Tales of a City Girl

The perils of the super-perky waiters (and an apology)

Dear Tales of a City Girl fan(s) – I owe you an apology. As if Facebook wasn’t enough of a minefield of guilt trips, it also snidely reminds me every time I log in that it’s been over 45 days since I posted anything TOACG related. Let me explain.

I decided, after the whole leaving my job joy, July was going to be a month of total relaxation, consisting of nothing much more than holidays, birthdays, weddings, eating out, lie-ins, and signing for ASOS deliveries. Now I have returned, as plump and content as a king (although kings probably don’t get plump from all-inclusive fries and Spanish gin in an Ibiza resort). My freelancing head is now back on, and I have over-compensated by going a bit late twenties crisis –hence going to pay a deposit for my tattoo today (OK…); signing up for a street dance taster class tonight (interesting); and a half marathon in Amsterdam in October (right then).

I’m also returning to blogging. Promise. No more excuses. Starting off with a contentious pet hate… of the over-friendly waiter.

A couple of months ago, Dan and I, tired and lacking the desire to cook anything, went to a popular burger branch (the one that sounds like a famous beach in Australia…). We could barely be arsed to speak to each other, let alone anyone else. Unfortunately, the waiting staff had a different idea.

‘Hiiiii, how’s it going lovebirds? Have you been working today? You haven’t? Well, what have you been up to? Enjoying this weather, eh? Good for this time of the year, at least there’s no rain, hoho. Now what cheese did you say you wanted with your burger? That, my friend, is a very smart choice. You know your cheese right?’

Mate. This girl could not have been a smoker. Her lung capacity for chatting was absurd.

She wasn’t the only one either. Every waiter that served us was just that wee bit too bright, that wee bit too verbal. It was like they were high on the burger life, and just wanted you to feel the beef vibes too.

I know – I sound cruel and I don’t mean to. I’m aware that this super-energised approach is filtered down from management, who have probably drilled it into their waiting and front of house staff that they should be as chipper as possible – to paint on the smiles, and plaster on the fake conversations – and that is the way to get return customers. I dunno, maybe it works for some people. For me, it just doesn’t. I’m already there. The menu is in my hand. Short of slapping me in the face, you’ve got my business and sometimes I want to go out for dinner simply because I’m tired and want something I know is going to be tasty. Of course, someone rude or sullen is never nice to deal with and when I was a waitress I always tried to be efficient and helpful – but isn’t acting like you’re trying for a new Facebook friend a step too far?

Adventure Bar is also notorious for this. At my birthday party a few years ago, I asked one of the barmen why they were all so jolly. With a rictus grin that didn’t quite meet his hollow eyes, he told me that management was always on them to be happy and smiley, and if they weren’t, they were disciplined for it. ‘Surely that must be awful?’ I remember laughing. ‘Yes, yes it is’ was his solemn reply.

So, if the staff don’t enjoy it and the customers don’t enjoy it, what is it with the uber-friendliness? What do you think? Am I being unfair or does this annoy you too?