Recently I have noticed an “uptick” in folks introducing themselves to me when I come to the table. They must have read somewhere — probably on the internet — that this is a sure-fire way to create an atmosphere of instant camaraderie — one that will result in better service. Honestly, I just find it strange — and uncomfortable. Frankly, when people do this sort of thing, it makes me less inclined to want to interact with them or to give them better service.
The other day I had a table do this whole “Hi, I’m Bob. This is my wife, Mary, and my daughter, Alice. How are you today?” thing. My immediate reaction to this odd behavior is always to mumble something like, “Fine. I’m fine.” You’ll notice I do not add, “And you? How are you today?” Because I already know how you are today — and possibly every other day of your life — you’re weird.
I try very hard not to make any sort of eye contact with people like this, so as to discourage what I consider to be “too much, too soon” in the familiarity department. I always want to run for the hills before they try to tell me about Grandma — a woman who wisely opted out of lunching with these weirdos today. It is entirely possible that she used the old “my gout is acting up” excuse, but I would lay odds on the fact that she isn’t in attendance because she, too, finds them wacky. Go, Grandma!
This table didn’t want to talk about Grandma, though. No. They had something even better — and, yes, odder — up their sleeves. They showed me a picture of their dog. I, very seriously, thought to myself, “What the fuck is this about?”
It was apropos of nothing. I mean, no one — definitely NOT me — had mentioned anything even remotely canine-related prior to “Bob” pulling out his phone and showing me pictures of the stupid dog. I wanted to ask them what it was about me that made them think, “Oh, she looks like she would like to see a picture of our dog!” I will admit to taking a close look at the photo, which was mainly to see if I bore any sort of resemblance to “Fido” (or whatever his name was). Because that I reminded them, in some way, of their dog was the only reasonable explanation that I could come up with as to why a grown-ass man had decided that a perfect stranger might be interested in his personal life.
The dog was some sort of white, fluffy thing. Truly, and maybe I was just fooling myself, I did not see any resemblance between me and Fido whatsoever. (Okay, maybe a little around the eyes, but that was where it ended!) As intrigued as I was as to what prompted this guy to look at me and immediately whip out pictures of a fluffy, white dog, I refrained from asking him (or Mary or Alice) anything that was not business-related. I was afraid that doing so, engaging them in any kind of conversation at all, might lead them to think that I cared or, worse, to show me images of their parakeet, their cat or, who knows?, an area rug.
It was one o’clock in the afternoon — the height of the lunch rush. They were surrounded by tables that any idiot could see all belonged to me. They even commented that it was “pretty busy in here today”. So, yeah, they knew. And, yet, even though they could clearly see that I was busy, they thought that wasting my time with introductions and pictures of their dog was going to endear them to me?
It’s so wacky. It really is. The worst part, though, is that I had to stand there as they squandered my valuable time. I also have to pretend to care when I run up against people like this — about Grandma, the dog, the cat, or the area rug. This behavior is not even close to endearing, it is maddening.
I swear that people like this are frequent restaurant guests because they think that, as they pay our salaries, we have to put up with this kind of bullshit. I’ll tell you what? Tip me less, but keep your introductions (and the snapshots of your pets) to yourselves.