Yesterday, it was reported that some KFC restaurants, including one in Waihi, are so understaffed that customers are abusing already-under-pressure workers. Some employees have even had things thrown at them.

This kind of treatment of people is something that really grinds my gears. During my teenage years I spent hours slogging away in restaurants of varying degrees of class, and in every one of those establishments I had customers take their anger out on me.

It didn't matter what the problem was. "This food is cold", "We've been waiting half an hour for our starters", "You didn't tell us this had dairy in it, I'm allergic" Somehow it was always me, and my colleagues on the front line, who bore the brunt of their rage.

I'm sure more than a few of you reading this now were once waiters and waitresses, maybe even a fast food worker, labouring through evenings and weekends for minimum wage to save up for your first car, or a holiday with friends.


So why is it that when we get older we start playing the part of the rancorous customer with a blatant disregard for the server's feelings? Do we feel we've earned the right? Or has the memory of being on the other side of these interactions faded to the degree that we have forgotten how it feels?

A kind word or bit of empathy from a customer goes a long way when you've been on your feet for eight hours straight because Becky called in sick and the till system went down and then you ran out of ice and... you get the picture. Similarly, rudeness from a customer can make your day that little bit worse, your self-worth plummeting as you apologise profusely despite knowing the patron has already decided to remain annoyed and continues to look at you as though you've just kicked their cat.

I'm well aware of the affliction known as "hangry" (when you're hungry and angry and self-control falls by the wayside) and, yes, when you have to wait 20 minutes for a meal that falls under the "fast" food umbrella it can be frustrating.

But it is still never okay to take out your frustration on the person in front of you, simply because he or she is the person in front of you.