Monday, July 21, 2008

an open letter to America's waitstaff

Gentle waiter, noble waitress,

I have but a small favor to ask. Though perhaps unknown to you at this time, it is the case that in many restaurants, and particularly in chain restaurants, sodas and other soft drinks have a "free refill" policy. Under this strange policy, when one of your customers orders a soda, they are not just ordering that cup of soda, but the right to have that cup of soda refilled, again and again-- for free! I know this is perhaps shocking but it actually is the case.

Here's my request: please be careful when casually suggesting that one of your costumers have another soda. If you aren't careful, you can imply through your gentle encouragement that the next soda will, in fact, be free. That isn't such a big assumption on the part of your customer because, again, there are quite a few dining establishments where this extravagant "let me refill your cup with about 20 cents worth of syrup and carbonated water... for FREE" policy is the law of the land. So as you can see, it's important that you either say something that lets your devoted customer know that the refill will not in fact be free, or-- my preference-- let the customer decided himself if he is ready for another one.

Of course, I mean to make no accusation here. Just because your tip is dependent on the size of the bill, and you thus have financial incentive in misleading your unwitting customers about whether they'll pay for another soda or not, this in no way is proof that you in fact have been intentionally misleading them. And I'm sure there's no restaurant duplicitous enough to encourage you to be that misleading and in doing so enhance their bottom line.

All of this goes double if you work for a restaurant that is not just a chain but a "theme" restaurant whose conceit is that eating there is actually a jungle adventure, where I am forced (in the celebration of my twelve year old niece's birthday) to endure my "tour guide's" moronic scripted narration of our safari journey where my brain is repeatedly stabbed by the sound of Sassy the goddamn animatronic gorilla screetching and hooting every 7 minutes exactly, broken only by the warbling of your fellow wait staff as they sing a corporate birthday song set to the tune of "Pop Goes the Weasel". If you happen to work at a restaurant like that, take extra care not to say something like "can I bring you another soda", as the experience is already akin to crawling through hell, and anyways it would make sense for the refills to be free considering you already charged me $17.99 for a plate of tortilla chips and a diced onion, and Lord knows you aren't breaking the bank buying quality ingredients for my horrifically bad "Monsta Pasta".

all my love,

Freddie

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