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Touched by a Waiter


Sabrosita
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I don't see how a server saying "Have a nice day" is any different from saying "Good evening" or "Good afternoon".  The server is merely following prevailing social protocols. 

Don't be hatin', start participatin'.

"Have a nice life", on the other hand...

there is a perception by people other than in the USA that the greeting is not perhaps as sincere as it initially sounds. i.e it is not a prevailing social protocol elsewhere

I think even in the USA, there isn't much sincerity in the phrase either. It is simply treated as an end piece to an encounter with someone you may or may not know. It is normally followed by a, "Thank you." or, "You, too." I think it is treated in the same vein as, "How are you today?" when asked by a complete stranger. Clearly this is not an invitation for me to vent all of my daily frustrations.

That is why I always greeted my patrons with "How's it hangin'?" and left them with "Take 'er easy." Much simpler.

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Pardon my sensitivities, or are you being sarcastic?

Where I come from, "How's it hanging?", referring as it often does to the male member, is considered vulgar.

Usual reply is "To the left thankyou"

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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I don't see how a server saying "Have a nice day" is any different from saying "Good evening" or "Good afternoon".  The server is merely following prevailing social protocols. 

there is a perception by people other than in the USA that the greeting is not perhaps as sincere as it initially sounds. i.e it is not a prevailing social protocol elsewhere

I think even in the USA, there isn't much sincerity in the phrase either. It is simply treated as an end piece to an encounter with someone you may or may not know. It is normally followed by a, "Thank you." or, "You, too." I think it is treated in the same vein as, "How are you today?" when asked by a complete stranger. Clearly this is not an invitation for me to vent all of my daily frustrations.

There is no sincerity in the words; they are an example of phatic communion, that is, a phrase that's meaningless in itself, but is used to reinforce social bonds. Being bothered by the phrase is as silly as being bothered by "farewell" (no thanks!) or "adieu" (I'm an atheist!)

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Maybe I'm an oddity, but some of these comments just surprise me to no end. I'm just a friendly person, I suppose. I like everyone that I meet unless they give me cause not to. I don't mind hugs from strangers or people I just met. I prefer my first name.

I'm with sans on the waiter bit. I go out to eat for the food. I don't need or want a snooty butler. People talk about, "oh, the service was exemplary"...I don't live in that world. Not only do I like my waiter to let their guard down, be a little touchy, but I often invite people waiting on me to sit with us a moment if it's slower, just take a load off, and enjoy friendly conversation. Of course, I'm sure there are people who say, "I'd fire a waiter if they did that" or "I'd leave a restaurant if I ever saw that", but again, the food is what matters to me, not whether or not my waiter was a stiff and proper uptight arse.

It amazes me the things that people find to be bothered about. The wrong type of greeting (often with words that lack meaning but with real feeling behind them), a passing touch, a familiar tone...all the things that bring us closer and make life warmer. Maybe some people have enough friends and feel content with closing their circle where it is, but I find my friends from all walks of life and all income brackets, and I think love of my fellow man is the most exemplary way I can serve.

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I don't mind being touched by a waiter I might know. I do not like being touched by a complete stranger. I know it's meant as a friendly gesture and I know it means absolutely nothing but please don't. I also have fibromyalgia and being touched can hurt! Not to mention what the pats, punches, and other shenanigans waiters can and do do. So to all you waiters out there. OUCH!

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Maybe I'm an oddity, but some of these comments just surprise me to no end. I'm just a friendly person, I suppose. I like everyone that I meet unless they give me cause not to. I don't mind hugs from strangers or people I just met. I prefer my first name.

I'm with sans on the waiter bit. I go out to eat for the food. I don't need or want a snooty butler. People talk about, "oh, the service was exemplary"...I don't live in that world. Not only do I like my waiter to let their guard down, be a little touchy, but I often invite people waiting on me to sit with us a moment if it's slower, just take a load off, and enjoy friendly conversation. Of course, I'm sure there are people who say, "I'd fire a waiter if they did that" or "I'd leave a restaurant if I ever saw that", but again, the food is what matters to me, not whether or not my waiter was a stiff and proper uptight arse.

