Recently I was invited to dinner at a local eatery. I have often walked past but until last weekend, I had never dined there. It has open-air tables situated in a casual dining strip and this, I guess, was what formed my view that the menu and service would be café-like.
We sat down at a table inside and I commented on the crisp, white linen tablecloth with perfectly folded napkins that lay alongside the polished cutlery. “This place is much more formal than I imagined”, I said.
I was pleasantly surprised.
We’re in for a treat tonight, I thought.
As I was mentally devouring each meal etched in chalk on the Specials Board, a tall, dark waiter with a well-groomed beard approached. He stopped at our table, smiled, paused and asked…
“How are youse tonight? Good?”.
I was tempted to break into my best Effie impersonation.
“Maaate, how embarrashment.”
From that moment, for me, the eatery regained its café status.
It wasn’t just his poor use of English that grated on me. He was extremely casual in manner, inviting himself – albeit jokingly – to sit and dine with us. Then he asked, “where are we gunna party after?”. I was chuckling inside, but stopped short of telling him I’d be partying asleep in my own bed and he wasn’t welcome.
He was friendly and harmless, and shared comments of how he enjoys drinking too much. Good for you mate, I thought. Except we’re not (mates).
Hey. The night was what it was and I truly enjoyed myself – more for the company at our dinner table than his waiting style. There’s no denying that he left an indelible impression and I’m in no rush to go back.
Why? Am I snobby?
Um, I don’t consider myself to be… But I am curious whether I’m becoming more the exception than the norm with my preference for manners and etiquette remaining in traditional areas like restaurant table service.
We’re getting more casual as a society as a whole. It’s not a bad thing.
Jeans have crept into the workplace, which I love.
Mobile phones are used for texting and emailing during business meetings, which I’ll tolerate if the focus remains on the discussion at hand.
The three Rs are no longer important within the school curriculum. Now that does worry me.
And waiters want to be your friend rather than your waiter.
Tell me, how do youse feel about that?