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proactive in the restaurant

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DH and I went out to eat.

Normally I hate eating at restaurants--I feel trapped at my table and unable to get what I need. If you drop a fork, you have to stop eating until you can figure out where your waiter is, and you can't focus on your meal because you have to keep watching so you don't miss that slim opportunity to get her/his attention.
   If you're thirsty, you have to wait for your waiter to happen by again.

Tonight we realized that the waitress forgot to bring his beer. Since I was the one facing the room, I was going to have to watch for the waitress (whom I couldn't see anywhere in the room) and get her attention.

I thought about sitting there w/ my arm raised, like in a classroom. But that was awkward and stupid looking.

So I got up and went to the wait-station/cashier spot in the middle of the room and approached another waitress entirely.

"Excuse me, our waitress is off doing some other part of her job, and we've realized she forgot my husband's beer. Would you help us get that drink?"

She asked what it was he'd ordered, and I said, "I know she wrote it on her slip, but I don't remember what it was he said. I'm sure she knows, when you find he, she'll tell you."

And I went back to my seat. In a little bit, here came our waitress w/ his beer.


I've decided, that's how I'm going to act in the future. If I'm out of water, or want a refill, or I drop my fork, if I can't see my waiter immediately, I'm going to get up and go get any waiter I see and say, "We need some help, and our waiter is busy somewhere. Would you be sure we get what we need?"

That waiter can figure out whether the best thing to do is to hand me a fork themselves or to find *my* waiter wherever it is her/his job has taken her/him, to have her/him handle it. I don't care which, and I'm willing to wait a short bit for them to figure it out.

But never again will I sit there trying to both enjoy my dinner AND scan the room for my waiter.

Oh, and we tipped 20%. She did enough other things well, so we didn't hold this against her.

I think this is a great way to handle it.

There seems to be a big discrepancy in that on the one hand, I hear that America has an 'ask' culture. On the other, I frequently read that patrons will sit there desperately trying to catch the eye of a waiter by doing nothing, then complaining when they don't get served the way they like. Waiters aren't mindreaders nor can they be in two places at once, so I think this is a perfect way to handle it.

Sounds OK to me, re: the forgotten beer. But I find most of the time, the servers are attentive enough that I don't have to spend my whole dinner scanning for a server.

As for the forks, if you take one from an empty neighbouring table, please let someone know the next time they come to you. I was a bus girl in my teens, in charge of setting tables and I used to get yelled at by management, for being careless when there was a missing fork on a table. I knew it was usually a patron at another table who had taken it, and I didn't blame them, but I sure got sick of management assuming it was because I was sloppy, forgetful and careless.

On the other hand, during my limited time working in restaurants, sometimes I had to walk through a section that had nothing to do with me, to get a dessert out of the fridge, or something. When I say nothing to do with me, it was a completely separate section with a lighter menu, and I would have got in trouble if I'd left my own section and started helping in the other one. Customers would frequently stop me and ask for things, and I couldn't go get them as I had people in my own section to deal with urgently. Even if all I did was tell the waitress in that section, "Oh, that customer over there says you forgot his beer" I'd likely have been snapped at: "I'll be there in a minute!!"

This was the way I always handled it but my DH made me stop, claiming that it was "rude" to ask someone other thann our own waitress. 

Luckily, the restaurants we patron nowadays are pretty great about being attentive so it hasn't been an issue in a long time.  If it were, I'd probably go back to my "rude" ways.  ;) 


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