I am a catholic in my expectations of what a restaurant service should be like. I hate self-service, tick box menus, set menus and all other forms of aptitude testing approach to service. Here is a scene I experienced on an outing to the “cinema and dinner” with my less than loyal family at a restaurant somewhere in England.
Waitress (holding a green coloured chicken silhouette made of plywood): Hello, my name is Emma and I will be serving you today
Me: Great, can we see the menu please?
Waitress (placing green plywood chicken on our table): the menu is printed on the mats in front of you and I can take your drink orders. When you decide what you want to eat, please take your chicken with you to the serving area and hand it over to chef who will take your order
Me (confused): I am sorry?!
Daughter 1 (embarrassed): This is how it is done here Dad
Me: Are you a self-service restaurant then?
Waitress; Well, I am here to serve you drinks and any additional orders after your first order
Me: Why not take my first order too?
Daughter 2 (very embarrassed): Dad, don’t make a scene, it is not her fault
Me (now ready for battle): I am not saying it is anyone’s fault; I just need to understand. Please explain to me the procedure again
Waitress (patiently): once you decide what you want to eat, you take this chicken to the service counter, hand it over to the chef and place your order.
Me: And where do you come in?
Waitress (blushing): Sorry?
Wife (not embarrassed at all): we give her our drink orders and she brings them to us
Waitress: I also take any extra orders you might have afterwards
Me (totally confused): Why can’t we place our drinks order at the counter too and save you the trouble?
Daughter 3 (totally embarrassed): Dad, that’s very rude!
Me: Why do you do it this way, where is the logic in that?
Waitress: I don’t know, I just work here
I recognise defeat when it grabs me by the throat or when it repeatedly kicks me in the shins under the table. Having decided I needed to be able to walk out of the restaurant unaided, I resigned myself to be led by the hand by my daughters and shown how to conduct this absurd transaction using badly sculpted green plywood chicken. I have to be fair and state that there were two conventional practices at that restaurant: they took my money in the time-honoured method of CASH, and the waitress expected a TIP!
As we walked out of the restaurant I now noticed at the reception desk the long line of multi coloured plywood chickens waiting to do their duty for other customers. I swear they were looking at me and smiling triumphantly. You know, I wouldn’t have minded the whole unpleasant experience of losing out to a plywood chicken had the food been amazing but, it was really, really average.