Industrial-Organizational Psychology and the Service Industry: Waiting…
Nardin A. Michaels
University of Houston
I. Introduction and Description
Waiting… is a comedy that centers around a group of waiters and, unfortunately, hits quite close to home in regards to the restaurant business and what really goes on behind the scenes in the kitchens of most American restaurants. The various wait staff have a series of games and antics to help them get through their shift at Shenanigan's, from flashing their genitals to hitting on the underage hostess. The majority of their mischief is accomplished due to their less than attentive manager, Dan. Dan has only one primary concern when it comes to Shenanigan's, and that is the dinner shift. However, as this particular dinner shift rolls around the plot thickens for the otherwise easy-going and carefree waiters. A trainee waiter is assigned to Monty, the self-proclaimed ladies' man of the restaurant, to shadow in hopes of learning the ropes at Shenanigan's while Dean,
Monty's co-worker and close friend, appears to be having a career-crisis and questioning the choices he has made that seem to have landed him a potential assistant manager job rather than graduating college with a Bachelor's degree alongside some of his high school classmates. Shenanigan's may look like any other American restaurant on the outside, but behind the scenes there is a series of health code violations with the capability to deter consumers from ever dining at a restaurant again. From waiting on ungrateful and dissatisfied customers to navigating through their own personal lives, while mainly trying to just get through another shift at Shenanigan's, Waiting… demonstrates poor motivation, low job satisfaction, and a general lack of work ethic paired with copious counterproductive work behaviors and generally compromised work, as well as the negative effects these factors can have on the ability of an organization to operate smoothly and efficiently.
II. Application of Industrial-Organizational Psychology
Unfortunately, Waiting… really hit the nail on the head in depicting the angry and difficult customers that every waiter must inevitably encounter at some point in his or her career. All waiters know these particular customers. They demand perfection in every aspect of their meal, whether it is in the waiter's control or not. Because of these customers, waiting tables, especially for the bigger restaurant chains, comes with lots and lots of stress. No matter how many restaurants one works in, and regardless of how long one has been waiting tables, no waiter is immune to the stress of the weekend dinner shifts. In Waiting… the waiters and cooks experience pressure under an extremely quick work pace and a high workload. Just as depicted in the movie, these stressors are intensified during dinner shifts, regardless of which restaurant one works in. As seen in
Shenanigan's, during a busy dinner shift the last thing that any of the waiters want is a birthday guest. When one is announced, they rush over to the table and sing a birthday song as quickly as they can so that they may move on with the evening and get back to their tables. Having to wait on multiple tables already induces a fast enough work pace, but when a cake and carols are thrown into the balance, it only takes a server away from his or her primary tables, which in turn makes for angry and unsatisfied customers. Of course, the pace of which customers are seated and satisfied all depends on the employed busboys and their attention to tables, especially during the busiest dinner shifts. If the busboys are not fully focused or present for the full shift and performing at their optimal capabilities, the restaurant is bound to run into some problems.