It amazes me the things that people find to be bothered about. The wrong type of greeting (often with words that lack meaning but with real feeling behind them), a passing touch, a familiar tone...all the things that bring us closer and make life warmer. Maybe some people have enough friends and feel content with closing their circle where it is, but I find my friends from all walks of life and all income brackets, and I think love of my fellow man is the most exemplary way I can serve.

There's a huge amount of space between a waiter who can't keep his hands off of you and one who's an "uptight arse." Lots of room for competent, informal, friendly service. When I go to a restaurant, I'm looking for a professional, not a buddy. I mean sure, sometimes I get chatting with a server or a bartender -- I'm not actually unfriendly -- and some servers actually are buddies, though when I serve them at my table I try not to caress their shoulders and look meaningfully into their eyes to distract them from the overcooked steak.

A little professional distance is a nice thing, false bonhomie (and even -- no one who knows me will believe this-- flirting) is annoying, especially when it's being used to as a substitute for competence or to manipulate my tip calculations.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Maybe I'm an oddity, but some of these comments just surprise me to no end. I'm just a friendly person, I suppose. I like everyone that I meet unless they give me cause not to. I don't mind hugs from strangers or people I just met. I prefer my first name.

I'm with sans on the waiter bit. I go out to eat for the food. I don't need or want a snooty butler. People talk about, "oh, the service was exemplary"...I don't live in that world. Not only do I like my waiter to let their guard down, be a little touchy, but I often invite people waiting on me to sit with us a moment if it's slower, just take a load off, and enjoy friendly conversation. Of course, I'm sure there are people who say, "I'd fire a waiter if they did that" or "I'd leave a restaurant if I ever saw that", but again, the food is what matters to me, not whether or not my waiter was a stiff and proper uptight arse.

It amazes me the things that people find to be bothered about. The wrong type of greeting (often with words that lack meaning but with real feeling behind them), a passing touch, a familiar tone...all the things that bring us closer and make life warmer. Maybe some people have enough friends and feel content with closing their circle where it is, but I find my friends from all walks of life and all income brackets, and I think love of my fellow man is the most exemplary way I can serve.

A little professional distance is a nice thing, false bonhomie (and even -- no one who knows me will believe this-- flirting) is annoying, especially when it's being used to as a substitute for competence or to manipulate my tip calculations.

Maybe this is the 'AH HA' moment. When a touch is used to manipulate, not just to make a bit of a connection.

I have a sincere question: do Europeans touch more?

Somehow, I just can't imagine this debate being held in Italy.

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A little professional distance is a nice thing, false bonhomie (and even -- no one who knows me will believe this-- flirting) is annoying, especially when it's being used to as a substitute for competence or to manipulate my tip calculations.

Dang! You mean the waitress who slid in the booth next to me (and across from my wife) rubbing shoulders, didn't want to have my baby?

I'm with Cathrynapple on this.

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There's an Italian restaurant here in town that has a small center dining area, a bar to the right of that and to the left is the larger main dining area.

The waitresses in the small middle section have been there since the place opened (and must have waited on Adam and Eve). They give customers backrubs while rattling off the daily specials. Needless to say, the center dining area (and the bar) is usually filled with regulars who are aware of the tradition, don't mind the contact and are used to it.

We made the mistake of sitting in the small dining area once, not knowing about the back rub tradition. It was disturbing the first time it happened ("WTF?!" :blink: ). Of course, everytime I've been back to that restaurant since then, I make sure to sit in the larger main dining area. I leave the backrubs for the regulars.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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Maybe this is the 'AH HA' moment. When a touch is used to manipulate, not just to make a bit of a connection.

I have a sincere question: do Europeans touch more?

Somehow, I just can't imagine this debate being held in Italy.

I've never been touched by an Italian I didn't know; certainly not by a waiter. I don't think my experience is unusual, but I suppose it could be.

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My understanding is that the Michelin star system revolves around this issue.

no stars: no touching

one star: friendly touch by your server on the arm or shoulder

two stars: warm embrace by the head waiter

three stars: firm ass-grab by the chef de cuisine

And I've been told that truly great chefs, like Thomas Keller and Feran Adria, will grab so hard they actually lift you off the floor.

