Archive | January, 2012

The Waiter Rule

18 Jan

What impression do you want to leave people with? Maybe it is of certainty, of power. Or perhaps it’s as humble. Whatever it may be, most likely you choose positive attributes. But there are a certain few people whose negative personas show through and leave a lasting mark. And those character flaws are most blatantly obvious in this situation: Going out to dinner.
In a USA Today article, it was described as “the Waiter Rule.” That you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she treats a waiter.
Raytheon CEO Bill Swanson first wrote about the idea in a book called “Swanson’s Unwritten Rules of Management,” — 33 of his leadership observations.
He said “A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter, or to others, is not a nice person.”
“Watch out for people who have a situational value system, who can turn the charm on and off depending on the status of the person they are interacting with. Be especially wary of those who are rude to people perceived to be in subordinate roles.”
I can vouch for that.
While out for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory recently, a friend and I were seated quite close to a middle-aged couple (a little too close for comfort, I might add.)
At first, I thought nothing of the duo, other than they were dressed nice. Talking about their children, their jobs — you know, commonplace talk. But after awhile, my table was quite absorbed with the two, because of their manners or lack thereof. We didn’t even make much conversation due to our astonishment.
First, the couple made the waiter repeat all of the specials at least three times. Which is fine, maybe they were hard of hearing. But then the woman asked about the tea selection. The wine selection. The water selection. What?
After the waiter was gone, anytime another server (not their own) walked by, the husband snapped his fingers at them with a new demand. Not exaggerating on the snapping part. An absolute no-no in my book.
“I need a knife for this bread, did you think I couldn’t eat it without one?” (Always a non-subtle jab accompanying the request.)
“I need a new knife this one isn’t clean enough.”
“Did you think the last one was clean? This is worse.”
Finally after receiving a third knife, it was time for refills. Of his soda. Of his wife’s hot water for her tea. Twice. Before the appetizers.
A nervous waiter accidentally brought my table’s food to theirs. Which was mass hysteria. The horror! The rude male brought that to their and our attention. And when their fancy fish appetizers came, the table was too small for all of their food. Didn’t think we would ever hear the end of that one. The waiter had to apologize for the smallness of the furniture, even if it was the company’s design.
Ten minutes or so after their appetizers arrived, their food did as well. The husband sat and berated the two female servers for bringing the food out so early.
“Send it back, bring it in five minutes. It better be warm,” he said while shaking his finger at them. It was not a joke. They were shocked and my jaw stayed open at his unabashed remarks.
Our waiter (who wasn’t his) was avidly avoiding their table while trying to wait on ours. My companion and I tried to convey our apologies through eye language.
“We’re sooo sorry. We aren’t anything like this. Hope the rest of your night goes well.” (I hope he understood the eye movements and eyebrow raises as such. Otherwise, we just looked plain crazy.)
I even suggested that he didn’t need to get our cheesecake for us and that we would pick it up at the register and eat it at home, so as to not inconvenience him. (He smiled, and I think then understood that we were sending our sympathies.)
While we stood up to leave, the snapping by the gentleman (or non-gentleman) continued toward another poor unsuspecting waiter.
I wanted to turn around and tell him how rude he was — how he was making other people’s lives miserable while trying to assert his dominance. Was he lacking in something and trying to compensate for it? Or has he just always been allowed to behave in such a way? But I just shook my head, hoping he’d see my disregard for his behavior. If he did see it, I am sure he wouldn’t have gotten it.
All I knew is that he was a jerk. And all the waiters, servers and bartenders knew it. The people sitting around the couple knew it.
People like that want others to know they are above them. When, yes, maybe they have more money or a more prestigious job, but that’s it. Maybe they hope that others will talk about them, in jealousy — but for us, we just talked of the couple’s notoriety. Not the same thing.
I believe what Swanson says about people who are rude to those they feel are beneath them. Completely.
And I also believe that some waiters will spit in your food if you aren’t careful. Just saying.


The politician and your ex

4 Jan

The sound of silence. Sweet, sweet silence.

Have you noticed anything different today? If the answer is no, think a bit harder. Has your phone been ringing off the hook?

Unless the bill collectors are after you, it’s likely that it’s not ringing every 15 minutes as it had been pre-caucus season.

It’s beautiful, right? To be left alone, not to have the constant chirp of robo calls and political surveys echoing in your ear. To not come home to an answering machine chuck full of politicians greeting you with their monotone voices.

No matter if your are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever your party affiliation – you have to admit that the months of campaigning can be downright frustrating. It starts out slowly, with a few people dipping their toes in the water, just to see what it may be like. Will it be icy cold or lukewarm, they wonder? Will they be popular and get endorsements?

“I’m scared!” “No one likes me,” or “That’s okay, I’ll just go,” are some thoughts that potential candidates have – and they pack up and move along the road. But the ones with the most stamina and ambition (and cold hard cash) stay. Tenacious, these few good men and women work the crowds. With their massive blown-out hair and gleaming white teeth, the candidates wave at the crowds, eat fried chicken at barbecues and pick up screaming babies, remarking “Oh, how adorable.”

But that fakeness starts to show through, as they bare their teeth in political ads, attacking the current president, the other candidates and anything else considered vile to their party. “I hate circus clowns,” “Trees are revolting,” “If I were president, I would outlaw scales.” Things like that.

It gets old, we get tired and we just want to move on. So badly.

If you think about it, political candidates are not far off from another nightmarish creature: The Ex.

The relationship starts, it blossoms and love seems to spring eternal. It’s blissful and they make promises, you make them back and everything seems okay. But after awhile, you realize it’s not going to work out. So you let them down, ever so gently. But they don’t understand.

They keep calling you, coming to your town to see you, pleading and asking for you to give them a chance. “Hey, I’m just calling to see how you are,” “I want the same things you do,” and “Let’s change this world together.”

You’re ready to move on, to another person – another life. But the season of the ex doesn’t seem to end. So they continue to coax you, get in your face, but it gets angrier. They begin to attack other people who you have gone out with before, or people you may be considering for a relationship. Airing the dirty laundry of those that had supposedly ruined their chances.

“I’m the better person here,” “I can offer you what they don’t have,” “And they are a liar” are just a few of the snide comments thrown from their mouth.

Eventually they take the hint and leave. Just as the political season does.

But guys, don’t let that fool you. That ex-boyfriend, girlfriend or candidate will be back. For the next round. Unfortunately, sooner than you think

So the next time you get excited for a campaign or a relationship – remember this: Before it’s over, it gets worse. You may want it to be done, but they might not understand or take the hint.

Take care and relax for now. But if you haven’t changed your phone number, house number or zip code, realize that they haven’t forgotten. And they will call back.

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