Dear Salty: It’s snowing on a Friday night, and I decide I’ve been cooped up enough to head to the BBQ down the street. It’s not a 5 star restaurant, but it is definitely not a walk up fast food place either. I am male. I ask to sit at the bar, and I am the only one sitting at the bar. The male bartender acknowledges me, gets me a menu, and takes my order—no conversation, but politely handles the necessary essentials. Then he goes back to watching the basketball game. Shortly after walks in a single attractive girl. He immediately turns into service overload, and then I am in the middle of a conversation about both their interests, day, hobbies, ski trips, and what interests them on a Friday night. It’s not like I want to date the guy, but am I wrong in thinking this is a reflection of his service?
Not as cute as the girl next to me
Dear Cutie Pie,
The answer to your question, honey bun, depends on how much you value conversation as part of your service experience. You got your menu, you got your order, it sounds like you even got silverware and a napkin. Did you want a little chat, too? Was there something that prevented you from asking him, “So, how ’bout them [fill in your team name here]?” or “Lotta snow tonight, huh?” Or did you just fix your peepers on the TV or your phone until a cute gal popped up next to you?
Servers and bartenders—at least ones who truly care about providing good service or getting a good tip—try to gauge how much a customer wants to interact. Sometimes we’re wrong. As, apparently, the bartender was in your case.
Maybe he thought that a single woman might feel a little awkward alone at a bar. Or maybe he was just chatting up a cute girl. Whatever the case, doll, life isn’t a Montessori school. Things aren’t going to be perfectly fair. Sometimes, in the words of the great philosophers the Rolling Stones, you can’t always get what you want (conversation), but you get what you need (napkins and a beer). But you know what? Chitchat with an underworked bartender isn’t an unreasonable thing to want, if that’s part of your definition of good service. All you’ve got to do is open your mouth.
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