Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Errors peculiar to servers in restaurants

Invariably when I eat at a restaurant, the server takes my wife's order first, and then turns to me and says: "And yourself?"

I refrain from responding that "yourself", like "myself", "herself", etc., is an emphatic or reflexive pronoun, as in,

You, yourself, must fill in the form.


Did you hurt yourself?

What the server should say is, "And you?"

Not too much later she (more often than not, the server is a woman, so I'll continue with the feminine pronoun) returns with the meal, puts it down, and says, Enjoy!"

"Enjoy" is a transitive verb, I stop myself from shouting. It needs an object. Enjoy what? The ambience, the wine, the food?

She probably means "Enjoy your food!" because 15 minutes later, she comes back and says, "How's your meal going so far?

Now this is a little worrying. Why does she want a progress report? Are there some unpleasant surprises ahead?  Did the chef lose a filling in the food and she's wondering who's going to find it?

But all seems to be going well. We have almost finished our meal, and are deep in conversation, when, noticing only a few chips left on my plate, she interrupts to say, "Are you done?"

Here is some advice to servers. It's really common sense, but must be quite different from the training that many restaurants offer.

  • Greet your diners politely. Cut the small talk, such as "How's your day going so far?" or, as I've heard in Australia, "How are yous going, all right?"
  • Bring our drinks right away.
  • Interrupt us only to take orders. Dispense with the customary mid-meal check. We would rather be left alone.
  • Don't take away our plates prematurely.
  • Above all, be grammatically correct.

I  always leave an extra tip for grammatically correct servers.

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