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Rational Madness

The Castle of Contempt

The Philosophy of the Theory of Contempt

In our main restaurants and bars, you can really see the theory of contempt in action especially when we are really busy. It is only at a certain level of rising demand and pressure on staff that contempt really kicks in. It's a sight to see, I can tell you! There are four main kinds of contempt:

Incompetent Contempt

This is the most prevalent form. Here as the level of demand rises, the waiter is simply incapable (or incompetent) at giving a level of service that was possible when there were less customers demanding his or her attention. He gets frustrated and angry. He is unable to meet all of their needs. One wants the bill. Another demands a hotter plate of garlic bread. Another wants to query the bill. Another has spilled a glass of red wine. All at once! Suddenly the waiter wants to make a run for it! They want the pressure to reduce but it doesn't! And who is causing all of this pressure? Why, the damn customers, that's who! And there the contempt kicks in. The skill of the waiter just isn't up to the mark. Once our main restaurant had a professional Italian waiter who did have the skills. He never felt contempt. He was able to give 50 people a bit of eye contact, a wave of acknowledgement, he knew how to keep them all feeling that their personal needs were being met. It was a real skill. We soon got rid of him!

Incompetent contempt arises in many of our people as soon as demand rises to a level where their incompetence kicks in. Our doctor, our teachers, our ice cream sellers, our ticket inspectors on our trains. It happens to them all.

Of course the solution is to raise the level of competence to meet the sudden rise in demands or pressure. Training would help. Of course many of our waiters do not see their job as

their life vocation. Many are students. So the contempt kicks in whatever!

Conscious Contempt

In our main restaurant, Madame LeBoeuf is our chef. Her cooking is often a delight (except for when it is very busy). Her view of customers is at its most contemptuous when she is under pressure. Now she KNOWS how to deal with waiters and customers in a polite way. As long as the customers behave themselves and eat the excellent food put before them. But if one of them complains...oh dear! "How dare they?" pipes Madame LeBoeuf, "These idiots who are too lazy or incompetent to cook for themselves!"

Conscious contempt kicks in when we feel under pressure and we start to see customers as below us, inferior, too lazy to create the product or service for themselves. They should be grateful for what they are getting. Their criticism of our soup is unacceptable and deserves the little fly we put in it out of revenge. Also of course, if people are naive enough to expect personal treatment whilst sitting in the middle of a herd, then they deserve to be treated, not as individuals but as sheep.

Tired Contempt

Many of our waiters ARE very competent and it takes very high levels of pressure and stress for contempt to kick in. Often high demand creates tiredness. So, a waiter, under pressure, may have the ability to adapt skilfully to the party of 30 that just arrived an hour before closing time, but may decide to save that energy for herself, for when she gets home. "I could deal well with these 30 people but I am too tired to." So, tired contempt kicks when people become, literally too weary to give a level of service they were giving at a lower level of pressure.

Fearful Contempt

Sometimes our chef is a real dragon! Sometimes the customers can be dragons too! Recently I saw a terrific example of Fearful Contempt. In this case the waiter behaved just like a cornered bear and, not knowing what else to do, lashed out! In many cases, fearful contempt is really a form of incompetent contempt. What happened was this: A party of 10 people all complained at the same time that their soup was cold and too salty. They were angry and took it out on the waiter. Suddenly fifteen pairs of angry eyes were upon him. He thought to himself "I don't need this" as fear arose in him at these looks of menace. So he lashed out and said: "Well, the soup would be a lot hotter if you'd all ordered your main courses a bit quicker. What do you expect, eh? Eh?" He was very rude and actually on the verge of pouring one bowl over the head of one of the customers. Their complaints about his attitude then were loudly voiced and he was scared he'd be fired so he quickly apologised and took the soups into the kitchen and heated them in the microwave without telling chef or the customer. the microwave was supposed to be for staff lunches only. Three customers had burnt fingers due to the scalding china. What a night that was!

As you can see there are different kinds of a contempt! Yes, our castle here is a diverse place indeed! Being contemptuous is an art. Some people are naturally good at it. All it needs is an increase (sudden and big is ideal) in pressure or demand or stress for frustration to kick in. This frustration is both internalised and externalised and contemptuous behaviour arises. If this can be directed towards the originator of the increase in demand (often a colleague or a customer) then all the better!