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Gifted Gourmet

Foibles & fallacies: the demon customer

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A server could be your social inferior in the sense that, if you snapped your fingers at a co-worker and told him to get you more Diet Coke, he'd just laugh at you, but if you do it to a server, she'll wait to get back to the server station to laugh at you and tell her co-workers what an ass you are, while getting your Diet Coke. Otherwise, people are people. Servers are doing a job that needs to be done, and they can make your meal more or less enjoyable.

As far as auto-grats or service charges, I think they are a good idea, but of course it depends on the type of clientelle for a particular establishment. As mentioned before, European countries use service charges, and it doesn't seem to cause service to suffer. And I'd also point out that the origin of the term "tip" doesn't actually relate to the urban legend involving to ensure proper service. That's just a fallacy.

You'd definitely agree with auto-grats if you'd seen what I've seen, such as a party of 7, with a bill of about $100 at a lower-end restaurant, who paid their bill and then smiled, looking straight into the eye of one of my servers (I was manager at the time) and placed a $5 bill on the table, stating loudly, "There's yer teee-yup!" I mean, this guy was really proud to be leaving his very nice server a less than 5% tip, so there is a place for this sort of thing. Not everyone goes by the same scale, and the higher the volume, the more you will see uneducated behavior.

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... er... I was wondering... what's the point of tipping? If it's not a means of offering encouragement for the waiter and the rest of the team, what purpose does it serve?


Edited by fatmat (log)

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I enjoyed and agreed with many of Mr. Rogov's comments, most especially his disdain (disgust?) for horrid customers. I find more problems (as a customer) with other customers in higher end restaurants than I do with the service. To illustrate the point, my SO and I were out for dinner the other week at a high end place where we happen to know the owners. We entertained two other couples for dinner and paid the bill when they left. One of the owners invited us to the bar for a drink and we accepted. As it was later in the evening it was slow enough in the dining room for them to spend some time with us. We ended up staying a couple more hours and having a variety of wines. The bartender was new and we didn't know her, but the service was excellent. We were never presented a bill and as we were leaving my SO quietly tipped and thanked the bartender. The couple who had been sitting next to us at the bar and voicing their views loudly to all and sundry exclaimed "Why the hell would they tip her, I didn't see them get a bill, and it is her job to serve." Those are the kinds of customers I wish I could hit over the head with bottle! :angry:


Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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... er... I was wondering... what's the point of tipping? If it's not a means of offering encouragement for the waiter and the rest of the team, what purpose does it serve?

Agreed. It's a bad system, and we should get rid of it.

But many have the belief that it is a system for encouraging good service, in spite of the fact that there are other professions that provide good service with a simple, guaranteed hourly wage, and in spite of European systems where service charges are applied, and good service is still had. So we will not be rid of it soon.

Until such time as we do pay servers in a manner that's more civilized, we have to accept the one that we do have. And that means that servers must accept the fact that some people think a tip of 10% is good, some people think a tip of $1 per person dining is more than adequate, regardless of the total of the bill, and some people think that servers are paid a normal wage, so a 15% tip is outrageously high.

It's really not a good state of affairs, given that, at my restaurant, a server can end up paying for the privilege of waiting on someone who is rude, and who decides to leave no tip whatsoever, simply because the restaurant has a policy of not offering free refills on freshly-squeezed lemonade. Customers like this freedom to stiff the server, as a protest against the restaurant's policies, even if the server has no choice in the policy and is only making $2.13 an hour. That's one example of a recent stiff for me, and another is the gentleman who stiffed me because I informed his girlfriend that cell phone use is not allowed in the dining room. Another patron stiffed me a few months ago because I charged her for the mango that she added to her salad, also a restaurant policy. So I basically paid a charge of 2% of their bill out of the tips I received on other tables.

Yes, it's a hard job and a hard life, and I choose to accept it, because it all evens out. Maybe not daily, but certainly weekly, because I have guests who tip more than 20% when they realize I've gone the extra mile. I accept that one out of possibly 200 guests will find a reason not to tip me at all, and I will pay out of my own pocket to wait on them. Everyone still gets great service, at every table I greet.

Fair? No. A way of making a living? Yes. And a way to develop a very thick skin as well. If anyone's interested in changing the system, I'll sign any petition to the government that you care to write up.

