This is MuSicko, requesting some advice...
In the fast food place that I work at, there is no employee break room to speak of. The cafe is very small and the back of the house has zero elbow room.
This means that when taking your break, you will be sitting in the dining room with the customers. If you want privacy and quiet, your options are to sit in your car or leave. I haven't gotten sick of our food yet, and it's so cheap with the discount that I couldn't justify the cost of going to the fast food places next door to eat, spending extra cash just to escape my workplace. The dining room isn't so bad; if you can grab a booth, it's pretty easy to feel that you've carved out a nice space for yourself to eat, listen to your iPod, and zone out to prepare to face the hungry hordes again. Eating in the car is a bit cramped.
But lately I've had the problem of customers bothering me when I really need to be alone to recharge. I'll be eating and, per company policy, be completely out of uniform, with a facial expression that clearly tells everyone to stay the fuck away, when a customer who recognizes me will approach me to inform me of some stupid bullshit that I'm not getting paid to deal with. When I'm on break, I'm off the clock, I am not even allowed to handle their issues.
People who know I work there start hitting on me. I get asked where the outlets are located in the cafe, and people complaining the napkins are out, the bathroom is dirty... there are at least ten employees within earshot that customers can annoy. I'm not going to help, and it's really shitty of them to pounce on me just because I'm convenient and vulnerable.
Make no mistake; when I'm on the clock, I'll do backflips for my customers. Even if they need something outside my range of duties, I either do my best or direct another employee or manager to assist them. I'm not a callous bitch, I don't leave my guests in the dust. If we're out of napkins, I run my ass over to the next dispenser and get them with a smile. I have no issue doing my job, which I actually like. But my break is sacred. It's my only time during a shift that I can rebound. I give a lot of energy to my customers and I need time to get it back. My break is sacrosanct and important to me.
The advice I'd really value from y'all is a quick response to being bothered during my break that is powerful enough to make them recognize their idiocy, but polite enough that I don't escalate the situation.
Most recently, a woman interrupted my Zen by angrily telling me, "I'm sorry to bother you while you're eating, but there are no lemons at the soda station!"
There were many things I WISHED to say:
"If you were REALLY sorry about bugging me while I eat, you wouldn't have fucking done it."
"If life doesn't give you lemons, suck it up, you petulant child."
"Do I come into YOUR place of work during your break and berate you about shit you're not responsible for?"
"Oh, we moved the location of the lemons; they're now in the street. Don't worry about the traffic blazing through, just stand right in the middle of the road and wait."
"You really making me look at your caked on makeup and perm-burned hair right now? I'm trying to eat and keep my food down, thanks."
Of course, I said none of that. I wordlessly gave her a blank stare, then half nodded my head in a manner that suggested I'd take care of it. I continued eating and eventually flagged down the girl who was supposed to stock the area.
Even in giving my colleague a heads up about the damn lemons, I'm going above and beyond what I have to. I spent some moments agonizing over whether to grab the lemons myself or to just leave it until I clocked in. Luckily my co-worker walked by and put me out of my misery, but I lost a precious ten minutes on dealing with this. I need to know what to say or do that will make sure people are out of my hair. Anything I can think of feels too aggressive to say to a customer.