I’m sure you’ve experienced this moment. You are out to eat with friends at a bustling restaurant. You listen to the conversation, taking a large bite of your savory dish as the server checks on the table.
“Everything alright with your meal?” the server says, in between stops to other tables and the kitchen, “Need anything?”
I look up with my mouth full. Things are fine, I don’t need anything. I want to acknowledge that I appreciate the attentiveness, but I can’t say anything while I’m chewing. So I nod vigorously, smiling with my mouth closed or offer an idiotic gesture like the thumbs up sign in a poor form of food service sign language.
Add the fact that the server surprises me with the table visit. I usually don’t see him or her coming up. I put the fork in my mouth countless times just as he or she starts speaking.
At least with ordering my food, I figured that out. I alert a tablemate that I probably won’t see when the server silently looks at me, so tell me when I’m up. As I wait to place my order, I watch the server’s face as it rotates to each person at the table, not wanting to break contact and be caught off guard.
Don’t I walk into the restaurant with my white cane you ask. Sure. But once the host seats us, I might fold it up and place it behind me. The servers don’t watch everyone arrive, and I can’t tell when people stare at me. I’m focused on walking. Sitting at the table, I pass for sighted except when I’m using my LED magnifier to read the menu if I didn’t look at the menu online at home. And, even that doesn’t always clue in the server. The table still gets asked, “Are you ready to order?” at a busy place.
I care because I worked enough in the service industry to want to offer attention and patience to people who are trying to take care of me. I don’t want to end up in the next installment of Waiter Rant. I shake my head at people using cell phones at registers. I cringe when I witness people acting rude to servers. I wouldn’t be able to do the job hour after hour, sighted or not.
Have you seen rudeness in restaurants? What strategies to you use at a restaurant to interact with your server?