patience is possibly the most valuable virtue to a server and i do my best to keep this in mind while at work. if someone holds me hostage at their table while they take ten minutes to decide what they want to eat, i may be seething inside and curling my toes and writing a “to do” list on my dupe pad, but not in a way that will draw they’re attention. the fact that my patience is usually well-compensated makes everyone more bearable.
there are, to be fair, certain times when i’m more susceptible to fury and frustration than others. these occur on especially busy nights, when a table is seated for the third or fourth time in an evening, or when i’m hungry or hung over. hunger makes for the most nasty version of me. there are also certain customer behaviors that are more likely to put me over the edge. touching me to get my attention is absolutely one of those things. and lately, something new has been cropping up; customers asking for water when their glass is more than three quarters full.
i’ve struggled to think of an acceptable reason for this request. is it because people don’t think anyone will fill their water when it gets legitimately low? why the lack of faith? someone is nearly always circling our dining room with a water pitcher. where are these people used to dining? as a diner, i actually wish waiters would leave my glass alone until i was actually near the bottom and skip the constant topping off.
can this fall into the “because of the recession” category like so many other things lately? are people unconsciously hoarding their water, one of the few free things at a restaurant? or, even worse, is it a control issue? do (some!) diners like to make demands of their servers simply because they can, because it makes them feel special to ask for something, no matter how unnecessary, and have it delivered to them?
the other day a gentleman (simply the generic word for a male customer) was finishing his glass of water as i approached with the water pitcher. it’s not a subtle pitcher; in fact, it’s rather bulbous and awkwardly large. i paused near his table so he could return the glass to the table so i might refill it. instead of doing so, however, he persisted to keep the upturned glass to his lips, making sucking sounds while attempting to tongue any last condensation from it.
this tiny drama gave my suspicion a strong nod of confirmation. these water tantrums weren’t about not having enough water (or this guy would have just let me refill his glass), but something more petty.
by the way, march 22-28 is world water week, and the week many local restaurants participate in unicef’s tap project. diners are asked to donate a dollar to improve drinking water in places where there aren’t waiters to refill your riedel stem wear with pelligrino. hopefully there will soon be a list of participating seattle restaurant’s here.