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US waiters' worst conduct - Page 2

post #16 of 538
Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
In order:
(a) My name is Bruce and I'll be taking care of you tonight (who cares what his name is and his purpose is obvious)
(b) you guys (when some of the guests are ladies)
(c) folks (i.e., commoners)
(d) Do you have any questions about the menu? (an insult; I can read English
and am an experienced diner)
(e) Let me get this out of your way (as he snatches away a plate that really
was not in my way)
(f) my favorite dishes are ----- (who cares?)
(g) tonight's specials are --- (as he reels off 8-10 dishes; mind-boggling;
why can't they print it, as the specials are the same nearly every night)
(h) plopping down the bill before it is requested
(i) placing the cork on the table, or even worse, holding it near my nose
(j) tying a napkin around the neck of the wine bottle
(k) what "temperature" do you want your steak? (I usually say "hot")

I agree with some of these but only because I think that they lower the decorum of the relationship between two people who aren't friends or who aren't acquainted. I also think that the management makes these US waiters say things that are undignified for the waiter himself. He probably doesn't want to say all that crap either. I knew one who detested having to say "Save room for dessert?" -- but was forced to by the management.

There's a lot to be said for French waiters. Both good and bad. But in my experience, generally good.

The idea of "service" in democratic countries is problematic. But the French seem to do a better job of it then the Americans. Both countries are "democratic" in their relations to others in different ways I suppose. And those who know more or observer better might have more to say.

As for "d" from your list. I think this one is not meant as an insult -- maybe the description says mushrooms and you want to know what kind. Or something like. Though knowing menus, no adjective is left off them, is it?
post #17 of 538
Tangerine:

one thing about something you mentioned in your last post in reply to KP. I think it's more respectful to call the waiter "sir" than it is to call him by his first name. I do this all the time and it seems to work.

Also I don't like the world "folk" as its used in American English because I often think there's some passive-aggressive classist undertone to it.

Horace
post #18 of 538
Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
In order:
(a) My name is Bruce and I'll be taking care of you tonight (who cares what his name is and his purpose is obvious)
(b) you guys (when some of the guests are ladies)
(c) folks (i.e., commoners)
(d) Do you have any questions about the menu? (an insult; I can read English
and am an experienced diner)
(e) Let me get this out of your way (as he snatches away a plate that really
was not in my way)
(f) my favorite dishes are ----- (who cares?)
(g) tonight's specials are --- (as he reels off 8-10 dishes; mind-boggling;
why can't they print it, as the specials are the same nearly every night)
(h) plopping down the bill before it is requested
(i) placing the cork on the table, or even worse, holding it near my nose
(j) tying a napkin around the neck of the wine bottle
(k) what "temperature" do you want your steak? (I usually say "hot")

You have indicated in past posts that you enjoy dining out and that you have a good deal of experience dining out both at home and abroad. I believe (and you can correct me if my memory is faulty) that you have also made at least two other posts similar to the above (one relating to a "diner's bill of rights" and the second relating a story of how someone wearing a baseball cap at a restaurant completely ruined your dining experience). You remind me of an ex-girlfriend. She had this idea in her head of a perfect relationship (how I was supposed to act, talk, respond to her, etc.). Whenever I deviated from what she perceived to be appropriate in any given situation, she became unhappy. Needless to say, we didn't stay together very long.

Without getting into a point by point rebuttal, some of the above items might be mildly annoying, but none rise to the level of something which would ruin an evening out for me. I would say that I find it very unlikely that anyone in the service industry is attempting to insult you (and only you) in the course of their service (at least not without good cause).

