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Service. With a Smile?

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So, I was at lunch with a friend one Friday. We were going for Guinness on tap and decided on Max & Erma's since the closer Guinness filling station was already packed out at 11:40am. The air conditioning was nice. The waiting area wasn't packed. We only had a fifteen minute wait ahead of us. Unfortunately, once the hostess led us to our table, the environment changed. Although the lighting was nice and low, the recessed lights above our table made me feel like I was on stage. But I thought, as the Russians say, "Ladno. Who cares about lighting when Guinness is coming."

Our server approached and asked us what we wanted to drink. "Do you have Guinness on tap?" I asked, double checking. "Not anymore. We have it in the can." he says. A can?! I look at my friend, "What do you think?" He says, "Well, it's better than Keystone." We ordered two waters and a couple of sandwiches.

I happened to notice our server interacting with other guests in his section, smiling, complementing, joking, laughing. Then, turning around to face us, he'd lose his smile, and all of a sudden he had a chip on his shoulder. "Sheesh," I thought, "What did we do?" Granted, the beer ordering episode may have come across a little picky. But he's the server, and I'm the food critic. That's the way it works. I didn't expect to figure out his attitude, nor was I too concerned about it.

Finishing our sandwiches, we had more time than we thought and decided to have coffee and banana cream pie, which wasn't bad for a chain-type restaurant. (Though I'd strongly recommend their CEO's nephew's restaurant for the most fantastic banana cream pie experience. It's at Oscar's in old Dublin, Ohio.) I even treated myself to Bailey's Irish Cream with my coffee.

And then a magical thing happened. The server's frown turned upside down. All of a sudden there were "Excellent!"s and "Would you care for this or that?"s coming out of his mouth. He carefully laid down fresh forks for the pie. He was smiling, complementing, joking, and laughing at our table now. We went from bare minimum service to getting the works. Did I feel special now?

Hardly. Having served and bartended at various restaurants in Columbus for some ten years, I quickly saw right through him. It was comical in the extreme. I could barely hide just how amused I was. Why? You see, faking nice for a possible four bucks just wasn't worth it to him, but faking nice for a possible eight bucks apparently was.

So why did I tip him twenty percent? Two reasons. First, he was prompt. Second, he was himself. There was no deception in him. It was actually his transparency that saved him. All of us have our faults, and it's been my observation that people are the most forgiving of one who is true to himself.

Besides, it made me laugh.

Created by abbyp
Last modified 2005-07-29 09:40 AM
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