Thursday, November 16, 2006

Check, Please...

I have issues with restaurants. Well, it's really only two issues. But they are biggies...

Certain restaurants have their very own unique traditions, and folks will often return to their favorite eateries because of them. That's nice. Then there are what I call "common practice" traditions. These are the traditions that nearly all restaurants feel the need to follow - as if by some secret rule. Not being a worldly man, I'm sure there are many common practice traditions that have escaped my impatient notice. But there are two in particular that rarely fail to annoy me when I encounter them. The first one is the best known to restaurant-goers everywhere: You are stuffing your mouth full of food when the waiter/waitress comes by and has to ask you, "How is your food?" You can barely speak, of course, so most often you simply shake your head or give them the thumbs up, or some other labored response. Then they turn right around and ask you how everything was at the end of your meal, anyway. Why do restaurants insist on this practice? I can think of no one I know who enjoys this happening to them. Who could possibly want the waitstaff to ask him questions while his mouth is full of food? If there is a problem with the food, you would say something, no? And if you are just too shy or polite to say anything on your own, the chances are good that you're still not going to complain when they ask you if the food stinks.

So just let me eat my meal, please. I'll answer all of your questions later.

The second common practice is probably less noticeable, unless you're a single person, such as myself. You're finishing up your $11.89 meal, you've got a $20 bill on the table, and you ask for your check. The waitress brings it over, sets it down - and then quickly walks away! You have to act fast and quickly speak up in order to prevent her from darting off, otherwise you've got about a ten minute wait before she finds her way back to you. And you haven't even got your change back, yet.

This seriously annoying practice probably exists because they want to give you some time to calculate your tip, or - if you are a party of two or more - figure out who owes what portion of the bill. But really, when you are dining alone and you have your money out to pay, can there be any doubt in any waitstaff's mind that you wish to pay and leave NOW? As far as calculating the tip goes, I've already decided how much the tip will be before my food even gets to me: If the meal is $8.00-to-$14.00, you get $2.00. If it's $15.00-to-$20.00, you're getting three bucks. (Keep me waiting too long to cash out, and those amounts can be lowered.) I don't eat anywhere that costs me much more than that.

Nine out of ten times, when a patron asks for his check, he his indicating that he intends to leave. So why piss him off when you're just minutes away from a satisfied customer?


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