US waiters' worst conduct

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by kennethpollock, Apr 24, 2006.

  1. howbah

    howbah Senior member

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    amazing that so many people are still not getting that people who wait tables are in many ways not free agents.

    If they seem to be rushing you it's because they've been ordered to turn tables over quickly, if they introduce themselves it's because they've been ordered to, if they try to upsell you it's because they've been ordered to, if they recite a long list of specials when you already know what you want it's because they've been ordered to .....

    How obtuse - or how removed from the reality of working stiff life - do you have to be not to understand this very simple, basic fact?
     


  2. Fabienne

    Fabienne Senior member

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    Wow, i had never thought of that, thanks for clearing things up for me.
     


  3. Fabienne

    Fabienne Senior member

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    F--I think your examples really are bad service, by anyone's standards. The few times I've had waitstaff try to clear my place before I was ready, a pointed stare was enough to get across the message. That's on a different level than a waiter introducing himself by name, which I think really is a cultural difference.

    Tom

    edit--wine after the food? Wow, never had that experience, anywhere. My problem is always the opposite--it come so early that I have no choice but to order a second bottle!


    Euh, it was our second bottle... [​IMG]
     


  4. tiger02

    tiger02 Militarist

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    Euh, it was our second bottle... [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     


  5. matadorpoeta

    matadorpoeta Senior member

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    amazing that so many people are still not getting that people who wait tables are in many ways not free agents.

    If they seem to be rushing you it's because they've been ordered to turn tables over quickly, if they introduce themselves it's because they've been ordered to, if they try to upsell you it's because they've been ordered to, if they recite a long list of specials when you already know what you want it's because they've been ordered to .....

    How obtuse - or how removed from the reality of working stiff life - do you have to be not to understand this very simple, basic fact?


    this was discussed toward the beginning of this thread.
     


  6. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    I don't know if this was partially directed at me, GB, but I guess I was too subtle: I meant that I passed behavior that I think is unacceptable as "Cultural" so as not to put oil on the fire. If people like to have their plate taken as soon as they are done even while others are still eating, I suppose this is now becoming the American way. However, if someone pulls a plate as the last bite is about to be absorbed, I find it rude, but maybe I'm wrong and it is acceptable in America, what do I know, it seems anything goes.

    I am one who appreciates cultural differences. And maybe here my own difference is that I like to take my meals slowly and enjoy conversations at the table without being rushed and without being continually interrupted. That's all I ask for. And for the different parts of the meal to arrive in such a way that I don't have to rearrange things on the table, and for my water to be refilled. I'm really easily satisfied, and lately, I suppose I've had nothing but bad luck? How did the restaurant industry change in the past 20 years, if someone can answer?

    Also, for those who talk about standards and types of restaurants: as of what amount is one entitled not to see the wine arrive at the table 10 minutes after the steak was served?



    actually - not intended at you at all, Fab, just a gernal comment, and more or less aimed at the room.

    but you must be in the same position as me - having been around a little, you must also find it amusing that many americans believe that everything is always totally perfect, once you get across the sea.



    bty - when I have viistors here from work, I almost always take them to an ethnic place in NYC - I find that that, or an american style steak, is usually what they find most entertaining.
     


  7. Matt

    Matt ex-m@Triate

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    I do that too, but mostly with friends visiting from abroad, not so much with professional contact, and I agree with you. I find they like steak houses, places where you can eat ribs with your fingers, bar food with screaming big screen TV, Mongolian barbecue (when it was still a novelty). Then they can go home and actually tell stories.
    yeah professional contacts are a different thing...although, depending a lot on the reason for the visit. Ive had a couple of people pass through here who are 'professional-contacts-on-holiday' and I tend to take them to the same place. Fabulous little noisy as hell dirt cheap place called Ngon (Vietnamese word for 'delicious'). Quick plug for the place, a VNese American went around, rounded up his favorite street vendors, gave them a small retainer salary and a commission, and put them all under one roof with a huge menu and a garden setting. Its great. Service - by Ken's standards - is abysmal. Youre lucky if the waiter is wearing shoes, closed toe shoes would be a miracle. English - no chance, so at least you would never have to endure the pain of him introducing himself or telling you the specials. Must really hurt, that. But the food is amazing, the bill is miniscule, the experience is unique, and, as you say, people go home with stories.
     


  8. life_interrupts

    life_interrupts Senior member

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    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")


    Wow, these points have a bit a validity (particularly the bill thing), but none of them are so egregious as to merit ripping the whole US service industry. Not to mention that many of these sound like complaints about Americans in general -- overly-familiar, pushy, inappropriate, and the list goes on.

    Over the years, I've worked everything from a burger and fries grill to the Ritz-Carleton. Here's the thing: most people are lemmings -- they want to be guided and will follow whomever's leading. Waiters, especially in high-volume places, have to lead many, many guests through the service, literally from soup to nuts. Much of the list you gave is preemptive service. Verbally giving the specials and asking for questions encourage guests to think about the menu; napkin around the bottle is for the guy who insists on pouring his own wine, but dribbles it; offering his favorite dishes reduces the number of times guests ask "What do you like," or "What's good?" Again, people expect to be led through the meal.

    You have a problem with the verbiage many waiters use, "what temperature" instead of "how would you like your meat prepared," not properly addressing women, calling people "folks"? Point taken. That was a big issue for training at the Ritz (and at home), then again, I'm sure they didn't recognize that you were royalty[​IMG]. Don't want your place cleared? A valid point of service for a higher-end restaurant, not making those still eating feel uncomfortable, but not as practical for others who depend upon volume, therefore pace the meal by removing plates, offering dessert instead of waiting for you to ask, and dropping the check without being asked. Proper wine service requires that you present the cork, maybe not waving beneath you nose, but putting it on the table is acceptable. You check the cork for moisture, an arcane ritual in these days of plastic corks, screw tops, and better methods of bottling.