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not having spent much time on the floor it's hard for me to bring up specifics; all i get is the second-hand tale. however i do get peeved when someone orders the chicken dish, but doesn't want the veg, or the sauce, or the garnish. but they do want the veg from the lamb dish, and the sauce from the fish dish. this isn't create-your-own-entree night, right.

i guess what it comes down to is the social contract of which we are all a part. when i go out to eat there are certain conventions that we as diners and servers and cooks agree to; these conventions are codified somewhat for the staff, but as a cook i would no more spit in your plate as it goes out the door than i would spit in my waiter's face if he or she dropped the ball; i.e. rang in the wrong order, failed to take drink orders, etc.

talking on a cell phone in a restaurant is rude because it conveys the impression that your environs are so uninteresting that you have to converse with someone who isn't even there. the difference between that and a live face-to-face discussion is that your dining companion can also monitor the noise level the two of you are emitting, as well as appropriate pauses for taking orders, eating, etc. i would no more take a book to a nice restaurant than i would a cellphone. or a laptop.

servers are people too; i have experienced high-level fine-dining service and while the server does not tell off-color jokes neither does he or she condescend to me (in the better places i've been to). a lot of the game is identifying the kind of customer; our servers at the restaurant come in every night talking about the high-maintenance cases on table ten or the really easygoing folks on table sixteen. if they know that table ten is going to be more trouble, they will go out of their way to ensure that they have the best possible experience, even if they are unwilling to enjoy themselves. the simple fact is that servers work just as hard for their dollar as anyone else; harder than many others, in fact. issues like autograts on larger tables is understandable; in the first place, it cuts down on the number of tables in a server's section; generally a five-top results in the loss of at least one seat, as a four-top table and a deuce are pushed together. in the second place it reduces the amount of time a server can devote to his other tables, as a seven top requires an exponentially larger amount of attention than a deuce does. and in the third place, after dealing with a large party, bringing wine, ringing in last-minute sides, etc. etc. to receive a five percent tip is unconscionable.

so that's my two cents. it's the same problem as with children; you don't need a license to have them; nor do you need to have prior restaurant experience to eat out. which results in many customers behaving like complete boors and embarassing themselves and their hosts.

nuff said.

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I'd like to defend the punter a little. I feel that the job of the restaurant is to make it's customers comfortable. Customers have foibles (hell... so do restauranteurs and waiters, big style!!!). If you work in hospitality, you need to be understanding and to work around them a little.

I can't stand the arrogance of restaurants (and their pompous owners) that try to inflict their often overstated and inflated opinions of what they think the 'correct' dining experience should be.

Speaking as an ex waiter, I feel that the job is meet the punter's needs.  Sadly, so many restaurants expect the punter to bend around them. I think it is a sad day when a restaurant/owner/waiter starts to believe that they are bigger and more important than their clients.

Don't forget that these people are paying customers, and provided that they are not being outright offensive, I think that we need to live and let live a little

What is the issue with cell phones. Let's face it, people use phones - an unavoidable fact of life - it's the 21st Century.

What is the difference between chatting with a friend at the table, and talking to one by phone?

OK, ringing phones are annoying, but provided that they are turned onto vibrate, what's the problem??

So basically, if people chat discreetly, then phones are no problem...?

Concerning your crack down...What about the incidents where people shout at each other face to face... Can I suggest that you introduce a no talking policy???

Enforced tipping... how wrong is that?? Tipping (To 'Insure' Promptness = TIP).

Its frustrating when people don't tip, but I believe that it should be voluntary. It's what keeps waiters on their toes.

When I waitered, I enjoyed the challenge of earning my tip - It gave me a little more drive and helped keep a smile on my face even when I didn't feel like it

QUOTE(balex @ Nov 25 2004, 10:00 PM)

...and they are my social inferiors in that context .

Ouch... I don't think so.

We are no better or no worse, we are just paid to provide a service, context regardless!!

... er... I was wondering... what's the point of tipping? If it's not a means of offering encouragement for the waiter and the rest of the team, what purpose does it serve?

fatmat, dude you are right on with everything. Thanks for saving me the time of all that typing...

Cell phone savvy people know how to talk into their phones. They know how to hold a conversation which is indistinguishable from a face to face talk. Provided the people at the table don't mind, they should go for it. I think it would be worse for them to stand up in a rush, quickly excuse themselves, and dart for the bar or lounge to answer their call. This IS the 21st century, it's time people started living life like that and quit complaining. Reminiscing back to "the old days" should be saved for slide shows, not discussing technology and its sociological effects. I will take my cell phone and computer over a rotary and (well, computers replace so many things, I don't want to list just one).

