Friday, April 20, 2012

The Running Server: Hospitality PR

Tonight, I had the pleasure of waiting on an ornery old man and 13 of his friends. I already resisted throwing food at him took care of him the night before and it seemed the rest of the company he was in was well aware of his... how do I put this diplomatically? Idiosyncrasies. I got to know them as the evening wore on and came to the understanding that I would have to "take one for the team" and go ahead and volunteer myself to wait on him and his party again tonight. Even though he yelled at our chef about a glass of wine that took half and hour (5 minutes) when he arrived to deliver his cooked-up steak (ordered medium, served medium, but still "too bloody"), and basically seemed to find a reason to send me off running for something every time I approached the table. I figured I would have a leg up on everyone else in knowing what exactly I would be in store for waiting on him for a second time in a row.

By the end of his dinner, he seemed to love me. I piled on the "ya'll"s and the southern charm and said "absolutely" and "certainly" a lot. Never mind that I'm from NY. Normally, when a guest gives me a hard time, I just can't wait for them to go. I don't know why, but I just had to win my way into this man's heart. And before anyone rushes to assume that I did it for the tip, the party was at a set dollar amount with gratuity included. Essentially, I would not have made a penny more or less regardless of whether I asked "how high?" each time he told me to jump.

I don't know why, but I felt it was really important to get this man to like me and, at the very least, not yell at our chef again. Well, my mission succeeded. Obviously we want ALL of our guests to leave happy, but it's especially nice when it's someone you thought no one would be able to please. We'll call it a serving PR of sorts.

Just a little life lesson for today: Sometimes it is the thing you want to do the least that will bring you the most reward.

Even better than making the old man happy was how happy his wife was that we were able to (mostly) please him. I think they had been married for 52 years or something like that and she has been running interference of just as long between him and any other waitstaff he's encountered. My true reward for the night was how thrilled and happy SHE was - probably that she didn't have to apologize for him or listen him go on about how crappy he thought everything was afterwards.

And even though we had to cook his steak up - again - he was more than happy to have the rest of his meal remain in front of him while we cooked up three slices of sirloin.

I win at serving. The end.

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