H. Neal Glanville: Hungry customer’s lament
October 20, 2008
Last month Jane and I were enjoying spending time with each other at one of our local restaurants. Service seemed a little slow, but as we looked around, we noticed the place was half full, so we thought no more of it and went back to our time together.
My bouncing up and down in the booth, which Jane was trying to ignore, was interrupted by giggling and girlie talk coming from the waitress station.
When I looked toward the noise, I was greeted by four waitresses laughing about a text message. Being totally ignorant of those devious devices (and proud to say so!), I turned to Jane, who, as most people will tell you, is much brainier than I am, for the 38-cent explanation.
“You type in your message, push the send button and :”
Gosh, I miss Tom Swift and His Photo-Telephone.
As this escapade continued to unfold, we began to talk about the little courtesies that seem to be slipping away.
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Our conversation was interrupted by a syrupy, “Are you ready hon’?”
Is it me and my old-school ways, or is it not just plain rude to call a man you don’t know from the dog next door “hon'” or “sweetie?”
Midway through our meal, we, as well as the people around us, heard a waitress complaining about the amount of a tip and how cheap the previous customer was. I realize there’s a “rule of thumb” for tipping and some people observe that 10 to 15 percent guideline regardless of service. I, on the other hand, along with a bazillion others, tip for the service, not the complaining.
When the bill arrived, thankfully before my first Social Security check, I wasn’t the least bit surprised to see a smiley face drawing and a scribbled sentiment staring up at me. I remember the smiley face on bright yellow buttons. The “in” people wore them and carried a pet rock in their pocket. When I looked up to pay our bill, once again, no one was in sight. I laid the smiley face and money down and started out of the booth. Before I could straighten up, we had a waitress.
She deftly scooped up the smiley face and money and headed for the register. Without missing a stride, she half turned and asked if I wanted any change back? Why in the name of dirt wouldn’t I want my change back, I asked? She just giggled and kept moving forward.
Now, before you set off my editor’s e-mail alarm, all these things happened in two of our restaurants, too. Jane and I both have worked in the service industry. She has the temperament for it, but they wouldn’t let me carry a stick for the snotty customers, so I ran for a different job.
Being a waitress, waiter or any kind of salesperson is hard, tongue-biting work. These are jobs that depend on service with a smile – or the business will fail. Like it or not, you, as an employee, are the company. People don’t care who the big dog is, all they remember is how you treated them while they were a customer in your establishment.
As customers, we too must remember that the vast majority of service personnel are doing the best they can, and we are not the only people in town waiting for help.
Riding the worm
Back in the olden days (yes, Ericca, back when I had hair), the Safeway store here used to be next to where the U.S. Post Office is now. This was the place to go for the neatest, coolest toys. No matter what the holiday was, they had all the latest and, I thought, the greatest toys.
One Christmas, I discovered the “Inch Worm” a riding toy for small children. As luck would have it, my brother, Roy “the responsible one,” was with me during my discovery. I recall him telling me once, if not twice, not to ride the Inch Worm up and down the aisles of the store. Maybe it was the third or fourth time when I got the “act like a grownup speech” or I would get into trouble.
Halfway down the aisle next to the toys, the store manager and an assistant, both of whom I knew, asked me what I was doing. I said, “Just riding the worm.” He asked me to please return the worm to where I found it and go wait in the car for Roy.
I don’t think Roy said anything all the way home, but then again, he didn’t have an Inch Worm trying to buck him off! I was never allowed in Safeway by myself again.
Until next time
There I was, surrounded on three sides, when I said to myself, “Self,” I said (because that’s what I call myself when I’m talking to myself), “times don’t change. It’s our morality we let change, and then it just slips away.”
Tying new flies for the weekend :
Thank you for your time.