I wonder, with such an extensive list of seemingly never ending pet peeves and annoyances, whether you've ever had a pleasurable dining experience.
post #19 of 538
Quote:
Originally Posted by JBZ
You have indicated in past posts that you enjoy dining out and that you have a good deal of experience dining out both at home and abroad. I believe (and you can correct me if my memory is faulty) that you have also made at least two other posts similar to the above (one relating to a "diner's bill of rights" and the second relating a story of how someone wearing a baseball cap at a restaurant completely ruined your dining experience). You remind me of an ex-girlfriend. She had this idea in her head of a perfect relationship (how I was supposed to act, talk, respond to her, etc.). Whenever I deviated from what she perceived to be appropriate in any given situation, she became unhappy. Needless to say, we didn't stay together very long.

Without getting into a point by point rebuttal, some of the above items might be mildly annoying, but none rise to the level of something which would ruin an evening out for me. I would say that I find it very unlikely that anyone in the service industry is attempting to insult you (and only you) in the course of their service (at least not without good cause).

I wonder, with such an extensive list of seemingly never ending pet peeves and annoyances, whether you've ever had a pleasurable dining experience.

exactly what I was thinking, and didn't have the capacity to articulate.
post #20 of 538
Quote:
Originally Posted by JBZ
Without getting into a point by point rebuttal, some of the above items might be mildly annoying, but none rise to the level of something which would ruin an evening out for me. I would say that I find it very unlikely that anyone in the service industry is attempting to insult you (and only you) in the course of their service (at least not without good cause).
I think you are putting words into his mouth or otherwise employing the straw man argument. He makes no such exaggerated claims that such annoyances "ruined an evening". I will speak no further on this subject as I'm sure he is able to defend himself. Kennethpollock, on another note, you may be interested in eGullet, a forum dedicated to culinary discussion. The consensus there seems to sway more your (our) way.
post #21 of 538
Mr Pollock
I don't always agree with your "Diners' Bill of Rights" and derivatives, but I respect that you take evenings out seriously. It might help us all to understand where you are coming from if you reveal the name of the establishment. I would expect exactly that level of service at the Olive Garden but would also be upset about an unrequested check at Mosconi.
Tom
post #22 of 538
As a general rule, I do not go to sit-down restaurants unless I am outside of the United States. The American manner is difficult enough to take when food is not involved.
post #23 of 538
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
Kennethpollock, on another note, you may be interested in eGullet, a forum dedicated to culinary discussion. The consensus there seems to sway more your (our) way.

Perhaps I'm misreading you, and I apologize if so, but it seems like you're dismissing a lot of the legitimate critiques about Mr. Pollock's very particular sensibilities as the product of inexperienced/uninformed attitudes about dining, which I find problematic if so. I'm no expert, but I do have serious interest in working in the industry and read the forums there myself (I don't post, as I find the whole "write an essay" thing a little silly, but the point is that I, and I'm sure others here are not ignorant of how restaurants work), and I'd be willing to bet that your average reader there would be just as intolerant of some of his more petty opinions. If you want to post a thread of your own there to test this theory out, please do so.

I mean, seriously, what sane person interprets someone using a perfectly normal colloquial word as a classist insult and gets offended by the notion that someone might consider him a commoner (guess what, this is America, we don't deal with silly titles of nobility... we are all commoners here)? I do agree that it's a bit hasty for some to assume that his dining behavior and tipping practices are reproachable just because he experiences these annoyances, but his post does give off a condescending attitude that is totally unnecessary whether you're on the customer or service side of the coin.
post #24 of 538
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
or otherwise employing the straw man argument.


Well, heavens to betsy, I certainly would hate to be found guilty of utilizing this paradigm.
post #25 of 538
Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
In order:
(a) My name is Bruce and I'll be taking care of you tonight (who cares what his name is and his purpose is obvious)

Actually, I do want to know his name and I make a point of remembering it. Calling him by name will pretty much guarantee you excellent service.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
(b) you guys (when some of the guests are ladies)

This has simply never happened.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
(c) folks (i.e., commoners)

Again, never happened.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
(d) Do you have any questions about the menu? (an insult; I can read English
and am an experienced diner)

You obviously have no allergies or dietary restrictions. You are goddamned lucky. You should complain less.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
(e) Let me get this out of your way (as he snatches away a plate that really
was not in my way)

Again, never happened. "May I take this for you?" or "Are you finished with that?" are fairly standard. But I suppose you have some objection to this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
(f) my favorite dishes are ----- (who cares?)