    I don't know, maybe you should choose different places (hotel restaurants where there is a larger international clientele and staff) or start conducting seminars on service. No doubt several places could use it.
     


  9. Violinist

    Violinist Senior member

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    Wow, these points have a bit a validity (particularly the bill thing), but none of them are so egregious as to merit ripping the whole US service industry. Not to mention that many of these sound like complaints about Americans in general -- overly-familiar, pushy, inappropriate, and the list goes on.

    Over the years, I've worked everything from a burger and fries grill to the Ritz-Carleton. Here's the thing: most people are lemmings -- they want to be guided and will follow whomever's leading. Waiters, especially in high-volume places, have to lead many, many guests through the service, literally from soup to nuts. Much of the list you gave is preemptive service. Verbally giving the specials and asking for questions encourage guests to think about the menu; napkin around the bottle is for the guy who insists on pouring his own wine, but dribbles it; offering his favorite dishes reduces the number of times guests ask "What do you like," or "What's good?" Again, people expect to be led through the meal.

    You have a problem with the verbiage many waiters use, "what temperature" instead of "how would you like your meat prepared," not properly addressing women, calling people "folks"? Point taken. That was a big issue for training at the Ritz (and at home), then again, I'm sure they didn't recognize that you were royalty[​IMG]. Don't want your place cleared? A valid point of service for a higher-end restaurant, not making those still eating feel uncomfortable, but not as practical for others who depend upon volume, therefore pace the meal by removing plates, offering dessert instead of waiting for you to ask, and dropping the check without being asked. Proper wine service requires that you present the cork, maybe not waving beneath you nose, but putting it on the table is acceptable. You check the cork for moisture, an arcane ritual in these days of plastic corks, screw tops, and better methods of bottling.

    I don't know, maybe you should choose different places (hotel restaurants where there is a larger international clientele and staff) or start conducting seminars on service. No doubt several places could use it.


    Why do you still present the cork? It's pretty useless to smell it, and won't all corks have some bit of moisture?
     


  10. johnapril

    johnapril Senior member

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    Why do you still present the cork? It's pretty useless to smell it, and won't all corks have some bit of moisture?

    I don't understand the question. Main thing about the cork is that is hasn't failed. Pour a bit of wine in the glass and see that it hasn't gone bad. Taste to confirm. If you don't like the flavor but the wine hasn't gone bad, then I think you're generally not allowed to refuse the bottle. But know that the flavor may improve over the course of the meal.
     


  11. JBZ

    JBZ Senior member

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    I don't understand the question. Main thing about the cork is that is hasn't failed. Pour a bit of wine in the glass and see that it hasn't gone bad. Taste to confirm. If you don't like the flavor but the wine hasn't gone bad, then I think you're generally not allowed to refuse the bottle. But know that the flavor may improve over the course of the meal.

    I'm a wine novice, but I've always thought that you should feel the cork for firmness and moisture. If it is dry to the point of being crumbly, it should alert you that there may be a problem with the wine. Of course, the only way to truly know this is by tasting the wine. Obviously, with more and more wineries using synthetic corks (and there is even a movement toward bottle caps), feeling the cork will have less and less value.

    Edited for spelling.
     


  12. tiger02

    tiger02 Militarist

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    Why do you still present the cork? It's pretty useless to smell it, and won't all corks have some bit of moisture?
    You can identify a cork that's obviously crumbled, but no sommelier should let one get as far as the table anyway.
     


  13. Arethusa

    Arethusa Senior member

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    JBZ is right. Check the cork for dryness, mold, and to make sure it's the actual cork to match the bottle. But, yeah, means less and less as corks are increasngly irrelevant.
     


  14. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt The Liberator Dubiously Honored

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    I don't understand the question. Main thing about the cork is that is hasn't failed. Pour a bit of wine in the glass and see that it hasn't gone bad. Taste to confirm. If you don't like the flavor but the wine hasn't gone bad, then I think you're generally not allowed to refuse the bottle. But know that the flavor may improve over the course of the meal.


    I was at Taillevent in Paris and the (American) couple next to us ordered their wine. The sommolier suggested that they might not want the wind that they selected as it was a very particular wine. They (rudely) said that they wanted it, and disregarded his suggestion. When the wine came, they decided that they did not like it after all, and sent it back. The sommolier took it back, but the whole exchange was really ugly.

    I agree that you should not send a wine back unless the condition of the wine is poor.
     


  15. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    I was at Taillevent in Paris and the (American) couple next to us ordered their wine. The sommolier suggested that they might not want the wind that they selected as it was a very particular wine. They (rudely) said that they wanted it, and disregarded his suggestion. When the wine came, they decided that they did not like it after all, and sent it back. The sommolier took it back, but the whole exchange was really ugly.

    I agree that you should not send a wine back unless the condition of the wine is poor.


    it is extremly bad form to send back wine that isn't turned, or isn't what you ordered.


    honestly, I don't think that you are likely to get a bad cork, just like you are not likely to get splashed with sewage when you walk on the sidewalk, but I still walk on the outside of the sidewalk. checking the cork is just part of what you do when you order wine, and one day you may actually catch a bad cork. the value in the whole act is really just part of the drama of eating in a nice place, and that you know your part in the drama.
     


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