Tuesday, September 30, 2008

waiters - the good, the bad, and the outright psychotic

I have been feeling a certain level of paranoia lately. I think that waiters are out to get me. Or at least, treat me badly. There were the few occasional experiences that left me annoyed, but for the most part oblivious. nobu, for example, where i had to ask 3 waiters (and wait 15 minutes) for a glass of water. but for the most part, i was oblivious.

Until this month, that is. It just seems like the world is against me. I have had some shining lights, but overall service has been dismal. Is it just me? i tip, i am friendly, i don't think i ask too much as a customer, and yet, i get shafted. and shafted. and shafted yet again.

i've had english backpackers serving me, taking my order, and then not passing the order on to anyone else. when i ask what is happening with the meal, they deny talking to me, or taking my order, telling me i was mistaken. then for the rest of the meal, it is an uphill battle. i have to ask them to clear my empty coffee cup. i have to get my own cutlery. napkins? forget it! i can look at the person and ask for something and they would walk past, as if somehow, i had wronged them. i would have gotten up and left, except that the owner is a very nice guy, and i felt sorry for him. he gave me a free coffee for the confusion, but then when i went to pay the bill, there was no free coffee (it was the english girl taking the money). even after he told her it was free, she asked him why it should be free.

that is just one incident. i'm going to intersperse bad with good, because although there are a LOT of bad experiences lately, i'll stick to a couple, as although venting is good, there is only a certain limit anyone can endure.

At movida, i had a very good waitress called natasha. to start with, there was a line of people in front of us blocking the door, that claimed that they had reservations. i waited for a few minutes, then decided to check, to find out that no, they did NOT have reservations and that our table was waiting for us. she was very nice. always filling our water, making good recommendations, warning us not to order too much, being helpful about the meals and which ones worked with others. she had good feel. and that's what is important in my mind. overall, it was a very pleasant experience, which is good. it was for my girlfriend's birthday.

we went to gills diner after hearing so many good things about it. it was not particularly busy (a good thing, as we had a fashion show to attend to). we ordered wine, looked at a menu, and after deciding what we wanted, we waited to be served. and waited. and waited. 20 minutes of us sitting there, having long ago finished our wine. i tried to get eye contact, but it seemed no one wanted to look. finally, i raised my hand. a waiter came over, and asked me why i was in such a hurry? i explained that no, i was not in a hurry, but i didn't want to wait any longer. my tone was apologetic, feeling bad for the dirty gesture of raising my hand (i never know the correct etiquette). his not so apologetic, as he apologised, saying "well, i am sorry that we are not fast enough for you and don't meet your lofty expectations" dd i do something to wrong him? probably, by the way he acted. i asked him to explain the terrine to us (my girlfriend did not know what it was, i only knew enough to understand it, but not explain it). first time, he tells us that it's got pork and chicken in it. that's it. i ask again, this time to explain what a terrine IS. "OH, he says, i didn't know you had no idea" was the terse reply. finally he explains it, but no better than i could have, which disappoints me. we order the meals, and from then on try to find a different waiter. we find a very nice, laidback woman who is immensely helpful. at the end, the girl had left, and i again raised my hand after giving up trying to get people's attention. same guy. "why are you raising your hand at me? are you in a hurry?". 'nough said.

last experience: red spice road. my girlfriend's birthday party. we had an amazing waiter, possible the best i have ever had serve us. the service is amazing, flawless. never saw him unless you wanted to speak to him, and he was extremely polite. my wine glass was always full; the only indication was movement out of the corner of my eye that someone was there. i complimented him, as i was extremely impressed, and he was grateful someone noticed. i will be back there again.

so overall what is it? do i expect too much, or am i too rude? i go for eye contact, and if that does not work after 3 tries, i WILL raise my hand. i know that this is oafish, but if i have to wait 15 minutes to get the attention of a waiter i feel disappointed, and worse still, feel that i am being ignored. maybe i am rude, ignorant, and not deserving of their attention. but i just don't get it. what are everyone else's experiences of this? please, admonish me for doing things wrong, i really want to know how to act correctly when it comes to getting waiters attention. because it just doesn't seem right anymore.

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