Once again, never happened. "The crab-stuffed fillet of sole is quite popular" or "May I recommend the poached salmon?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
(g) tonight's specials are --- (as he reels off 8-10 dishes; mind-boggling;
why can't they print it, as the specials are the same nearly every night)

Restaurants usually offer 4-5 specials that run for short periods, especially if the ingredients are seasonal. No wait staff would be expected to memorize 8-10 specials. It's also not their problem if you have ADD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
(h) plopping down the bill before it is requested

You must eat in diners a lot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
(i) placing the cork on the table, or even worse, holding it near my nose

That would be annoying! Fortunately, it's never happened to me. It bothers me when a waitron brings a glass of wine holding it by the bowl.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
(j) tying a napkin around the neck of the wine bottle

You've acutally witnessed this? Repeatedly? We obviously frequent different establishments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
(k) what "temperature" do you want your steak? (I usually say "hot")

Again, never heard this. I don't eat steak, but dine with people who do. Most of them want it just slightly warmer than thawed in the middle. The only way I've ever heard the question asked is, "How would you like your steak cooked?"

If this really bothers you and you hear it as frequently as you suggest, you should learn the exact temperature you prefer your steak. Add a decimal place for good measure.
post #26 of 538
Quote:
Originally Posted by aybojs
Perhaps I'm misreading you, and I apologize if so, but it seems like you're dismissing a lot of the legitimate critiques about Mr. Pollock's very particular sensibilities as the product of inexperienced/uninformed attitudes about dining, which I find problematic if so.
I am only suggesting that in my reading of the consensus on that forum I find that eGullet members are more inclined to agree with KP's peeves. My hypothesis as to why this is the case is that more experienced diners tend to share these peeves and more likely to sympathize with KP. This is subtly different from your reading as I am not dismissing anyone's arguments on the grounds of dining inexperience -- rather, I am dismissing them as they are employing the straw man argument -- only alleging that experienced diners are more likely to be sympathetic to KP's peeves.
post #27 of 538
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the referral to eGullet. I will be reading it.
To take up some comments:
Generally, I like the service in lots of restaurants. I have never had any European waiter do any of these things which I dislike (and I did forget the "still working on that" misbehavior) in 28 trips there.
"Dislike" is accurate; these things do not completely ruin my meal; it's just that I do not care for this behavior. I find it artificial and "corporate;" designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
Furthermore, except for an occasional "do you have any questions about the menu," neither of Atlanta's two best restaurants, nor any of the top 20-30 I have been to in NY, do these things. In fact, none of this behavior went on, anywhere, when I started eating regularly in nice places in the early 1960's. The first name introduction behavior came from California, I believe in the early 1970s.
Atlanta's leading restaurant group, the Buckhead Life Group (Pano & Paul, Chops, Pricci, Vini Vidi Vici, Nava, etc.) where dinner runs about $75-80 a person, makes their waiters do most of these things. A waiter once told me that he would be fired if he did not tell me his first name.
Specifics:
Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
In order:
(a) My name is Bruce and I'll be taking care of you tonight (who cares what his name is and his purpose is obvious)
In France, people do not call each other by their first names until they know each other fairly well. I find this polite and not overly familar. I would have no problem if the waiter introduced himself as "Mr. Jones."

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
(b) you guys (when some of the guests are ladies)
This is not very old either. "Youse guys" has been common-place Brooklynese for decades, but calling females "guys" only became commonplace about 15 years ago. It is "hip."

