Monday, October 12, 2015

Leave me Alone, she cries in despair!

By Vicki Delany

Rick’s post last week about the decreasing complexity of our language, reminded me of something else that’s been bugging me.

Speaking of bugging me… Has anyone noticed that you can’t have a peaceful meal in a restaurant any more?

When Linda Wiken and I were travelling down to Virginia over the summer for the mystery authors’ festival, we stopped for dinner at a moderately upscale restaurant. We were interrupted twice by the waiter asking if everything was okay, once by the hostess, and once by the manager.

It was so annoying that we talked about it. And since then, I’ve been counting.

On my own later trip to the Outer Banks I was seated in an Applebee’s, iPad open in front of me. I order my meal, it arrives. She comes back to ask if it’s okay. Yes, thank you. Back she comes again, how’s everything? Fine, I said, instead of saying, “it’s exactly the same as it was last time you were here.”

Then AGAIN she comes while I’m still eating to say, “Can I put a dessert order in for you?” Okay, I lost it. I said, “You’ve interrupted me three times now.” I must say, she looked shocked.

Yes, I know they’re told they have to do this, but the question I have is why.

This isn’t customer service; it’s the opposite of customer service. They will only deal with you on their terms at a time convenient to them.

Try to actually need something from a waiter in one of these places and they rush past with eyes averted or whirl like an elf warrior in battle in a LOTR movie to change direction.

Customer service is helping the customer when they need it, not forcing yourself on them at a time that happens to be convenient.

Imagine Carson the butler leaning over the Dowager Duchess the moment she put her soup spoon into her mouth and asking if everything is okay.

I blame Wal Mart. In Canada we used to be able to walk into a store and we’d be left alone to mind our own business. No one rushed to ‘greet’ us and ask us if we’re having a nice day, and tell us to be sure and ask if we need anything. Then came Wal Mart and their cursed greeters and it was all downhill from there.
My day is none of your business, and I get that the point of having a clerk is to help if the customer needs it.

Bad enough, but nothing is as bad as this constant interruption by wait staff who don’t know how to subtly pay attention to what’s going on in their restaurant and intervene if the customer needs anything.

I’ll accept one interruption as the new normal. I think I’m going to start pointing out at two or more that I don’t like it.

Who's with me?


Aline Templeton said...

Me, Vicky, me! It is so annoying. It's worse if you're with someone, having a conversation,and the waitress comes over several times to ask if eveything's all right. I don't know whether it's worse when they just rudely break in, or when they stand hovering until it becomes too uncomfortable to ignore them.

Perhaps we need to be more honest. Once, provoked by a a badly-cooked, half-cold,tasteless meal that I'd left most of,I said, 'Since you ask,no. It was horrible, actually' She squeaked in shock and disappeared. No one paid any attention but at least I had my say!

Charlotte Hinger said...

I'm with you Vicki. It's so irritating.

Donis Casey said...

My worst "customer service" experience was when a store clerk took it upon himself to try and make me smile, which only made me want to bite him. "Why look so glum?" he asked. I got out of there as fast as I could. Afterwards, which is when I get my best ideas, I wished I had told him that my dog had just died or my husband had just left me or that I had just been indicted for murder.