An…Unusual Approach to Customer Service

The Curmudgeon and Mrs. Curmudgeon decided to treat themselves to a nice dinner out last weekend, choosing a place that’s part of a small chain (fewer than 50 restaurants across the country) that has good food, a nice, almost-elegant atmosphere, good service, and what an old girlfriend of The Curmudgeon might call a “sexy bar” (he thinks.  The Curmudgeon does not fancy himself much of a judge of what constitutes a sexy bar, but to this day, every time he enters a place with a bar he asks himself if it’s a sexy bar).

Having successfully resisted the temptation to respond to the question “Do you have reservations?” with “Yes, but we decided to come here anyway,” Mr. and Mrs. Curmudgeon were told that their table would be available shortly, so they waited in the non-waiting area by the front door. During the five or so minutes they stood there several parties finished their meals and left, and when they did, a member of the staff called out to them

Was everything excellent?

The first time Mr. and Mrs. Curmudgeon heard that it elicited a raised eyebrow, and the second time, a muted giggle.  (Well, from The Curmudgeon:  he can be a giggler.)

This happened several times, coming from several people, which meant this was not just one person’s awkward parting comment:  it was company policy.

And conspicuously,  no one – no one – responded to it.

Is The Curmudgeon mistaken in finding this slightly obnoxious, with its tacit planting of a seed in the hope of some Yelp grade inflation?

But the obnoxiosity, as the Carpenters once sang, had only just begun.

A few minutes after reaching their table, Mr. and Mrs. Curmudgeon were approached by their server.

I’m Tyler.  I’m your waiter and I’ll be guiding you through your experience tonight.

Again, muted giggles – followed, upon Tyler’s departure, with Mrs. Curmudgeon leaning across the table and quietly asking “Did it sound to you like he was going to be leading us on an acid trip tonight?”

Not that Mrs. Curmudgeon has been on any acid trips.

(Note to self:  inquire of Mrs. Curmudgeon if she has ever taken an acid trip.)

But seriously:  Tyler was going to be “guiding us through our experience”?  What the hell does THAT mean?

Then, while awaiting the arrival of appetizers (duck lollipops for The Curmudgeon, watermelon and tomato salad over arugula with feta cheese for Mrs. Curmudgeon), Mr. and Mrs. Curmudgeon overheard the seating of some new arrivals by the host:

Tyler will be your waiter and he will be providing you with excellent service tonight.

Another round of eye-rolling and tittering.

Finally, when Mr. and Mrs. Curmudgeon departed, they heard “Was everything excellent?” one more time – this time, though, directed at them.

And it took everything The Curmudgeon had to resist the temptation to turn around and tell the functionary who said it exactly what he felt about this implicit challenge to dare suggest that anything about the experience was less than excellent.

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  • OnlyGoodBooks  On July 5, 2018 at 7:54 am

    I used to have a similar experience at my Honda dealership. It became so oppressive that I complained.

    • foureyedcurmudgeon  On July 5, 2018 at 8:52 am

      It’s a real balancing act: you know they mean well, but it’s just so…obnoxious. That’s why I didn’t name the restaurant: because its intentions are good.

  • Peaches Shimmerdeep.  On July 7, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    I am laughing out loud. And wondering if it really was a “sexy bar”.

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