Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ranting on Ranting

by Julie

When waiters and waitresses stop by a diner's table and ask "Are you still working on that?" the latest popular (and snarky) response from diners is "Since when did enjoying a meal classify as work?"

Okay, I get it. "Are you still working on that?"isn't exactly a classy inquiry.

Nor is, "How does everything taste?" - which seems to be the new waitstaff go-to question. I'm not a fan of that one myself. I think dining out is about far more than how things taste. It's a combination of ambiance, conversation, timing, service, and yes, food. Perhaps a better choice would be: "How is everything so far?" or "Can I do anything for you right now?" Both are nice.

The thing is, when a waiter comes up to me and asks, "Are you still working on that?" or a waitress asks me, "How does everything taste?" my first response is *not* to leap to my feet, smack them upside the head, and demand why they they've asked me such a ridiculous question. And yet, after reading a few recent rants online, I get the impression that I'm the exception rather than the rule.

Unless a waiter or waitress is pointedly rude or indifferent, I tend to believe he or she is doing his or her best to ensure I'm enjoying my meal. Because the questions asked are not worded in a particularly lovely way doesn't mean the waitperson means any offense. Just the opposite, in fact. And I know from experience that management often dictates what questions are to be asked, and they specify how to word them. You've heard of mystery shoppers? There are mystery diners, too - out there checking to make sure the staff does everything they've been instructed to do.

This tendency to find fault with questions like "How are you doing?" and responses like, "Have a good one," or "No problem," isn't limited to dining out - not by a long shot. I've been seeing complaints everywhere where individuals believe that a cashier or salesclerk or ... anyone they encounter outside the home is guilty of personal affront simply because they spoke inelegantly.

My rant today, if you haven't already guessed, is about...rants. I'm tired of people complaining about niceties. That's what these are, really - service people doing their best to be NICE. Can't we all just understand that their intentions are good and leave it at that? If a question truly offends then that is a matter to bring to management's attention.

A self-satisfied snarky retort (and I'm seeing *plenty* of suggestions for them online, as though it were some kind of contest) does nothing more than publicly belittle that service professional. Not cool. You know what else? It makes the world a little less pleasant.

In the spirit of spreading sunshine rather than gloom then, let me ask you for the best (nicest, most fun) service-related situations you've encountered. What such moments have made your day?