough up that dollar you found underneath your seat.
Chase Parker is a junior in biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.