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US waiters' worst conduct - Page 3

post #31 of 538
It just strikes me how fortunate most of are. So fortunate that we can seriously discuss a topic like this. I mean geeeez.....You're at a nice restaurant (not cooking your own food), have the money to go to said restaurant (doing well financially), probably dining with friends or loved ones, and yet still find something to bitch about. Not to say that bad service isn't a pain in the ass.....but nothing on that list strikes me as "BAD" service. Maybe a bit too canned, or scripted, but certainly not bad. I was listening to NPR the other day and heard a piece about a guy that had a Ph.D on the art of Jackson Pollock. He had a very good paying job (assuming 100K+) at MOMA I believe. Again, I was struck by.....what an amazing country we live in.......there is such excess in our economy that it will support a guy getting a freakin' Ph.D on ONE dead artist, and allow him to spend the rest of his life studying, and writting about him. All the while making a very nice salary. Just a couple semi related thoughts from a guy high in ink fumes.
post #32 of 538
As one the SF members with kids, I've frequented a fair number of restaurants where this kind of service is the norm. Call me crazy, troglodytic or uncouth, but:

I like being one of "you folks."

I like knowing my waiter's name.

I like being told to save room for dessert.

I like it when a waiter says "Let me get this out of your way."

Maybe it's that I hail from middle American stock, but I find these things comfortable and endearing; I'm fond of a "save your fork, there's pie" kind of place. But I'm probably the kind of focus group moron who makes these sorts of things the norm, so you can blame me if your delicate sensibilities are offended.

Cut the waiters and waitresses of the world some slack. They're working hard for you.
post #33 of 538
For those of you who will not dine in American restaurants... can you tell me how the weather is, up there? I am wondering if I should pack a sweater (scottish wool, of course, not any of that cheap italian merino) for the day when I too will have a broom handle lodged deep within my rectum.
post #34 of 538
I don't like being collectively referred to as "you guys", especially repeatedly, most especially with a lady present. She is not a "guy".

I have waiter complaints as well, but they are pretty sporadic. I excuse a lot of things as "human behavior" and don't get my nose out of joint about it. There is really not enough time on the Earth to waste on thinking about this kind of thing for long. I could list them, but it's not going to change anything.
post #35 of 538
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbc
For those of you who will not dine in American restaurants... can you tell me how the weather is, up there? I am wondering if I should pack a sweater (scottish wool, of course, not any of that cheap italian merino) for the day when I too will have a broom handle lodged deep within my rectum.

be the broom
post #36 of 538
I rarely have any problems with waitstaff as my patience/tolerance level is near infinite

The rare exceptions all occur at the same local Japanese restaurant "chain" where, regardless of location, I get the worst service.....from not getting my miso soup before my meal (it arrives in time for dessert) to my food coming out 40 min after my gf's food to not getting steamed rice 30 min after my food comes out to the waitress 'dropping' our plates about 1" off the table surface etc etc....all different waitstaff at different locations, but the same restaurant. Needless to say it's been on my banned list for many years now.
post #37 of 538
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbc
For those of you who will not dine in American restaurants... can you tell me how the weather is, up there? I am wondering if I should pack a sweater (scottish wool, of course, not any of that cheap italian merino) for the day when I too will have a broom handle lodged deep within my rectum.

Hey, look at the bright side. This makes me a very cheap date: I'll take a walk in a park instead of a dinner any day.
post #38 of 538
pretty much the only thing that wait staff can do is to make me wait for things that I need in a certain time frame - the last time I got upset at a waiter was a couple of years ago, in a chain place, when after telling my son he would bring him a balloon, he kept forgetting, leaving me with a son who kept asking about the balloon. before that, when somebody in my party was served icecream without a spoon, and I had to ask 3 or 4 times for a spoon, while the ice cream melted.

I like famly type places, and ethnic places. I very very seldon go out without my son, when I am not out for business. some of the best dinning expereinces I have had have included relativly poor service, or staff that didn't speak english. I had a french waiter ask me 3 times if I knew that steak tartar was not cooked - I found it amusing, not something to get steamed up over.
post #39 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")

lol, just too funny! a,d, and f are just great. if i were a waiter cant imagine how anyone would find that i am a fellow human as well.
i bet your abrasive,snobby self attitude and outlook carries to other aspects of your interpersonal relations in life!
post #40 of 538
Quote:
Originally Posted by j
I have waiter complaints as well, but they are pretty sporadic. I excuse a lot of things as "human behavior" and don't get my nose out of joint about it. There is really not enough time on the Earth to waste on thinking about this kind of thing for long. I could list them, but it's not going to change anything.


oh yeah, i didnt read all of the responses, but i see that im alot like most fellow gentlemen here, just rise above it and live life getting along with others. love is a blanket. have a big heart. i totally agree with J
post #41 of 538
Quote:
Originally Posted by diorshoe
lol, just too funny! a,d, and f are just great. if i were a waiter cant imagine how anyone would find that i am a fellow human as well. i bet your abrasive,snobby self attitude and outlook carries to other aspects of your interpersonal relations in life!
I'm sure a lot of people have seen this one, but just in case, there was an interesting USA Today article discussing how CEO's and other management experts made a big point of observing a person's general attitude towards waitstaff and service employees as an unintentional reflection of his attitude towards people in general.
post #42 of 538
Just for the record, I don't think I've ever been rude to a waiter, but what is a customer to do if ill-treated by a waiter, oh you lenient ones? I had this one waitress once who, three times within 10 minutes came to ask me if I was done with my plate of gnocchi, each time interrupting a conversation. I suppose I should have let her take my plate the first time so as not to bother her.

