The "crazies"

The service industry is a curious thing. As many students-by-day and servers-by-night will attest, you’ll piss somebody off if you work in service long enough.

"Crazies"–as they are affectionately known–are out there. If you’ve ever been a server, you’ve bumped into them. So what happens when the latest "crazy" has the power to really fuck you up?

Enter Mark Counsell, a Students’ Union Operations and Finance Commissioner. Counsell is going head-to-head with Den managers over what we’ll graciously call a "service altercation." Essentially, Counsell feels Den management should be respectful–"subordinate," in his words–to those who sign their cheques in a don’t-bite-the-hand-that-feeds-you kind of way. In a recent report to SU executive, Counsell outlines this altercation and calls for a complete Den management overhaul, something never pursued before in the SU-run Max Café and Bar. After reading his report, I’ve decided he has a point.

For observers like myself who’ve worked service front lines for years, this situation is not only interesting, it is genuinely intriguing. We all know food service at the new Den is like Max’s. It is, as Counsell says, "excruciatingly slow but not explicitly unpleasant or discriminatory." The point is, we all know Den service blows, but only if you’re expecting restaurant-level service.

See, the Den is in a tough place. Its identity is stuck between that of a restaurant and a bar. Restaurant-level service is higher calibre, requiring more work than bar-level service. This means more table trips, more quality checking and generally more customer ass-kissing. Bar service requires none of these things. Servers need only come once every 10 minutes, yet the tips might be the same for less work.

It is obvious Counsell wants restaurant-level service.

Now let me make this clear. If the Den is not about restaurant service, then Counsell qualifies as a "crazy"–service people will attest to this. There are more reasonable ways to get things accomplished than his approach. However, his anger is shared by many students. The food service at the Den is awful–and don’t think for one moment I’m saying the Den or the Den’s atmosphere is awful. It’s just that at any other restaurant in the city–hell, even a Denny’s–you’re greeted, served, and fed within something resembling a reasonable time. No such consistencies exist at the SU-run Den nor did they at Max’s, and kudos to Counsell for doing something about it.

While several of Counsell’s assertions and decidedly radical "solutions" are probably unrealistic, this is the first time I’ve ever seen anybody in the SU give a shit about the shoddy service at their establishments. I, for one, am damn glad somebody is doing something about it.

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