September 30, 2009

The lost art of being effectively charming

There are basically two types of male servers: those who are aloof but good at their jobs, and those who feel compelled to act silly or (I hate this word) charming. Think this. The first type are pretty forgettable but the second type make my skin crawl. The ones who saunter up to you and your grandma with a drawn-out "Hellooooo, laaaadieeees. How are we this fine evening?" A sly little wink here, perhaps a crazy flip of the ketchup bottle. Flirts with grandma a little bit, makes her feel like she's 40 again. You know the type. He probably won't even write down your order because he's just that good. He might even (wow!) sit down at your table while you give him your order. What a crazy guy! These are the kind of servers all the other servers hate because they kiss so much ass. Every normal server has a more-than-healthy level of cynicism but these guys are the type that are always upbeat, try to speak Spanish with the dishwashers and defend the customer when you bitch about one. Rest assured the rest of the kitchen and the waitstaff are all rolling their eyes at this douche.

I. hate. those. servers. But you know they need tips, so more power to them I guess.

What I hate even more is when the people with whom I am dining (most likely my boss or relatives) buy into that crap and think the dude really likes them or something. It's just uncomfortable for everyone, especially if you've been on both sides of the interaction before.

But then came Jim. Jim is a server who restored my faith in male food service workers and the fact that they can be, ahem, charming without being all fake wacky and silly to win you over. They can just be slightly insane. Jim started off normal enough, bringing us water and taking our orders. He was totally flirting, but it wasn't weird. He was being genuinely nice, not creepy or annoying at all. Apparently when I was in the restroom, he came up to my dining companion when she wasn't looking and said something in a really high-pitched voice. When she turned around, he asked if she had thought that had been a woman. She said yes, and he replied, "I hate when that happens," then walked away. WTF, that makes NO sense. Jim was pleasant, attentive and hilarious throughout the entire meal. I almost looked forward to him coming back to check on us so I could hear what crazy thing he had to say next. I felt like a 60-year-old woman at TGI Friday's.

He ended up not charging me for the extra item I ordered or my drinks, which effectively cut my bill in half. Call me grandma because I totally fell for it - and tipped him 40 percent. Good job, Jim.

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