PS: I was a waitress in a relatively upscale restaurant while in college.
post #43 of 538
For me, this argument really boils down to what you see the role the waiting staff as: are they a friendly guide through your meal - part of the experience of eating out; or are they there to be invisible through your meal, food and drink appearing as if by magic, though perfectly capable of answering questions if you have them.

Clearly their role will and should vary depending on the nature of the establishment. Your average mass-market chain is usually far more informal than a proper restaurant and I wouldn't expect any different or be annoyed by the informality at these places. You know what you're getting when you go in. I suspect it would actually be fairly disconcerting to have formal wait staff at some of these places.

A more refined, formal restaurant should have more formal and better trained staff though.

The other factor for me is whether I am alone or in company. A good waiter at a good establishment should be able to sense the atmosphere of a table and be socially appropriate. For instance, if I am dining alone, I don't mind a bit of conversatoin with the wait staff regarding the menu and the meal in general.

If I am in company, I generally want to be with the person/people I am dining with and do not want to talk to the wait staff beyond a concise introduction to the dish on their part as they serve it (essential if you have ordered a tasting menu in my opinion) and an occasional thank you on my part. I don't care to engage in conversation with them otherwise because I'm already engaged in conversation with those I am at dinner with. The rehearsed spiels are fairly intrusive in this context as are too frequent "everything OK?" table visits (I will let you know if it is not).

On a couple of specifics:

Re: the "any questions about the menu?" - this is just a silly thing to ask though I wouldn't say it's irritating - more pointless. I am more than capable of asking for myself if I have any queries and do not need a prompter or an enabler in order to facilitate the process.

Re: the "tonights specials are..." - this is only annoying if there are lots of them, because there is no chance of remembering them, which leads to an interminable "oh, which was the second one again?" exchange. Either keep the specials to a reasonable number - 2 or 3 at most; or print an insert for the menu. This is most assuredly not the waiters fault though; it is incompetent menu management.

Re: bill before asking - this only happened to me for the first time the other day and I actually found it very rude and disrupting, though I can't quite pin down why it felt wierd.

Finally, I think a lot of the items on the list appear because there's an assumption that people are uncomfortable eating out and generally being served upon and need the process "normalised" to a more homely environment. Not always the case and in a better formal restaurant the nature of the transaction is that I don't expect or want a homely environment. It's a different experience.

I'm sure I'll be called a snob too for some of the above. Your prerogative of course but honestly, I think you would be wrong to do so - it's about a different - and reasonable -expectation of what a quality dining experience should be. I don't expect it everywhere but in a top notch establishment, I do.
post #44 of 538
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fabienne
Just for the record, I don't think I've ever been rude to a waiter, but what is a customer to do if ill-treated by a waiter, oh you lenient ones? I had this one waitress once who, three times within 10 minutes came to ask me if I was done with my plate of gnocchi, each time interrupting a conversation. I suppose I should have let her take my plate the first time so as not to bother her.

PS: I was a waitress in a relatively upscale restaurant while in college.

I have never experienced anything like this, but if I did, I would explain to the waitress that I would like to finish my conversation, that I would signal her when I was ready, and if that was not agreeable, then I would ask to speak to the head waiter or manager.

Holdfast, you make some good points, especially about a good waitperson being able to assess the situation and be socially appropriate.
post #45 of 538
I think the answer to Fabienne's query, which I don't think any of us, at least myself, ruled out is the obvious one: clearly express what you want to the waiter.

I'm going to depart from the current debate over what perceived trangressions should be considered worthy of getting upset over and articulate my understanding of the customer-waiter interaction process.

Because the customer is the one coming and paying, it makes sense that the customer should set the tone for how he wants his dining experience. If the desired course of events does not seem to fit with the customer's desire experience, the customer should take the initiative and say something. It's the waiter's job to respond accordingly to the customer's requests, not to read minds. As a waiter, if the customer seems content or comfortable, I am not going to change my approach unless the customer gives me a reason to do so. As a customer, I operate under the notion that if I want the waiter to do something a specific way or stop doing something, I only have to ask accordingly. After all, the only thing that trumps a management policy is a request from the customer.

Naturally, vocalizing a concern or complaint should not be rude (like some of the impolite people from the USA Today article) or passive aggressive (e.g. Kent's indirect return fire questioning in response to unwanted questions from waiters). All it takes is a polite tone, a "please" and "thank you," and a direct statement of what is desired. If you do not want to hear the specials, just tell the waiter you already know what you want to order. If you do not want your check dropped without solicitation either ask in advance that it be on your call or ask the waiter if he could hold on to it for a few more minutes. No sane person is going to grumble, be offended, or act hostile in response to those requests. Maybe if you express a visceral loathing that people today don't use language in the same context as you were used to 15 years ago you'll start pushing buttons, but at that point we're back to the original debate over what should and should not reasonably be deemed offensive.

As a customer, you shouldn't be stewing quietly over issues that majorly annoy you, and if you do so, then you probably should work on getting up the nerve to articulate what you want. Just realize that the standards are going to vary substantially across the range of customers, and if you have a propensity to stricter about certain things than your average person, it's up to you to make that clear that you're an exception to the rule (and as the post has shown, people like Mr. Pollock simply are) and not just expect that to be known off the bat.
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