Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Service with a smile

There are many types of restaurants and many different levels of service.
At some places you barely expect to get your food cooked as ordered and at others you would complain if the waiter wore a shirt you didn’t like.

A few days ago my friend Katie had a late night craving for Taco Bell. Katie is one of those people that is nice without trying. I have to think about being friendly, Katie has to work very hard to be mean, and even then the most she can pull off is an angry face, which the person she’s mad at never sees. So anyway, friendly Katie orders her food and pulls around. The guy at the window tells her to never mind the money. He said she was the nicest customer they’d had all day, everyone else had been horrible so she deserved her meal for free.

Katie told me that the other people must have been awful beyond description because she’d had a horrible day, was in a bad mood, and does not recall being pleasant at all...but I’m pretty sure that’s just the natural niceness of Katie (I’ve never met a mean person named Katie, they’re all friendly and well liked. My first daughter is going to be named Katie...I’m pretty sure it will garuntee her a good life)

Two nights later Katie and I found ourselves at Steak ‘n’ Shake in great anticipation of the cheese fries to come. Our waitress looked like one of those shrunken heads and when I asked her if it would be possible to split the cost of a large cheese fry on our bill she responded as if I had asked her if she could rig the next presidential election. She was clearly appalled that I would suggest such a thing.

I told her I would just have a small cheese fry then and Katie ordered her sandwich. When she ordered, our waitress said, "That sandwich comes with lettuce, tomatoe, mushrooms, and swiss cheese" in a tone that clearly indicated that this was clearly enough reason for Katie to change her order. Katie boldly ordered the sandwich anyway.

We got our food and our waitress never came back. No checking on the drinks, no asking how the food was (we had to flag down other people to let them know that my cheese fries were distinctly lacking in cheese and that Katie was dying of thirst). Katie and I had just finished a conversation in which we boldly proclaimed that this waitress was not getting anymore than the average 15% (I typcially tip a lot more than that if I’ve only ordered something small, because 15% of almost nothing is a sad number) when the waitress popped back over and said, "I’m not trying to kick you out, but can you go ahead and pay so I can leave? You can stay and talk as long as you want, but I can’t leave until you pay"

People are always commenting on how my eyes get all huge when I’m surprised or upset. I didn’t need anyone to tell me that they were huge then. Huge and cold, not the look of death, but definitely not friendly. We told her we would and she ran off to run our credit cards.

While she was doing that Katie told me a story about how she was once kicked out of a restaurant in the China Town section of New York City when she and her friend had barely put their forks down from their meal. She commented on how there are so many people in NYC that they don’t care if you hate their service and never come back, but here if you said that you would get fired because they have to keep their customers happy.
I think our waitress overheard it because when she came back she was friendlier than she’d been the entire evening.
Next time, I think we’ll go to Taco Bell.


Jonathan Erdman said...

I’ve never met a mean person named Katie, they’re all friendly and well liked. My first daughter is going to be named Katie...I’m pretty sure it will garuntee her a good life

Good point.

template by flower brushes by