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
(c) folks (i.e., commoners)
I think the meaning is the "common people of a country" and derives from the German word "volk." When Hitler asked Dr. Porsche to develop a car for the common man, it was called the Volkswagen. The use of this term to diners startled and shocked my three German lawyer-interns more than anything else about America. I am a commoner; not aristocratic (with my last name?). I just do not like being reminded of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
(d) Do you have any questions about the menu? (an insult; I can read English and am an experienced diner)
Why do they need to ask me? I do not need their permission to inquire. If I have a question, I will ask it. It is like I am being tested.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
(e) Let me get this out of your way (as he snatches away a plate that really was not in my way)
Why not just ask "Finished?" It seems they do not want to wait for an answer. The goal is to get you out ASAP, so they inquire (?) as they snatch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
(f) my favorite dishes are ----- (who cares?)
It is unnecessary chatter and to increase the tip. I am not there to make a [phony] friend. I just want polite service.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
(g) tonight's specials are --- (as he reels off 8-10 dishes; mind-boggling; why can't they print it, as the specials are the same nearly every night)
Common-place and like having to be at work. I want to relax, not to test my memory.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
(h) plopping down the bill before it is requested
At Joe's Stone crab in Miami, they are trying so hard to turn the tables 4-5 times a meal, the management calls it "CDC," meaning bring the customers the check, dessert and coffee simultaneously. This is relaxation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
(i) placing the cork on the table, or even worse, holding it near my nose
The cork on the table routine is done at every Atlanta restaurant except for the top two.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
(j) tying a napkin around the neck of the wine bottle
A more common custom 2-3 years ago than now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethpollock
(k) what "temperature" do you want your steak? (I usually say "hot")
This is "hip." I did not know that medium is 135-140 degrees and I'll bet that most of them do not either. Why not just ask: "How do you want your steak?"
post #28 of 538
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Wang
I am only suggesting that in my reading of the consensus on that forum I find that eGullet members are more inclined to agree with KP's peeves. My hypothesis as to why this is the case is that more experienced diners tend to share these peeves and more likely to sympathize with KP. This is subtly different from your reading as I am not dismissing anyone's arguments on the grounds of dining inexperience -- rather, I am dismissing them as they are employing the straw man argument -- only alleging that experienced diners are more likely to be sympathetic to KP's peeves.
Can you state your reasoning for said hypothesis, as I don't really see anything expressed beyond your intuition alone? Why are any of these minor complaints eregiously bad, and why should someone become more prone to espouse them upon gaining more experience dining? I really don't see what makes you think that way. For instance, when I read reviews by Robb Walsh (to use a Texas/EG reference), he never gets pissy about the service having the gall to refer to him as a commoner (since he actually tries to dine out anonymously to avoid getting preferential treatment). A lot of arguments that are sound regardless of the issue of a diner's experience have been put forth here, and I'd be more inclined to understand where you're coming from if you'd rebut them.
post #29 of 538
I avoid dining in restaurants in the US, and when I do, I have been known to give instructions beforehand. It usually means less footwork on the wait staff's part. I don't frequent $300 menu places often in this country, so I wouldn't know if you are left reasonnably in peace in most of those establishments. All I have to say is, between the overall poor quality of dishes served, freezing temperatures inside and pesky waiters, I start stressing if I know I'm going to a restaurant.
post #30 of 538
I do not think there is any correlation between being an "experienced diner" and enjoying a rapport with restaurant staff.

I grew up in New Orleans where many restaurants, from low to high, were and are run by families. They were, and are friendly folk. I find that being on friendly terms with the staff at a restaurant greatly enhances all aspects of the dining experience.

If you enjoy yourself more when a cool distance is maintained, that is your loss, IMO, but it is also your right. There are many restaurants to choose from and no doubt many that meet the "silent servitude" criteria.

notes to Horace: Interesting point about calling the waiter sir, but it is usually not advisable if your waitperson is female. What do you do in this (frequent) instance?

Saying you guys, or ya'll, or folks is merely considered friendly in many parts of the US. The classist undertones are not necessarily there, although they can be.
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