When I was at University I was in a Theatre Arts Program. I was often told that studying drama was setting me up to be a great server. Those friends who were not in my program were convinced that my only skill would be asking customers at MacDonald’s if they wanted fries with that. Hunh!
Now I have the greatest respect for good servers, waitresses, waiters. Whatever the current label happens to be. A restaurant with mediocre food can be saved by great service. I like good food but I love great service.
I have received great service, good service and really, really bad service. The former will have me returning to the restaurant and recommending it. The latter will have me telling everybody I know and making very sure the information is passed on. I have been known to call the restaurant in question and respectfully voice my concerns. That of course means I can never return, no matter how good the food is. Sigh.
And of course good service is not only to be found in the culinary world. It is found on the phone, in the malls, even on the highway. You might say that good service is a direct result of good manners. I like both. I have reached an age where I expect both. Honey, I’ve done the good service routine, now I expect it in return.
After 30 years as a civilian with a police department, I have dealt with a lot people on the phone who were irate at their interactions with police officers. The fact that they broke the law and endangered others was immaterial. Those calls could sometimes be quite fun. I do have a twisted sense of humour.
More often than not it was simply a case of someone not understanding the system of law-enforcement. Their fears and concerns we’re at the root of their animosity. Taking the time to explain everything to them usually turned things around. And that was my job. I felt a great deal of satisfaction when I could allay someone’s fears.
It’s exactly the same in the world of service. I like to see people who take great pride in what they do and they do it well. I have seen some fabulous servers at McDonald’s. Just because someone else is turning their nose down at you should not diminish the pride you feel in doing a job well.
And then there are those who seem to take great pride in ruining my meal. I don’t want some obsequious dandy hovering about my table wringing their hands. I want a little pleasant banter or at least polite conversation. Keep your eye on my table in case my hand goes up. Don’t neglect me but don’t check every two minutes to find out of my meal is satisfactory. Especially when I have a mouthful of food. If you treat me well, I will tip you well. I’m that kind of patron.
I once went into a very high-end restaurant for lunch with a friend. We were out on auditions and feeling very full of ourselves. When we calculated how much money we had to pay for lunch we forgot the tip. (neither of us had a credit card) We just had enough to cover the bill. We were embarrassed so we snuck out. No, no! We left the money on the bill and then left. Unfortunately my friend realized he had left his book that he had just purchased on the table. Tail tucked between our legs we went back. Could we be anymore humiliated? Apparently we could. We explained the situation and hoped would get out without any fuss but the maître d’ summoned our waiter. We had to go through it all again. Hands wringing, eyes tearing, we apologized. Humbled, humiliated and deflated. We got his book back and we were told not to worry it was an honest mistake. Lesson learned.
Did I mention we were studying acting?