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Soviet service industry and rudeness

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Soviet cogitations: 216
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Jul 2013, 05:04
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 11 Dec 2013, 03:40
Was customer service in the USSR as bad as it is often claimed to have been, that is, with rude workers and slow, inattentive service? The article below discusses the issue of the Soviet service industry while also critiquing the enforced cheerfulness of Western capitalist service workers who may be smiling at you on the outside while hating you on the inside!

http://jacobinmag.com/2013/02/in-defens ... t-waiters/

Any thoughts?
Soviet cogitations: 12389
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 18 Apr 2010, 04:44
Ideology: None
Philosophized
Post 11 Dec 2013, 04:00
I'd rather have an honest waiter who didn't put on an artificial smile and an obviously fake cheerful "table side manner". I spent several years as a buffet server at several casinos in the American South, so I know what I'm talking about.

To succeed as an expert server, you have to have the ability to judge people's needs and tolerance for table side manner. If the guy just wants his damn coffee and to be left alone with his breakfast, it's best to get the coffee to his table fast, with a minimum of chat, and get out of there. If the person seems lonely or in a chatty mood, it's best to indulge him for a bit. A personable waiter, who knows when to turn on the chat and when to leave it out, is the one who'll walk away with the most tips at end of shift.

It's exhausting work, not only because of the sheer grind of it, but because of having to adjust your level of service and personality to each and every new customer. It's no big surprise, therefore, why customer service in the Soviet Union was every bit as variable as it was in any corner of the West.
Miss Strangelove: "You feed giants laxatives so goblins can mine their poop before the gnomes get to it."
Soviet cogitations: 216
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Jul 2013, 05:04
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 11 Dec 2013, 05:55
Comrade Gulper wrote:
I'd rather have an honest waiter who didn't put on an artificial smile and an obviously fake cheerful "table side manner". I spent several years as a buffet server at several casinos in the American South, so I know what I'm talking about.

To succeed as an expert server, you have to have the ability to judge people's needs and tolerance for table side manner. If the guy just wants his damn coffee and to be left alone with his breakfast, it's best to get the coffee to his table fast, with a minimum of chat, and get out of there. If the person seems lonely or in a chatty mood, it's best to indulge him for a bit. A personable waiter, who knows when to turn on the chat and when to leave it out, is the one who'll walk away with the most tips at end of shift.

It's exhausting work, not only because of the sheer grind of it, but because of having to adjust your level of service and personality to each and every new customer. It's no big surprise, therefore, why customer service in the Soviet Union was every bit as variable as it was in any corner of the West.


Thank you for the informative reply. Did waiters and other service workers in the Soviet Union receive tips? I would assume that they did not but I could certainly be wrong about that.
Loz
[+-]
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Soviet cogitations: 11879
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 11 Dec 2013, 10:08
Soviet waiters and so on got a fixed wage and mostly didn't even take tips ( nor was tipping common, in fact it was discouraged and looked down upon ) so they didn't really have that much of a reason to be either polite or even serve you in a timely manner. Service workers in E. Europe still don't smile as much and can sometimes be rude etc. which is OK with me.
I heard that in Hungary the restaurants had signs saying something like "We don't accept tips because because our labor is already fully appreciated".
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Soviet cogitations: 4381
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 11 Dec 2013, 13:02
That's a very good question, Piccolo, and I believe the article you linked to did an excellent and very thorough job answering it.

As Loz has noted, I don't think things have changed so much today in most cases. When it comes to restaurants where tipping is customary, waiters do usually try to accommodate you to the fullest (though this still isn't always the case, often because managers deliberately understaff the floor to save money). When it comes to places like supermarkets, post offices, cafeterias and the like, the 'Soviet style' approach is even more common, and it makes sense given that the workers are paid very low wages, have poor working conditions, and are usually under stress that a rude customer will come and start a confrontation (which, together with the absence of the smile, seems one of those 'vagaries of Russian culture' less prevalent in the West). I've found that personal approach matters a great deal. If you yourself are cultured, soft-spoken, reasonable and respectful of the other person, 99% of the time, they'll respond in kind.

Also, Loz is right about tipping being frowned upon. In restaurants, hair salons, etc. there were signs that noted that "tipping insults the dignity of the Soviet person".
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
Soviet cogitations: 216
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Jul 2013, 05:04
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 14 Dec 2013, 17:34
Thank everyone for the informative responses. Tipping is important in the United States, where I live, because waiters and the like make such low wages. It would be preferable to pay people proper wages so they would not have to rely on tips.

I hate the way Americans treat service staff. So many of my friends and family members treat waiters and other service workers like garbage, constantly complaining and making annoying demands. The staff, of course, has to just smile and take it. The worst are the restaurants that have female staff wear tight shorts or miniskirts and tight tops to show off their behinds and breasts. It is degrading.
Soviet cogitations: 28
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 02 Jan 2015, 07:22
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Pioneer
Post 07 Jan 2015, 07:24
the whole tipping system in the US totally sucks, couldn't be more bourgeois if it tried!
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