02 August 2008

02Aug- False ADT alarm and then a lengthy digression
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Everyone stand down. The perimeter is secure. Nothing untoward floating in the fountain. I think we're going to be okay.

I got a call from ADT at 4.27 this A.M., beat the cops to the restaurant (which I hope is just my rapidity and not them using me as a first wave) and now I can't get back to sleep.
It's always a stressful drive down there as i have no idea what awaits me. It could be a number of things at a number of threat levels and it's a well-known fact that being prepared isn't always enough.

We had an unpleasant situation tonight with an impatient woman. A table of two came in, whom I seated and, as I was about to get them waters, a table of six came in. There was a moment of distraction as they got situated and I debated as to whether the newest of our crew should take so large a party and, as I got the waters ready for the six, I looked up to see the woman of the party of two seated not 5 minutes ago holding her arms up like a far less charming Savannah Bird Girl Statue. This body language generally means "What the hell?" or "I've almost got that walk like an Egyptian thing down pat". I smile at her, give her a "one minute" gesture and immediately take two of the waters I'd arranged for the six and sent their server over with them and an apology. The customer, at this point, seems to have decided that we're against her and lays into her server, telling her -among other things- that she's very observant and saw that we rushed to take care of the six. If it's about the water, there's plenty to go around and she still got hers before the six. Her husband insisted they place their order right then as "who knows when she'll be back."

A good restaurant, I suppose, would've bent over backwards to mend the situation. Lavished them with amuse-bouche and stroked their hair and crooned "Hush, Little Baby" until they were happy. My desire not to do this, I'm sure, is indicative of a deep-seated fault in both the restaurant and my personality but, for as long as we've been doing this, I've come to recognize someone who is looking for a fight and who cannot be made happy. Her unpleasantness to her server was severely out of proportion to our infraction and, even though every time I caught sight of her she was laughing and seemed happy, she made snide comments about the food and the service directly to her server and when other servers were in earshot. I know from experience that a customer like this can never be made happy and that if I went out of my way she would quite likely make it a point to vent at me and try to make a fool out of me. I told her server, who seemed hurt by this woman's invective but was keeping it together, that all she should do now is make sure the table's waters are filled, that whatever they need gets taken care of and just do everything right so that if she remains unhappy it wouldn't be because of any compounding of mistakes.
Even though I was busy refilling waters and washing some dishes I made it a point to be behind the bar as they left so I could field any complaints but she opted to storm out quietly instead. As vocal as she was with her server i felt sure she'd have a few choice words for me but it seems as though she might be the type of person who yells at the nurse but is civil to the doctor.

So right now their version of the story is circulating among friends and family and that's a group of people we'll never see.

I know, from a service standpoint, I should've done something to appease them but if they got so worked up about a five minute wait for water and I gave them butterfly kisses until they're happy then they come back on a similarly busy night and have to wait 45 minutes for their food I can only imagine how unhappy they'd be then. Then their server suffers their slings and arrows, we keep the kitchen informed thereby giving them more to stress about and the ripples of this unhappy table begin to infect everything.

Was it right to let them leave upset in order to spare us a potentially more explosive situation in the future? No. I don't think so. But if there's one selfish philosophy to which we've adhered, lo, these many years it's that we're not for everybody. A restaurant is like any other entity with which one can have a relationship and sometimes the chemistry simply doesn't work.

I think about how I'd like to have been treated if the positions were reversed but mine is not a personality that froths at not getting water for five minutes. I think, to a certain degree, this exercise is futile. We're very different, she and I. But if I thought about it...
If I got so angry at something so small I don't think it would be about that small thing at all. I'd be angry at something else entirely; something big enough or out of my hands enough that I fixate on something small and trivial so that I can finally feel like I can control the situation. If I were ugly with a server it would be because I misconstrue the fact that they bring me things as evidence of their inferiority and, therefore, I can conclude that they're someone whose actions and, to some degree, feelings I can control which thereby establishes me in a position of power, which feels pretty good. And if someone tried to appease me I might see that my running commentary got me some positive attention and I'd hate to miss out on someone trying to make me happy, especially if I'm getting attention neighboring tables aren't. But if I admit satisfaction or happiness then I might be left alone so I might very well continue to make noise and besides, I can't be seen as someone who can be manipulated by a little sweet talking since that would mean i'm not in control and that's what got me so worked up in the first place.

But I admit that could be entirely an entirely wrong and unfair assessment.

I also admit that now I would like for someone to sing to me.


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