Don't even get me started about the jokers that complain about that little blinking 12:00 on their VCRs...


"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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Five points -

(a) With regard to cell phones... let's put it this way.....how would you feel if someone came into a good restaurant and plunked down a small portable television on the table to watch during his/her dinner? Even if they listened to it quietly or even with ear-phones? Might that not be just a wee bit distracting to others in the restaurant? So be it with the cell phone as well.

(b) With further regard to cell phones ....isn't it somewhat of an insult to your companions to be devoting time to phone calls when you should be in their company? Even half-wise people hold their calls when in conference in an office. Are we that important that we have to be in touch with friends, collegues, business acquaintances, etc during dinner?

© With even further regard to the cell phone - by now most of us are familiar with the French Paradox, but it is not only wine that contributes to our well being, it is life-style and in particular dining style. I can assure us all (even without doing a formal research study) that we will live at least a bit longer and surely a bit more happily if we shut our phones off during dinner.

(d) With regard to tipping.... I understand that in Australia most restaurants pay their waitstaff fairly and well and that tipping is no longer an issue. If we lived in a better world - one for example where waiters and waitresses indeed received fair salaries, I would agree that tipping would be unnecessary. Alas, the world is far from perfect.

(e) With specific regard to the preceding post - I am well aware that we live in the 21st century. I accept that with joy. That does not mean that we have to discard the breeding and culture of all that went before us. I have always been rather fond of Oliver Goldsmith's aphorism to the effect that: "I love everything that's old: oldfriends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine".


Edited by Daniel Rogov (log)

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I don't mind if people are discreetly talking on their cell phone. However, most people find it necessary (God knows why) to talk extremely loudly on their phone. I also don't mind if the phone is on vibrate, but it's entirely different thing if their phone keeps ringing (loudly). It annoys the hell out of me.

I hate people who treat servers as if they are second class citizens and on the flip side, I hate servers who are rude and pretentious. I work in the service industry (Starbucks :biggrin: ) and we work really hard at my store to be friendly, helpful and efficient. I hate when people come in and treat us like crap and think they own us because they spent $1.66 (canadian) on a cup of tea. I think everyone should have to work in the service industry at least once - you gain a whole new perspective on things. It doesn't mean you tolerate rude or bad service, but you understand when something goes wrong, it's not always the servers fault.

Case in point, my husband and I were at a restaurant where our food was taking a bit longer than usual - my husband started to get a little antsy (and pissy :raz: ). I reassured him that it might be a problem in the kitchen or something but he still was getting antsy. Not even two minutes later, the server (who I assure you didn't hear our conversation) came out with our food, apologizing profusely. Apparently, the chef had made my dish wrong (I asked for Pad Thai without shrimp, just the chicken) and had to quickly remake it. The chef didn't notify her that he was remaking it until she asked where our dishes where since it was taking awhile, so she couldn't come out earlier to tell us it would be a few more minutes.

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(d) With regard to tipping.... I understand that in Australia most restaurants pay their waitstaff fairly and well and that tipping is no longer an issue. If we lived in a better world - one for example where waiters and waitresses indeed received fair salaries, I would agree that tipping would be unnecessary.  Alas, the world is far from perfect.

I don't agree. If customers understood the tipping system, then it is fair.

Waiters are paid a flat wage - generally quite low. The remainder of their wage they earn by pleasing the customer. In theory, in a perfect world, the more pleased the customer, the greater the tip.

If the tip were to be abolished then restaurant prices would have to increase to meet the shortfall between the flat wage and the tip and therefore, power is taken from the customer. The tip adds a little extra motivation, which in my experience works. For me, it also makes the shift a little more fun

There are times when you work your ass off and smile sweetly all evening, and get just a few quid from a massive table, but in general, tipping worked in my experience.


Edited by fatmat (log)

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Five points -

(a) With regard to cell phones... let's put it this way.....how would you feel if someone came into a good restaurant and plunked down a small portable television on the table to watch during his/her dinner?  Even if they listened to it quietly or even with ear-phones?  Might that not be just a wee bit distracting to others in the restaurant?  So be it with the cell phone as well.

Cell phones aren't portable TV's, they are a means of talking to someone who isn't there.