Notes from the underbelly

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There's an Italian restaurant here in town that has a small center dining area, a bar to the right of that and to the left is the larger main dining area.

The waitresses in the small middle section have been there since the place opened (and must have waited on Adam and Eve). They give customers backrubs while rattling off the daily specials. Needless to say, the center dining area (and the bar) is usually filled with regulars who are aware of the tradition, don't mind the contact and are used to it.

We made the mistake of sitting in the small dining area once, not knowing about the back rub tradition. It was disturbing the first time it happened ("WTF?!"  :blink: ). Of course, everytime I've been back to that restaurant since then, I make sure to sit in the larger main dining area. I leave the backrubs for the regulars.

I just thought of another 'touching' situation! Once upon a time, when LasVegas was Sin City, not the land of milk, honey, money and art that it has become, I was taken to dinner at Cesar's Palace, some big fancy dining room where one of the amenities was a head rub for the male patrons, supplied by large breasted wine wenches. Now, that is being touched, wouldn't you say?? :wacko::unsure:

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Maybe this is the 'AH HA' moment. When a touch is used to manipulate, not just to make a bit of a connection.

I have a sincere question: do Europeans touch more?

Somehow, I just can't imagine this debate being held in Italy.

I've never been touched by an Italian I didn't know; certainly not by a waiter. I don't think my experience is unusual, but I suppose it could be.

At the end of a really enjoyable dinner in a really nice place in Frascati (perhaps the only place), I asked the waiter if I could perhaps steal a copy of the (large and formidable) menu. I must have asked nicely, because not only did he hand me one, he pulled out my sweater a little bit and slid it in till it was hidden and nestled against my stomach and chest.

Though you might want to refer to my post #30 above.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Doesn't bother me as long as the intent is sincerely friendly - like any other kind of social interaction. But I've learned that some people have emotional or physical issues that go beyond simply not appreciating the gesture.

The only time I can recall getting a massage with my meal was when I had a job investigating groundwater contamination in a small town in Indiana. The work was outdoors and physical. The well drillers insisted on having lunch every day at a little blue-collar bar with a nice looking waitress. This place served mashed potatoes and gravy with everything. My favorite was lasagna and garlic bread with a side of mashed potatoes ... but I digress.

The waitress took a lot of stuff from the patrons and I made a point of being extremely polite to her. So after a somewhat rude remark from one of my coworkers she made it a point of giving me a shoulder rub. I assume it was at least in part to let him know she wasn't warming up to *him*. Gotta admit it was amusing and my aching muscles appreciated it.

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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I come from a big family and hugging and kissing both my male and female cousins is the norm. I really don't take offense to being touched as long as it's in a sincere friendly way.

In our area we once had a little Japanese restaurant that was called Heidi's HideAway. A little hole in the wall place where Heidi this little Japanese lady was the owner and chef. No sushi or high end just Japanese home cooking. Heidi did not have desserts on the menu. After dinner she would come around to your table and give each patron a back massage. She used a type of pressure point massage that I really hated. To this day I really don't like massages at all.

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As a server and a touchy-feely sorta person, I really try to avoid physical contact with my customers, because I know that it inspires passionate distaste in some. I have a big problem, however, with the part of this distaste that comes from the notion of staff being invisible and therefore..untouchable? (somebody earlier pared a server's duties down to "intelligently" describing specials, bringing food quickly, topping off wine.. I get the point, but ouch).

I'm not questioning a customer's right to unviolated personal space, but it shouldn't be so easy to forget that your server is, indeed, a person with a personality and a whole set of habits and expressions, and it's really unlikely that he/she is touching you to get a better tip. Probably your server is just a regular ole touchy-feely person who is trying to convey a feeling of comfort and care, the best way he/she knows. Unless the inner thigh is being caressed, I think maybe one could stand to lighten up about it and sheepishly accept a few shoulder rubs like one would accept Uncle Bill's uncomfortably tight bear hugs. We're just people! Sorry if I'm being reactionary, but this fascinating question and everyone's comments reminded me that vestiges of old-school snobbery often surface most peculiarly in the world of customer service.

