Friday, May 08, 2009

When you hold meetings in a restaurant

I had tea/breakfast with a business associate this morning in a restaurant located in a business complex.

The complex is one of those luxury premises where a number of buildings are enclosed in a park-like environment, with facilities like restaurants, gym etc included inside.

I arrived an hour earlier than the set meeting time, because I was travelling across town and left my house earlier to avoid peak-hour traffic.

It did take me a while to get service once I was seated, but I was so busy working on my laptop that it was a non-issue.

And once the staff were aware of me, they were quick to take my order, bring me tea etc.

I was just about to start eating when my associate arrived. “You’re not going to eat here, are you?” he said loudly.

He then went to explain that the food offered by the restaurant chain is really bad and that he has stopped eating there. I chose the restaurant because it looked OK and was close to my client; had never eaten there, so I had no way of knowing how they perform.

But their servings were very generous, and I paid about half of what I would have paid elsewhere for a similar or comparable meal. And other than an overly-generous hand with the salt, the food was quite good, actually.

I was just thinking “different strokes for different folks,” when a waitress came to take his order, and he asked for black coffee.

“Do you want milk separately, “ the waitress asked.

“Black coffee means that it is without milk,” he snapped. Then he looked at me with a smirk, as if to say, “Look at me. I am a big man and I can put this one in her place rather quickly.”

OK, I admit it. Black coffee does mean without milk, but what was the point of dissing her like that? Why not say, “No milk, thank you,” and leave it at that?

From a young age I learnt that we had to treat anyone who provides help with a lot of respect. Firstly, they are providing you with a service. Secondly, stomping on the help is an act of a coward, because they can’t fight back. Whatever they think of your boorish behaviour, wait staff have to swallow their words, smile and say “yes, sir.”

When we paid, he stiffed the wait staff off their tip.


It makes me uneasy to work with someone who stomps on people who are weaker, because one day he just might decide that I'm also weak ( because I'm polite) and try his luck with me.

He's have a fight on his hands, but still.....

Anyway, it made me wonder: how do you treat the wait staff when you go out to dinner/when you work in a coffee shop for the day /when you hold meetings in coffee shops, especially when they don’t give you adequate service?

And how do you react if when the person you’re meeting is rude to staff?

Do you agree with me that one should always be polite to staff, because they don't have the power you have? Or do you believe that you have to drive helpers harder to get the service you deserve?

And in case you're wondering about the relevance of the issue to you as a writer or work at home professional, I'm sure you, like me, hold a number of meetings in restaurants and coffee shops. Or maybe, sometimes you can't stand your house anymore and go to these places for a change in scenery.


Ms Lona Lee Hart said...

A person who treats the help worse than the boss speaks volumes about his/her own self esteem.I think you treat the waitrons with respect and if the service is really bad, you reflect it in a reduced tip or no tip at all and you explain why you were unhappy. BUT you don't disrespect the waitrons. Pardon me but that man's behaviour was totally boorish.

Joan said...

I agree with you Sam. You need to treat the waitrons the way you would like to be treated by someone else. Some of those people work two jobs to make ends meet and I take my hat off to them that they come to work and help you with a smile.

People like your business associate are *holes in my humble opinion.

If I were a waitron I would have "accidently" dumped his HOT black coffee in his lap!

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