Sunday, February 27, 2011

Curmudgeon at Restaurant

The Starbuck’s counterfolks know the only reasonable answer to their “Good morning, how are you?” is “Dunno how I am, haven’t had my coffee yet.” They nod sympathetically.

Restaurants, though, hire people who can cook and handle heavy trays; communication skills are not a job requirement. The following are real things restaurant employees say. After hearing their garbled grammar many times, I’ve fantasized about giving the following responses. Now, don’t y’all try this – it’s certain to result in staff spitting on your food before they bring it from the kitchen. You can share my fantasy, though.

Hostess: “How are you this evening?”

You: “Hungry, duh.”

Hostess: “There’s a short wait. Could I have a name?”

You: “Didn’t your mother give you one?”

Hostess [eventually]: “Your table's ready. Just let me grab you...”

You: “Don't grab me!”

Hostess: “... some menus.”

She seats you. The waiter brings glasses of water and asks for your order. He tries to upsell you: He wants you to have premium gin instead of well gin in your G&T; appetizers; wine; desserts; extra toppings on everything. This is not conducive to the relaxing evening you were hoping to enjoy. You raise an eyebrow.

Knowing his tip is at stake, the waiter is graceful enough to apologize. He reveals that the manager requires him to upsell. You sympathize. Nonetheless, it’s annoying. So,

Waiter: “If you need anything else, my name’s Dave.”

You: “And if we don’t need anything else, then what’s your name?”

Dave: "Oh. Ah, it's still Dave. How would you like your steak served?"

You: "By Salma Hayek, who's wearing a very small bikini, and we're in Hawaii, and..."

Dave: "Not a chance."

You: "Medium, then."

Dave disappears, eventually brings your dinner, disappears again. Knowing his name doesn’t help; you can’t find him.

Dave swings by, asks, "How's everything?"

You: "It's good."

Dave: "Great!!"

You: "Don't escalate it, Dave, I said it's 'good.'"

You know Dave wants to turn over your table, squeeze in one more sitting during his shift, and you wonder why he doesn’t serve you more quickly, which would advance your enjoyment and his income. Finally,

Dave [insincerely]: “No hurry with this bill, any time is OK.”

You: “How about 2015, I hear the economy will bounce back by then.”

Dave: “Ha, ha.” [Pointing at food I have not yet eaten] “Do you wanna box for that?”

You: “No, but I'll wrestle you two falls out of three.”

You lay down a credit card. Dave reaches for it.

Dave: “I’ll take care of that for you.”

You: “That’s really generous of you, Dave, thanks! I thought I was going to have to pay for it!”

At that point, if not before, another guy appears, stands next to your table. He’s probably a restaurant manager, though you don’t know him from Adam. He’s not wearing a uniform or even a name tag, and he doesn’t bother to introduce himself. It’s creepy. I mean, even Dave introduced himself.

Manager: “How is everything, folks?”

You: “It’s all right. Why? Are you considering eating here?”

Manager: “Ha, no, I eat here a lot, ‘cause I work here.”

You: “Oh, well, your vest is so threadbare I thought you were going to ask for our leftovers too.”

Manager [Concerned]: “Did someone ask for them?”

You: “Yeah, Dave wanted to fight me for them.”

Another half hour passes. Dave appears with your credit card receipt. This time he’s all smiles, wishes you a beautiful rest of your evening, makes a big deal out of placing red and white mints on the tray with the credit slip. Dave knows and you know that he knows and he knows that you know that now’s your opportunity to write a tip on the slip…

I greatly enjoy restaurants, just sometimes wish for the traditional silent waitrons who anticipate the diner's every need...

No comments: