100 Things

The small business blog at the NYTimes has published the first part of 100 item list of things that Restaurant Servers should never do. Having been on both sides of the apron I have to say that I agree with just about everything on this list so far. In fact some of them are pet peeves of mine when it comes to eating out. Especially:

7. Do not announce your name. No jokes, no flirting, no cuteness.

18. Know before approaching a table who has ordered what. Do not ask, “Who’s having the shrimp?”

32. Never touch a customer. No excuses. Do not do it. Do not brush them, move them, wipe them or dust them.

What is interesting is that in reading this list a good half of them are things that wait staff at places like Applebee's do ON PURPOSE.

The aforementioned #7 and #32 which they do because they think it increases their tips. #18 which they do because the waiter is almost never the one who delivers your food, and they haven't been trained how to write down an order so that the food runner can consult a check and know who ordered what without asking.

"3. Never refuse to seat three guests because a fourth has not yet arrived." Which they do to control their turnover time on tables.

"17. Do not take an empty plate from one guest while others are still eating the same course." Which they do to cut down on bus time later.

"10. Do not inject your personal favorites when explaining the specials. " and "43. Never mention what your favorite dessert is." Which they do because they are trained to upsell us.

But because all of this sort of thing is routinely done at these mid-range places we are now taught to expect this sort of stuff.


I'll be curious to see what the next 50 items are.

PS. Of course we then come to comment #1 after the article, which yet again proves that Yankees don't understand manners, which I've discussed before.

2 Response to "100 Things"

  • addisonbr Says:

    Re: "ma'am"... Maybe it's a "When in Rome" thing. Sort of like eye contact - usually polite here, often rude elsewhere, regardless of intention? Maybe here "ma'am" is the equivalent of saying "I'm younger than you. Ha."

  • Curator Says:

    I think addisonbr is on to something. In my experience, in the north (and the west) "ma'am" and "sir" usually do mean "you're a dinosaur" or are used as a (not really-very-polite) form of placating someone while being not-very-nice or condescending to them. I've seen it a lot.

    For egalitarians in those geographies, it's can also be offensive because it can be perceived as servile or like groveling.

    But really respecting people means not using it where it's perceived as rude, right? I've lived in the south, and always used those terms with elders there, but I'd never use them elsewhere without being absolutely certain they're welcome.

    Regarding servers: Loved the list. My evenings out should NEVER be about the server. But I'm figuring that things won't change soon. Maybe we should all leave the list along with our tips?