Wednesday, April 05, 2006

guide to dining in a restaurant, the first

Too often customers dining in a restaurant don't quite know how to behave. It isn't that they can't behave in public, but for some reason, entering a restaurant seems to give these people a misplaced sense of themselves as a sort of master of the staff.

This isn't a post I've planned out and thought about in a usual sense. However, though I'm currently a stay at home dad, my work history is almost entirely food service based. I have several years of cooking experience along with a very few in management roles.

This post sprang from an experience that my wife had at work last night. Apparently, she is very often the only person inside Nama with a lighter. Nama, a swanky sushi bar here in the Patch, is one of a very few local places that are voluntarily smoke free. This is a whole other post that I need to write concerning establishment by government of smoke free by legislation. Momma's lighter was making the rounds of people, some staff using it to light tableside candles, some staff and customers taking the lighter outside to smoke.

She was not in possession of her lighter at the time of this occurrence. She had loaned it to a staff member and hadn't yet gotten it back, though she was aware that this staff member had sent it out on a loan train through staff and customers. One particular customer wanted to borrow the traveling lighter and knew that it belonged to her. So how did he request the use of the lighter?

Okay, hours later and at home, upon hearing the story, I nearly flew into a rage. This is something that you should NEVER do to anyone, especially anyone who is in control of how your food arrives for you to eat.

So what did this chump do? He snapped his fingers at her. He didn't utter a single word, didn't say please or anything that reasonable people do. He snapped his fucking fingers at her!!!

You might call a dog by snapping your fingers. You might snap your fingers in time to music. You might even try to get your kids attention with a quick snap of the fingers. But you should never, ever snap your fingers at the staff of any restaurant ever.

It is extremely rude. It is somewhat dehumanizing, especially in an industry so devoted to pleasing customers. Along with all the work it takes to run a restaurant correctly comes the attitudes of people who leave their humaneness at the door. Without having done the job, one cannot have any idea of the extreme stress of doing the job. Add to the unavoidable stresses the shitty attitudes of customers who expect servitude to just increase the stress.

I'll have to readdress this topic of customer behavior somewhat over time. I won't go into anything else here that idiot customers can do to infuriate restaurant staff. I will return to this in future postings and perhaps I'll write a tidy little pile of blogs that will become a book. I've long thought about writing a manual for restaurant diners so that they can be sure of good service and food. I have a store of experiences and anecdotes on which to rely as well as many friends in the business to maintain the flow.

We'll leave the topic for now however. We will reiterate what we've just learned. Do NOT snap your fingers at your server or at the cooks. It isn't appreciated and will only cause the staff to remember you as an asshole. It will reflect poorly on you and it very well might affect the service you can expect.

1 comment:

contemplator said...

Oh, you BET it's not appreciated. I was a server in another life and I had a guy snap his fingers at me once. I saw him, but I turned away from him and I ignored him. Later when I went to the table, he mentioned he'd been snapping at me, and I just said, "Yes, I know, but I'm not a dog, so I don't respond to snaps." He looked really sheepish. But I wouldn't have cared if he'd raged and ranted, because I would've probably given him a lecture on manners and human decency and then poured his drink over his head. Serving jobs are a dime a dozen (probably not a swanky places, though), and I never tolerated that crap.

Lots of people who go to restaurants have no manners, they rush through their food and generally don't know how to "dine" but rather slop like hogs with manners to boot. I'm glad I'm out of it.