As a 25-year-veteran of the food service industry, Tammy Stirk Ramsey has grown a pretty thick skin when it comes to rude customers. She has learned to smile and shrug it off when clients are unruly, so she doesn’t let the experience ruin the rest of her day.
That’s exactly what she did with one angry customer during the Fourth of July weekend, one of the busiest weekends of the year.
Together with fellow hostess Michelle Kender, Tammy was working at the front of the restaurant at the Union Bluff Hotel. A customer yelled at her and Michelle on the evening of July 5 when he and his companions had to wait an hour and a half for a table.
The man told them loudly, “This is bullsh*t,” before storming off the establishment.
Tammy was used to dealing with such customers, so she just let it roll right off her back.
“I’ve been doing this for so many years,” she said. “Not so much goes through my head. I just try and make the customers happy and if I can’t make them happy, I smile at them and say ‘I’m sorry I can’t do anything else.’”
But a few weeks later, she was surprised to receive a letter of apology—along with a generous tip—from the man himself.
The “embarrassed customer” sent a letter expressing his apologies and $100 in cash.
“I was very rude to her — which is out of character for me — I have way more respect for people than I showed that day,” the customer wrote. “Pre-dinner cocktails before getting to the Bluff may have contributed — no excuse.”
Tammy said she read the note “three times” and hoped that the customer identified himself in the letter.
“I feel bad,” the message continued. “This coming from a guy who tells people to be kind to service staff and tip big … how hypocritical.”
The writer said he plans to apologize to her in person the next time he visits York, mentioning that he and his family have been going there every year for over 25 years for the Fourth of July week.
“You never want to be ‘that guy’ and that day I was,” he concluded.
Tammy said she dealt with a few rude customers that weekend, so she can’t really remember the incident. However, she recalls several people apologizing to her on behalf of the man she suspects wrote the note.
“It doesn’t bother me … I mean, a little bit. But then I’m like, ‘Yeah, next person in line,’” she said.
Tammy said that for someone to come forward to admit their mistakes and apologize sets a good example for everyone.
“I think it was a really cool thing,” she said. “He could’ve just walked away from it went on with his day.”
She said she would have felt the same about the note even if the customer had not given a tip along with it. Tammy said she and Michelle will split the money.
Tammy posted the letter on Seacoast Eats, a page she goes to for information and conversations with other restaurant workers and owners.
She knew that its members will “appreciate, understand and empathize” with the situation because they’ve been there, too.
She also hoped that sharing the letter will inspire more people to own up to their mistakes and be more compassionate to service workers, especially during this time.
“Be nice, be patient. Put yourselves in their shoes. Understand people are short-staffed and we’re doing our best,” she said.
Kudos to this customer for being humble enough and self-aware to apologize and make up for his mistakes. We hope this story inspired you to be kinder to others.
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