(b) With further regard to cell phones ....isn't it somewhat of an insult to your companions to be devoting time to phone calls when you should be in their company?  Even half-wise people hold their calls when in conference in an office. Are we that important that we have to be in touch with friends, collegues, business acquaintances, etc during dinner?

It's the same 'insult' if you are with a friend anywhere. You know if your friend will be insulted. It's not for the restaurant to enforce your 'good manners' in this instance.

I do agree that people talking loudly is annoying, but the same is so, whether they are using a phone or not. Perhaps restaurants should also ban the consumption of booze for the same reason!!

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Fatmat...

Part of my problem is that I cannot understand the urgency in most cases to talk with someone who is not there during one's dinner. I did not suggest that restaurants enforce our good or bad manners. I am suggesting, however, that all people should re-examine their manners from time to time, and that in view not only of the century in which we live but the company we want to keep.

I'm not sure why, but I have the feeling that you want to put on a pair of boxing gloves and march me into the ring. Why don't we avoid the boxing ring and simply close out your and my disagreement by agreeing not to agree and thus let the dialogue march on. Or, as might be said chacun a son gout.


Edited by Daniel Rogov (log)

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In theory, in a perfect world, the more pleased the customer, the greater the tip.

If the tip were to be abolished then restaurant prices would have to increase and power is taken from the customer. The tip adds a little extra motivation.

.

There is a fallacy here, which is the assumption that "motivating the customer to leave money" and "pleasing the customer" are the same. Instead the tip system motivates the waitstaff to beg.

Its outdated to believe that people, (waitstaff are people too) are motivated entirely by money; obviously they need enough to live on and support their family, which is more secure if covered by salary. Maslow (and others) then show that issues such as peer esteem, good working environment, and the opportunity for advancement is more motivating than just cash. In the absence of these cash is used as a status marker. The wise employer creates a supportive environment to satisfy the human needs as well.

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Part of my problem is that I cannot understand the urgency in most cases to talk with someone who is not there during one's dinner.

I have seen the most ill-mannered behavior of using cellphones to interrupt worship services, symphony concerts, and even a funeral. How is it possible that we as a society have found a new form to announce to the immediate world, "hey, I am so very essential and vital that I must be in touch 24/7." I understood this if one was a physician but now it seems it is everyone, everywhere, all the time ...

I always saw cellphones as something of a pretension, and the use of them in a social context, in this case dining out, as yet another form of rudeness.

History buffs of restaurant behavior:

How did people manage to show their inconsiderate behavior BC (before cellphones) in a restaurant setting? :rolleyes: Surely they didn't become rude overnight ... :hmmm:

cellphones in restaurants thread ... in case you want even more on this... :rolleyes:


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Part of my problem is that I cannot understand the urgency in most cases to talk with someone who is not there during one's dinner.

I have seen the most ill-mannered behavior of using cellphones to interrupt worship services, symphony concerts, and even a funeral. How is it possible that we as a society have found a new form to announce to the immediate world, "hey, I am so very essential and vital that I must be in touch 24/7." I understood this if one was a physician but now it seems it is everyone, everywhere, all the time ...

I always saw cellphones as something of a pretension, and the use of them in a social context, in this case dining out, as yet another form of rudeness.

History buffs of restaurant behavior:

How did people manage to show their inconsiderate behavior BC (before cellphones) in a restaurant setting? :rolleyes: Surely they didn't become rude overnight ... :hmmm:

Sure there's an element of that. While I do take my cell phone to restaurants, I don't make a habit of having conversations while I'm dining. It is however, on vibrate at all times. This is because (a) when my son was younger, the babysitter might need to reach me (b) now that he's older and stays home by himself, I want to make sure he can reach me at all times.


Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I always saw cellphones as something of a pretension, and the use of them in a social context, in this case dining out, as yet another form of rudeness.

