So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Interesting cultural notation

From our friends at Waitersfriend (Australian waiter-centric site long on information and short on fluff and frilly stuff):

7.  American Ladies are not comfortable with Madam as it suggests they are female pimps.  Ma’am is suitable.

In case you were wondering what #7 indicates, this is a list of ways that Australian waiters can increase their tips (do’s and don’ts).

Here’s a good example about how cultural differences matter. I never would have thought in a million years that madam would make a difference with an American woman. Of course, we don’t call anyone “madam” these days, but not because of the implication but because it’s a rather archaic term that sounds like something you’d hear in a Sherlock Holmes mystery or a Victorian potboiler. Maybe it makes the woman feel “dowdy”.

I kid at the expense of my Australian brothers, of course, but also want to acknowlege that waiters everywhere should pay attention to what works for them, especially when dealing with foreign cultures. People are different around the globe and we can’t always rely on our “mental rolodex” to supply us with the correct answer when confronting someone from a different culture. (And US travelers shouldn’t be so judgmental when it comes to terms that might be common in other cultures – I’m guessing that Madam isn’t a hidebound term for a lady in parts of the world where they still speak a variation of the Queen’s English – it’s probably quite posh and proper).

Finally, this:

6.  Always check for wedding rings before referring to a man’s company as Mrs……… they may not be married and it is usually a sensitive subject as to why the bloody hell not!

Yes, even older people who might look and act like they’ve been married for years might actually not be married. And they might even be wearing wedding rings – perhaps they’re both widow/ers and have kept their rings as a connection to the departed. Unless you know for sure that the spouse has taken the name of their husband, stay away from caller her Mrs. Whatever. I know women who have kept their last names or have hyphenated theirs with their husbands. You just never know.

And a corollary to this is something that I learned when doing Country Club dining for a short period – always be careful about referring to previous visits by regulars. Sometimes regulars don’t want their dining partners to know that they were in the restaurant last week. This could be for either business or personal reasons. This is where knowing your regulars is important. You have to know how much information you can give. I would say that a “Nice to see you again, Mr. Daltry” poses little risk as opposed to, “Why Mr. Daltry, your charming companion has gone from blonde to redhead – it looks smashing”! Or “Mr. Daltry, how did your lunch with Mr. Page go last week”. You might find out that his business partner, Mr. Townsend, might be surprised to find out that he’s talking to a heated rival.

Here’s the entire post, many of the things listed not being specific to just Australia and sage advice indeed…

http://www.waitersfriend.com.au/blog/2010/02/ten-tips-for-better-tips/

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