Tics of the Trade

To the waiter: Stop winking at me

Diana Abu-Jaber, a novelist and newly arrived professor at the University of Miami, had a similar experience when out of the country with an overly eager-to-please waiter. "They generally only drink hot tea in Jordan, so when I visited Amman last summer during a scorcher, I was aching for some iced tea. A nice waiter agreed to try and make it for me -- brewed a whole pot, sweetened it, poured it over ice, added sprigs of mint. It really turned out nicely. But he kept refilling my glass every time I finished, so when I barely sipped at the fourth glass, he followed me out of the restaurant, holding up the full glass of tea, and kept shouting -- over and over -- across the crowded lobby: 'Aren't you going to finish your tea?'"

This kind of thing, of course, brings to mind the ambitious busboy who never lets the water drop below the lip of the glass, but who somehow manages to touch, as Doran notes, "the rim of our glasses when they refill them. It's really unsanitary and annoying and I cringe every time I see them coming. My first thought is 'I knew we should have gotten that hepatitis vaccine!'" Or the waiter who, says Elizabeth Smith, associate publisher of The Wine News, "continuously, ad nauseam, asks if everything's all right, to the point where you want to say, 'It would be if you would only let me eat.'"

In the end, though, I'd rather have an ultra-keen server with the propensity to be as competent as he is annoying than the one a friend recently had on vacation in Aspen. The waiter's shtick -- to bumble orders, then offer complimentary shots of Sambuca on the house and include one for himself -- borders on scam. But the real crime just might be the stupidity exhibited by the completely deluded fellow who waited on Morgan Vaughn-Johnson, the public relations assistant for the Ritz-Carlton Hotels of Miami. Apparently, with every item he set down on the table for Vaughn-Johnson and her boyfriend, the server would say dramatically, "Bon soir!" It took them a few courses to figure out that he actually meant to be saying, "Bon appétit!"

Jeremy Eaton

To which their reply should have been, of course -- say it with me -- "Right on." Wink, wink.

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