And there is the problem. In 1905 you would have looked at people driving cars as lazy, polluting, horse killers. What is wrong with a horse that we need those loud, smoky cars? Cellphones were pretentious over 15 years ago. Now, everyone has them. They are part of our culture. It isn't appropriate to think "People left their children for decades with a babysitter, and never had cellphones to keep in touch in real-time" The fact of the matter is that like all new technologies, the cellphone has gone from pretentious novelty to widespread necessity. If you don't think it is a necessity, then you just don't get what the 21st century is about. You're (I mean you in a general sense, not directing it at anyone) ticked off that cars today have all of these computers instead of a good old fashioned carburetor. Hey, that old Nova gets 11 miles to the gallon, spews tons of exhaust, and makes very little power compared to a modern computer controlled engine a fraction of its size. The point is, we begrudge advances in technology, but fail to really see how they improve our lives. Sure, it drives me nuts when some big honcho starts hollering into his cellphone while I am dining. I hate him for it, but I have a feeling I would hate that guy anyway. Lots of people are inconsiderate jerks. Some of us realize we can hold a conversation with the person sitting across from us or a person on the phone in the same tone of voice. Heck, I have a wireless earpiece that allows me to talk without even holding the phone. Are you going to complain then?? Oh wait, that's right, I am being rude to my table mates, and you just can't have that. PUH-LEEZ.

On that subject, let me just say that often when I receive calls at dinner, the person sitting across from me (my wife) is just as interested in the call as I. We received news of our land purchase in a restaurant, as well as the rescue call for that cute fella that poses as my avatar. If I receive a call that shows the caller is just a friend or co-worker, and I can reasonably assess that the call is purely social, I don't take it. It WOULD be rude for me to interrupt my dinner and my dining mates' dinners. I have that sense, I don't need the restaurant, or eGullet posters, to tell me what is right and what is wrong.


"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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Part of my problem is that I cannot understand the urgency in most cases to talk with someone who is not there during one's dinner. I did not suggest that restaurants enforce our good or bad manners. I am suggesting, however, that all people should re-examine their manners from time to time, and that in view not only of the century in which we live but the company we want to keep.

Let me ask you this, do you turn off the ringer on your home phones? If your home phone does ring during dinner, do you answer it? Is there a difference between the urgency in that call, and the urgency in a restaurant call? Do you exhibit bad manners when you answer your home phone during a meal? Is it the cellphone that makes you uncomfortable?

Just curious


"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 fine my students if their phone rings during a seminar.

I don't see why restaurants should not adopt the same policy.

It is the same principle as anything that disturbs the other diners in the same space - noisy children, noisy drunks, shouting matches...

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Part of my problem is that I cannot understand the urgency in most cases to talk with someone who is not there during one's dinner. I did not suggest that restaurants enforce our good or bad manners. I am suggesting, however, that all people should re-examine their manners from time to time, and that in view not only of the century in which we live but the company we want to keep.

Let me ask you this, do you turn off the ringer on your home phones? If your home phone does ring during dinner, do you answer it? Is there a difference between the urgency in that call, and the urgency in a restaurant call? Do you exhibit bad manners when you answer your home phone during a meal? Is it the cellphone that makes you uncomfortable?

Just curious

This question wasn't directed at me, but it seems fairly obvious that some people don't mind cellphones, for all the reasons already listed, and some do. Most people probably don't mind *all* cellphone talk in restaurants, only the loud obnoxious stuff.

In answer to your question about home phones: most people I know do not carry on extended conversations on their home phones when they have guests over. They may answer the phone bu tthey keep it short and/or tell the other person they'll call back. I don't think most people I know even expect to talk for a long time on the phone with anyone else in the room. As with the cellphone thing, I think you're not asking the right questions. The question should not be, "Why would anyone mind?" It should be "Why would anyone need to?" In how many cases do you really need to have a conversation with a bunch of people as your captive audience? And why would you want to?"

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I find it really amazing that this subject has aroused so much discussion. I was trying to think about why there could be disagreement over whether cell phone usage in public is rude, and I toyed with the possibility that perhaps because I've been on the wrong end of so much cell phone rudeness, I am too sensitive to it.

Once, a friend of mine asked me to do him a large favor. He was having trouble with his car and wanted to take it to a dealership for maintenance, and this dealership was about a half hour away from where we live. At his request, I followed him in my car, driving behind him to make sure no essential parts fell off the car, making sure that he would not need any roadside assistance. When we got to the dealership, I waited for him to make arrangements for the work to be done, and then I drove him back to the complex where we lived. Upon getting into my passenger seat, he pulled out his cell phone and called a friend of his in Pittsburgh, said hello and told his friend what he was doing, then proceeded to catch up on goings-on, having a long conversation with his friend.