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Thats just the point. Its not eating with a surrogate family.

I go to a restaurant to eat and converse with my guests, not the staff.

I don't care that my waiter has a personality, so long as it does not intefere with them doing the job they are paid for, anymore than I care if they play bass guitar in a rock band on their days off or wear purple underpants. Nor do I want racing or stock tips.

I dont go into the kitchen and hug the chef or the plongeur, or want them to touch me, and they have a much more direct relationship with my food.

Unlike eating with relations I pay for the meal, part of which (or maybe explicitly via the tip) pays the wait staff.

There is a key difference between paid staff and friends or relations.

I hope you are not suggesting paying staff for friendship, hugs, massages or touching. There are professions for that, such as psychoanalysts and others.

The best staff get the job done but are attentive but invisible, unless addressed directly.

WHile I am writing, another bete noir is the Manager or CHef who goes rounf the dining room towards the end of the meal asking "how it was", where the only reply possible is "Fine thankyou". One or two want genuine criticism, but mostly its ritual admiration, interrupting our conversation again.

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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I don't care that my waiter has a personality, so long as it does not intefere with them doing the job they are paid for, anymore than I care if they play bass guitar in a rock band on their days off or wear purple underpants. Nor do I want racing or stock tips.

There is a key difference between paid staff and friends or relations.

The best staff get the job done but are attentive but invisible, unless addressed directly.

jackal, did a waiter steal your girlfriend or run over your dog or something?

sorry. i couldn't disagree with you more. my point wasn't that servers should share stock tips and hugs, just that servers' personalities come out just like anyone else's, and that it's mostly harmless, for pete's sake.

i love going to restaurants and nearly always have a fantastic time: i seem to get by just fine without thinking of servers the way you do.

ok i promise that's the last waitress rant from me, for a little while anyway..

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So we've come to see by now that some people are totally fine with small physical contact from strangers, some not. However, one thing I think most of us are overlooking is the attitude of the server. Servers depend on pleasing their customers for most of their wages. If a server is any good at all (and if he/she is strategic enough to try to manipulate you into tipping them more with touching) they should DEFINITELY notice their customer's negative reaction to a touch.

Any waiter worth his/her salt tries to anticipate desires, reads the customers, and generally strives to understand a customers wishes before they are verbalized. So at the very least, a customer can prevent touching from waiter by some sort of physical reaction (shrinking away, eyes, frown, etc). In the case of the totally oblivious waiter, the customer could say something. Of course if the customer is the type of passive-aggressive personality who won't tell the waiter what they want... well then they can just stew in their own disgust and spitefully reduce the tip later.

Bottom line, waiters are people. People touch people. If you don't want to be touched please say something! How sad and disconnected our modern society must be if so many people out there take offense at simple human contact and can't even express their wishes for it to stop.

**edited to change "stranagers" to "strangers"... :unsure:

Edited by Underfoot (log)
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I go to a restaurant not just to interact with my guest, but everyone else too. Other diners, the waitstaff, whomever. It's a big world out there, and I am a friendly guy. I'm happy to meet everyone I can. The idea that waitstaff should be invisible is, to me, quite anti-social and dehumanizing...

"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

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I don't mind being touched by a waiter I might know. I do not like being touched by a complete stranger. I know it's meant as a friendly gesture and I know it means absolutely nothing but please don't. I also have fibromyalgia and being touched can hurt! Not to mention what the pats, punches, and other shenanigans waiters can and do do. So to all you waiters out there. OUCH!

I'm so sorry you have this nasty beast but I'm very happy you wrote that. Me too. And people who handshake you like they are squeezing orange juice just kill me. What the hell are they thinking? It's a horrible way to meet someone. Oh nice to meet you, why yes please permanently mangle my fingers into my rings I love pain heap it on we'll surely be fast friends. Why would anyone do that?

Anyhow.

I was in a certain certain French restaurant and I was well tucked up into the table and the waiter took it upon himself to put my napkin in my lap as they sometimes will. He touched several parts of me that he had no business looking at much less touching. I'd still like to elbow him into next week.

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