Frankly, I was dumbstruck. Here I was doing him a favor, and he was very clearly letting me know that I'm a good enough friend to ask a favor of, but not good enough to entertain him with my conversation on the ride back. Now, I know he didn't mean to be rude, but I was astounded that he simply didn't know what an affront this was, being somewhat younger than I am and growing up in some sort of strange culture where people apparantly ignore everything else the moment they feel like using their cell phones.

I still have not managed to tell him that this upset me, because I just cannot think of a polite way to educate someone about this matter of etiquette. The way I did respond, however, was to become conveniently unavailable when he wanted to ask the ensuing favor of a ride to fetch his car when it was finished.

But it occurs to me that, because I work with the public and see a large slice of human behavior, the percentage of people who know how to use cell phones politely is much, much smaller than the percentage who do not. And so, the only effective way of dealing with this that we have at my restaurant is to ban both polite and impolite people from using cell phones. Perhaps those of you who are unconvinced that this is the best course of action can come to where I work and see the boorish behavior I'm talking about for yourselves, because I'm sure you'd be convinced within a day if you saw what I've seen.

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>>Frankly, I was dumbstruck. Here I was doing him a favor, and he was very clearly letting me know that I'm a good enough friend to ask a favor of, but not good enough to entertain him with my conversation on the ride back. Now, I know he didn't mean to be rude, but I was astounded that he simply didn't know what an affront this was, being somewhat younger than I am and growing up in some sort of strange culture where people apparantly ignore everything else the moment they feel like using their cell phones.>>

That kind of thing amazes me too.

Another thing that amazes me is the content of some of these conversations. I commute on a train, where you can't expect people not to talk on their cellphones, but it amazes me to hear doctors talking about their patients (by name) and that sort of thing.

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I find it really amazing that this subject has aroused so much discussion.

not I .. I think it is such a "hot button" issue, that there will be even more discussion on this ...


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I find it really amazing that this subject has aroused so much discussion.

not I .. I think it is such a "hot button" issue, that there will be even more discussion on this ...

Yes, it is. I think my amazement is more along the lines of there being anyone on the side of the unrestrained cell phone use. Clearly, people's ideas of good manners vary but I don't understand the "get over it" attitude. Most of the cell phone use people find bothersome does not seem to me to be necessary at all.

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Another thing that amazes me is the content of some of these conversations. I commute on a train, where you can't expect people not to talk on their cellphones, but it amazes me to hear doctors talking about their patients (by name) and that sort of thing.

I recall a piece I heard some time back on NPR on cellphone use and, how in Italy, the cars of the train were so loud with all of the people on cell phones shouting over each other, that the rail line had designated cars which were completely cell phone free .. simply quiet and restful for tired commuters ... :wink:


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Enforced tipping... how wrong is that?? Tipping (To 'Insure' Promptness = TIP).

Its frustrating when people don't tip, but I believe that it should be voluntary. It's what keeps waiters on their toes.

When I waitered, I enjoyed the challenge of earning my tip - It gave me a little more drive and helped keep a smile on my face even when I didn't feel like it

Interesting. So you feel the system that exists in most of the world outside the U.S. is wrong? How does that wrongness reflect itself in terms of lousy service in Italy, France, China, Japan, etc.?

Exsqueeze me...? don't get your question. My stand is that forced tipping is wrong. Forced tipping does not guarantee good service in any way, shape or form.

Forced tipping would be rather hypocritical wouldn't it? It is of course quite another thing to pay people a living wage to do a professional job. If not, then I should have taken 15% percent off the price I paid for that shirt because the sales clerk was rude, or just didn't wrap my package fast enough for my taste. The most reasonable argument I've ever heard in regard to compensation of restaurant workers was that they all be paid a reasonable salary and that those who couldn't perform professionally should be fired. We would have to raise restaurant prices.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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(g) I think there should be special torture chambers established (I exaggerate but only a bit) for clients who treat waitstaff as inferiors.  There is no excuse to perceive waitstaff as servants or to speak rudely to them.

This is the only one I disagree with, Waitstaff are servants -- not my personal servants, but they are there to serve me. They are servants of the restaurant (in the technical legal sense) and they are my social inferiors in that context . Obviously you shouldn't speak rudely to them, but treating servants rudely has always been one of the most loathsome things I have seen (I lead a sheltered life).

Of course when someone performs a service, they are a servant. The man who removed my gall baldder was no more than a servant too I suppose. Any my social inferior in that context? I don't think so. The man is serving you in a professional capacity when he serves your table. It is not a social issue.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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